Best of Charlottesville in the Not-So-Expert Opinion of a 1L Foodie

Grace Tang ‘21
Lifestyle Editor

Since moving to Charlottesville nine months ago, I have been tirelessly hunting for the best eats in the surrounding area. My Instagram stories document the lengthy extent of my “research” (shameless plug: go to Instagram @foodventures_with_grace for photos and Charlottesville food reviews). In fact, so great was my enthusiasm and passion for delicious noms that the Law Weekly created the Lifestyle Editor position so I could share the joy with the Law School community.

The list below reflects the best of Charlottesville in several categories of food and drinks. If you feel differently or have other recommendations, please reach out so I can pass on the insider knowledge in future Law Weekly features!

**Note: Chicken Sandwiches are not featured as they have been extensively researched by our own Drew Calamaro in prior editions of the Virginia Law Weekly.**


Pizza – Lampo

              Lampo is a Charlottesville classic for Neapolitan pizza. Not sure what to choose? The classic Margherita is always a great option, although you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. Lampo offers a really interesting scissor pizza cutter, which I have not seen anywhere else before, and cutting my own delicious slice of pizza always makes me feel accomplished. Pro tip: Go during lunch or a non-busy weekday. The restaurant is very small and they don’t do take out or reservations. This is also great place to take your professors out to lunch!


Appetizers + CateringFeast!

              If you are a fan of decadent devilled eggs, smoked salmon on cucumbers, and fancy finger foods (who isn’t?) then Feast! is the perfect place to grab catering. My personal favorites are the fresh fruit platters, cheese boards, and Shabooboos (delicious pickled peppers stuffed with cheese). I’m especially impressed with how pretty and elegant the presentation is since, after all, eyes (and cameras) eat first.


Thai – Monsoon Siam

              I went to Monsoon Siam four times in ten days after discovering the restaurant for the first time. Enough said. Special mention to Geneva Torsilieri Hardesty ’19 for introducing me to the life changing deliciousness that is Monsoon Siam. After bringing friends to the tiny Thai phenomenon, they described their meals as “life changing” and “insanely good.” My personal favorites includ anything with duck, Kao Soi, Kapow Crispy Pork Belly and Shrimp, and the clay pot noodles. Pro tip: The house Thai iced tea is delicious, and their mango sticky rice is the star of the show—a must order for dessert.


Chirashi-don from Now and Zen. Photo courtesey of Grace Tang ’21.

Chirashi-don from Now and Zen. Photo courtesey of Grace Tang ’21.

Sushi and Bowls – Now and Zen

              Now and Zen offers a cozy Japanese dining experience with an extensive menu. The restaurant is small and only opens for dinner. The food is beautifully presented and there is something on the menu for everyone. My roommate, who is vegan, raves about their Green Giant roll. I really like their Dragon roll, which is shaped like an actual dragon, and the Aburi salmon roll (torched salmon) with the perfect kick of spiciness to round out the richness of the fresh salmon. Pro tip: If you are feeling rice bowls, their chirashi-don (mixed sashimi) bowl and Unagi-don (eel) are among the restaurant’s most popular items.


Chicken – Al Carbon Chicken (Peruvian Roast Chicken)

              Al Carbon is an absolute gem. The star of the show is their juicy Peruvian chicken, seasoned and roasted to perfection. The restaurant itself is very cozy with plenty of seating. The restaurant offers a number of house-made sauces, many of them with a kick of spice, which I highly recommend.  Pro tip: Order a combo to try some of their interesting sides like cactus, yucca fries, fried plantains, and grilled jalapeños. 


Ramen – Lemongrass (Limited Availability)

              I think Lemongrass on The Corner offers the best ramen in town. As a ramen connoisseur, I feel that theirs is the most traditional and authentic. However, the restaurant only offers ramen on the weekends between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. so make sure to go during that time. The traditional tonkotsu ramen is my go-to. Pro tip: If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend their deep-fried matcha ice cream, which is garnished whipped cream and jam.


Winery/Cidery Day Tours

A day trip to drink wine and admire the views? Count. Me. In. The numerous cideries, breweries, and wineries are a special feature of the Charlottesville area. Pro tip: Book a tour when parents or friends are visiting Charlottesville. There are a number of agencies who conduct these tours, and it’s a great way to spend a beautiful day out in the vineyards. I recommend King Family Vineyards or Pippin Hill.