Life in Madison County

Madison County was founded in 1792 and named for the Madison family to which President James Madison (1751-1836) belonged. While President Madison’s home, Montpelier, is located in nearby Orange, his family owned land along the Rapidan River in the county named for them. Yet this is not the only presidential tie to the area. President Herbert Hoover at one time owned a home in Madison known as Rapidan Camp. The town of Madison still celebrates Hoover Day annually in August to mark his formal visit to the town in 1929. With such history, it is no surprise that some of the homes on the market in Madison date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. And despite its proximity to the ever-growing metropolis of Charlottesville, homes in Madison are often pleasantly situated on at least a few acres, allowing breathing room between neighbors. In addition, due to the topography of the area, many homes have mountain views. According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors (CAAR), in May 2017 the median estimated home value in Madison County was $186,800 while the median list price was $262,500, making it one of the more affordable counties surrounding Charlottesville. And with the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park nearby, Madison County—just an hour and a half south of D.C.—is full of beauty and recreational opportunities.

Things To Do

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is made up of a 300-square-mile section of the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. The park contains over 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Stony Man and Hawksbill, the two highest elevation points, surpass 4,000 feet. The park is also the location of President Hoover’s Rapidan Camp where you can reserve a tour. 11 PastoralAndMtnViews

Rapidan Wildlife Management Area

Adjacent to Shenandoah National Park and sharing a 25-mile boundary line is Rapidan Wildlife Management Area. It consists of 10,326 acres and the crossways of three rivers: Rapidan, Conway, and South River. Abundant fishing is available, including brook trout in the Rapidan and brown trout in the Conway. Please check for area regulations before fishing.

Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum 1445 Wolftown Hood Road | Hood, VA 22723

This unique museum, open by appointment, has rows and rows of antique cars and memorabilia from the Jazz Age.

Early Mountain Vineyards 6109 Wolftown-Hood Road | Madison, VA 22722 Early Mtn Vineyard 2
Voted the #1 tasting room in the U.S. by USA Today readers in 2016, at Early Mountain Vineyards you can taste wine made from grapes grown in Virginia soil paired with cheese and charcuterie plates. There is also a full service restaurant and an overnight guest cottage at the vineyards.

DuCard Vineyards 40 Gibson Hollow Lane | Etlan, VA 22719

Unlike other local wines, DuCard wines are not available in stores and can only be purchased at the vineyard’s tasting room. It is a purposefully small operation, with small batch wine production, to maintain quality. The vineyard is also known for its sustainability initiatives, such as its solar-powered tasting room and support of the local food movement.

 Bald Top Brewing Co. 

This family-run brewery is located at the historic Woodbourne Estate (established circa 1810). Owners Dave Fulton and Julie Haines, along with two of their grown children and their families, run the brewery, which includes “Central Virginia’s largest private hops yard,” according to their website. Want to try locally brewed beer while also enjoying a beautiful, historic setting? This is the place to go.

Madison Arts Exchange

With over 200 local artists, the Madison Arts Exchange provides a central place to appreciate and support all of the visual arts talent that resides in Madison.



The Bavarian Chef

The Bavarian Chef has served German-inspired cuisine in Madison County since 1974. On their menu you’ll find pork and veal schnitzel along with filet mignon and Virginia trout. Reservations are recommended.



Life in Keswick

Six miles east of Charlottesville you’ll find the unincorporated community of Keswick, an equestrian dream of green fields and rolling pastures. (Click here to learn more about the origins of the unique name). According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors’ (CAAR) Neighborhood Report, in February 2017 the median estimated home value in Keswick was $574,000 and the median list price was $590,000. In 2008, Stephen Wells of the New York Times wrote, “It’s this image of upscale rural America that best defines Keswick and its surrounding communities.” And this remains true today.

Here are some other things to know about life in Keswick.


Glenmore is a gated community with luxury homes tucked among mature trees, and paved walking trails that parallel the roads. Formerly a horse farm estate known nationwide, Glenmore gives a nod to its roots via its on-site Equestrian Center. The residential community also features an 18-hole golf course, a fitness/swimming/tennis facility, soccer field, basketball court, and a clubhouse.

Glenmore Golf Club
Glenmore Golf Club

Just on the other side of I-64, you’ll find Keswick Estates, a small luxury residential community consisting of 121 homes and home building sites. Like Glenmore, it is gated, but home sites are larger at two to six acres. Its proximity to the Keswick Hall resort means that residents have easy access to all of the resort’s amenities, such as the golf club and spa.

Keswick Estates
Keswick Estates


There are other recreational opportunities in Keswick beyond the Glenmore Country Club and Keswick Hall.

Keswick Vineyards is a lovely spot to enjoy a glass of wine along with views of the Southwest Mountains. In 2016 the American Wine Society awarded the vineyard the silver award for their 2015 Chardonnay Reserve.

Just a little bit further north is Castle Hill Cider, if you prefer apples to grapes, cider to wine. Another bucolic setting in which to relax, you’ll enjoy the sights and sounds surrounding Castle Hill. Be sure to try the Celestial cider.

A couple miles from Glenmore you can spend an afternoon antiquing at A&W CollecTables. You can read more about their offerings here.

If a private guided tour of the countryside is more your taste, and you enjoy the perspective gained from atop a horse, check out Indian Summer Guide Service. Tour options include guided horseback rides through several wineries and vineyards—including Keswick Vineyards—as well as the orchards of Castle Hill Cider.

