Staff picks: What we’re eating (and drinking) now

Mochiko Hawaiian Food and Deli at 5th Street Station is a staff favorite—and a unique spot in Charlottesville. Photo: Paul Whicheloe Mochiko Hawaiian Food and Deli at 5th Street Station is a staff favorite—and a unique spot in Charlottesville. Photo: Paul Whicheloe

The only thing better than working in the C-VILLE Weekly newsroom is leaving it to get a drink and a bite to eat. The paper’s writers and editors are just like you: Our pockets aren’t very deep but we love the city’s vibrant and diverse food scene. Here are a few of our favorite places and things.

Laura Longhine, editor

Recent find: El Salvadoran and Mexican food at the Marathon gas station on Rio Road (by Greenbrier Drive). Cheap, authentic, and delicious. Try the sopes al pastor or pupusas.

Cheap eats: Bodo’s!

Go-to spot: Bizou for lunch, Oakhart Social for dinner and drinks. For an ex-New Yorker, Oakhart’s dining room feels like home. The sausage pizza is reliably great, plus they usually have a lovely salad and a funky natural wine or two on the menu.

Splurge: C&O. Even after all this time, there’s nothing more satisfying than a slow-paced dinner here by the wood stove, with delicious cocktails and classics like the trout amandine and steak chinoise. Plus, I love a restaurant that still gives you a bread basket.

Go-to brew: Mosaic Pale Ale at Random Row is my absolute favorite beer in town.

As the name suggests, the la familia chicken dinner is a family favorite at Al Carbon. Photo: Tom McGovern

Family meal: La familia chicken dinner to go from Al Carbon—a whole bird plus three sides and two salsas for $21.50. We also love to get a table at Milan—friendly service, a kids menu, and naan to keep everyone happy.

Food with friends: Beer Run—get the nachos!

Guilty pleasure: The old-fashioned layer cake at MarieBette; almost too pretty to eat.

Local place I’m dying to try: Comal, the new Mexican place in Belmont.

Out-of-town restaurant: Una Pizza Napoletana, in NYC. Take the Amtrak. It’s worth it.

Max March, editorial designer

Recent find: Lately, I’ve been enjoying cocktails with bitter aperitifs like Campari and Aperol. I like the interplay of sweet and bitter of the 23 Skidoo at Brasserie Saison. My go-to these days is a boulevardier—a bourbon drink with Campari—at the cicchetti bar at Tavola.

Best meal ever: Restaurant Week 2014, at C&O. This wonderful dish stands out in my memory: braised beef and potato gnocchi and some kind of wine sauce (with mushrooms, I think). Along with the soft lighting and good friends around a long table, eating a stick-to-your-ribs meal like that really made a regular weekend meal feel like a holiday.

Cheap eats: Something needs to be said about Maya’s $12 menu on Tuesday. Maya serves that classic nouveau-Southern cuisine that is so satisfying, and a good portion of the menu is pretty affordable that night.

Splurge: Our special-occasion spot is Tavola. The food is always amazing. I often end up ordering too much because there are so many must-haves. Gotta have the mussels. Burrata is non-negotiable. More wine? Yes, please. Carbonara. Bolognese. They serve their steak with agrodolce and gorgonzola that provides this sweet/tangy/funky combo you won’t find anywhere else. Beet risotto equals best risotto. Oh yeah, they have an amazing cocktail bar in the back! Just…maybe bring friends and share to help out your wallet.

Go-to bar: Champion Brewery. Location is perfect for me. People are great.  Love the beer (some of my favorites in town). They have really solid bar food (J.M. Stock hot dogs, burgers, pretzels with beer cheese), and I’d put their nachos up against Beer Run’s any day (fight me). I also love that on any given day you might stop by to find some off-the-wall event happening. Ballet on the patio. An astronomy lesson from a UVA prof. Game nights. My fave is Tuesday night, when “Jeopardy!” is on, they turn off the music and turn up Trebek and the whole bar shouts out answers (questions) together. There aren’t a lot of bars in town that create an atmosphere of easy community like this one does.

Food with friends: This is where Mas really shines for me. My tip is to order a large sangria and quickly realize you’re all a little tipsier than you thought you’d be. Go-to dishes are the roasted tomatoes, and carne asada. Obviously you’ve got to order tapas staples like papas bravas and bacon-wrapped dates. Try the boquerones if you’re nasty (I am).

Brunch: Most underrated brunch in town is Miller’s. Chicken & waffles, a great biscuit and gravy, eggs benny, with all the boozy breakfast cocktails you could want. And it doesn’t break the bank.

Joe Bargmann, living/special publications editor

Recent find: Early Mountain Vineyards has a new chef and a carefully curated menu with a focus on local ingredients—delicious stuff, especially the pork
belly with shredded red cabbage. Also, the vineyard setting in the rolling hills of Madison is beautiful.

Go-to bar: Jack Brown’s Beer & Burgers. My girlfriend objects because of the gratuitous and sexist chandelier of bras (and I don’t disagree with her), but I like the smashburgers, dive-bar vibe, and friendly staff.

Late night: Miller’s on the Downtown Mall. Dark-wood saloon atmosphere, dim lighting, and amazing mac ‘n’ cheese (finished in a skillet and served folded-over, like an omelet, with a crisp shell).

