Do you like your burgers diner-style (thin, crispy-edged) or tavern-style (fat, juicy)? This Charlottesville export satisfies both ends of the burger-lover spectrum—you can order a strapping half-pounder or a four-ounce smashed patty—and lets you choose whether you’d like it to be made from grass- or grain-fed beef (there are chicken and quinoa versions, too).
What to get: Wedge salad; the Mini, a smashed burger with American cheese, iceberg lettuce, and onion.
2. Fuego Cocina
Over 100 tequilas line the bar at this sprawling Mexican spot from the Passion Food Hospitality team. Tacos take up a lot of menu real estate, but the best meals can be had by grazing on the spiffed-up flautas and sopes from the appetizer section.
What to get: Queso fundido; carnitas sopes; duck flautas; grilled shrimp with spicy chipotle sauce; chilaquiles (brunch only).
Scot Harlan’s American bistro mixes sleek concrete and marble surfaces with a ragtag mix of colorful enamel pots and cookbooks. His kitchen is rooted in the South, but plays liberally with French and Asian flavors, too.
What to get: Buffalo ribs with blue cheese; bacon cheeseburger; Kung Pao sweetbreads; peanut-butter sundae.
At Carolina Garcia’s snug, takeout-only bakeshop, she turns out dinner-party worthy desserts (a gorgeous tart with both fresh raspberries and a layer of raspberry jam) and a nice array of breads and breakfast pastries.
What to get: Challah loaf; eclair; plain croissant; cheese scone.
This eight year-old dining room was part of an early breed of ambitious neighborhood restaurants, and still turns out comfort fare that minds the details (breads and pastas and even certain cheeses are made in-house). On the side of the building sits Liberty to Go, a storefront for takeout orders.
What to get: Smoked lamb ribs with mint yogurt; charred octopus with black-garlic aioli; Vermont pizza, with cheddar, apple, and prosciutto; apple dumplings with gingerbread ice cream.