When visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello or a University of Virginia student, attending an event at JPJ, or looking for a quick bite between your Virginia winery or brewery visits, consider these great casual places to eat in Charlottesville.
McCool Travel 2020 update: while restaurants are not hosting guests during the social distancing paradigm, many of the following and other great Charlottesville restaurants are serving the community with carryout service. Please support them and all Cville restaurants as often as possible.
1. Roots Natural Kitchen
In The Corner is the popular Root’s Natural Kitchen serving healthy and delicious natural food in a fast and casual setting. My daughter, a University of Virginia student, introduced me to Roots and we have visited a few times. Order a bowl of righteous goodness and support a small, local business. Roots was founded by UVA alumni and they have a second location in Newark, Delaware.
You’ll find more of our favorite places to eat in Cville, including fine dining options, on Fun in Fairfax VA:
2. Carter Mountain Orchard
Usually I would save the sweets for the end of my article but you need to go to this place early in the day. There are many reasons to visit Carter Mountain Orchard but the most popular is to snag a dozen of the coveted apple cider doughnuts. They usually sell out of fresh doughnuts by early afternoon. If you are too late for doughnuts, order some local wine and hard apple cider and take in the magnificent views of Charlottesville and Albemarle county. Take time to survey the land once patrolled by President Thomas Jefferson.
3. Christian’s Pizza
After several trips to Charlottesville, a local friend suggested I try Christian’s Pizza—saying she gets a slice every time she visits. Well, dang, that is a glowing recommendation so I went there on my next trip. Their location in The Corner is convenient when visiting University of Virginia. Their downtown location is convenient when visiting the pedestrian mall for a show or shopping. Both locations serve great pizza, by the slice or whole pie.
4. Crozet Pizza
Speaking of pizza, National Geographic declared that Crozet Pizza makes the Best Pizza in the World. Fodor’s merely awarded them Best Pizza in Virginia and Best Pizza in USA. You be the judge. Order an epic pizza pie from the original Crozet Pizza in the cute town of Crozet (pronounced crow-zay, by the way). That location is about 25 minutes from a satellite location in downtown Charlottesville—called Crozet Pizza at the Buddhist Biker Bar.
5. Oakhurst Inn Cafe
Located steps from the School of Engineering, just off university grounds, is one of the coziest places in Charlottesville. Oakhurst Inn Cafe is a McCool family favorite for weekend brunch. Their breakfast sandwich or The Farm entree provides ample fuel for a nearby hike along Skyline Drive or to Crabtree Falls. Be sure to order extra applewood smoked bacon; so good!
6. Draft Taproom
Draft Taproom, along the downtown Charlottesville pedestrian mall, is a cool concept with 60 beers on tap, which you can pour yourself. Get a card to track what you drink, choose how much you want, and pay when finished. It is easy and fun to try a few brews before committing to a whole pint. Read the screens and descriptions, then select a small one ounce pour. If you do not like it, move on to another. Like it, remember it for later. Love it, pour yourself a pint. Oh, the food. The burgers and fries are really yummy and they have impressive salad combos.
7. Citizen Burger Bar
Located right across the downtown pedestrian mall from the historic Paramount Theater, Citizen Burger Bar is a fantastic casual place to eat in Charlottesville. The menu is designed around locally produced, top-tier ingredients, including grass fed beef and free range chicken. The food is tasty and free of chemicals and hormones. To complement the natural food, the bar stocks over 100 brews and some cool cocktails (like Maple Sour and Burnt Peach).
Sometimes you just want to grab a treat and keep on exploring. Blue Ridge Country Store has an old-time vibe and is packed with candy and local products like Hubs peanuts and Virginia wines. Near the cash register you’ll find freshly baked cookies and treats perfect for a grab-and-go snack.
Other Casual Charlottesville Restaurants
- Mezeh Mediterranean Grill is most commonly described as the Chipotle concept for Mediterranean food. Mezeh calls themselves “fresh, bold, and natural.” With 4 bases (bread, rice, greens), 5 proteins (meat and falafel), 22 toppings, and 6 sauces, you have countless combos to try. Yes, I could calculate the possible combinations but you can also (submit your answer as a comment).
- Tara Thai is a popular DC Metro Thai chain (nine locations), each with a unique watery theme. The Charlottesville Tara Thai is located in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, between Harris Teeter and Kroger. I love to get my curry fix (panang shrimp, please) here.
- There are dozens of other casual eats to try along the downtown pedestrian mall (including lunch buffet at Himalayan Fusion), your favorite road trip treats at the unique Sheetz project on The Corner, the remarkable ribs and biscuits at Ace, and magnificent tacos at La Michoacana.
- Also keep in mind that upscale restaurants can also be reasonably priced at times. For instance, try burger Monday at Renewal.
Have other great casual places to eat in Charlottesville to recommend? Yes, even Bodo’s! Leave a comment below.
Please see also these other articles about things to do in Charlottesville:
- Fun Things to Do in Charlottesville VA
- Great USA Burgers
- Wine Tasting Charlottesville Virginia
- Amazing BBQ in US
- Ace Biscuit and Barbecue
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