Coming to Charlottesville and need some dinner ideas? Here’s my list of the best restaurants for dinner in Charlottesville to visit when we can all resume public life again. In the meantime, order some takeaway!
While our restaurants are currently closed for dining in, I thought one small way I could support them from afar would be to write about all my favorites you should visit when the social distancing period is over. I am hoping to do a little series on Charlottesville and focus each post (dinner, lunch, kid friendly, etc) so that when travel limits are lifted, you can all come visit and enjoy our best restaurants! Check my Cville page for even more.
Best Restaurants For Dinner In Charlottesville
Since moving here a decade ago I have received countless (hundreds?) of emails and DMs asking me for recommendations for a family visit, bachelorette party, or romantic getaway here in Charlottesville. It’s a popular place for a weekend visit, and we have some fabulous restaurants to enjoy while you’re here!
People in Cville love to go out to dinner, and we have a vibrant dining scene. Outdoor dining is particularly popular, especially on the downtown mall which is great for people watching. Most people are dressed in their everyday clothes – you don’t see too many sequins or stilettos. While we don’t have quite the diversity or scale of a big city, we have a little something for everyone. I know some of you locals will have more to add so please feel free to do so in the comments <3
Nice Dinners On The Downtown Mall
You guys have heard me rav about Zocalo for years because the chef makes two of my favorite entrees in town – the black bean and corn stuffed chile relleno with smoked tomato grits and a buttermilk sauce (!!) and the salmon with goat cheese couscous. And the scallops with a vanilla-carrot sauce!Try the margarita flight (including a jalapeño one!). Lots of patio seating and good for a group.
Rustic small Italian plates, including pizzas, and an open-air window when it’s warm. Great for an intimate dinner.
Creative “Virginia” cuisine with cozy booths. Great brunch too! Rooftop bar called Sky Bar to get drinks before or after dinner.
Asian-inspired tapas-style small plates and huge martini menu. Also lots of vegetarian options. Try the coconut rice, General Tso’s Cauliflower, and the Afterglow martini. Good for a girls night.
Upscale fine dining steakhouse with premium aged meats. Forget mashed potatoes and try the potato pavé! Good for an anniversary dinner or when the boss is treating. The bar is cool too!
One of our favorite bars for a drink with a mix of comfort food and classics. Great for lunch and brunch too! Patio seating fills up fast. I love the fried chicken with honey over the kale caesar.
The Zocalo Black Bean + Corn Chile Relleno is my favorite entree in town!
Nice Dinners Near Downtown
West Main Street Neighborhood:
Farm-to-table small plates. Very fresh and local! Very cool open-garage door vibe with picnic tables and lovely patio.
One of our favorites serving amazing Southern food. I love the fried catfish and crab cakes and you can choose from sides likes cornbread and mac and cheese. The pimento cheese fitters are also great! Good for a group.
A cozy spot for amazing Italian food, Orzo has a great menu with pastas and seafood – plus excellent wine. It’s actually one of my favorite spots for a ladies lunch because they have some outstanding salads that you can pair with a bowl of soup and glass of wine for a very reasonable price.
Obviously a great spot for raw oysters and seafood! This is one of our favorites in the summertime. Try the mussels and Belgian fries! There aren’t a ton of seats, so reservations or the summer patio is a good idea.
Oh boy – one of the best for pizza in town! We always get the same things: the orangey olives, the small but mighty kale salad, the Hellboy pizza (if they have it!) and the Prosciutto pizza with preserved lemon and arugula. Good luck getting a table 😉
Rustic Italian meets farm to table with super fresh ingredients. The burrata with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto is to die for, and I am partial to the capellini “gamberi’ with shrimp and gorgonzola! Seating is very limited and popular, but there’s a great bar in the back where you can order apps and wait for a table.
One of Cville’s longest-running popular spots, Mas serves tapas hot and delish! Favorites include the bacon-wrapped dates (a must!), the hot-smoked roma tomatoes (omg!), artichoke hearts with garlic aioli, and carne asada, served rare, with smoked tomato alioli. My sister-in-law, Melissa, has worked there since the beginning – ask for her and she’ll take good care of you!
A cool spot in a historic building, try the fish tacos, Mexican street corn, and entrees with a Southwestern twist. Great margs and porch seating. Good for a group or girls night!
A family-friendly Cville favorite, this huge brewery serves tons of food and beer in a sports-loving, big group atmosphere. I love getting a beer sampler, and favorite beers are the Hydraulion Red and Minute Man IPA. The Pretzel Bites are amazing (like fried balls of dough) and the fries are awesome. We love the sliders for kids and grown-ups alike. Good place to watch sports if you’re in town for a game.
Another great beer hall with good food and lots of space for groups. Order at the counter and have your food brought out makes it easy to split checks. Great brats and fries! Lots of games for kids, including a nice outdoor bocce area.
Where the best burgers are made from local grass-fed beef! Delicious burgers, huge salads, amazing sweet potato fries. I love the roasted beet salad and the Little Bleu burger. It can be hard to get a table so go early.
Sliders at Three Notch’d
In The Country
Blue Mountain is about 30 minutes outside of Charlottesville and worth the drive! They have beautiful mountain views, tons of outdoor seating and games, and really good big square pizzas. Oh and beer!! The Local Sausage Pizza is our favorite.
Not really in the country, but on the way out of the west side of town, Vivace is a great spot for Italian classics. With an old world vibe, they have favorites like Spaghetti Carbonara and Ragu alla Bolognese with homemade tagliatelle (Thomas’s favorite). The bar gets packed before UVA games, so it’s great spot to hit for an early pre-game dinner and round of beers. Shout out to our friend Landon who is the chef!
This is where Thomas and I had our wedding!! (And my Bachelorette Party!) The Clifton is a boutique hotel (you should stay there too!) about 10 minutes from downtown Cville. The grounds are beautiful (why we loved it for a wedding!) and the back porch is a beautiful setting for an outdoor dinner when the weather is nice. The dishes are farm-to-table, and have always been impressed with the creativity.
Salad on The Clifton porch!
I wanted to focus on our very favorites, but of course there are many more great spots in town!! I hope to cover lunches and family friend favorites in an upcoming post : )
Those of you who have visited before and my local friends, what was your most memorable dinner?