Hidden Gems: Four Underappreciated Charlottesville Restaurants Reviewed

Winnie McBride ‘21
Guest Reviewer

Daniel Grill ‘21
Staff Writer

From Mas to Marco and Luca’s, we are lucky to have an eclectic food scene in Charlottesville. In fact, Charlottesville has far more to offer than many realize. Just a short drive from familiar restaurants on The Corner and the Downtown Mall are hidden gems such as Greenwood Grocery, Riverside Lunch, Doctor Ho’s Humble Pie, and La Flor Michoacana. These restaurants all boast the best of what Charlottesville has to offer: great food in a unique environment.  


Greenwood Grocery: Greenwood Grocery is an artisanal grocery store filled with local goods such as honey and meats. It has an amazing and eclectic selection of beers and wines. However, Greenwood Grocery is better known for their fresh and reimagined takes on basic sandwiches. 

We tried three different sandwiches and could not get enough. Winnie raved about the “Blue Slate,” calling it the most perfect turkey sandwich she has ever eaten. Daniel ate the “Landrance” and dreamt about it for a few days after. He is not usually a fan of tomatoes, but he loved the sun-dried tomato spread, delicate prosciutto, and light fresh mozzarella. Tom ordered the “Devon” and found the roast beef as fresh as the mountain air outside.  

Twenty minutes from the Law School and nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge, Greenwood Grocery is a hidden gem. Be warned though, as this artisanal grocery store (literally built on the foundation of a roadside fruit stand) is easily miss-able when you are on the road to the nearby Crozet wineries and Skyline Drive.  


Riverside Lunch: One word: BURGERS. It didn’t take long for our waitress to recommend the most popular item on the menu, and it did not disappoint. The double cheeseburger was very filling and delicious. The chef flattened the patties, a signature of Riverside, which added great “caramelization” to the burger. This burger is my favorite among Citizen Burger and Jack Brown’s Burger Joint. We also shared a basket of fries, which was more than enough for the three of us. The fries were solid. They were thin and crunchy, similar to fries you might get from a fast food restaurant.  

A homestyle burger from Riverside Lunch. Photo courtesy Riverside Lunch.

A homestyle burger from Riverside Lunch. Photo courtesy Riverside Lunch.

In addition to the food, Riverside Lunch has a pleasant diner atmosphere. The waitresses were happy to chat with us, and it seemed like every other patron had eaten there many times before. Even the tables scream local Charlottesville as they are covered with ads for nearby stores, many of which likely closed years ago.  

This was also the most affordable restaurant we tried. The most expensive item on the menu was $9.50, and most dishes were in the $4.00-$6.00 range. Riverside also sells beer for $3.00. Riverside is a must-try restaurant for anyone looking for a great diner style meal with local flavor. 


Doctor Ho’s Humble Pie: Doctor Ho’s Humble Pie: The Alternative Pizza is an unassuming restaurant located next to a gas station across the street from Pippin Hill Vineyard. Aside from the smell of freshly-baked pizza, the restaurant’s decor is the first thing we noticed when we entered. The dining room is adorned with old-school Americana signs and Grateful Dead memorabilia.  

The authors’ half/half Annie Oakley / Humble Pie at Dr. Ho’s.

The authors’ half/half Annie Oakley / Humble Pie at Dr. Ho’s.

The food was excellent as well. We enjoyed our Annie Oakley and Humble Pie specialty pizzas. The pizzas served at Dr. Ho’s are classic pizza, more similar to the style served at Christian’s (although much better) than they are to the thin crust style served at Lampo. They also have a wide variety of excellent appetizers, like wings. Dr. Ho’s is a great pizza spot, especially if you’re planning to eat before going to Pippin Hill or to sneak more substantial food into the vineyard known for its paltry food options.  


La Flor Michoacana: La Flor Michoacana is primarily a popsicle and ice cream shop, but they also sell Mexican food, candy, and snacks. We recommend the popsicles as they offer much more than your standard popsicle. Between the three of us, we tried the mango chile, strawberry and Oreo popsicles. The mango chile popsicle had tons of real mango in it, but beware; it was spicy. The strawberry popsicle was a true light delight filled with real strawberries. The Oreo popsicle was a traditional vanilla popsicle with two full Oreos and smaller Oreo pieces. Whether you prefer fruit or an ice cream popsicle, La Flor Michoacana is a delicious and fun way to cap off a great meal. 

We truly enjoyed exploring these restaurants in and around Charlottesville. Each brought unique flavors and vibes that we can’t wait to experience again. We hope that you will take the opportunity to try one of these restaurants. You won’t be disappointed!