Runner-up: C&O Restaurant
What’s a no-fail recipe for winning this category year after year? One part atmosphere (see Best Dining Patio), one part food (see Best Chef) and you’ve got it. MAS takes the win again, proving you can never have too much of a good thing. Thirty-five-year-old C&O rounds out the category. For more information on this winner, click here.
Peter Chang spices things up in the kitchen and on your tastebuds. All hail the chili pepper.
Peter Chang China Grill
Runner-up: Brookville Restaurant
Who else saw this one coming? Plenty of media buzz and an incredible menu of savory (and often spicy) Szechuan dishes is a difficult combination to beat. Not to say that this year’s crop of competition wasn’t up to the challenge. Harrison Keevil packs an all-local punch at his Downtown eatery, Brookville Restaurant. Backed by the notion that nothing on the menu should come from more than 100 miles away, readers gobble up his ever-changing, über-fresh offerings. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Shenandoah Joe
Straight from Best of C-VILLE Tallying Headquarters (a.k.a. The Internet), this was a close race. With its latest addition—a coffee cart located in (and sometimes outside of) the Main Street Arena—merely feet from the Downtown Mudhouse, Shenandoah Joe may be closing in on the perennial winner. Now wouldn’t that create a buzz? (See what we did there?) For more information on this winner, click here.
FIRST DATE SPOT
What you readers lack in specificity, you sure do make up for in great taste. While “Downtown Mall” is a bit more vague than we’d anticipated, there’s no denying it has all you could ever need for wooing: restaurants, bars, theaters, live music, shopping, and, if things are getting even more amorous than you bargained for, there’s a hotel, too. A little off the Mall is runner-up Bang!, with easy-to-share tapas, low lighting and walls the color of passion.
Runner-up: Blue Moon Diner
Nothing cures the woozies like a Bodo’s Caesar salad with a side of everything (regulars don’t say “bagel with”) bacon, egg and swiss. Grab a cup of Bo’ Joe and you’re good to (pardon the rhyme) go. In the mood for a little hair of the dog? Blue Moon Diner’ll serve you up a mean Bloody Mary with your eggs and bacon to set you right again. You’ll thank us later. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Bellair Market
Bodo’s takes this win, too, but not without stiff competition from other area sandwich spots like runner-up Bellair Market. The Tiger Fuel-adjacent eatery in Ivy has long been praised for superb sammies like the Birdwood: avocado, banana peppers, pepper jack cheese and herb mayo overtop Boar’s Head cracked pepper turkey. Who’s with us?
Bluegrass Grill & Bakery
Runner-up: Bodo’s Bagels
What do these two restaurants have in common? Readers want to visit them early and often. At Bluegrass, you swoon over the scrambled eggs, omelets, homemade granola, home fries, biscuits and pancakes. At Bodo’s, it’s bagels all the way, topped with cream cheese, eggs and bacon or even simply an avocado—readers can’t get enough. Just be sure to be the first in line at both locales. As they say, the early bird gets the worm. For more information on this winner, click here.
In Europe, it takes a few hours to enjoy a decent mid-day meal. On this side of the pond, we like it quick and tasty, which is why both Bodo’s and Eppie’s top the list for places to grab and go. Get a bagel sammy and an iced tea and hit the road. Or, at Eppie’s, order your meal and it’ll be there waiting by the time you walk to the end of the bar. Talk about fast food!
Bluegrass Grill & Bakery
Runner-up: Beer Run
The always-reliable Bluegrass Grill wins again! (Those biscuits just can’t be beat.) Closing in, however, is Beer Run, where the Sunday brunch is a taste to behold. We recommend the Clint Eastwood “Hang ’em high” Huevos: A western omelet with local eggs, red peppers, pepper jack cheese topped with fresh tomatillo salsa. Delish!
Littlejohn’s New York Delicatessen
Runner-up: C&O Restaurant
We’re going to level with you. This category exists for folks who imbibe just a bit too much and need a snack at the end of a long night out. Again this year, readers agree Littlejohn’s provides just what you’re looking for. Try the Corner spot’s most popular sandwich, the Wild Turkey: turkey breast, melted Muenster cheese, crispy bacon, tomato and herb mayonnaise on 12-grain wheat bread. Nothing satisfies an owl’s appetite quite the same. For more information on this winner, click here.
