If you love yourself, eat at Junction

Belmont’s newest food to die for

The newest addition to the vibrant Belmont food scene, Junction, is a phenomenal mix of familiarity and innovation. Junction is also the newest restaurant opened by Adam Frazier, local restaurateur and owner of the The Local in Belmont. Junction offers a variety of Southwestern inspired dishes using fresh and often local ingredients. 

The building has been standing since 1900 and has gone through many renovations since its construction. The current space is wonderful. The environment is bright and open with glowing natural wood and touches of rustic elegance. The music was upbeat and just loud enough that it could be appreciated by the diners. I especially enjoyed the beaded cow skulls and the truly vintage Pepsi-Cola sign painted on the wall. All of the meticulously chosen details add to the energizing, inviting ambiance of Junction. 

I made a reservation with ease on OpenTable.com, and my mom and I were seated immediately upon entry. We went at 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening — it was quite vacant when we arrived, but by the time we finished our meal most of the tables in the dining area were full. There is ample seating so, with a reservation, large parties could sit with no trouble. The servers were attentive despite the growing number of diners, and the food came out surprisingly quickly. 

Just opening the menu at Junction made my stomach growl. The menu boasts a well-balanced combination of comfortably familiar foods, such as tortilla chips and guacamole and creative new dishes like the local rabbit, andouille and chipotle étouffée. The assortment ensures everyone, whether adventurous or by the book, can find a bite to satisfy their preference. It was so hard to pick between all the options, but we finally decided. 

I ordered my favorite appetizer in all of Charlottesville, the Mexican street corn, and my mom started with the charred baby carrots. The corn was sweet and fresh with just enough bite, and it was complimented well by the creamy sauce and bits of fresh cilantro. There was a hint of heat from the chili-lime dressing, and the bits of char around the edges of the kernels tasted smokey and summery. The charred baby carrots were juicy and paired perfectly with the smooth, tangy caromont goat cheese. 

Some of the appetizers conveniently come in three different sizes, so that they could be eaten as an individual order or shared easily between three to four or five to six people. The small size of the carrots was more than enough for the two of us, but the corn was just so good I knew couldn’t stop at one piece and ordered a medium portion. 

For my main course, I chose the Brazilian beer braised chicken, and my mom picked the chili-rubbed grilled atlantic salmon. The chicken was served over a broth full of warm cooked veggies with some creamy, cheesy green chile grits keeping the two lightly charred chicken thighs afloat. The chicken was tender and the broth added wonderful flavor and moisture to the dish. 

The standout of the two entrees was the salmon. The fish was cooked perfectly through and the rub was zesty and hot but not quite spicy. There was a jumbo lump crab-avocado salad on top of the fish that gave the salmon an incredible texture. The combination of crab and salmon is not a pairing that I’ve encountered before but it was excellent, giving just enough of a seaside feeling but not tasting overwhelmingly fishy. 

Junction is definitely higher-end dining with the prices for an appetizer ranging from $3 to $12, and the prices for main dishes between $15 and $27 dollars. The food is delicious but definitely not a casual dinner — it would be a great place to eat with family and friends for an upscale night in Charlottesville. 

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