As a current second-year student without a car or a reliable mode of transportation, I have always been on the hunt for great places to eat within walking distance of Grounds. Over the past year, I’ve developed my top 10 places to eat near Central Grounds for anyone in search of spots to fulfill any and all cravings they may have.
1. Got Dumplings
Now you may have seen Got Dumplings at the amphitheater with its food truck, but the physical location on the Corner is a great and popular spot to get a quick bite to eat. Other than the delicious dumplings, the Corner location also has a great boba and tea menu. My personal favorite flavor would be the refreshing sweet and creamy thai tea — especially in this extreme Charlottesville heat, which doesn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. Head over any time from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Another restaurant I feel obligated to mention would have to be the very classic Roots, which can be found right on the Corner. Roots is a salad and grain bowl restaurant — very similar to Cava — where customers can order bowls, modify those bowls to their taste or even create a personal bowl from scratch. My personal favorite — and objectively the most popular bowl at Roots — would be the El Jefe. The El Jefe has brown rice as the primary base, kale as the secondary base and beans, corn, onions, avocados, pita and feta as the ingredients. Many students also opt for the delicious barbeque tofu as a meat alternative. The hours are 10:30 a.m to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends.
3. Poke Sushi Bowl
Mere paces away from Roots is the Poke Sushi Bowl restaurant. Here you are also able to create your own bowl starting with your base, then the protein — including the vegan option of tofu — and finally your preferred toppings. If you are ever trying to satiate your sushi craving, head down to the Corner and get yourself a refreshing poke bowl. You can also find a convenient outdoor eating space if you would like to enjoy your bowl on the patio. Poke Sushi Bowl is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Right across from Poke Sushi Bowl you’ll find a Thai restaurant called Lemongrass. There, you can find primarily Thai cuisine, including classic dishes such as Pad Thai and drunken noodles. Lemongrass is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
5. The Juice Laundry
If you’re looking to grab a quick and healthy bite to eat, head over to The Juice Laundry at either the Corner, Aquatic Fitness Center or Preston Avenue locations. Students can also look forward to a fourth location that will be opening adjacent to the Starbucks in Newcomb Hall, although its opening date is still uncertain. The Juice Laundry sells filling smoothie bowls, regular smoothies, oats and other healthy options. I have recently been enjoying Bradley’s CB and J bowl — the main base is strawberry, so it has a nice pink color to it. The Juice Laundry is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Corner and on weekdays at the AFC and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends at the AFC!
6. Mellow Mushroom
If you would rather indulge in a less healthy option than The Juice Laundry, I would recommend Mellow Mushroom, a great pizza place on the Corner. Mellow Mushroom makes its stone-baked pizza in store and in three different sizes. Personally, I love going with a friend and splitting a medium pizza! My personal go-to pizza would be the Holy Shiitake Pie, which comes with shiitake mushrooms, chives, caramelized onions and parmesan cheese. Mellow Mushroom is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
7. Farm Bell Kitchen
Are you ever in the mood to eat after breakfast, but not quite at lunchtime? If you find yourself in this mood, head to Farm Bell Kitchen for an amazing brunch experience! It is located a little further down the Corner, and you can spot it from its aesthetically pleasing outdoor setup. There you can find brunch foods such as hearty grits, eggs benedict, avocado egg toast and breakfast salads. Make sure you head out there earlier in the day because the hours are only from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
8. Box’d Kitchen
A little further down the Corner you’ll find a restaurant called Box’d Kitchen, which has artisanal rice bowl dishes with protein choices such as lamb, beef, chicken, pork and vegetarian. These Greek gyro platters are both filling and refreshing as each comes with fresh veggies and tart Greek yogurt sauce.The must-try item on the menu would be the lamb over rice and salad. Box’d Kitchen is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
On the occasion that you would like a fancy night out with friends or a date night, then head over to Fig on the Corner. There, you can expect a classy restaurant serving Southern and Mediterranean dishes such as blackened salmon or Maryland crab cake. The ambience is also very elevated and intimate with dim lights and chic decorations. Make sure to check it out on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fig is closed Monday through Wednesday.
10. Silk Thai
Finally, let’s go all the way across the map to a restaurant called Silk Thai. This restaurant, which is just a little more of a hike than the other places mentioned, serves some of the best Thai dishes in the area — in my humble opinion. My favorite dish to order there would be the drunken noodles. The thick, flat noodles are perfectly seasoned and paired with the meat of your choice and veggies. Silk Thai is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on all other days.