Best power lunch spots in the city

Photo: John Robinson Photo: John Robinson

Charlottesville’s power lunch scene’s a far cry from D.C.’s, but there’s still plenty of wheeling and dealing being done over the midday meal. Here’s where our town’s most influential go to discuss, deliberate, decide—and eat.

Everything served at Aromas Café in Barracks Road is fresh yet fast, and ordering the mezza trio of Mediterranean favorites is an easy way to break the ice.

Whether it’s patio weather or not, Bizou draws a crowd for Caesar salad with herbes de Provence-crusted fried chicken and irresistible grilled banana bread with ice cream and caramel sauce.

The scene at Hamiltons’ at First & Main remains quiet and serene despite its legion of fans who go for the vegetarian “blue plate special” or one of the restaurant’s inventive salads.

When you really want to make a good impression, the short drive out to Fossett’s at Keswick Hall is well worth it. You can count on the service and food being impeccable and the setting heavenly.

Orzo’s always bustling, but you can sit on the mezzanine for some privacy and the Greek salad or grilled flatbread pizza. A great wine list sweetens the deal.

Start your meeting on the drive up Route 20 to Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyards because once you’re there, the extraordinary food, wine, and ambiance will command your attention.

With big booths and round tables, Peter Chang’s China Grill can accommodate large groups that appreciate a spicy departure from the typical lunch.

There’s plenty of privacy on Petit Pois’s spacious patio, where sliced baguette and sweet cream butter prime the appetite for bistro classics like mussels and steak frites.

Tastings of Charlottesville is one of Downtown’s best-kept secrets. You’ll keep your anonymity while dining on delicacies like soft shell crabs and paella. You’re more than covered in the wine department too.

Tempo’s new to the lunch scene, but the power players have taken to the tucked-away Fifth Street location and twists on lunchtime classics like the salmon BLT.­—Megan J. Headley

The power burger
Citizen Burger Bar’s got a burger on the menu to satisfy the big spender with an extravagant palate. The Executive stacks wagyu beef, foie gras, a fried farm egg, Nueske’s bacon, onion, and rosemary aioli on an Albermarle Baking Company-baked brioche bun that’s slathered with black truffle butter. Served alongside a pile of skin-on, double-fried Citizen fries, it earns its $25 price tag.

(Photo by John Robinson)

The anti-power lunch
For those who think that time is money, grabbing lunch from a cart and eating it on the go is more their speed. Tyler Berry, the man behind the Catch the Chef cart on the Downtown Mall, spent eight years at the Bavarian Chef in Madison before going mobile. He had been splitting his skills between a taco cart and a hot dog cart, but he’s merged the two and can be found on Third Street (between Bank of America and Virginia National Bank) Mondays through Saturdays from 11ish to 3ish. Go for ready-in-a-jiffy yet fried-to-order hot dogs, Italian sausages, and French fries or tacos and burritos with your choice of chicken or beef. Everything tastes even better with “the works” sauce—a mixture of ketchup, mustard, relish, cayenne, and black pepper—and because nothing costs more than $5, you save money and time.