Dining in Belmont
When it comes to dining, Belmont is one of those rare parts of town that harbors a fiercely loyal clientele. It is certainly a mixture of locals and tourists, and is home to some of the very best Friday happy hours, Saturday dinners, and Sunday brunches with friends and family. Mas Tapas, The Local, and Tavola are fixtures and worth getting on the waitlist for. While uber drivers can find Belmont blind-folded, it’s also a short walk away from the Historic Downtown Mall. Do keep in mind that parking can be tight, so planning ahead is key! If you’re in a walking mood and staying downtown, taking a stroll to this Cville borough is worth the extra 20 minutes (tops) that it takes to accomplish the “hop, skip and jump” that’s required to journey to this carefully curated food mecca. Here’s what I’d suggest for the perfect “dining in Belmont” experience depending on your itinerary and mood:
Brunch or breakfast at Belle
If you want to really feel like a local, pop on by for a coffee or tea and place an order for one of their breakfast sandwiches or homemade toast with jam. On the way out, don’t forget to grab an artisan-style loaf of bread. Make sure to sit outside if possible, as this spot is as good as people watching gets in Belmont, especially on a weekday morning as children arrive at the nearby school. Belle is a comforting and warm coffee shop ready to welcome you for a time, but will certainly encourage you to stay for longer.
Elevated Mexican cuisine at Conmole
With authentic Oaxacan menu items like tamales, empanadas, and of course, Mole, this spot is sure to hit you right if you’ve got a lover of traditional Mexican cuisine in your party. It’s a great venue for a gourmet Mexican cuisine experience, but I’d be remiss not to note that the dining room is a tight squeeze if you’ve got a large party. Instead, plan on a quick (or leisurely) early dinner and take a taste from every corner of the menu. This beautifully curated restaurant will not disappoint. With an emphasis on fresh and bright ingredients, this spot is a delightful stop on your food journey throughout Belmont. I recommend the Aguacate Relleno to start: a stuffed half avocado filled with organic zucchini, corn, tomatoes and more, followed by the Pulpo, a pan-seared octopus tentacle served with a white bean salad. Oh, and in case you’re anticipating chips & salsa, keep that expectation in check! Conmole cleverly makes clear: this is not a Mexican joint that offers those “traditional” offerings.
Happy hour at Tavola (Cicchette)
Cicchette is, simply put, where the locals hang out. If you’re willing to arrive early and snag a table in the beautiful and quaint Tavola dining room, then by all means… but if instead you’re enjoying your vacation enough to want to linger at a vineyard or two before making your way back to town and are looking for a casual atmosphere to relax in before a show or hearty dinner, this hidden gem of a bar is your spot.
Perfect Pizza: Lampo
Now with two locations, the original in Belmont focuses solely on dine-in service. Make no mistake, as with most Belmont restaurants, it’ll be a tight squeeze, but if you know your pizza, this traditional Neapolitan locale will be the only place you’ll need to visit while in town. A Margherita D.O.C. should be top on your list, but don’t shy away from their other offerings, especially the Hellboy. If you, or one of your friends, claims to be a pizza aficionado/a, let them prove it here.
Casual dinner at The Local and Mockingbird
The Local is a Belmont institution, and its newly opened sister restaurant, Mockingbird, is sure to delight and surprise. Between these two eateries and their bevy of award-winning chefs, you can literally not go wrong to choose between the two. If you’ve got a large party, make sure to solidify a reservation at The Local on the upstairs dining deck for the chance to enjoy locally sourced dishes from throughout VA. For a more laissez-faire/laid-back moment, head across the street to Mockingbird to enjoy a heartier wood-on-wood feel, with a beautiful bar and an equally gorgeous menu offering Southern Cuisine favorites like homemade biscuits, banana pudding, and shrimp & grits. With celebrated, James Beard Award-winning Chef Melissa Close-Hart at the helm, be ready for some of the best food of your life.
Celebratory dinner at Mas Tapas
The first restaurant of acclaim in Belmont, Mas has had a grassroots push for almost 20 years (how can it be that long)??? You may recognize the name and menu from its numerous write-ups in national publications like The Washington Post, but don’t let that scare you off. Arrive before opening, and you’ll stand the chance of waiting in the shortest line you’ll see all night. If the weather cooperates, sit outside, or even make a spot at the bar. This Spanish tapas-style restaurant features traditional fare with an impeccable wine list. You’ll regret not dining here, so I urge you to make this one a priority.
Lazy post-dinner drinks at Southern Crescent
This restaurant is THE PLACE for you if you’re looking for an eclectic experience. The indoor vibe is cozy and Old World NOLA, while the outside touts a tiki bar soul with the heart of a vintage backyard setting, complete with string lights and retro metal rockers. If it’s cold, find a seat near a fire pit, and help yourself to a drink or two both indoors and out.