Keswick Hall swimming pool
Keswick Hall swimming pool


Keswick Hall & Golf Club offers three dining options: Fossett’s, Villa Crawford, and Treble Wine Cellar. Fossett’s is committed to using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible for their gourmet American menu. Fossett’s also usually participates in Charlottesville Restaurant Week, a benefit for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank held twice a year—in January and in July—that offers three-course meals at reduced rates. (The next Restaurant Week will be July 14-23, 2017.) Villa Crawford serves a lunch buffet as well as a la carte dining that includes comfort foods as well as healthy options. The Treble Wine Cellar is a private dining venue with the option of either ordering from the Fossett’s menu or enjoying the recommended pairings of the executive chef and sommelier.

Shortly before the turn off to Glenmore is the elegant Clifton Inn with award-winning dining. You’ll need to call ahead for reservations. We also recommend keeping a look out for special tastings and dining offerings.

Life in Crozet

Twelve miles west of Charlottesville you’ll find the quaint yet growing community of Crozet, a census-designated-place (CDP) in Albemarle County, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with an elevation of 837 feet. (Click here to learn more about the origins of the unique name). According to the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors (CAAR) Neighborhood Report (February 2017), the population in Crozet is growing. At the time of the 2010 census there were 5,565 documented residents. There are now 6,600. In our mild, four-season climate, Crozet enjoys 98 days of full sun per year, with an annual rainfall of 45 inches and annual snowfall of 19.88 inches. Average temperatures range from 20-45 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 65-85 in July. Most residents, CAAR reports, are age 35-54 and most households earn $75,000 – $100,000 annually. The majority of residents work in education and the average commute is 26 minutes. Data collected within the last six months shows that 76% of residents own their home and 24% rent. Most of the dwellings purchased in Crozet at the time of CAAR’s report had fewer than 1400 square feet, were constructed within the last 10-20 years, and had three to four bedrooms. The typical price per square foot was $175-200, or less than $300,000 for the total property. However, the median estimated home value was $369,000 and the median list price was $544,000.

Now that you have all of the data, here are some other things you should know about life in Crozet.


Old Trail Village

This growing neighborhood development identifies itself as an “urban village,” defined as a mix of residential, dining, retail, and recreational buildings and structures, all contained within a walkable environment. The Old Trail Village Center has all of the above, including an ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center that offers classes, as well as cardio and strength training equipment. If you’re looking for outdoor activities, there are miles of walking and biking trails, a pool with Blue Ridge Mountain views at the Old Trail Swim Club, and an 18-hole championship golf course at the Old Trail Golf Club.

Foxchase Landing

This is another ongoing development in Crozet, located just off Route 250 West and nearby schools, restaurants, a grocery store, and the amenities of the Old Trail Village.

Piedmont Place

Open since September 2016, Piedmont Place is a solar-powered multi-use building with several dining options, a yoga studio, a multi-vendor market that includes a bookstore and a local craft brew & wine shop, and residential apartments. It is located just across the street from the new library, something architect Bob Anderson took into account in designing the façade, which pays homage to the library’s exterior. Within the Piedmont Place Market, you’ll find healthy meals to-go from Morsel Compass, small-batch, hand-crafted ice cream at Crozet Creamery, and nutritional smoothies and organic coffee at Smojo.

Local Dining

In the case of a couple Crozet restaurants, the old adage is true in the best sense: their reputations precede them. Even for newcomers to the Charlottesville area, it won’t be long before you hear of Fardowners Restaurant and Crozet Pizza. According to their website, the namesake of Fardowners is “a group of Irish immigrants who labored for the Blue Ridge Railway Co. and helped construct four tunnels through the Blue Ridge Mountains during the decade before the Civil War.” The restaurant sits near the railroad tracks that run through Crozet and is in sight of the old C&O railroad depot, which used to house the community library. As part of their mission is to support other local businesses, the Fardowners menu is as locally-sourced as possible. Their menu includes pub standards like burgers and wings, but also hefty salads and innovative twists on traditional mac & cheese. Their brunch menu includes Vegan and Vegetarian-friendly options, too, such as a tofu scramble sourced from Louisa County’s own Twin Oaks.

Family-owned Crozet Pizza has been serving fresh pizzas made from their own original recipes since 1977. (It’s so good it even made our Top 5 list of pizzerias in the Charlottesville area.) Their House Favorites include “Buddhist Pie” (white sauce, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, feta, fresh basil), “Meet Me in Crozet” (pepperoni, sausage, meatballs), and “Maui” (bacon, ham, pineapple). You can also order custom pizzas as well as varieties of calzones, salads, and appetizers.

Smoked Kitchen & Tap at Piedmont Place offers slow smoked, hickory BBQ, as well as salads burgers, and sandwiches. And The Rooftop, just upstairs, is Crozet’s sky bar with gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain views, cocktails, and a small plates menu that includes flatbread pizza.

View from the patio at Restoration.
View from the patio at Restoration.

If you’re looking for something more filling, there’s Restoration at Old Trail Village, which specializes in high-end comfort food. Menu items include croquet monsieur, pan seared salmon, and friend chicken & waffles, which comes with apple cider bacon gastrique and can be further upgraded by substituting duck confit for the fried chicken. In addition to the elegant interior, there is outdoor patio seating that overlooks the Old Trail Golf Club course.

Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival

Twice a year, in May and October, the Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival brings its lively and celebratory vibe to Claudius Crozet Park for a weekend of festivities. White tents dot the landscape while local singers and musicians perform, and the air fills with the aromas of foods as varied as kettle corn, funnel cake, fried onions, Thai noodles, and quesadillas.

The Crozet/Western Albemarle Library

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn September 2013, after years of being housed in the old depot, the Crozet/Western Albemarle Library opened the doors to its new, permanent home in downtown Crozet. It has a growing collection and space that allows for 75,000 volumes of books.

