Posts Tagged Rating: 3 stars

Beer Run 

Beer Run - 05For those of you who aren’t familiar with Beer Run on Carlton Road, here’s the premise: take a convenience store and fill it with beer and wine, throw in a cheap menu with bar classics like nachos and burgers, and add some picnic benches outside. This simple but smart idea has created a popular spot that’s great for the casual and devoted drinker. But I must admit – bring on the ire of the Beer Run devotees – I’m perplexed when people get really enthusiastic about this place. Maybe I just need to change my perspective. As a convenience store to grab a six pack on your way to a party, it’s a gold medal winner. As a casual… Read More

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Maya Brunch 

Vegetable potato cake with smoked salmon, sour cream, and chivesWe have an unhealthy relationship with brunch. And by unhealthy I mean not only that we invest an alarming portion of our happiness in a positive brunch experience every weekend, but also that it is literally unhealthy. I eat lots and lots of bacon, and Erin eats lots and lots of fried potatoes. Our favorite brunch places and dishes are so entrenched in our lives that it’s an act of tremendous will to go somewhere else, as we did one recent Sunday when we went to Maya. It was fine, but I missed our usuals.

Maya offers a brunch menu that… Read More

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Tara Thai 

tara thaiI am deeply skeptical about Asian chain restaurants. So while I was initially excited to hear that a new Thai restaurant was coming to town, my enthusiasm fizzled when I heard it was a chain restaurant. That was going into Barracks. Chain restaurant, shopping mall, meh.

We went to Tara Thai with lowered expectations and left mostly satisfied, if not awestruck. Outside Tara Thai is the typical madness of Barracks, inside it’s swanky nightclub meets aquarium. The ambience is much nicer than expected and definitely a welcome departure from the usual dependence on fluorescent in many local Asian joints… Read More

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Hamiltons’ 

hamiltons - 01Hamiltons’ is one of those places that arouses in me only the mildest flicker of interest when I’m thinking about a night on the town. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the ethnic-American menu, which features stir-fry, spaghetti, and rack of lamb dishes right there next to each other. Or it could be the fact that no one ever recommends it to me or otherwise seems to be talking about it. Or maybe I would just prefer that the comma in their name come before the “s” instead of after. Whatever it is, I never feel much like going, which is still how I feel after our last visit.

We ate outside… Read More

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Baggby’s 

baggbys - 8If there is one thing that Charlottesville over-serves it’s sandwiches. We have a lot of spinach-artichoke dip and egg rolls and jalapeño poppers too — sometimes all on the same menu — but sandwich shops are squished into this city’s limits like so many turkey cold cuts. Some of them are skippable, but many serve up fresh ingredients in creative, well-executed combinations that are more than worthy of your lunch hour. Baggby’s is one such establishment. In addition to old faithfuls like egg salad and pastrami you can find newfangled genre-benders like the Sedona Read More

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La Taza Coffee House 

la taza - 7When the sun is shining and the temperature is warm, there’s nothing like a weekend brunch at La Taza. The patio is large, scenic, and dog-friendly. The coffee is strong, delicious, and fair trade. The juice comes with champagne (if you want it), and the food has a Latin American flair.

Humbly called a coffee house, I think La Taza has one of the more interesting brunch menus in town. Their Huevos Benicio is potatoes layered with ham, pepper jack cheese, and eggs covered in salsa and sour cream with tortillas on the side, while the Machaca includes scrambled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, tortillas, and… Read More

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Fleurie 

fleurie - 01Oh, fine French dining: the setting for a fancy night out to celebrate a promotion, propose a marriage, or, if you’re in a movie, to inevitably stumble into a waiter when he is carrying an enormous platter of heavy and very loud dishes.

I love fine dining settings. I love the candles, flowers, long wine list, and most of all, I just love feeling special. I don’t, however, always love the fancy French food that comes with these settings. Maybe I have a low tolerance for butter or some lingering rebellion against my Francophile mother. Regardless of the reason, after years in Charlottesville, we had never been to one of the poshest places… Read More

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Miller’s 

millers   - 1You don’t go to Miller’s for the food. You go for the party. People-watching over a pitcher of beer in the middle of the mall outside, small jazz and alt music shows or weekday bar-flying on the ground floor, more civilized conversation upstairs, and rough-and-tumble billiards up the side stairs on the top floor. Food is there to assist you in whatever plans you might have at Miller’s that evening, not… Read More

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Bluegrass Grill and Bakery 

bluegrass - 7Half the people in this town will tell you that a brunch at the Bluegrass Grill and Bakery is a key part of any good weekend plan. But my weekend plan usually involves the following: wake up hungry, decide Bluegrass sounds like a good idea, drive past Bluegrass and see a line of 20 people waiting outside, feel hungry and grumpy, decide it will take too long to wait, go somewhere else. This repeated pattern has led me to my wisest Bluegrass lesson: go during the week. Read More

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Boylan Heights 

boylan heights - 11There are basically two kinds of burgers for sale out there: The thick and fancy restaurant burger taller than a 10-gallon hat, with toppings like feta and spinach, and the thinner grease-pit burger, with toppings like ketchup and mustard. Boylan Heights serves up the former, and they do it well.

The interior is like posh exposed-brick boutique meets frat house. A bar with backlit bottles vies for attention with a massive portrait depicting a scene… Read More

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