Music and show business have several, and there’s one for every sport you can think of. Heck, even cowgirls have a place to honor their best and brightest. So it’s no surprise that Best of C-VILLE instituted its very own Hall of Fame last year. In addition to recognizing the people and places you’ve voted tops in this town year after year (hello, McGuffey Art Center, ACAC and the Swetts), we thought the time had come for a permanent home for Charlottesville’s all-time winners.
The Boar’s Head has something for every taste
Where to start when it comes to the Boar’s Head bests? Perhaps at the inn, which doubles as the official hotel of the University of Virginia, and is the place you’ve voted the best hotel, inn or B&B time and again. Seems you can’t get enough of the antique-filled rooms and suites (some with balconies and patios for enjoying to- die-for views as you sip your morning coffee or afternoon glass of wine), plush bathrobes and linens that guests often purchase to take home. Or there’s the resort’s award-winning Birdwood Golf Course, on 500 acres at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and, as longtime golfer Blair Engle put it a couple years ago, a course you “want to play over and over, and still look forward to the challenge of playing it again.” And who doesn’t fancy a spa day with options such as Sacagawea’s Aromatherapy Journey, the Signature Monticello Garden Massage or a Berry Bliss Mountain Scrub? We certainly won’t quibble with any of that, but if you ask us, the best thing about a long weekend at the Boar’s Head is Sunday brunch in the Old Mill Room, where they know the way to our heart is with a plate heaped high with eggs Benedict, French toast, Belgian waffles, grits and housemade biscuits—to name just a few.
The theater’s second act gets rave reviews
If you’ve ever wondered why the Paramount Theater has received so many Best of C-VILLE awards, take a good look at the place. Its illuminated marquee and Greek Revival-influenced façade have dazzled Downtown Mall denizens since the theater reopened in 2004 after an extensive renovation. Walk beneath the historic, 33-foot vertical blade sign, which was reilluminated in 2015, and through the theater’s front doors, and we dare you not to be awed by the brass chandeliers, plaster molding and painted tapestries. No wonder you’ve repeatedly voted it your favorite place to see musicians ranging from Itzhak Perlman and Wynton Marsalis to Pink Martini and Tony Bennett, who appreciated the theater’s acoustics so much, he sang a few songs there sans microphone last winter.
In 2012, C-VILLE called the Paramount the “grandest room in town,” and five years later, we stand by that statement. The 1,040-seat neoclassical gem opened in 1931, but went dark in 1974, when attendance waned as business downtown dropped off. The theater sat empty for decades, until community leaders raised funds for the renovations that restored the one-time movie palace to its former glory (and, this year, nabbed it an Outstanding Historic Theatre award from the League of Historic American Theatres). In the 13 years since its rehab, you’ve repeatedly reminded us that there’s not a better place in town to catch a concert by the Municipal Band of Charlottesville, screenings of classic films like Roman Holiday, performers such as Paula Poundstone, a performance by the Charlottesville Opera or digital HD simulcasts of National Theatre and Metropolitan Opera productions.
The C&O experience never disappoints
Two words: steak Chinoise. Okay, two more words: vegetable soup. Yep, we’re talking about a couple of the signature dishes at C&O Restaurant, your repeat favorite in several categories (chef, restaurant, dish and spot when the boss is buying) since you started voting for the Best of C-VILLE more than two decades ago. Chef/ owner Dean Maupin bought the eatery, a Charlottesville institution since 1976, from the late Dave Simpson in 2013, and while Maupin continues to serve the familiar fare you love (see the four words above), he’s added his own culinary creations, made with locally sourced ingredients from area farms (Braised Retreat Farm lamb, anyone?).
Located in an old brick railroad bunkhouse on Water Street, the C&O doesn’t look like much from the outside (a sign with its name in black letters hangs beneath a large Pepsi logo), but inside you’ll find six different equally charming eating areas, including the upstairs dining room, where windows overlook the former C&O rail yard and passenger station; the mezzanine, with its century-old brick and barn wood floor; the Bistro, a space a writer once referred to as “one of the greatest rooms in America”; and the terrace, a warm-weather favorite that provides one of the city’s finest outdoor dining experiences. But there’s a seventh space at the C&O that many consider the best area of all: the restaurant’s award- winning wine cellar, home to the thousands of bottles that make up the C&O’s carefully curated wine list, something you’ve voted the best in town for as long as we can remember.
Here’s what we added to the list in 2016.
106.1 The Corner
McGuffey Art Center
Health & Fitness
Food & Drink
Oasis Day Spa & Body Shop