Mint Springs Valley Park

This 520-acre park includes four hiking trails, picnic areas and grills, 8 acres of water, and a one-acre beach. Swimming is allowed from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, except when county schools are in session. There is a small entry fee for both county residents and non-county residents, or season passes are available for purchase. As long as you have a fishing license, you will also be able to fish for the stocked trout, sunfish, channel catfish, and large-mouth bass.

Coffeehouses of Charlottesville

In our fast-paced, multicultural society, few things bring people together like the local coffee shop. This modest cultural institution has become a hallmark of thriving urban neighborhoods, and countless anecdotal evidence suggests that it helps cultivate a sense of community. The coffee shops in beautiful and innovative Charlottesville are no exception, and there is a vast array from which to choose, whether you prioritize taste, location, or sustainably sourced beans.

Shenandoah Joe

When Shenandoah Joe first opened in 1993, it was not as a coffee house but rather a warehouse where customers could buy bags of beans roasted in small batches. In the summers they sold fresh coffee at the City Market, continuing to draw a following, and began serving shots of espresso in their warehouse. Finally, in 2007, they moved out of the warehouse and established the Preston Avenue Espresso Bar and Roastery, eventually opening the Ivy Coffee Bar and Corner Joe locations as well. Each location has a distinct atmosphere, while all serving up the same high-quality coffee. Preston Avenue is relaxed and comfortable with a couch, armchairs, communal table, and bar. The music is usually louder at Ivy Road where there are booths and indoor and outdoor tables. It’s noticeably quieter at Corner Joe where students sit behind laptops, earbuds in their ears, their eyes downcast in fixed concentration.


Local roaster and coffee shop Mudhouse was just named 2017 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine! Founded by power duo Lynelle and John Lawrence, Mudhouse began as a coffee cart on the downtown mall and has been a Charlottesville staple for the last 20 years. It now boasts two brick and mortar locations: one on the Charlottesville pedestrian mall across from the Violet Crown movie theater, and the other in downtown Crozet. You can also find Mudhouse coffee bars at Bellair and Mill Creek Markets, convenient when refueling your car or grabbing a sandwich to go. Wherever you find Mudhouse coffee, their mission is the same: to provide high caliber coffee that is responsibly and sustainably sourced from small farms all over the world. The downtown Charlottesville location has limited indoor seating but is a lovely place to sit outside during the warmer months, while the Crozet location is more spacious. And if you’re looking for an extra dose of energy other than the caffeine in your coffee, try one of their healthy and delicious power balls made on site with honey and peanut butter and other yummy goodness.

Java Java

The inviting and cheerful yellow storefront of Java Java is hard to miss near the east end of Charlottesville’s downtown mall. A display case of croissants, bagels, and delicious baklava greets you at the counter as you enter. It is often a quiet place to take a beat and reflect while instrumental music plays softly through the speakers, and passersby bustle past the large front window. An alcove with armchairs invites seclusion while a loveseat and many tables both inside and outside invite companionship and conversation. Java Java’s Chai latte is one of the most flavorful and economic choices Charlottesville has to offer, and service is usually courteous and fast.

C’ville Coffee

C’ville Coffee has many advantages over other local coffee shops. Located in McIntire Plaza, it is very close to downtown and yet has a parking lot as well as on-street parking. The interior is spacious with large, round tables that aren’t too close together if you’re looking for a place to have a private conversation without being at your neighbor’s elbow. It has a play space for children as well as a “kid-free zone” where adults work at their laptops and groups sometimes meet for discussion. A substantial breakfast and lunch menu offers eggs, wraps, sandwiches, and generous salads. Hours extend to 8 pm on weeknights and weekly evening performances offer music or improvisational comedy for entertainment.

Milli Coffee Roasters

Having opened its doors in 2012, Milli Coffee Roasters is one of the relative newcomers on the Charlottesville coffee scene. Owner and manager Nick Leichentritt studied the art of making coffee at the American Barista Coffee School in Portland, Oregon. He returned to Charlottesville with the goal of elevating the role of barista to craftsman, and founded Milli with a preference for personal touch and attention over automation. To this end, Milli roasts their own beans in small batches in-house. They also offer substantial menu items such as waffles and paninis. Open until 9 pm most nights, Milli may be your best bet for evening coffee in Charlottesville. They host occasional readings, art shows, and comedy shows, and have ample indoor and outdoor seating, not to mention parking.

Calvino Italian Bar and Eatery

In the part of Charlottesville known as Midtown (West Main Street), tucked into a corner of the Main Street Market sits Calvino. Named after the renowned Italian writer Italo Calvino, this eatery is modeled after Italian style cafes and was established by Ken Wooten and Charles Roumeliotes, the same chefs that own and operate Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar. Calvino serves Shenandoah Joe coffee, as well as smoothies and Italian sandwiches. Whatever menu item you select, you can trust that if it was conceived by the masterminds behind Orzo, it will be beautifully presented and taste delicious.


Like Mudhouse, Greenberry’s is also the brainchild of a couple: Sean and Roxanne Simmons. You wouldn’t know it from the looks of their modest and cozy shop at Barracks Road Shopping Center, but since first opening this flagship store in 1992, Greenberry’s has expanded with multiple franchises throughout Virginia, as well as in Maryland, Louisiana, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While the Barracks Road location has somewhat limited seating, it is a pleasant shop that has the advantage of the extensive shopping center parking. The savory menu includes wraps and breakfast sandwiches, and the display case of baked goods includes gluten-free options. This location often serves as a gathering place for local business people, students and professors, as well as local running groups post-workout.