Guilty pleasure: A good cut of beef from J.M. Stock. Pricey, for sure, but always worth it.

Happy hour: Tilman’s. Good deals and a sweet little tasting menu. I love the bruschetta with melted brie, prosciutto, and fig preserves.

Local place I’m dying to try: Prime 109, if my GoFundMe reaches its goal.

Out-of-town restaurant: En Su Boca, in Richmond. Killer margaritas and modern Tex-Mex food in a funky space where everyone has at least one tattoo.

Susan Sorensen, copy editor

Cheap eats: The Villa Diner. Breakfast is served until 4pm, portions are generous (and tasty), and nobody makes a better toasted pecan waffle (for $6.95, people!).

Go-to spot: Citizen Burger Bar for sweet potato fries and the “red” vegan burger. I know, I know: Who in the hell eats vegetarian at CBB?! I do—and it’s delicious.

Splurge: The Farmhouse at Veritas. The four-course menu (with wine pairings) changes every week, and costs $85 (plus tax and tip) per person.

Go-to bar: The Timberwood Grill. It’s pretty much in our Earlysville backyard, the beer menu is immense and well-curated, and it’s a swell place to watch UVA sports surrounded by lots of other Hoos fans. 

Brunch: Boylan Heights on the Corner. Our daughter’s a UVA second-year, and if we promise to pay for brunch (after noon, of course!) for her and her three adorable roommates, we get proof of life every couple months or so.

Late night: The Whiskey Jar. A mess of sides—mac ‘n’ cheese, corn bread, pimento cheese, ham biscuits, French fries—is perfect for soaking up a long night’s worth of alcohol. Last call is at 2 a.m. on weekends.

Guilty pleasure: Four scoops (dulce de leche, hazelnut, gianduia, and milk and cherry) from Splendora’s.

Happy hour: Rapture. Cheap cabernet, right across from our office on the Downtown Mall. ’Nuff said.

Out-of-town restaurant: Founding Farmers in Washington, D.C. The food’s terrific (try the chicken and waffles or the chicken pot pie),
and most of it comes from a bunch of family farms in North Dakota.

Erin O’Hare, arts reporter

Cheap eats: Vita Nova Pizza’s bell pepper and onion slice is hands-down the best bang for my four bucks.

Go-to spot: Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar—specifically, for the Goatherder plate, and for the amazing and delicious variety of teas hot and cold. Also, the milkshakes.

Brunch: Bluegrass Grill, where my favorite is the Hungry Norman, the perfect savory-sweet breakfast plate. When I have visitors in town on a weekday, I always take them here, because it’s the only time there’s no wait for a table.

Late night: C&O, because ’round midnight is the best time to nom a gooey grilled cheese soaked in tomato soup, a belly filler for $10.

Out-of-town restaurant: Kuba Kuba in Richmond! The paella options and the tres leches cake are so delicious, I don’t even know what to say about them except that you should go get them, but if you’re in my way, I’ll probably try to cut you in line.

Matt Weyrich, news reporter

Recent find (food): The Nook. The All The Way breakfast with a couple pieces of toast has quickly become my go-to.

Recent find (drink): South Street Brewery. The mystery beer that doesn’t yet have a name is fantastic and was easily the highlight of the flight I tasted.

Cheap eats: Brazos Tacos. If I had to have one meal item every day for the rest of my life, it just might be Brazos La Tia taco (picadillo beef, mashed potatoes, corn pico, white onion, queso fresco, and cilantro).

Go-to spot: Asado Wing and Taco Company. I love the wings and always seem to have good interactions with other people sitting at the bar.

Go-to bar: Draft Taproom. Sixty taps and more than a dozen TVs make for an awesome combination if you’re looking to watch sports with a beer in your hand all night.

Go-to brew: Three Notch’d. I pass by it on my way home from work every day, and sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Food with friends: The Whiskey Jar. I’m a big burger guy and my favorite in Charlottesville so far is definitely the Crunch Burger.

Brunch: Bodo’s. I’ve been to Bodo’s 19 times since I started at C-VILLE Weekly in June, and I have absolutely no shame in admitting it.

Late night: Jack Brown’s Beer & Burgers. I went to college at JMU and the vibe is exactly like the location in Harrisonburg, so it feels like home to me.

Happy hour: Random Row. You can’t beat the $2 happy hour on Thursdays.

Out-of-town restaurant: O’Neill’s Grill in Harrisonburg. I’m not much
of a dessert guy, but I cannot go there without having the cookie skillet.

Brielle Entzminger, news reporter

Recent find (food): Mochiko Hawaiian Food and Deli. It just opened at 5th Street Station.

Recent find (drink): The amazing sweet wines at Barboursville Vineyards.

Cheap eats: Any bowl at Poke Sushi Bowl with the coconut cream sauce.

Splurge: Sakura Japanese Steakhouse, about $60-70 with tip for two people.

Go-to bar: Skybar because of its nice view of the city.

Brunch: The Shebeen. Amazing mimosas and moderately priced South African food.

Happy hour: Guadalajara’s $7 jumbo margaritas on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Out-of-town restaurant: Bottoms Up Pizza, in Richmond. Pizzas are huge, thick, delicious, and come in all kinds of unique combinations.

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