Loco for Mono Loco: Latin American favorite closes after 20 years

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Mono Loco fans came out in droves for the final days of the popular downtown Latin American restaurant. Photo by Eze Amos Mono Loco fans came out in droves for the final days of the popular downtown Latin American restaurant. Photo by Eze Amos

Mono Loco regulars were recently issued a pink slip with the announcement of the closing, after 20 years, of the venerable downtown eatery.

The restaurant, known for its friendly staff, fun atmosphere and Latin American cuisine, shuttered its doors after service on Saturday, July 28.

“Our lease was up and it was time for us to focus our energy in different directions,” says Joe Hall, vice president of business development for Red Light Management. “Mono Loco had a great run. We appreciate our employees, our customers who made Mono what it is and for the opportunity to serve Charlottesville for that long. It’s been an honor.”

In with the new

Cava restaurant is now open. Known for its fast-casual Mediterranean cuisine, the restaurant is located in the new Emmet Street Station (1200 Emmet St. N.), where the former Exxon station was, across from Barracks Road Shopping Center. Hours are 10:45am to 10pm.

And next door to CAVA is MOD Pizza, a fast-growing, Seattle-based joint that serves up individual artisan-style pizzas made on demand, allowing customers to create their own pies and salads with fresh-pressed dough, signature sauces and more than 30 toppings. It opened July 27.

In honor of its grand opening, MOD donated 100 percent of its first-day pizza sales to the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit focused on mental health awareness and suicide prevention for teens and young adults; 100 percent of pizza sales from its soft opening went to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

MOD’s hours are 10:30am to 10pm Sun through Thursday, and 10:30am to 11pm Friday and Saturday.

Expanding options

Foods of All Nations has ventured beyond Ivy Road with the opening of its new Foods of All Nations Café in the UVA Research Park north of town, in Town Center Three at 995 Research Park Blvd. A go-to grocery destination for more than 50 years, FoAN has long been known as the place to find hard-to-find ingredients from around the world.

The new café features curated products from local vendors such as MarieBette Café & Bakery, Schuyler Greens and Lumi Juice.

Open from 8am to 5pm, it has both hot and cold breakfast and lunch options, freshly baked goods and desserts, an espresso bar, a salad bar and dinner carryout items. Located adjacent to The Hub, the research park’s open, airy, casual meeting/dining/event space, the café will also offer an outdoor dining space.

Wine wins

Fleurie restaurant made the Wine Enthusiast’s America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2018, which “is a pretty big deal for our little Charlottesville restaurant,” says Fleurie sommelier Melissa Boardman.

Fleurie is also among the five local restaurants that have earned a 2018 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for their wine lists. This is the first year that Red Pump Kitchen and Bizou have earned the honor; Tavola and Fleurie have been honorees since 2016, and the Downtown Grille since 2000. Says Red Pump’s sommelier, T.C. Whysall, “Winning this award shows how hard my team works together to give unique wine and dining experiences with their knowledge of the list and pairings with the menu.”

To market, to market

The official Charlottesville City Market has been cancelled for August 11 due to the City’s operations schedule changes for the anniversary of last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally.
However, a number of farmers and vendors who regularly sell at the City Market instead intend to sell their produce and wares at the IX Art Park 7 am-noon on Saturday August 11. Details here.

Feeling the jolt

Coffee-lovers at the University of Virginia’s i.Lab are going to have to look elsewhere for the perfect brew. Shark Mountain Coffee and Chocolate recently announced the permanent closing of its i.Lab location. No word yet on future plans for the company, but a Facebook post hinted at something to come: “We’re always scheming,” it said.

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