Grit Coffee

Local franchise Grit Coffee currently has four locations: downtown in York Place, Elliewood Avenue on the Corner, in the Shops at Stonefield, and in Crozet. Founded on the mission of “thoughtful hospitality,” Grit Coffee has not only coffee and espresso, but also breakfast, lunch, wine, and beer. The full downtown menu includes eggs, “Grit Bowls,” waffles, sandwiches and salads. While smaller, the Crozet menu also offers select breakfast sandwiches, quiche, and lunch items. The Corner location is a great spot to grab a coffee and cookie while exploring University grounds and the shops nearby, and has a lovely row of outdoor tables for basking in sunshine.

Atlas Coffee 

If a hole in the wall is more to your taste, Atlas Coffee is the place for you. Located in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood at the intersection of Fontaine and Jefferson Park Avenue, Atlas Coffee occupies a small storefront beside Guadalajara’s. While inside there is a small bar for sitting and sipping your coffee, outside there are patio tables with bright umbrellas. Atlas Coffee sells coffee roasted by Shenandoah Joe, pastries baked by Albemarle Baking Company and Carpe Donut, as well as tacos to-go made by Brazos Tacos.

MarieBette Café & Bakery

MarieBette offers everything you could wish for in a café, while also crafting the most delectable breads and pastries in-house that you can imagine. Another Charlottesville power couple is the creative impetus and rock foundation of this institution: Jason Becton and Patrick Evans, who met at the International Culinary Center. (The name MarieBette comes from the combination of their two daughters’ names.) They serve coffee roasted by La Colombe, one of the biggest independent coffee roasters in the United States. And while their coffee may not be roasted locally, their café and dining menu draw heavily from the seasons and farms in Central Virginia with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. In their dining room, you can enjoy breakfast dishes such as croquet monsieur and baked eggs served in a cast-iron skillet, as well as lunch items. In the bakery, be sure to try the combined chocolate-almond croissant to get the best of both worlds, as well as the canelé for a flavorful treat.

Paradox Pastry

The paradox implicit in this café/bakery’s name is the fact that owner Jenny Peterson is a personal trainer in addition to being a baker. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she moved to Charlottesville and worked to help others achieve their fitness goals at ACAC while continuing to bake in her home. She opened Paradox Pastry in 2012 in the beautiful Glass Building downtown, where it has remained the site of her culinary guilty pleasures. The prominent display case frequently features fruit tarts, quiche, butter croissants, and huge cookies—often with a gluten-free option. Don’t let the narrow storefront fool you. There is a second floor with more seating tucked away, and on temperate days the front windows are flung open, making for a very pleasant dining experience.

Charlottesville’s 2016 Rankings

It seems every year Charlottesville is awarded recognition of some kind for an aspect of the city that makes it a wonderful place to live. Whether it is the proximity of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the University of Virginia, or the iconic pedestrian mall (one of the only estimated 75 remaining in the U.S.), there are endless remarkable and noteworthy characteristics that define the area and earn the notice of others. Here is a list of all of Charlottesville’s 2016 honors (and one so far for 2017, too!).

Paramount Downtown_750x1000

A Sense of Place

The New York Post ranked Charlottesville #3 out of the 15 Best Places to Live in the U.S.

Livability named Charlottesville #21 of the Top 100 Best Places to Live.

Travel+Leisure’s annual America’s Favorite Places survey ranked Charlottesville #23 out of 30 of America’s Favorite Towns. According to their website, “The open-response survey asked respondents to submit their favorite place and rate it in over 65 categories, including affordability, notable restaurants, and public parks.” Charlottesville’s high scores gave a nod to the number and quality of area bookstores and wineries. listed Charlottesville as one of the 10 Hippest Mid-Sized Cities in America.



The American Farmland Trust ranked Charlottesville’s City Market as the #3 farmers market in America in the nationwide People’s Choice category.

Travelocity named Charlottesville one of America’s Best Small Cities for Foodies, specifically highlighting The Clifton Inn, The Local, and The Boar’s Head.

OpenTable named local restaurant Fleurie as one of the 100 Best Restaurants in America.

 Meal with a view_1000x750


HealthLine ranked Charlottesville as one of the top 10 Healthiest Small Towns in the U.S.



College Rank slotted Charlottesville in as #7 out of 50 of The Best College Towns in America.


Business ranked Charlottesville #4 out of 50 Best Cities for Entrepreneurs due to the success of the University of Virginia’s Innovation Laboratory, or “i.Lab,” as it’s known.



About Great Books included Charlottesville on “The Ultimate 50-State Road Trip for Book Lovers” due to the annual Festival of the Book, multiple bookstores, and the historical presence of Edgar Allen Poe and William Faulkner, not to mention the library at Monticello.



Paw Culture ranked Charlottesville #7 on its list of “11 Pet-Friendly Holiday Towns and Cities,” citing the popularity of the downtown pedestrian mall.



And one to grow on…

In January 2017, Expedia named Charlottesville one of the top 17 Places to Visit in 2017 for its mountain views, historic sites, local coffee, shops, and many vineyards.


