Looking for the best lunch spots in Charlottesville, VA? I GOT YOU. From quick and healthy to boozy brunch, here’s my list of my favorite lunch eateries!
As a great place for families and bachelorette weekends alike, everyone loves to go out to lunch in Charlottesville! We get visitors from up and down the East Coast looking for a charming weekend getaway. From truffle fries and champagne cocktails to crusty baguettes perfect for a picnic, foodies will enjoy it all!
There are lots of lunch spots on the downtown mall for those who work there or are strolling around during lunchtime. And if your destination is a vineyard picnic, you might want to swing into somewhere with easy parking.
When I put together a recommendations list for friends or visitors, I often will ask what kind of vibe they are looking for: quick and healthy or a boozy fine dining lunch. And then from there I give them my favorites.
I consulted with a few friends on this list and we compiled our very favorites. That said, there are even more that are worth a visit!
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Check out my evening post: Best Restaurants For Dinner in Charlottesville
Best Lunch Spots in Charlottesville
I had to narrow my list down, but I know some of you locals will have more to add so please feel free to do so in the comments <3 Also note I am writing this without knowing all the details of modified operations times, menu, etc. for 2020/2021 so check the website to confirm!
Ladies Out To Lunch
Located on the downtown mall, Tilman’s specializes in the three main food groups: cheese, wine, and snacks! But they also have a nice assortment of salads, baguette-style sandwiches, and small plates. The food is super fresh with a European ingredient theme. (Think French blue cheese salads and Italian prosciutto sandwiches!)
My all-time favorite spot for lunch is Orzo! Specializing in Italian food, the “Power Lunch” combo comes with a soup, salad, and noontime glass of wine for a great price. I love the variety of getting a warm soup and a fresh salad – the shrimp salad is the best! *Note Orzo has paused this lunch service for now but I hope they will resume because it had quite a following!
On the downtown mall, Bizou is another nicer spot for a sit-down lunch. Enjoy people watching on the patio, which is smack in the middle of the mall, when the weather is nice. The menu focuses on “classic Virginian dishes” with a French twist. The menu changes often and features house-made soups, salads, and main entrees.
If you’re looking for a destination in the countryside, Pippin Hill Vineyards is a gorgeous setting with a delicious lunch menu. Think cheese boards, sliders, and gnocchi. The views are outstanding, and you can sit outside on the terrace (which is enclosed in the winter) or inside by the cozy fireplace. Bonus: they have a kitchen garden and grow a lot of their ingredients on site!
French fries for the kids; beer for the adults – need I say more? Three Notch’d is a fan favorite for lunch. The beer hall is huge and seats a lot of people. The menu is what I would consider “elevated pub food” meaning they have burgers, fries, salads, and bites but they taste great! Definitely get the Pretzel Bites!!! My favorite beer is the Minute Man. I most often get the sliders with a side salad (and steal a few of my kids’ fries )
Rev Soup makes the kids list because the menu is very diverse. You’ll find something for picky eaters and soup lovers! Mazen likes the quesadillas and grilled cheeses, and I love the soups and salads. The Peanut Tofu Soup is not to miss! There are two locations: one downtown (which is downstairs and not super stroller friendly) and one on the Corner.
If your kids love bagels, Bodos will be your favorite destination! Each of the locations is hustling and bustling at lunchtime, but the line moves fast. I love the smoked salmon bagel and the Cleo salad. Thomas and I often share both! This is a great spot for takeaway before a car trip or picnic.
Favorites: This Is My Yam (with sweet potatoes, refried black beans, and avocado) or one of the tacos with mashed potatoes! “The Works” salsa, gauc and queso trio is my kids very favorite with a quesadilla. Margs for the parents. Add this to the brunch list too!
From the outside this looks like any old gas station, but The Market is famous for its delicious sandwiches! Great for taking to a hike or vineyard picnic, they have a wide variety of traditional and vegetarian sandwiches. Our favorites are The Jefferson, The Birdwood (hold the onions) and the Edman, which all come on a crusty French baguette. Great for sharing too!
This cute cafe-style restaurant is great for a quick bite if you’re on the Ivy Road side of town, or grabbing takeaway for your picnic. The Gobbfather is one of the best sandwiches ever made with roasted turkey, pepper jack, pickles, spicy mayo & arugula served warm on sourdough. Be warned: it’s messy and big!! We often share one with a side salad – the Superfood is good!
Half restaurant, half market, this spot is one of the most famous for picnic food! Order at the counter and sit down to eat lunch or take away sandwiches, cheeses, fresh break, and lots of other local treats, including chocolate and wine. It does get crowded on the weekends, so be aware of that and go early to miss the lines.
Quick / casual / healthy
My very favorite healthy spot in town, Roots makes healthy lunch bowls packed with superfoods. Choose greens, rice, or both as your base, add toppings, protein, and extras. I love the Mayweather kale salad with BBQ tofu on top! The Southern is also a fan favorite. They are ALL GOOD! The location is a bit hard to get to (you’ll have to find parking at the corner), but you can also order ahead and pickup at their satellite spot around the corner (which is what I always do!)
Specializing in Mediterranean food, Mezeh is a build-a-bowl style spot at Stonefield. Start with greens and/or rice and choose from a few dozen delicious toppings like spicy feta dip or caramelized eggplant (my favorite!) Everything is spiced and super flavorful!
As Charlottesville’s first food hall, Dairy Market is new and a great spot for a group lunch if you want something casual and everyone has a different taste. Inside you’ll find pizza, takeaway sandwiches, beer, ice cream, and more.
Inside the Juice Laundry you’ll find fresh organic juices, smoothie bowls, and light salads. The whole shop is plant-based, and the smoothies are hearty! I love the Gentle Green juice and the Coco Verde Smoothie Bowl with granola and fruit on top!
Boozy + Brunch
The Fitzroy is good for lunch on any day of the week, but brunch in particular! Traditionally (as in non pandemic) they served a brunch buffet that I hope will return. Go there for amazing champagne cocktails and get the kale salad topped with the hot honey fried chicken!!
Tonic is a favorite for a light lunch with girlfriends. You can DIY your own snack board, or share some small plates. They have healthy salads and open-faced sandwiches too. Add a glass of wine, and enjoy it all on the charming enclosed patio.
This cafe and bakery serves the best pastries of Europe and is a great brunch spot! The main location is off of Preston Avenue, but they have a “Petite” location on the outside of the downtown mall too. On the menu you’ll find classic brunch favorites like Croque Monsieur and Quiche Lorraine. I love the Lacinato Kale salad too! Pick up some pastries to go for breakfast the next day.
Complete your lunch any day of the week with the Birthday Cake ice cream at Chaps! It’s the best ice cream everrrrrrr!!!