C. Simon Davidson

Simon Davidson, founder of The Charlottesville 29, has had a passion for food for as long as he can remember. Even as a young child, at restaurants with his parents he would ask the server to allow him one more appetizer while everyone else was ordering dessert. He has eaten all over the country and all over the Charlottesville area, which he has called home for nearly all of his adult life. In his real life, he practices law at the international law firm McGuireWoods, which was founded in Charlottesville, and also writes a political law column for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Most important of all, he says, he is the father of two and husband of one.

Palladio chef Melissa Close-Hart and her team have won more national accolades than any other local restaurant. Photo: John Robinson

Tastes like summer: Famed D.C. chef swoons over Palladio 

Charlottesville food is hot. In the last year alone, our area’s food has won praise from national media outlets dozens of times, culminating with a recent nod in Wine Enthusiast as one of “America’s five new foodie cities.” For one of our restaurants, though, national attention is nothing new. Since opening in 2000 at Barboursville […]

Seared trout with grilled romaine, charred Meyer lemon, and elderflower. Photo: Norm Shafer

Love shack: Haute cuisine meets lowdown digs in Staunton

The Shack is all the rage. In the short time since its late-January opening, chef Ian Boden’s tiny Staunton dive has already won raves from Esquire magazine and The Washington Post, among others. The Esquire article was titled: “Found: The Incredible Restaurant in the Middle of Nowhere that Nobody Knows About.” Staunton residents might be […]

Renowned sushi chef Yoshihiro Tauchi and his wife Yukiko opened Kokoro Sushi Japanese Restaurant last December, and are serving up classic Japanese food for lunch and dinner. Photo: Elli Williams

At Kokoro, sushi lovers are in good hands

Often when I eat out, I ask if the chefs would make whatever they like. While the request can perplex some servers, a little persistence can usually have it delivered to the kitchen. I figure that no one has a more reliable opinion of a restaurant’s food than those who prepare it. The Japanese have […]

Dr. Ho’s has been serving up the area’s favorite pizza since 1998, and current owner Michael McCarthy has taken it upon himself to make the menu even more irresistible. Photo: Christian Hommel

Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie defies all self control

Some call it Dr. Ho’s Challenge: Try to make it out of Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie without entering a food coma. The menu at the popular North Garden restaurant is so loaded with greatness that it’s almost impossible not to over-order. Even if you get past the best pizza in the area, the wings will […]

Clifton Inn’s executive chef Tucker Yoder is blazing a new path with innovative, ever-changing dishes. Photo: Justin Ide

Forging ahead: Chef Tucker Yoder pushes Clifton Inn forward

Only about 50 restaurants in the country belong to Relais & Chateaux, the global group of luxury hotels and restaurants famous for its strict standards of admission. One of them is right here in Charlottesville, the Clifton Inn, which has been a member since 2006, alongside culinary giants like The French Laundry and The Inn […]

Photo: Jackson Smith

The mother: Melissa Close-Hart (Food & Drink Annual 2013)

There are no women on the real Mount Rushmore. Since there still hasn’t been a female U.S. president, there are not even any candidates. Although the realm of restaurant chefs is not quite as male-dominated, it’s not far off. For whatever reason, in Charlottesville as elsewhere, the top restaurant kitchens are still usually run by […]

Photo: Jackson Smith

The family man: Angelo Vangelopoulos (Food & Drink Annual 2013)

Every Easter, chefs, purveyors, foodies, and friends gather for a massive celebration of food and wine centered around the distinctly Greek ritual of roasting a goat outdoors on a spit. Started in 2010, it is now the largest annual gathering of Charlottesville’s food family, and its host is the family’s patriarch, Angelo Vangelopoulos, chef-owner of […]

Photo: Jackson Smith

The teacher: Craig Hartman (Food & Drink Annual 2013)

There is no elite culinary school in Charlottesville. Instead, there is the Clifton Inn. No kitchen has helped to create more local chefs than the Clifton’s, the fine dining restaurant that Craig Hartman built. Hartman first came to town in 1991, when he visited from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to watch a UVA […]

Maya Chef Christian Kelly got his start at Clifton Inn, where he helped it achieve Relais & Chateaux status. Photo: Justin Ide

A happy marriage: Maya perfects Charlottesville’s signature cuisine

Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville’s original gourmand, was famous for the food served at his Monticello home, which statesman Daniel Webster said was “half Virginian, half French…in good taste and abundance.” Fast forward 200 years, and things seem very much the same in Jefferson’s hometown. Half Virginian, half French food, in good taste and abundance, is everywhere. […]

Owner Mark Gresge says the main philosophy of l’étoile is to make guests happy. “They chose us,” he said. Photo: Elli Williams

Star of the show: Now 20, l’étoile keeps shining

Gourmet food is moving downscale. The work of talented chefs is increasingly available to diners who don’t wish to dress up or pay a small fortune for a good meal. While the proliferation of inexpensive, casual, high quality restaurants has generally been a good thing, one downside is the squeezing out of a dying breed—a […]