Top 5 Sandwiches in Charlottesville

Ah, the sandwich. One of Britain’s greatest gifts to gastronomy in general and the working class in particular. Though praised by those who have to walk around while they eat, this versatile, utilitarian food item is credited to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Like its Mexican cousin, the taco, or its Mediterranean counterpart, the gyro, the sandwich has endured throughout centuries. Charlottesville–whose central Virginia land is fertile ground for both the farm-to-table movement and an overall appreciation for all things craft food–has more than its fair share of dynamite sandwich shops. But, alas, this is a top 5 list, and it’s our job to bring those 5 to you. Without further ado:

1. Ivy Provisions

Ivy Provisions (or IvyP, as it is affectionately known) is like something out of a dream. It’s a smorgasbord of creative sandwiches ranging from light and fresh to coma-inducing, and everything in between. While $8-10 is a little steep for a sandwich, you definitely get what you pay for at this place, with its emphasis on local ingredients from Charlottesville. At the helm here is Tommy Lasley, former head chef of Orzo and part-owner of Fry’s Spring Station Pizza. The concept is quick, inventive sandwiches and salads with high-quality ingredients. A long-lasting partnership with The Rock Barn means that local pork raised and butchered on Nelson County farmland is a given. Whether you’re thinking about sandwiches like the Notorious P.I.G. (salami, prosciutto, Rock Barn capicola, provolone, peppers, onion, lettuce, oil & vinegar), or the specialty off-menu Cvilly Cheese (roast beef au jus, grilled onions, hot peppers, and sweet peppers with a smoky, creamy cheese sauce), every option is available on a bed of greens instead of a sandwich (although we’re not sure how a steak and cheese sandwich would work out). Their breakfast and espresso options are nothing to scoff at either. The Sloppy Jose is a brilliant chorizo, egg, and pimento sandwich on an English muffin.

Favorite sandwich (pictured above): IvyP Banh mi-roasted pork, pâté, ham, cabbage, cilantro, pickled vegetables, mayo & chile oil served warm on baguette

2. Revolutionary Soup

Soup, salads, and sandwiches…the trifecta. This Cville staple has locations on the pedestrian downtown mall and The Corner (by the University of Virginia). The staff is friendly, polite, and incredibly good at their work, churning out thoughtful craft sandwiches with efficiency during one of the most infamous lunch rushes in the downtown Charlottesville area. Their fare extends beyond the strict territory of the “sandwich,” with items like quesadillas and shrimp and grits providing some alternatives. The titular soup is a must for any rainy day; this author had the flu one week and pretty much lived off of the lamb curry, with its spicy lentils, spinach, and cilantro. Whenever possible, Rev Soup (as it’s known in the neighborhood) strives to use local ingredients. A big part of their philosophy is sourcing ingredients from farms in central Virginia and the surrounding areas, whether it be bread from Albemarle Baking Co. or BreadWorks, or tofu from Twin Oaks Farm in Louisa, etc. At the end of the day, you can drop by for a $3 grilled cheese on bread baked 10 minutes away and delivered that morning. Sounds like a win to us.
Favorite sandwich (pictured): The 90’s Club-local chicken breast, bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a house sauce on a kaiser roll


3. Littlejohn’s

Remember that part about sandwiches being utilitarian? Littlejohn’s is maybe the only 24-hour restaurant in Charlottesville proper (with the possible exception of Waffle House). They don’t boast any fancy local ingredients, but the fact of the matter is, when you are hungry and alone after a night out, Littlejohn’s is there for you, with a hot, fresh, greasy sandwich and a big glass of water. (When you watched the movie Psycho with its creepy shower scene and jarring use of violins, you woke up at 5am with nightmares and Littlejohn’s had a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast bagel ready for you, and a big glass of orange juice to wash away the night terrors. When you were in the library cramming for your 9 am final and your body started crying out for food…well you get the idea.) Dependability is a decidedly utilitarian feature in any sandwich shop, and so we must pay homage to LJs, our rock. It’s not just greasy goodness either. They have an entire chalkboard devoted to “lighter fare” which includes some flatbread delicacies and salads that are not terrible. But after a long night, you might just want to double down and opt for something with bacon, butter, and cheese. You deserve it. We know you do.

Favorite sandwich: Chipotle chicken-shredded and seasoned chicken, spicy chipotle mayo, bacon, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato and melted provolone (hot peppers optional).


4. Bellair Market

We almost feel guilty including Bellair Market on this list. A little lunch counter, tucked away inside an innocuous Exxon Tiger Fuel gas station, Bellair Market is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Once you get the lay of the land in Charlottesville, it’s hard to overestimate the value of a well-kept secret…especially when it comes to food. Technically the “Market” has a few locations, but it’s important to note that the sandwiches at the Ivy Road location are the sole reason for the Bellair’s inclusion on this list. In true Cville fashion, Bellair’s specialty sandwiches are named after regions in the greater Charlottesville area. Often, these are rural areas in central Virginia; for example the Keswick (country ham, swiss, honey mustard, lettuce, tomato, herb mayonnaise on French bread), the Earlysville (sweet ham, turkey, smoked gouda, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and herb mayonnaise on sourdough) or the Montpelier (rare roast beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and horseradish mayo on French bread), named after James Madison’s famous estate in Orange County. Gas station gourmet is a staple of the South, and Charlottesville in particular, so we had to include this gem.

Favorite sandwich: the Jefferson-maple turkey, cranberry relish, cheddar lettuce, herb mayonnaise, french bread

5. Market Street Market

Mkt St Mkt

Like Revolutionary Soup, Market Street Market is located just off Charlottesville’s downtown mall. It’s right on Market Street, making it a popular pop-in for busy retail and office professionals, lawyers, city officials, and all hungry people. The bulk of the space is devoted to a small, upscale grocery store with a wealth of locally sourced products including produce from surrounding central Virginia farms, fresh baked goods from Albemarle Baking Co. and Mission Home (try the peanut blossom cookies!), and a great craft beer selection. But the deli is the heart of the store, the ever-churning furnace that breathes life into the establishment and its patrons. At this juncture it’s worth noting that Market Street Market has some of the classiest background music of all time, and it’s the perfect volume (audible but not distracting). You can build your own sandwich starting at $3.99. But there are some truly inspired specialty sandwiches and salads. The gals and guys at Market Street Market run a tight ship and service is pretty fast, but don’t be surprised if you stop in at 11:15 and end up waiting 15 minutes. The key is to pop by just before or after the lunch rush hour…but there’s no hurry, because this deli is serving fresh, made-to-order sandwiches until 8pm!

