Fantastic Fox’s Café: Charlottesville’s last bastion of country cooking

Photo: John Robinson Photo: John Robinson

In an era when most restaurants are going to great lengths to stand out, Fox’s Cafe blends in. Situated in a parking lot on Avon Street at the edge of Belmont, the local diner is a throwback. For a fair price, you can get country biscuits ‘n’ gravy, or eggs over easy with corned beef hash, at a counter that slings coffee in brown mugs where locals talk to the owner, Diane Fox, and each other about rising power bills and old TV shows.

Diners like Fox’s used to be in every neighborhood and now they’re hard to find. What separates the experience of a real country breakfast and lunch counter from say, Denny’s? It’s the little things. The fact that the coffee is actually good and that the food doesn’t come floating in a puddle of grease. The potatoes get peeled and the stew meat browns for lunch right there in front of you, next to a steaming pot of creamed chip beef that’s ready to smother a from-scratch biscuit. The homemade lemon meringue pie glows from the refrigerator as an underpowered boombox plays barely distinguishable pop music.

Then there’s the sense of place. Charlottesville’s last bastion of country cooking and hometown hospitality is a rock’s throw from the Downtown Mall. There are 10 tables and about that many seats at the counter. If you go back a few times, Diane and her girls will call you by name and set you up with what you need.

We can’t all be rich, but at Fox’s we can feel like we’re riding the gravy train on biscuit wheels.