The University is renowned for its endless traditions that comprise bucket lists for students to complete before they graduate. Whether it be streaking the Lawn, painting Beta Bridge or attending Lighting of the Lawn, there’s numerous tasks to accomplish here. As you fill your bucket list, you might as well fill your stomach too. I am here to supply a lesser-known bucket list solely for Charlottesville food staples. Don’t grab your diploma without dining at these restaurants. All of these restaurants are delicious, as well as wheelchair accessible and affordable.
Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria
This one may be a bit difficult to accomplish, as the usual extensive wait and constraint of no reservations turns away the impatient. But if you’re the kind of person who can survive SIS crashing for hours, then you can stand by for quality pizza. Lampo is located on Monticello Road and serves Neapolitan pizza delectable enough to remind you of your time abroad in Italy. Rather than coming pre-sliced, their pizza is served whole with scissors on the side, so you can cut it in the slices of your choosing. It’s an enjoyable, authentic experience all around. My personal favorite dish is the $12 prosciutto pizza, which is topped with prosciutto, arugula, grana padano cheese and lemon. Arrive on the earlier side of the evening to check this one off of your list.
Bluegrass Grill and Bakery
I didn’t say this bucket list would be easy, as Bluegrass Grill and Bakery on 2nd Street is another restaurant without reservations and with minimal seating. However, they provide quite possibly the best brunch I have ever eaten. My dad refuses to go anywhere else for brunch ever, and once you mark down this one, you’ll probably be the same. Their quirky staff provides hospitality comforting enough to cure any mourning about graduating. They serve unique brunch dishes, including lavender and brie french toast, cilantro lime tofu hash and chocolate-covered bacon. Most meals are roughly in the $5 to $12 range. Bluegrass also offers a variety of hollandaise sauces with their benedicts, including chipotle, avocado, jalapeno and even bacon flavorings. I try to switch up what I order when I dine here since there’s so many options, but I can assure you nothing has ever disappointed.
My mom always says “There’s never a bad time for ice cream.” I full-heartedly agree, but I have to say the same goes for tacos. Tacos are a timeless meal, which is why it’s so fortunate Brazos on 2nd Street is open to serve them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter how busy your class schedule, Brazos will be there to provide exquisite tacos, which range from around $2 to $4 per taco. While they remain open until 7 or 8 p.m. each night, I would strongly recommend their breakfast tacos, like their bean, egg and cheese taco.
If you want to take in all things Charlottesville while you can, eat at The Local, which is located on Hinton Avenue. This restaurant gets their food from a variety of local farms, hence the name. Each dish is served with fresh, high-quality ingredients and exemplifies the excellence of local agriculture. Certain items on their menu rotate as the seasons change, but one consistent staple is their lobster mac and cheese, which costs $9 for the small serving. Macaroni and cheese made with Maine lobster and local “Mountain View” marmac and marscapone cheese is far superior to any mac you may have picked up at N2Go in your earlier years at the University.
Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and Brewery
What better way to celebrate surviving the University than with a beer? And no, I don’t mean some Busch Light you found at a frat party to reminisce on first and second year. Three Notch’d on 2nd Street, in the IX Art Park, produces their own beer. Three Notch’d also offers flights — samplers of various beers — for all you indecisive people who thought deciding a major was the hardest part of college. They even offer beer-infused dishes, like pretzel bites that come with cheese made with their 40-mile beer. If beer isn’t your vibe, choose one of their fresh salads as an alternative. Their asparagus salad with pickled onion, hazelnuts, lemon vinaigrette, local greens, lentils, pink peppercorns and burrata cheese is refreshing and reminds me of summer.
If you haven’t been to Bodo’s yet, are you sure you even deserve a diploma from the University? I’ve heard people say they won’t eat Bodo’s because they “won’t compare to their bagels from home” in New York or New Jersey. But that is not the point of the beauty of Bodo’s. Their bagels are from this home, as in the place you’ve spent your past four years. Each bagel costs roughly 85 cents, with additional toppings costing more. When I bite into a Bodo’s bagel, I’m not just enlightened by the taste of ideally soft bagel filled with the toppings of my choosing. I’m also elated because it embodies the contentment I feel when I think of this place as my home. It’s an icon of Charlottesville, and if you somehow still haven’t been, go to the Bodo’s on the Corner as soon as they open tomorrow morning. Get the first ticket of the day, so you can mark that off of your University traditions bucket list as well.