Favorite sandwich: Custom-cracked peppermill turkey, smoked gouda, spinach, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise

Best Places to Brunch in Charlottesville

In Charlottesville, brunch is for everyone! No matter your taste, whether you’re craving a standard American breakfast, traditional Southern grub, Southwestern flavor, or local greens and tofu, you can find almost any style of brunch to satisfy your appetite. Just to name a few:

La Taza (

Chalottesville's La Taza            One of the few locales that offers brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays (7 am to 3 pm), La Taza is tucked away in the quaint area of Charlottesville’s downtown Belmont. La Taza, which is Spanish for “the cup,” roasts fresh Arabica coffee beans twice a week and describes its cuisine as “Latin-inspired.” This is apparent in brunch offerings such as the Guatemalan Breakfast and Huevos Rancheros, but they also offer traditional American fare such as eggs, potatoes, and bacon (“El Gringo”), as well as pancakes, eggs benedict, and biscuits and gravy. Indoors the tables are crafted from tree trunks and outdoors there is a lovely courtyard with seating and umbrellas along a mostly quiet street.


Brazos Tacos (

Okay, so this one doesn’t technically have a brunch menu, but their regular menu offers many of the ingredients present at most brunches and their weekend hours and outdoor patio make this casual restaurant a fun brunch destination. Their palm-sized tacos are surprisingly filling and can be customized to be vegetarian and gluten-free. The refried bean, mashed potato, and jack cheese taco is especially good, particularly if you add avocado. Brazos’ weekend hours are Saturdays 7:00 am – 9:00 pm and Sundays 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.


Beer Run (

Beer Run, located between the Woolen Mills and Belmont neighborhoods, is not only a restaurant and bar, but, as the name suggests, a craft beer and wine shop. Made with seasonal, local, and organic ingredients, their inventive Sunday brunch menu (available from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm) includes French toast strata, Salvadoran bean and cheese papusas, fish tacos, and many other options. You can also order a hearty helping of a Bloody Mary, served in a tall glass with your choice of celery sticks, green beans, or bacon (yes, you can add a strip of bacon). On Saturdays, Beer Run serves breakfast tacos from 8:00 to 11:30 am.


Bluegrass Grill & Bakery (

Housed in the Glass Building beside the railroad tracks on 2nd Street SE (near the corner of Garrett Street), the Bluegrass Grill & Bakery stays busy every weekend with lines usually out the door. They bake all of their own bread, big country biscuits, and sweets in house and are committed to keeping prices affordable. Their menu includes standards like eggs, bacon, and potatoes, but also more inventive dishes like tofu and Portobello hash. Whatever you order, it is always worth the wait.


Commonwealth Sky Bar (

Charlottesville Commonwealth Sky Bar          Located on the corner of the pedestrian mall and 5th Street SE, beside Bend Yoga, the Commonwealth Sky Bar offers Sunday brunch from 10 am to 3 pm. Their menu presents an eclectic array of brunch options, including the ostensibly Southern dish of fried green tomatoes, barbeque shrimp and grits, some southwestern flair with their stuffed poblanos, and the famous dish popularized in early 20th-century Harlem: chicken and waffles. While the second story open-air Sky Bar is closed on Sundays, there is an outdoor patio on one side and large windows that slide open in fair weather.


Bizou (

Bizou in CharlottesvilleOccupying a narrow entrance on the pedestrian mall, but with ample indoor vintage seating and outdoor seating with umbrellas, Bizou serves up an elegant Sunday brunch (11:00 am to 2:00 pm) that includes eggs Florentine, hanger steak, salmon, and pomegranate mimosas. This 20-year-old Charlottesville establishment was started by two chefs who continue to have a hand (or two) in preparing the food. Much of the meat and produce are sourced locally, changing with the seasons, and all of the pastries are made in house.


Brookville Restaurant (

Located next to The Whiskey Jar and open for brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, Brookville Restaurant boasts the most locally sourced food of any Charlottesville area restaurant. The farm-to-table menu includes classic egg sandwiches, French toast, and chicken ‘n waffles. Run by locals Jennifer and Harrison Keevil and named after Harrison’s family farm, Brookville offers a welcoming environment to enjoy homegrown Virginia food.



Fellinis in Charlottesville VirginiaAmong the unique offerings of the Sunday brunch menu (11:00 am to 2:00 pm) at this favorite local Italian restaurant are a waffle sandwich (you read that right: bacon, cheese, and egg sandwiched between two waffles), challah French toast, and poached eggs on grilled focaccia. Located on the bustling corner of Market Street and 2nd Street NW, in fine weather Fellini’s throws the windows open.


Marie Bette (

This small café specializing in French cuisine houses both a bakery and a dining room that is open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. It is tucked away on Rose Hill, just off Preston Avenue, and has ample designated and street parking. The current brunch menu includes a smoked salmon sandwich, baked eggs with asparagus, a pastry basket made in house, and frittatas served in small iron skillets. The breakfast potatoes are especially good, as are the almond chocolate croissants.


Threepenny Café (!brunch/cfyg)

In an area known as “Midtown” on West Main Street, the Threepenny Café hosts brunch on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and on Sundays from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm with both indoor and outdoor seating. Among the unique menu offerings are steak and duck eggs and maple-bacon grits.


Boylan Heights (

Moving towards the University on the Corner, Boylan Heights provides Sunday brunch from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. Their menu puts a brunch twist on classic American fare with items such as the biscuit sliders, and a touch of childhood nostalgia to appeal to the student crowd with their French toast dipped in Cap’n Crunch cereal.


