Given that I work right around the corner, I really had no excuse for taking so long to discover this excellent lunch spot. Matteus, the proprietor, is very friendly and serves up ridiculously large portions of great food. I should have eaten half of my sandwich on both occasions, but they were both so tasty that I couldn’t resist and waddled out of there feeling like I needed an early afternoon nap.
The first meal I had there was the tempeh reuben sandwich with a side of fries. I must admit that I have been vegetarian for so long that I have never had a reuben with corned beef, but I can honestly say that even if you aren’t vegetarian it is hard for me to imagine most people being disappointed with this version. The tempeh was cooked just right, the sauerkraut most excellent, and the bread hit that perfect balance of soft and crusty. I am also far from being a french fry connoisseur, but these things were delicious. Just the right amount of salt, and piping hot.
For my second visit, I was salivating to revisit my reuben experience but my curiousity about the BBQ tofu sandwich won out. The only other BBQ tofu I have had is from BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, which I have always thought very highly of. Move over BBQ Exchange because there is a new contender in town. The sesame bun of this sandwich left a little to be desired, but the BBQ sauce was amazing and again the generous strips of tofu were cooked to perfection. Bonus points to Matteus for using Twin Oaks tofu also! The homemade slaw was a great addition and the side salad was made with serious greens instead of the iceberg lettuce side salad you so often see.
Sadly, on both visits the Saloon was almost entirely empty. Charlottesville, get over there and try this place! The vibe and decor is a bit, well, industrial, which makes for an unsual lunch atmosphere, but don’t let it stop you. For less than $10 – there are a few $6 lunch specials – you can feast on large portions of delicious dishes with quality ingredients.