A Revolutionary concept: Vegetarians love the souped up menu at the Downtown and Corner stew spot.
Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste and creativity. You praise Rev Soup for its unique veggie menu, with choices like the Garlic Garden Club: sautéed red onions, roasted red pepper, white cheddar, fresh avocado, lettuce and tomato on sunflower wheat bread. Runner-up Eppie’s offers delicious “big salads,” a host of customizable pasta dishes, plus a daily menu of veg-friendly specials. (Try the cheese and pepper hot tamale on Wednesdays!)
MEAL UNDER $10
Runner-up: Sticks Kebob Shop
Again this year, you reach for a Bodo’s bagel when you want something inexpensive and filling. Newcomer Sticks takes the runner-up spot, with 10 years’ experience in meals under 10 smackers.
DRAFT BEER SELECTION
Runner-up: South Street Brewery
Judging by all the extra drink-focused categories we added this year, readers like to booze it up. When it comes to brew, you head to Beer Run, the Carlton Road restaurant with 15 beers on tap daily (plus even more in the bottle, if that’s more your speed). Making it to the runner-up spot this year is South Street, with seven brewed-on-premises choices. For more information on this winner, click here.
RESTAURANT WINE LIST
Siips Wine & Champagne Bar
Runner-up: C&O Restaurant
New winner alert! Siips Wine & Champagne bar overthrows C&O this year as best place to get your gulp on. (We suspect it was that extra “i” that set it over the edge.) The Downtown spot offers more than 75 wines and champagnes by the glass nightly. Recommended: Memorize which one you’re particularly fond of. After a few sips, it’ll likely become difficult to decipher the list.
Milan Indian Cuisine
Runner-up: Wood Grill Buffet
Milan takes the lead over perennial winner Wood Grill Buffet with its tandoori chicken, naan and palak paneer, among other traditional Indian dishes. You also crave the many meatless dishes at Milan’s daily lunch buffet. Up 29N, Wood Grill serves a packed buffet all day long. You head there for the sheer volume of choices and the family-friendly prices. For more information on this winner, click here.
For those of you who enjoy dining en plein air, you say there’s no better place than at the center of the hustle and bustle. Your winner, at the bottom of Hinton Avenue in Belmont, looks out over the neighborhood. Runner-up Zocalo is the perfect spot to people watch on the Downtown Mall.
Runner-up: Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
This town may be lacking in strictly “vegan” restaurants, but readers find plenty of options at winner Rev Soup. Try the Spicy Senagalese Tofu (a favorite among regulars), Classic Miso or, during the summer, Chilled Carrot & Ginger. On the Mall, Twisted Branch serves up a dahl and rice appetizer that’s almost sinful, plus vegan sammies and even dessert. For more information on this winner, click here.
PLACE FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH
Hamiltons’ at First & Main
The original working-lunch spot on the Downtown Mall, Hamiltons’ has served up a business-minded menu since 1996. Readers say it wins in this new category for its excellent food (try the crab cakes!), fresh atmosphere and large tables for spreading around important papers. Bizou, with its uber-private booths, secures the runner-up spot. For more information on this winner, click here.
Ted Norris at Maya
Runner-up: Al Zappa at Rapture
It’s only fitting that, on the fifth anniversary of Ted and Al’s previous win in this category, readers would send them to the winners’ circle once more. Here’s what we had to say about them in 2006: “Once again, the quick-handed and entertaining Ted ‘top shelf’ Norris left other Charlottesville drink-slingers chasing his ponytail in the race for best bartender. While the congenial, always-working Al ‘perfect pour’ Zappa is nearly as well-beloved by Downtown drinkers, in the end he came up just a few shots shy of first place.”
Santa Fe Enchiladas at Continental Divide
Runner-up: Meatloaf at Bizou
We’ve got two words for you: pumpkin muffin. O.K., we’ve got a few other words for you, too, like tortilla, melty cheese, refried beans, Spanish rice—oh, that’s enough talkin’. Get in there and eat! In the runner-up spot, Bizou’s down-home meatloaf, served with a baby greens salad and a mouthwatering scoop of creamy mashed potatoes. In a word, yum. For more information on this winner, click here.