Pigeon Hole

Open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, this quaint breakfast/brunch location that operates out of an old house is tucked away on Elliewood Avenue, across from central grounds. As the name suggests, its menu includes Pigeons in a Hole (two eggs over easy in grilled toast), as well as pancakes, French toast, steak & eggs, and the most filling breakfast burrito you’ll ever need or want. With prices starting at $7, this is one of the more affordable brunch go-to options.

Top 5 Pizzerias in Charlottesville

Or, more accurately, top five pizzerias in the Charlottesville area. Despite the modern pizza’s roots in Naples, Italy, the delicious combination of flatbread, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and various toppings has long occupied a place in American hearts, notable for its status as “the only thing my kid will eat.” We can’t live without pizza; it’s good for sporting events, birthday parties, and getting people to come to interest meetings. Enough already…you know what pizza is. But do you know where it is? Now you do. Take a look at our picks for five of the best pizza joints to land in the Charlottesville area! Many of these spots get bonus points for sourcing their ingredients from central Virginia farms. Note: We’ve only included local spots, but you probably already know that Cville has a laundry list of all your favorite pizza chains. Anyway, let’s get started!

1. Dr Ho’s Humble Pie

Our #1 pick for sure. The self-described “Alternative Pizza” has been a personal favorite for as long as this author can remember. It was love at first bite. The spot is located just south of Charlottesville, in North Garden , a small “town” in Albemarle County. It’s been around since the late 90s (which makes it older than you’d think, at first), adopting an artisanal, handcrafted approach to good pizza. This means housemade dough, local beer, and a whole bevy of fresh ingredients locally-sourced from a plethora of farms in the Charlottesville area…places like Belair Farm, Double H Farm, Caromont Farm…the list goes on. It’s also worth stopping in to Dr. Ho’s to eat your pie there; they cultivate an open, inviting atmosphere. Don’t be surprised to see a bluegrass quartet pickin’ away while you sip a beer and wait for your pizza. A comfortable, delicious affair.

Favorite pie: A two way tie between the Popeye (spinach, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic, mozzarella, cheddar) and the Lil Mermaid (shrimp, house-made basil pesto, roasted tomatoes, cheddar, feta, and mozzarella)

2. Lampo

If you are Lampo, and you’ve somehow been imbued with consciousness, and are reading this, please know it wasn’t an easy decision and that you are a close second. Lampo is Italian for “lightning,” probably one of the more appropriate descriptions of a place that churns out a pie in 90 seconds. But “churns” make it sound like fast food, which it certainly is not. The folks at this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria are steeped in culinary tradition, taking their cues from the great pizza makers of Italy. That means San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella…if you doubt their commitment, check out the 3-ton brick oven. They keep wood burning throughout the day, making sure the oven gets up to 1000 degrees…whoa. A lot of their producers are Charlottesville farms: Free Union Farm, JM Stock and Provisions, and Wolf Creek Farm just to name a few.

Favorite pie: Technically it’s a panuozzi (a sort of pizza/sandwich hybrid) but the muffuletta (prosciutto, salami, mortadella, giardiniera, provolone). Also can’t go wrong with a good margherita pizza.

3. Crozet Pizza

This spot has a lot of history in the area around Charlottesville and Crozet. In a way, it epitomizes the small-town charm of a place like Crozet. We’ll explain: In 1977, Bob and Karen Crum bought an unoccupied building in Crozet. The original Crozet Pizza was pretty small…it had only five tables, all of which were handcrafted by Bob himself. The couple teamed up to build a successful pizza place from the ground up. Karen perfected Crozet Pizza’s inimitable dough recipe while Bob concocted the sauce from scratch. Pretty soon that tiny, five-table restaurant started getting calls for orders days in advance. The same recipes are in use today, under the ownership of Colleen, their daughter, although the wait time is considerably shorter. There’s also a location on some prime real estate in Charlottesville proper, steps away from UVa’s campus. We can’t tell you exactly what makes Karen Crum’s secret dough recipe so delicious, but we’re willing to go broke trying to figure it out.

Favorite pie: The “Meet Me in Crozet” (Pepperoni, sausage, and meatballs)

4. Christian’s Pizza

Charlottesville pizza purists might agree with the order of this list, but even they would agree that Christian’s is the most ubiquitous name in Cville pizza. That comes from over one-and-a-half decades of hard work by the titular Christian Tamm himself. The franchise started with a location in downtown Charlottesville, at the heart of the pedestrian mall. It soon opened up locations in Pantops, on the UVa Corner, and in Richmond, VA between West Franklin and West Grace Street. The secret? Fast, fresh, delicious pizza at affordable prices. We’ll let you in on a little secret…each Christian’s is different. The Corner location is great for a quick slice of cheese after a night out. The downtown location is perfect for lounging and people-watching, especially from its elegant patio. If you’re grabbing a few pies for a group/party/event, hit up Pantops. Either way, you’re in for a treat!

Favorite pie: Spinach and feta (spinach, feta, sauteed mushrooms, diced tomatoes, garlic)

5. College Inn

Bringing up the rear is the almighty College Inn (not to be pronounced like or confused with collagen), a place that has transcended typical “restaurant” status and become an institution. It’s been around since 1953! This place is older than the president! Some of the delivery drivers have stories about delivering hundreds of pizzas to UVa libraries and fraternities during Finals Week…and this was before cellphones mind you. This place keeps its lofty place in our hearts because it delivers, rain, snow or shine until 2am every single day. College Inn, you’re playing a dangerous game, but we love it. In fact, this is the only delivery joint on our list. It’s the only one you need, whether you’re lounging at home or planning a tailgate. They’re here for you, long after Domino’s and Papa John’s have closed their doors.

