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.

Maria Gracia (formerly of El Tepeyac) approves of the authentic Mexican cuisine at The Bebedero. Photo: Tom McGovern

The Bebedero evokes the true flavors of Mexico

Comedian Jim Gaffigan claims that Mexican restaurants seem to take the same combination of ingredients and repackage them under different names. Tortillas, cheese, meat and vegetables, he says, combine to form nachos, tacos, burritos, chimichangas and more. At many so-called Mexican restaurants, this is sadly true, giving Mexican food an undeserved reputation as slop to […]

The brunch scene at Tavern & Grocery lends itself to lingering over plates of carefully crafted food, such as the poached eggs, served with grilled asparagus, beurre blanc and roasted potatoes.Photo: Ézé Amos

Could Tavern & Grocery bring back the party brunch?

I have heard it said more than once: Charlottesville is not a brunch town. What? With Blue Moon Diner, Bodo’s, Brookville, Beer Run, Bizou, Bluegrass Grill & Bakery and Brazos Tacos, I don’t even need to leave the B’s to name great brunch spots in town. On the other hand, I do understand the perspective. There […]

Côte-Rôtie food truck’s menu, influenced by several cultures and classical French technique, changes weekly, and includes rotisserie and yakitori dishes, such as istara spedini atop Schuyler Farms arugula with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette. You can find them on most Sundays and many Tuesdays at Champion Brewing Company, which offers its own revolving menu of new craft beers and picnic tables for dining al fresco. Photo: Tom McGovern

Côte-Rôtie champions trying new things

The first time I visited the Côte-Rôtie food truck, I knew it would be at Champion Brewing Company before long. Since opening in 2012, the downtown brewery has become the capital of Charlottesville food trucks, and hosts one almost every night. This is the brainchild of Champion owner Hunter Smith, who had seen the success […]

Hiring a local food truck as a catering alternative makes for a unique, interactive dinner party. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Party on: South Fork food truck reinvents dining at home

I grew up in the dinner party era. Among my favorite childhood memories is falling asleep to the mysterious sounds of my parents’ parties—roars of laughter, clanging glasses and high heels across wooden floors. My parents loved them, too. When preparing for their guests’ arrival, they always floated around the house with a gleam of anticipation. […]

By popular demand, Bizou owners Tim Burgess and Vincent Durquenne (pictured here in 2003) deliver on the promise of fun, innovative menu items established at their first venture Metropolitain. Photo: Stacey Evans

Torch bearer: Bizou carries on great food without the fuss

In the fall of 1993, in a booth at an unassuming new restaurant on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, I dug into a plate of rabbit quesadillas. I was floored. “Who puts rabbit in quesadillas?” I thought. “And, how could they taste this good?” In an era when fine dining meant white tablecloths and fussy French cuisine, […]

Image: Jason Crosby

Speak up: Why chefs want more complaints

I have a bad habit of never complaining at restaurants. Maybe it’s my British heritage. Brits don’t like to draw attention to themselves. When asked, “How is everything?” a Brit could be choking on a poisoned, flaming shard of glass while being pummeled by the bus boy, and would still muster: “Jolly good, thanks.” Why do […]

Fewer than 90 restaurants in the country have achieved Vera Pizza Napoletana status, but Lampo co-owner Loren Mendosa is well on his way. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Upper crust: Lampo embraces its Neapolitan heritage

Italians are serious about their pizza. So serious, in fact, that they even have an organization to certify whether something really is pizza. The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) gives a special designation to restaurants meeting strict requirements that respect the tradition of Neapolitan pizza. According to the VPN, true Neapolitan pizza comes only from […]

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 […]