Veritas Vineyard & Winery
Runner-up: King Family Vineyards
Its sizable tasting room and beautiful outdoor area land Veritas at the top in this new category. The 9-year-old vineyard and winery is situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and boasts a dozen wine varieties. Crozet-based King Family lands the runner-up spot for its impeccable mountain views and cozy fireplace sipping spot. For more information on this winner, click here.
Blue Mountain Brewery
Runner-up: Starr Hill Brewery
Two stops on the local Brew Ridge Trail, Blue Mountain and Starr Hill, quench your thirst for locally produced craft beer. The winner is Nelson County-based Blue Mountain, which Taylor and Mandi Smack and Matt Nucci opened in 2007. The runner-up, Masterbrewer Mark Thompson’s Crozet-situated Starr Hill. For more information on this winner, click here.
Three margs are better than one, and readers say Continental Divide’s margs are better than any other.
How do you know if a margarita’s good? When no one can stop talking about it. Midtown restaurant Continental Divide pulls ahead in this category, followed closely by the Guad. Straight up or fruit-flavored, you fall for the ’ritas, which come frozen or on the rocks in a glass the size of a small cereal bowl.
The more the merrier, we always say. Sounds like, when it comes to martinis from Bang!, readers agree. The Second Street tapas spot serves a ’tini menu of 30 flavors with enticing names like the Pink Squeeze and the Mr. Big. On the Mall, you go wild for Ten’s self-titled cocktail, containing sake, Ciroc vodka and aloe juice. Mmm! For more information on this winner, click here.
South Street Brewery
Runner-up: C&O Restaurant
So you want to go to a place where everybody knows your name, huh? Readers recommend South Street Brewery, where the beer’s cold (and brewed in-house!) and the bar staff’s quick on its feet. Runner-up C&O never disappoints, with a fully stocked bar made from an Albemarle County barn. For more information on this winner, click here.
Basil Mediterranean Bistro
Runner-up: College Inn
When you say Basil Mediterranean Bistro delivers, you mean it. The Corner-located eatery boasts a novel-length menu packed with flavor, like the Penne me Kota (penne pasta, artichoke hearts, red peppers, Kalamata olives, garlic, capers, tomatoes, chicken and feta in a creamy pesto sauce). What’s more, your dish arrives promptly and piping hot. Ballot newcomer College Inn takes the runner-up spot, delivering everything from cheese pizza and chicken alfredo to fried mushrooms and pecan pie. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Aberdeen Barn
Q: Why was the butcher worried? A: His job was at steak! We kid, we kid. We know your Porterhouse is no laughing matter. That’s why you vote Downtown Grille and Aberdeen Barn into the winners’ circle this year. For both locales, an A-plus steak is serious business. Serving up certified Black Angus beef, DG and The Barn satisfy carnivores with high standards. For more information on this winner, click here.
Albemarle Baking Company
Runner-up: Chandler’s Bakery
How difficult is it to run a beloved bakery in this town? As easy as ABC! Albemarle Baking Company, that is. Owners Gerry Newman and Millie Carson’s Main Street Market sweet shop has been serving up breads, pastries and wedding cakes since 1995. Another oldie but a goodie, Chandler’s Bakery is your runner-up. Readers return to this Albemarle Square spot for desserts large and small. For more information on this winner, click here.
Chef Tomas Rahal’s culinary creations leave readers wanting MAS.
Tomas Rahal at MAS
Runner-up: Michael Keaveny at Tavola
They’ve got a good thing going over there in Belmont. At the end of Hinton Avenue, chef/owner Tomas Rahal cooks up a mean plato de jamon, but did you know he originally came to Charlottesville as an undergrad at UVA’s School of Architecture? And Michael Keaveny, chef/owner at the best Italian spot in town, is a Culinary School of America grad with 30 years’ experience in the restaurant industry. Chef! Chef! Chef!
Peter Chang China Grill
Runner-up: Red Lantern
The second Charlottesville restaurant that chef Chang’s put his stamp of approval on (the first was Taste of China in Albemarle Square), the China Grill opened this past March to anxious diners and media fanfare. Since then, his Szechuan menu has been charming readers and numbing their tongues with his signature spicy style. In other words, this ain’t your typical Chinese food. It’s better. In the runner-up spot, ballot newcomer Red Lantern on Carlton Road impresses with both delivery and catering menus.