Favorite pie: Chicken alfredo (grilled chicken, sliced mushrooms, ham with mozzarella & parmesan cheeses, alfredo sauce base)

The 5 Best Pancake Restaurants in Charlottesville, Virginia

For an indulgent breakfast, warm, rich pancakes are hard to beat. While Stone Age cooks were believed to be grinding flour and cooking it in hot patties as long as 30,000 years ago, the first American pancake, or “Johny Cake” as they were once called, appeared in a cookbook in 1796. If you’re looking for modern day pancakes in Charlottesville, VA, be sure to try the wonderful pancake dishes offered at the 5 restaurants below:

1. The Nook

The Nook in downtown Charlottesville is a popular weekend breakfast and brunch spot for good reason. Their breakfast portions are tasty, hardy, and skillfully prepared. With lovely, aged mahogany booths, a bar, and an outdoor café, The Nook, which has been in operation since 1951, is a great breakfast spot (and is open for other meals as well). Their fluffy buttermilk pancakes and full breakfast menu are available all day.

2. Tip Top Restaurant

Tip Top on Pantops also serves breakfast all day, as well as lunch and dinner. With retro diner décor, ample seating, and quick service, Tip Top is a great choice when you need to scratch an itch for old-fashioned, traditional breakfast. Also, if you’re looking for a wide variety of pancakes, they offer buttermilk, buckwheat, corn, chocolate chip, strawberry, banana nut, and pecan.

3. Blue Moon Diner

With breakfast all day and weekend brunch specials, the old school and eclectic Blue Moon Diner on Main St. does breakfast right. They offer their delicious buttermilk griddle cakes in a three-stack or as one single on the side. For a fun surprise addition, the pancakes come topped with powdered sugar that is stenciled into images and portraits from retro and contemporary pop culture. They are also open for lunch and dinner and regularly have local live music in the evenings.

4. Bluegrass Grill and Bakery

Just across the train tracks from the downtown mall lies Bluegrass Grill and Bakery, in The Glass Building, and they’ve been open since 2011. It’s made from scratch fare is very savory, plentiful, and popular; on a weekend morning you may want to get there early and be prepared for a possible short wait. But planning ahead is well worth it, because their rich buttermilk or honey wheat biscuits in stacks of two or four won’t disappoint. Their website shares this description from a review in The New York Times: “hearty southern comfort fare.”

5. The Flat: Takeaway Crêperie

If you prefer thin, sweet crepes to thicker pancakes, The Flat specializes in delicious, warm crepes offered with a variety of savory and sweet fillings.  They are located on the Water St. side of the downtown mall and are open at 11 Friday-Saturday and at 10 on Sunday. Their “Greene Eggs” and “Hangover Relief” breakfast crepes are served all day. The Flat is a charming, compact space and has limited seating, so you may be taking your crepes to go.

Because Charlottesville has such a diverse and thriving restaurant scene, this list is certainly not exhaustive. But hopefully it will give pancake breakfast fans and connoisseurs some good ideas of where to start exploring Charlottesville’s pancake offerings. Enjoy!

The Top 5 Burgers in Charlottesville

burger-1150315_1280Burgers come in many shapes, sizes, and personalities. One person’s favorite burger will not satisfy another. That being said, if you are a burger lover, you will not be disappointed by the burger offerings in Charlottesville, Va. Below are five that are not to be missed.

The Cheeseburger @ Riverside Lunch

This casual, friendly, and reliable local diner offers delicious, classic, old-time burgers and quick service. As their Facebook page extolls, they are “[t]he ORIGINAL Riverside Lunch since 1935 and ‘Flat out, STILL the best burgers in town!’” The burgers are compact, delicious, and very satisfying, as are the onion rings. Riverside Lunch is appropriately located a few blocks from the river near Route 250, between Pantops and Downtown, on Hazel St., which is just off E High St.

The Mini @ Citizen Burger Bar

As described on their menu, The Mini’s main ingredient is a “4oz griddle-smashed Timbercreek Angus.” Add the American cheese, iceberg lettuce, onion, citizen sauce, and a potato roll, and you’ve got a mouth full of happiness. Citizen Burger Bar focuses on offering local and fresh ingredients and they also have a great vegan patty. They have a big restaurant with a long bar and outdoor seating and they still manage to stay quite busy in their central downtown mall location.

The Zinburger @ Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar

This namesake burger is really a savory treat. You may be unsure what a wine and burger bar would be like, and will be pleased to find a hip, bustling, open space with delicious fare. Their menu shares that this treat is “topped with Manchego Cheese, Zinfandel Braised Onions, Lettuce & Mayo,” and it’s a full meal. The Manchego sheep’s milk cheese is a wonderful, zesty topper. Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar is at Barrack’s Road Shopping Center.

The Danny Laruso @ Jack Brown’s

The first Jack Brown’s was opened near JMU in Harrisonburg, and recently opened up on the downtown mall in Charlottesville.  All burgers are made with all natural Wagyu Beef and come with unique toppings and an amazing special sauce. Our go-to is the Danny Laruso topped with cream cheese and a jalapeno jelly.  Make sure to order a side of fries and a craft beer from their large list.

The Varsity @ Boylan Heights

This organic burger with cheddar, tomato, chili, fried onion rings, hot sauce, ranch, and even jalapenos, is not for the faint of heart or appetite, especially as it comes with a choice of side as well (the sweet potato fries are great). But if you crave a spicy and hearty burger, you’ll be glad to try this unique and delicious one from the “Dean’s List” section of the menu at Boylan Heights, on the UVA corner.  

If you find that you want to try more Charlottesville burgers, check out the Bison Burger at Beer Run, the Blue Burger at Blue Moon Diner, and the Firefly Cheeseburger with sriracha aioli.