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Dine downtown among the city's historic buildings or sip wine while along a terrace with sweeping views of the foothills to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Both options are easily available in Charlottesville, where you can pick from award-winning chefs and Wine Spectator award-winning wine lists.
Along the pedestrian mall, you'll find crowd-pleasing spots like Downtown Grille, a restaurant with something on the menu for everyone. Or head out to Keswick Hall for a meal in a more formal environment. Jackets may be recommended, but the conversation can still be as light and airy as the room. No matter what, you'll find a great selection of Virginia wines at each, plus many more from beyond the state lines.
Please note that prices, hours of operation and wine availability can often change. We recommend that you call ahead before you go.
1296 Clifton Inn Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22911
Telephone: (434) 971-1800
Open: Nightly, 6-9
Cost: Prix fixe, $57 to $95
From its dramatic dishware to its menu of eclectic flavors from around the world, this restaurant is a class act. Former sous chef Tucker Yoder returned to the restaurant in 2010 as executive chef, shifting focus more on Virginia farmer and purveyors. Reserve a spot at the chef's table for a front-row view of the nightly action. The restaurant had to rebuild its wine cellar after a fire, but now has about 139 selections and holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Fossett's offers terrace dining with sweeping views of the vineyards and golf course.
701 Club Drive
Keswick, VA 22947
Telephone: (434) 979-3440
Open: Breakfast, Mon-Fri, 7:30-10; Sat-Sun, 7:30-11; Dinner, nightly, 6-9:30; Brunch, Sun, 11-2
Cost: Entrées, $28 to $37
Fossett's, the main restaurant at Keswick Hall, holds a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for its wine list, which has more than 700 selections. Sommelier Richard Hewitt has built arguably the state's best list of Virginia wines to complement an extensive selection of Burgundies. The restaurant also offers grand views of the countryside, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room and outdoor terrace, where guests can also sit.
Guests relish in the vineyard view and the Italian dishes at Palladio Restaurant.
Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyards
17655 Winery Road
Barboursville, VA 22923
Telephone: (540) 832-7848
Open: Lunch, Wed-Sun, 12-2:30; Dinner, Fri-Sat, 6:30-9:30
Cost: Four-course tasting menu, $75; with wine pairing, $100
Barboursville offers visitors a complete experience from wine to food to accommodations. Winemaker Luca Paschina is one of Virginia's leaders, specializing in Italian varietals. (The winery is owned by Zonin, an Italian wine family.) The property includes this excellent Italian restaurant, which serves lunch Wednesday through Sunday and dinner on Friday and Saturday. There's also a jewel box of an inn and the ruins of a building designed by Thomas Jefferson for James Barbour, governor of Virigina at the time and the person for whom the winery is named.
Downtown Grille is a surf-and-turf restaurant along the pedestrian mall in Charlottesville.
The Downtown Grille
201 W. Main St.
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Telephone: (434) 817-7080
Open: Dinner, Mon-Thu, 5-10; Fri-Sat, 5-11; Sun, 5-9
Cost: Entrées, $18 to $46
Located in the downtown mall, the Grille has the easy comfort you look for in a good steak house and bar, with a clubby atmosphere, private booths, and midwestern corn-fed beef sizzling in the open kitchen. It turns out the rest of what you'd expect in this genre: crisp wedges of iceberg topped with blue cheese, shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, chops and seafood. The wine list, with more than 180 bottlings, is stocked with reliables such as Silver Oak and Ridge. The restaurant also received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Guests dine at the Old Mill Room, which holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
The Old Mill Room at the Boar's Head Inn
200 Ednam Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Telephone: (434) 972-2220
Open: Breakfast, daily, 7-10:30; Lunch, Mon-Sat, 11:30-2; Dinner, Sun-Thu, 6-8:30; Fri-Sat, 6-9; Brunch, Sun, 11-2
Cost: Entrées, $27 to $36
Located in the Boar's Head Inn, this three-meals-a-day restaurant serves French-American fare and boasts a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning wine list. It has more than 200 selections, focusing on wines from California, France and Virginia. The Old Mill Room dates to the 1830s, a historic structure that survived the burning rampages during the Civil War and continued to operate for 60 years after the war's end. For the past 22 years, it has been the epicurean center of the Boar's Head Inn.
Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.
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