Carter Mountain Doughnuts Charlottesville Virginia

A Local’s Scoop on Charlottesville’s Gourmet Magic: A Guide to the Best Specialty Foods

Ah, Charlottesville! Nestled amidst the breathtaking blue ridge mountains and steeped in the history of two US Presidents, this Virginia paradise is a year-round charm. But, what really punctuates this quintessential southern charm is not just the lush vineyards, the pristine hiking trails, or the rich architecture. It’s the delectable food served fresh across the city’s culinary map— so buckle up, food lovers! We’re about to embark on an enticing journey through Charlottesville’s what-to-eat and where-to-eat.

The Vintage Sweet Treats at Chaps Ice Cream

Nothing spells the start of a perfect food journey as sweetly as the old fashioned, homemade ice cream from Chaps‘ nostalgic 1950s-style diner. Located on Main Street, this family-run institution has been tickling locals’ sweet tooth with a rich dose of creamy flavors since 1985.

In an era when frozen treats have become embroiled in topping wars, they adhere to the time-honored tradition of quality over quantity. You’ll find a decadent array of ice cream flavors here, each artfully crafted from locally sourced milk and cream. And as you enjoy your scoops, let the retro soda fountain vibe transport you back in time.

  • Spring for: The Old Fashioned Sundae garnished with a barrage of roasted nuts and whipped cream.
  • Local’s Secret: Black Raspberry & Chocolate Oreo is a combo cherished by connoisseurs!

Celebrate Mornings at Pigeon Hole

Maintaining the southern tradition of hearty breakfasts is Pigeon Hole, a charming, compact cafe nestled on Charlottesville’s bustling 14th street. While biscuits might at first glance appear too Southern cliche, trust us—it’s a tradition that makes every foodie’s heart warm.

Here, you’ll find biscuits etched into the culinary canvas like never before – think fluffy, buttery layer upon layer, dripping with luscious gravy or oozing with pimiento cheese. Couple that with a casual, homely ambiance, and you’ve got an essential Charlottesville eatery experience.

  • Spring for: Biscuits drizzled with Sausage Gravy or smeared with homemade Pimento Cheese.
  • Local’s Secret: Beat the morning crowds and enjoy a peaceful breakfast by arriving early.

Nature’s Dessert at Carter Mountain Orchard

Just a short drive out of downtown Charlottesville, atop a scenic hill is Carter Mountain Orchard, where nature serves up dessert. This picturesque location is already revered for its panoramic vistas, and fun-filled apple or peach picking activities, but what’s the talk of the town are their Apple Cider Donuts.

In a world that’s seemingly obsessed with novel donut fads each day, Carter Mountain’s Apple Cider Donuts are refreshingly simple yet remarkably delicious. Dusted with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, one bite of these warm goodies, and you’ll understand why locals brave the queues for them. And what could be more rewarding after a fun day of fruit picking?

  • Spring for: A bag (or two!) of their Apple Cider Donuts and an Apple Cider Slushie for an ultimate “apple-y” experience.
  • Local’s Secret: Aim to visit early in the day – the donuts sell out with a blink of an eye, literally!

European Baker’s Paradise at MarieBette Café and Bakery

Welcome to a French retreat right at the heart of Charlottesville — MarieBette Café and Bakery. Home to artisan bakes and brews, they’re your perfect pit stop for a mid-day break.

Among the wide array of indulgences, the Bronut; a hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut, bags the trophy. And why wouldn’t it? It’s flaky like a croissant, creamy like a doughnut, and incredibly divine. Paired with a cup of their exceptional coffee, and the day can’t seem to get any brighter!

  • Spring for: A Bronut and their delightful Latte.
  • Local’s Secret: Don’t miss their Couch Potato bread – it’s loaded with Gruyère, caramelized onions, and potato chips!

Southern BBQ Delights at Red Hub Food Co.

In the South, BBQ is more than just food—it’s a culture, a lifestyle, and at Red Hub Food Co., it’s an art! With delicious aromas wafting through 10th Street NW, this little counter-serve eatery is your ticket to a traditional southern BBQ.

Their offerings are diverse, yet each dish carries an unmistakable smoky nuance, smack dab in the middle of every forkful of meat they serve. Remember to get a side of their home-style Banana Pudding – it’s the perfect sweet note to end on after a BBQ treat!

  • Spring for: Two Meat Combo with Pulled Pork and Chicken.
  • Local’s Secret: Their Banana Pudding is a sweet revelation!

Bagels with a Twist at Bodo’s Bagels

Bagels may sound stereotypical for a brunch dish, but at Bodo’s Bagels, they’re anything but ordinary. Casual, unpretentious yet tantalizing—that’s what this local favorite is all about!

The charm of Bodo’s lies in its “build your own” philosophy, allowing food lovers to shape their perfect bagel. A personal favorite is the Everything Bagel with egg, smoked turkey, lettuce, and jalapenos—a combination that strikes a just-right balance between comfort and tang.

  • Spring for: Everything Bagel topped with your choice of fresh ingredients.
  • Local’s Secret: For a delightful twist, try their Caesar Salad served on a bagel!


The city’s diverse food scene mirrors its cultural richness — blending classic Southern, modern American, and European culinary traditions into a unique, delectable experience. Each offering tells a tale of Charlottesville, feeding your soul the flavor, tradition, and grandeur this beautiful city carries.

With its southern charm, picturesque landscapes, and a diverse culinary scene reflecting its multicultural vibrancy, Charlottesville is indeed a foodie’s haven waiting to be explored. So come, bring your appetite, and get ready to embark on a gastronomic journey par excellence. Bon appétit!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Charlottesville’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!