This week, people all across Charlottesville can expect to create lots of new memories thanks to Restaurant Week. From local favorites to expensive eateries, various restaurants will be offering discounted meals, making this the time to try out that slightly overpriced place that you’ve been saving up for.
Restaurant Week is a bi-annual event, occurring once in January and once in July, and this winter, it is being held from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1.
Approximately 40 restaurants across the city are offering discounted prix fixe menus, meaning people can pick one appetizer, one entree and one dessert from a reduced list of menu options for a total of either $29 or $39. It is important to note that drinks, tax and tip are not included in these prices.
To make the best of these offerings, most restaurants recommend that you make a reservation as far in advance as you can. While you can still attempt to walk in at most spots if you’re up to taking the last-minute risk, some spots — like Oakhurst Inn — definitively require a reservation.
This January, Restaurant Week will be supporting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, meaning $1 from each meal will be donated to its fund, which in turn supports several regional hunger-fighting charities.
Where you should go this Restaurant Week
A full list of all 40 restaurants participating in this deal can be found on the C-ville Restaurant Week homepage. By clicking on the logo of each restaurant, you can find the discounted prix-fixe menus that each spot is offering.
However, to make life easier, I have done some intensive investigative work. Hence, a compiled list of eateries of interest — places a college wallet can’t normally afford without external assistance and thus stand out as really good deals this Restaurant Week — can be found below.
1. C&O Restaurant, a Charlottesville staple that has been around for 30 years, has a $39 prix fixe menu for Restaurant Week that is too good to pass up. A quick scroll through the C&O daily menu reveals that most of its three course meals would cost you about $60, something that just doesn’t work for a college wallet, so take advantage while you can and experience its high level American cuisine for what is essentially 30 percent off.
Personally, I’ll be ordering the French onion soup, duck confit and the toffee pudding, but C&O has gone above and beyond this year by adding 16 options to its Restaurant Week menu, meaning you have the pick of the upscale crop. Speaking of upscale, their wine list was ranked as Charlottesville’s best in 2019. It also offers an incredible fine-dining experience –– it’s the kind of place that you feel comfortable getting dressed up for and could be great for impressing your parents or taking out someone special.
Located near the Downtown Mall, C&O is open seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. If you want to get seated — especially with this event going on — reservations are a must. With the wide range of options available on the tasting menu, this is absolutely one of the best deals running this Restaurant Week.
2. Fleurie is known for its French cuisine –– in fact, it was named Charlottesville’s Best French Restaurant in 2019. Sharing its world-renowned pastry chef with Petit Pois –– another option this Restaurant Week –– Fleurie also boasts a wine list that was ranked in the top 100 across America last year. The $39 menu — which covers 13 choices ranging from fish soups to salads, surf and turf to ratatouille and creme brulee to poached pear tart — hits that sweet note of rare, accessible French cuisine.
This place is a must-visit on the Downtown Mall, and now is the time to go unless you want to spend $95 on the regular tasting menu –– which does, to its credit, offer six courses instead of three. The restaurant is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and its website includes an online reservation feature.
3. Public Fish and Oyster is another highly rated eatery on the list, this time with a $29 tasting menu. With classic East Coast seafood and a chef who has cooked up and down the New England coast, there’s nothing fishy about the authenticity of its dining. Because it is a small restaurant, reservations are yet again recommended and can be made online.
Public Fish and Oyster has 12 choices on its Restaurant Week menu, including a bratwurst entree –– which is a blessing for those who, like me, think seafood is nasty –– and two light and refreshing desserts — a key lime creme and a homemade ice cream. This, again, seems like a fantastic deal — when looking at the regular menu, it’s easy to see that you could spend $50 on just one individual order.
Open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Public Fish and Oyster can be found along West Main Street between the intersections of Jefferson Park Avenue and Ridge Street.
4. Should German homestyle cooking be what you’re looking for, head to The Bavarian Chef. For those of you who make the drive from Northern Virginia down to the University several times a year, you may be used to passing its unique wood-frame, old country home-style exterior, but this could finally be the moment to stop in and eat at the Seminole trail landmark a mere 30 minutes from Grounds.
Even in Europe you might be hard pressed to find classic German food for such a good price –– I was once charged nearly 20 euros for schnitzel alone –– so its $29 menu seems like a deal. The Thalwitz family, who opened the restaurant in 1974, brought their familial German recipes to Charlottesville, so you can find oodles of traditional hearty options on their menu. Eating here any other time of year could easily cost you an easy $60 so order its bratwurst, schnitzel and bread pudding while you can.
The Bavarian Chef on Seminole Trail in Madison is open from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Again, I recommend reservations.
5. Lastly, Fellini’s is the place to go for Italian food. The restaurant has 18 options on its $29 menu, including plenty of pasta, tiramisu and the classic Italian cannoli. It has a penchant for live music and local art, as well. The restaurant has music in the evenings, which is best enjoyed whilst sitting at the bar, and an artist of the month program where it features an exceptional artist on its homepage for the whole Charlottesville community to enjoy.
Fellini’s has been around since the 1980s, though under different management and different names, and its head chef, who came to the restaurant in 2017, has made a turn towards locally-sourced and farm-grown products. Its Italian food is, therefore, deeply rooted in the Virginia countryside.
Its Market Street location is in the heart of Charlottesville, meaning a reservation is probably still smart. Open six days a week, its hours are from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday.
Some honorable mentions for the list include Bang — a vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free Asian-inspired tapas restaurant — Shebeen, a South-African spot, Three Notch’d with its locally sourced, beer-infused menu and — because you have to go at least once in your life to be a member of relevant society — The Melting Pot.
Food unites people around the world, across all backgrounds and cultures of origin. It is a basic human need, but more importantly, it is a simple way to share an emotional experience. This is part of what makes going out to eat so enjoyable — interesting cuisines and new restaurants offer not just physical nourishment but also a space to connect with those around us and create memories to look back on. For these reasons and many more, I truly hope you take advantage of Charlottesville’s Restaurant Week.