Dining on West Main
10+ Great Dining Recommendations along West Main
Shoulder-to-shoulder stand numerous great restaurants along the West Main corridor, and you’ll enjoy a pleasant stroll from either the Corner or The Downtown Mall as you discover some of Charlottesville’s best. A marvelous concentration of independent restaurants led by some of Charlottesville’s top chefs line the route. Here’s our guide to find intimate dinner settings among West Main’s small, boutique-style restaurants.
Starting from the West (nearer the University)
The Drewary Brown Bridge, named in 1998 for a local civil rights leader, is the portal to premium Charlottesville dining! Guajiros Miami Eatery is the first spot heading east away from the University on your left. Unique in its Cuban influence, Guajiros offers a spicy list of dishes that will transport you to the Sunshine State and beyond.
Mel’s is a popular African-American eatery on West Main, where southern comfort fare may comfortably be enjoyed inside or out.
An innovative new entry to West Main is Cake Bloom, created by two of Charlottesville’s best “Martha Stewarts.” They specialize in cake by the slice, cookies, sparkling wine flights, and a seasonally-inspired menu of savory fare. It’s perfect for an interlude!
Another new entry on West Main that is turning heads and pleasing palettes is Smyrna. Opened in the Summer of ’22, Smyrna introduces the Aegean-influenced cuisine of talented chef Tarek Sengul and his team.Try the Charred Eggplant and the Ribeye for 2! Next door is Korean sensation Doma. With polite and quick service and all orders instantly created across the bar, Doma is an exotic and delicious experience.
The Heart of West Main, newly called “Midtown”
Peter Castiglione’s Maya is another longtime Charlottesville standard, located in the original Southern Culture. It awaits diners hungry for delectable local fare, from Rag Mountain trout to tenderloin from Lucky Moon Farm.
Hands-down the best seafood restaurant in town is Public Fish & Oyster. Known by the locals as “Public,” the restaurant operates as Charlottesville’s go-to spot for oysters and raw fare. It has a bustling atmosphere, inside and out, and its lively bar and natural lighting make for a memorable experience with friends.
Right next door, Oakhart Social is a tapas-style, open-floor eatery masterfully created by Ben Clore. Once when asked what makes Oakhart Social so different, a helpful waiter answered, “Look around you… do you see anyone on their cell phone?” It’s all about the food, and sharing it with friends.
The new kid on the block is Black Cow Chop House. A new production by dashing restauranteur Daniel Kaufman and his partner Gregg Dionne, this melt-in-your-mouth steakhouse is directly across the street from The Quirk and guaranteed to serve you an extraordinary experience that includes wood-fired meats, sumptuous sides, fine wines and cheerful service.
West by West Main
Nearer to the Downtown Mall and where once stood the trio from The Voyage of Discovery, several outstanding Charlottesville food experiences await.
In Main Street Market be sure to try the exquisite dining options. Feast!, a gourmet grocery store, provides locally-grown, fresh food that supports family food businesses. Offering a variety of boutique salts, oil and vinegars, candies, dried fruit and nuts, and much more, Feast! offers a slice of Charlottesville’s finest local produce. With ready-to-eat plates, Feast! is a great option for shoppers and tourists looking to grab food on the go. Recently acquired by the duo behind Merrie Mill Farm Vineyard, Elizabeth and Guy Pelly promise to increase the Feast! Can anyone say tailgate?
Also within Main Street Market, we recommend Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar. Owned and operated by two of Charlottesville’s top restaurant pros, Charles Roumeliotes and Ken Wooten, Orzo is both “a casual neighborhood gathering place and a serious dining experience.” Orzo has assembled a cohesive team who conduct their craft artfully, offering numerous dishes certain to transport you to exotic shores (see menu here).
Across the street you’ll find Ashley Sieg’s restoration of Tavern & Grocery, an elegant dining and entertainment experience on three levels, featuring a locally-sourced continental menu and fun cocktails. Be sure to check out The Lost Saint, a downstairs speakeasy where the lights are kept low.
For visitors looking to experience the award-winning centers for libation in Charlottesville, West Main Street, as well as nearby Preston Avenue, offer a variety of options only a short car ride, or even walk, away. For more information on breweries on and near West Main Street, visit the Charlottesville Guide Breweries listing.
Because West Main Street lies between The Corner and the Downtown Mall, there are a variety of parking and transpiration options. For information on parking near the Charlottesville Corner, visit the University of Virginia Attractions page. As for The Downtown Mall, there are garages, parking lots, and free two-hour, on-street parking spots. For more information on parking on and near the Downtown Mall, visit the Downtown Mall Attractions page.