Warning: if you have a sweet tooth and live in Charlottesville, Virginia, then the following article may pose a threat to your waistline and your wallet. But I promise it’s worth the risk- you won’t want to miss out on these unique dessert selections from across the city.
If you’re a pie lover, the Pie Chest on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall needs to be on your list of places to try. They sell sweet pies, breakfast pies, and savory pot pies, which all look and smell amazing, and they carry different flavors every day. And if you’re looking for treats that are gluten free or vegan, the Pie Chest promises to have at least one of each every day in both savory and sweet. The dark chocolate cream and summer berry pies were both close runner-ups when I was deciding which to order, but I chose the apple pie. The crust was perfectly flaky and the filling was equally wonderful, and it’s delicious served hot with a scoop of their homemade vanilla ice cream. The seating area, tea-room style plates, and mason jars are too cute to pass up, so dining in is a must—it feels as cozy as if you’re eating home-baked pies at grandma’s house.
Next on the list are treats from Gearharts Fine Chocolate, located right beside Staples on West Main Street. The café-like setup creates a welcoming atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door, and the experience only gets better as you approach the counter. There are generally multiple free samples available (which is always a win in my book), and you can even watch bakers making the chocolate ganache through a glass window along the left wall. For those who are tempted to order every flavor of chocolate and struggle to make a decision, my top recommendations are the raspberry-zin, vanilla bean Brulee, and brown butter caramel. The flavors are creamy and rich—so delicious that they leave you wishing you could go back and eat them again.
Although the Charlottesville area is home to a number of great food trucks, King’s Gourmet Popcorn is by far my favorite. They offer everything from classics like cheddar popcorn, theater buttered popcorn, and old-fashioned kettle corn to fancier flavors like s’mores, peanut butter, pina colada, and buttery Old Bay. Although popcorn is their specialty, they also sell ice cream and pork rinds. Though every flavor looks enticing, I’d recommend the caramel kettle corn for a sweet treat. The truck is located at the foot of the Inn at Afton (right off of Exit 99), and though it may be a bit of a distance from Charlottesville, the popcorn is well worth the drive. Plus, it’s just beside the Blue Ridge Parkway, so you can take your popcorn to go and enjoy the view.
Last, but most certainly not least, is the bourbon bread pudding from The Whiskey Jar, also located on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. It is served warm, drenched with a mouth-watering maple vanilla sauce that pulls all of the flavors together. The Whiskey Jar offers such a sweet and unique take on a classic dessert—in a lifetime of being an avid dessert lover, it’s definitely the best bread pudding I have tried. (Editor’s note: Plus, you know, there’s whiskey.)