Readers will no doubt be surprised to learn that, literally translated, “sushi” means “sour-tasting,” as nothing we’ve ever tasted from Ten substantiates that translation. Each unique dish feels a bit sinful on the taste buds. Up 29N, Japanese franchise Sakura cooks everything before your very eyes. For more information on this winner, clickhere.
Runner-up: Lime Leaf
We’re gonna be honest with you, it’s pretty unclear which Thai ’99 readers are voting for. That’s the downside to multiple unrelated businesses with similar names (Vinny’s and Sal’s, we’re looking at you). Luckily, both Thai ’99s offer delicious menus and charming atmosphere. We can see why you voted for (either of) them. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Continental Divide
Seems like every time we turn around, Gilbert Lopez is opening another location of his popular Mexican eatery. That’s O.K. with you; each Guad serves a menu as tasty as the last. Runner-up Continental Divide offers solid Tex-Mex entrées and appetizers, including the praiseworthy Santa Fe Enchilada. For more information on this winner, click here.
Congratulazioni Tavola! Ci sembrava opportuno riconoscere il miglior ristorante italiano in citta’ in propri termini: in italiano. Tutto quel che riguarda il piu’ giovane ristorante in Belmont e’ eccezionale: il menu con piatti tipici provenienti dalle varie regioni italiane; il servizio, l’atmosfera, la lista vini e il cibo stesso, fresco e curato con la massima attenzione. Come si dice in America, the food speaks for itself. E’ cosi’ vero! For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Petit Pois
Bon appétit, readers! Mark Gresge’s French spot edges out the competition this year, offering local food prepared using French culinary techniques. The Midtown eatery got its start as the Tea Room Café in 1993. Downtown, Mark Helleberg’s teeny-weeny dinner, lunch and brunch spot assumes the runner-up position. For more information on this winner, click here.
Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar
Runner-up: Basil Mediterranean Bistro
Dining at Orzo means getting the best of many worlds. Chef/co-owner Charles Roumeliotes combines traditional Mediterranean recipes with influences from Greece, Italy, Spain and southern France to create a no-fail menu that readers agree is the best in town. Raif Antar’s Basil Mediterranean always wows with its mile-long menu and specialty beverage list. For more information on this winner, click here.
Milan Indian Cuisine
Runner-up: Himalayan Fusion
Again this year, readers agree: Milan’s the best. Whether you want vindaloo, matar paneer or just a simple side of naan, the Emmet Street spot serves up authentic, delicious Indian dishes worth praising. Downtown, Himalayan Fusion offers a great selection and a patio for people-watching. For more information on this winner, click here.
Wild Wing Café
Runner-up: McGrady’s Irish Pub
Thirty-four sauces at Wild Wing, from “Medium” to “Sweltering” (ain’t no “Mild” on this menu, folks), make your list this year when it comes to flavorful chicken wings. The Amtrak-adjacent franchise offers plenty of deals, like the “All-You-Can-Eat Wing Bar,” so you can devour as many wings as you can handle. For $8.95, gain access to three wing flavors, three nugget flavors, soup, fries and a featured item of the day. In the runner-up spot, McGrady’s offers 37-cent wings (try the “Sweet and Sweaty” flavor) on Mondays. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runners-up: Five Guys and Riverside Lunch (tie)
Boylan brings it home again. The gourmet burger spot’s been the one to beat two years in a row now, wowing Corner diners with its beef and veggie patties. Beloved local establishment—and one-time burger standard-bearer—Riverside Lunch makes the ballot this year for the first time in five years, tying Arlington-born franchise Five Guys. For more information on this winner, clickhere.
Runner-up: Riverside Lunch
Five Guys knows just how we like our fries: piled high, tucked in a greasy paper bag and, for some of us, liberally sprinkled with an irresistible blend of spices. Old school burger joint Riverside snatches the runner-up spot, serving up classic shoestring taters. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Barbeque Exchange
Pint-sized ’cue spot Belmont BBQ smokes the competition once again, proving that it’s not the size of the pig in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the pig. Or something. (We’re busy chewing; we can’t worry about the facts.) Craig Hartman’s Gordonsville newcomer brings top-quality ’cue to the ballot for the first time, taking runner-up. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Mellow Mushroom
One more trophy in this category and Christian’s will have itself a decade of wins. Pretty impressive, considering all the stiff competition from the city’s other 40-plus ’za joints, like runner-up Mellow Mushroom. For more information on this winner, click here.
