Posts Tagged Rating: 3 stars

B Blues BBQ 

B Blues BBQ smoker at the Joy gas station in Charlottesville, VAI’ve always felt like the number of BBQ joints in town is out of sync with the quantity and enthusiasm of pork-consuming Charlottesvillians. Consider the fact that we have at least 9 Thai restaurants, 26 Mexican restaurants, and 27 Chinese restaurants.* Many of the proprietors of these establishments have traveled 1000s of miles to set up shop in our fair town and have taken a gamble on forging a viable business out of a foreign cuisine where there are nevertheless many established competitors and where authentic ingredients can be harder to come by.

Now look at BBQ. Five restaurants in Charlottesville… Read More

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One Meatball Place 

Pork meatball with BBQ sauce at One Meatball Place in Charlottesville, VAHaving jumped the gun on visiting uber-popular Moto Pho Co during its earliest days, I decided to wait a couple months before reviewing One Meatball Place, Moto Pho’s sister restaurant in both mien and conjoined location. On first sight, the space appears more cozy and contained than the pho restaurant to which One Meatball Place attaches, even sharing restroom facilities. The actual layout of the restaurant is relatively small, housing a long bar but only five tables. The combination of exposed brick, light wood accents, and large-screen TVs made for an elegantly simple yet comfortable atmosphere. The window booth in which my friends and I sat took in a… Read More

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Bellair Market 

The Jefferson Sandwich at Bellair Market in Charlottesville, VAAs much as I love a homemade meal or an elegant dinner, there are some days – or weeks – that don’t allow for leisurely dining. Though I’ve been known to knock back a couple Wendy’s junior cheeseburgers during a busy week, I decided to take a more local, and less greasy, approach to quick eats during this past week of moving and class-related chaos. Bellair Market, Tiger Fuel’s Ivy Road location, has always been my favorite sandwich stop in Charlottesville, but I’ve never loved it more than during a quick lunch break last Wednesday.

Though the shop consistently draws a large crowd from 12-2 on any given day of the week… Read More

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Lou’s Philly Steaks 

The famous cheesesteak at Lou's Philly Steak in Charlottesville, VAOn first sight, Lou’s Philly Steak doesn’t seem like much. Tucked away on Long Street in the Donut Connection shopping strip, this newcomer Philly cheesesteak shop doesn’t have any big signs or flashy lettering to draw you in. The interior is purple and gold with large UVa Cavalier posters. It looks like it’s been in Charlottesville for years, though it opened on July 1st. There are only six tables, which were all filled at 12:30. But if anything, the nondescript nature and worn-in feeling of Lou’s will only help entrench it in Charlottesville’s tried-and-true, locals-only category of restaurants.

I ordered a Philly cheesesteak with onions, peppers, American cheese, and lettuce, as… Read More

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Aqui es Mexico 

A giant carne asada chimichanga at Aqui es Mexico in Charlottesville, VACharlottesville is home to many fine Mexican restaurants of all sizes and modes – think Baja Bean for students, Guadalajara for margaritas, the farmer’s market for tacos al pastor. But Aqui es Mexico, tucked away in a shopping center in Belmont, offers something special: a unique combination of Salvadoran and Mexican cuisines, an expansive menu, and a comfortable interior.

The restaurant itself is spotless, brightly decorated, and well-lit, with many seating options suitable for different party sizes and a rather impressive curved bar. The service was friendly yet not overly so; my server seemed interested in my enjoyment of the food… Read More

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Plank Road Exchange 

Plank Road Exchange in Batesville (outside Charlottesville, VA)The closing of the Batesville Store was a miserable shame, and to the people responsible: what you’ve done is bad and you should feel bad. It was the perfect nearby getaway, music venue, food destination, the quintessential small town hangout. However, as one door closes, one more opens.

The brand new Plank Road Exchange is of course different from the Batesville Store with different guiding forces and a different overall feel. However, it basically looks the same and still offers delicious house-made foods and specials, frequent live music, and the lovely small-town charm. It’s new, of course, and still has kinks to work out, but the Exchange offers a wide selection… Read More

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The Whiskey Jar 

The Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, VAWhen I heard that Escafé was moving over to the old OXO space, ushering in a wagon wheel saloon specializing in affordable spins on rustic Southern fare, I was skeptical. Known less (to me) as a restaurant and more as a place to drink Red-Bull-vodka-laden Orange Crushes while dancing on the bar to Lady Gaga, Escafé featured a kind of grinding that had little in common with that now being employed by Whiskey Jar chefs to produce their delicious boiled peanut hummus. Unfortunately, my skepticism was confirmed after my first two visits. Fortunately, it was unconfirmed after my last two.

The space is almost but not quite unrecognizable. The bar… Read More

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Monsoon Siam 

Kao Pad Ka Pow Fried Rice with Chicken at Monsoon Siam in Charlottesville, VAFor those of you who have been here awhile, you may remember Monsoon Café’s origins as an artsy second-story Thai restaurant above the current Downtown Grille.* There were funkily painted chairs and wall-hangings, a couple of intimately capacious seating areas, and an appealing and unusual menu. I don’t know exactly when it moved from that privileged evening-on-the-town location to the decidedly less savory house on the corner of 2nd and Market (@Echangy?), but I thought I heard the death knell approaching. Fortunately, I was wrong. Not only has Monsoon survived, it recently spruced up its menu and interior space, and has got it going on pretty much for… Read More

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Tempo Restaurant & Bar 

Tempo interior.Newcomer restaurant Tempo (in the challenged 5th Street space that was home to Ventana) was much anticipated as we watched renovations and preparations for months. While its opening may have been overshadowed by the Commonwealth phenom, our initial meals suggest it’s a promising addition to the downtown dining scene and worth a visit.

You’ll first notice the decor, which people seem to love or hate. It’s like upscale Parisian bordello meets nouveau riche in the mountains. There’s paisley silk and cow print and even an enormous water buffalo head reigning over the bar. It’s a little too busy for my tastes, but I can appreciate that it doesn’t look like most other minimal brick interiors these days.

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Balkan Bistro and Bar 

balkan bistro - 02I was a pretty big fan of The Balkan Bakery. Rich sausages, thick breads, and spicy baklava, served up by a personable family who told you what you should order based on how you looked. “For you,” the matronly woman behind the counter said, pointing at me, “a big sandwich with lots of meat. Sausage. And onions.” Pointing now at Erin, “For you, our vegetarian sandwich with fresh roasted peppers and cheese.” Unfortunately, the ambitious upgrade in size and scope at The Balkan Bistro has meant a slight downgrade in the overall experience, even if the food is roughly the same.

For me, the main problem is that the rustic food and family… Read More

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