The Cavalier Daily
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Top 10 Charlottesville restaurants to support that are innovating around sustainability

Many restaurants serving locally sourced food also participate in the local Better Business Challenge to reduce their environmental impact

<p>Madison Workman is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Madison Workman is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.


1. FIG Bistro 

With a name that stands for “Food is Good,” this contemporary bistro is conveniently located just past Boylan Heights on the Corner. FIG boasts a Southern and Mediterranean inspired menu — the perfect place to go to for a good, local meal. Personally, I recommend going for brunch. You can’t pass up their Oreo pancakes, chicken and waffles or Mediterranean omelette, now can you? If you do end up going for dinner, you’ve got to try their special menu item, the “grillswith” — a grilled donut sandwich with vanilla ice cream in the center. 


FIREFLY, located on Market Street, is the place to go to find food inspired by local farmers and producers, craft beverages and games — including skeeball, pinball machines, arcade games and more. Stationed in the old Linen Building, FIREFLY’s interior gives off an industrial warehouse aesthetic. Registered as a Green Restaurant with the Virginia Green program, this fun and unique spot aims to reduce their carbon footprint by conserving water, energy and paper goods and sourcing their food and drinks locally. 

3. Little Manila 

If you want Filipino food in Charlottesville, Little Manila is the local food truck for you. Receive a massive — and I mean massive — amount of food for around only $10. If you’re looking for a traditional Filipino meal such as pancit — noodles with vegetables — and lumpia — Filipino egg rolls — or even some fusion dishes like adobo chicken or pork belly barbeque, Little Manila is definitely worth a visit. They always update their location on their Facebook page, and they are always around Charlottesville. Even better, they will soon be vendors at the up-and-coming Dairy Market on Grady Avenue. 

4. Common House 

Founded by two University alumni and located steps from the Downtown Mall, Common House is a social club and event space that bears a modern and comfortable environment and offers an arrangement of seasonal menus rooted in fresh, local ingredients. Because this restaurant is more expensive than some of the other local options, I recommend visiting the Common House for a special occasion.  

5. Roots Natural Kitchen 

I’m sure most of us are familiar with this joint. Ever seen a massive cluster of people standing outside Asado at around 6:30 p.m. on any given day of the week? I sure have. Offering an arrangement of signature bowls as well as a customizable option, Roots on the Corner is the perfect space for a casual meal and a hefty serving of flavorful grain bowls and salads. Roots prides itself on serving great-tasting and natural ingredients which help keep the University and Charlottesville communities healthy and happy.

6. Soul Food Joint 

This soul food restaurant, located on Market Street, is the perfect place to go to if you are looking for a home-cooked meal. With a wide selection including fried chicken, pulled pork, baked mac and cheese, collard greens and more, you really can’t go wrong choosing this Southern, culturally rich restaurant as your next lunch spot. This Black-owned business is another restaurant on the list that strives to save energy, reduce waste and innovate around sustainability. 

7. Lone Light Coffee 

Lone Light Coffee, located on the Downtown Mall, is a local cafe and coffee shop offering a full selection of espresso drinks, brewed coffee and tea. Partnering with The Pie Chest, the two locations share a space on 4th Street. Sampling and roasting their coffee in-house, you can always count on a consistent beverage. If you are looking for a pick-me-up, make a quick stop by this cafe for a delicious cup of coffee or brewed tea and enjoy a break from the day.

8. The Pie Guy 

As both a food cart and a catering service, The Pie Guy offers an assortment of pies that aren’t just any regular pie. They are creative, fresh and delicious staples to an Australian diet. With flaky exteriors and warm interiors filled with savory meats and vegetables, you won’t regret visiting The Pie Guy. Justin Bagley, the brains behind the operation, even traveled to Sydney, Australia to study pies — I don’t think I’ll ever question his pie-making skills after hearing that. 

9. Kardinal Hall 

Located on Preston Avenue, Kardinal Hall offers an Alpine-inspired menu with modern American twists along with a massive tap selection. Located in the historic art-deco Coca Cola building, this restaurant bears a uniquely large space with outdoor patio seating and a ping pong table in the side room. Kardinal Hall is committed to making their food from scratch, sourcing most of their ingredients organically and locally and partnering with other Charlottesville businesses. I recommend trying the crispy brussels sprouts or the garden veggie and pesto pasta. 

10. Farm Bell Kitchen

Located on Main Street, Farm Bell Kitchen is another great brunch spot that offers locally sourced, farmhouse-inspired Southern cuisine. This restaurant supports over 40 local farms and vendors and capitalizes on reducing waste. You simply have to try their customizable omelette — seriously, one of the best in Charlottesville. Only a skip and a hop away from the Corner, head on over to Farm Bell for weekday or weekend brunch. I’ll close out by saying — I’m not even vegan, and their vegan sausage is actually weirdly good. Now that says something.