Runner-up: Tokyo Rose
Holy mackerel! Readers agree: Ten’s sushi is the best. You’ll find everything from snapper to squid on the menu, artfully presented at your table and a tastebud explosion as it goes down. The runner-up, Ivy Road-situated Tokyo Rose boasts a fresh sushi bar and delivery options.
Runner-up: Arch’s Frozen Yogurt
Just over a year under owner PK Ross’ watch, Splendora’s is still your favorite place to grab a cold one—dish of gelato, that is. Between 24 and 36 flavors fill the cases daily. Good luck making a decision! Speaking of decisions, at runner-up Arch’s, choose between Edy’s vanilla, chocolate or tartisan or low-calorie Wow Cow froyo. Whatever you do, don’t forget the sprinkles. For more information on this winner, click here.
Readers are all fired up over the seafood offerings at Bonefish Grill in Hollymead Town Center.
What a catch! Bonefish Grill, up 29N in the Hollymead Town Center, takes the win this year. Owner Scott Hutson and his team serve up the freshest fishies around: grouper, sea bass, salmon, tilapia, tuna and, a notable favorite, Bang Bang Shrimp. Duner’s, up Ivy Road, reels in runner-up with seared scallops and salmon, steamed mussels and jumbo lump crab cakes. For more information on this winner, click here.
There’s no arguing with a southern classic like fried chicken. ’Round these parts, nobody does it better than Wayside. A little bridge repair at JPA doesn’t stop you from nabbing a “Big Eater.” Down on West Main Street, runner-up Maya charms you with menu items like pork tenderloin with Carolina BBQ slaw or baby back ribs. Wash it down with Moonshine Punch and call it a night. For more information on this winner, click here.
Service comes easy to the folks at the Clifton. After all, they’re in the business of making sure you enjoy yourself. No wonder readers say they’re tops. Over in Belmont, servers at Michael Keaveny’s Italian eatery impress. We know we sure couldn’t navigate that itty-bitty space while carrying hot plates and glasses of wine. For more information on this winner, click here.
USE OF LOCAL FOOD
Runner-up: Revolutionary Soup
You know that jam slogan, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good?” Well, with a name like The Local, the food has to be local. Not quite as catchy, maybe, but certainly delicious. Regionally sourced meats, cheeses and even Mona Lisa Pasta flood the menu at the Belmont restaurant. Downtown and on the Corner, runner-up Rev Soup serves up local fare straight from owner Will Richey’s garden. Doesn’t get much more local than that. For more information on this winner, click here.
PLACE TO DRINK AFTER WORK
South Street Brewery
Located in a late 19th century warehouse with a working fireplace, steel barrels behind the bar and wooden fixtures throughout, 13-year-old South Street looks like the kind of place our forefathers once met to discuss important revisions to the Constitution over a pint of ale. Readers agree it’s No. 1 for imbibing after 5. For more information on this winner, click here.
Tip Top Restaurant
We’ll put it bluntly: If your kid’s prone to tantrums, might you dine where the rest of the eating public isn’t quite as phased by that sort of thing? This year, you say Tip Top provides the best setting. In second place is Eppie’s, where the mac-n-cheese satisfies even the tiniest of palates—long enough for Mom and Dad to get a bite in, too. For more information on this winner, click here.
PLACE WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS BUYING
Parents in town? Friends volunteered to treat you to a birthday/anniversary/celebratory dinner? Readers say choose the C&O (try the beef tenderloin!) or Fleurie (we recommend the squab). Not a single entrée under $20 and worth every penny. For more information on this winner, click here.
BAR FOR SINGLES
The X Lounge
Runner-up: Blue Light Grill
It’s a tough world out there for you parties of one. Luckily, you find refuge at The X Lounge, where lonely singles can sidle up to the bar, sip on a tasty cocktail and hope a dashing young lad (or lass) will ask to pay for it. For those looking to mix and mingle on the Mall, there’s seafood-centric Blue Light. Brings new meaning to the phrase “There’s other fish in the sea,” huh? For more information on this winner, click here.