No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” –Thomas Jefferson
Proudly boasting a love affair with food and drink dating all the way back to the days of Thomas Jefferson (or “TJ” as he is affectionately called by the locals), Charlottesville & Albemarle County has become a veritable mecca for all epicurean activities. Truly a foodie heaven, this destination is at the heart of the farm-to-table movement – a movement which has been embraced by this food-obsessed area since its inception. Restaurants here utilize only the freshest possible ingredients and seem to magically appear out of thin air on an almost daily basis. The chefs at these restaurants strictly adhere to the idea of keeping it local, using ingredients sourced from the bounty of farms that dot the idyllic landscape. Simplistic as it may be, the fruits of their labor don’t go unnoticed, as dining rooms and outdoor patios are packed with patrons eager to partake in the latest culinary creations that are carefully crafted in chefs’ kitchens all across the city. It’s certainly no coincidence that Forbes Magazine named Charlottesville the “locavore capital of the world.” People here enjoy their food – and they take it very seriously!
Charlottesville and Albemarle County features a mind-boggling number of restaurants, especially for an area its size. With a population of approximately 150,000 people living in the region, one would never expect the breadth of culinary options that are available. At the epicenter of this epicurean wonderland is Charlottesville’s historic pedestrian Downtown Mall, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday in the summer of 2016. Situated in the heart of the city, this eight-block avenue paved with brick is teeming with restaurants that eagerly embody the farm-to-table movement that has helped put Charlottesville on the map as a foodie destination. Whether you’re in the mood for Thai, authentic Italian, Indian, or traditional American fare, a stroll along the picturesque Downtown Mall will be sure to give you plenty of options. The hardest part will undoubtedly be trying to decide which restaurant to pick!
Charlottesville’s love affair runs a little deeper than food. Sure, Thomas Jefferson’s love of good food and gardening easily qualify him as the nation’s “Founding Foodie,” but our third president of the United States was also quite fond of wine. He envisioned a landscape covered in lush grapevines producing bountiful barrels of Virginia vino. Now living up to his vision, the last decade has seen an explosion of vineyards and wineries in Albemarle County. At last count, there were more than thirty (yes, thirty) wineries in the region – a number that would surely make Thomas Jefferson’s heart smile. No doubt he would also flash a grin if he knew U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Charlottesville as the #6 wine vacation destination in the world. From a light crisp Chardonnay to a heavy, rich Merlot, there’s a wine for everyone, all of which can be beautifully paired with the aforementioned delicious dining options. Not a wine drinker? No worries! Charlottesville & Albemarle County is also home to booming craft beer and artisanal cider industries! Featuring a cornucopia of carbonated concoctions, you’ll have no shortage of options from which to choose!
Charlottesville and Albemarle County continues to prove time and time again that it is the destination for lovers of food and drink. With several worldwide distinctions under its belt (which may need to be loosened a notch or two after a food-filled visit), this region continues to be a formidable heavyweight in the farm-to-table movement while gaining national and worldwide attention for its wines, beers and ciders. So bring your appetite, bring your sense of culinary adventure and get ready to treat your taste buds to the time of their life in Charlottesville & Albemarle County, Virginia!