Eating and drinking are essential - and often overlooked - activities that can define one's four years in a college town. The food provided by the University (for meal plans, etc.) is great, but many students will take advantage of options outside of dining halls. Fortunately for students interested in the University of Virginia, Charlottesville offers superior food and drink.
The only way to discover this is to come and see for yourself. When you're taking an admission tour, be sure to make time for lunch or dinner (or both). Try something different. Something unique to Charlottesville that you can't find in your hometown (unless it's Chipotle, which I'm biased to). Come to town a little bit early and check out a coffee shop. Meet up with a friend you know in town, bring some schoolwork, or just hang out with your parents.
When I'm home on breaks, I desperately miss the food and drink in Charlottesville. Nothing quite compares. I lived in New York City this summer and, despite the occasional good meal, no where did I get the same bang for my buck. Nowhere could I find the authentic, local, down-to-earth cup'a joe and grub that I find in Charlottesville on a daily basis.
If you get to town soon (before Sunday!), you can make it here in time for Restaurant Week. $26 for a three-course meal at Charlottesville's most popular restaurants. Pretty cheap to "eat like a king." If not, be sure to check out some of the suggestions I've listed below. These are my personal favorites. Trust me, they've been tested countless times.
WARNING: Even if you don't end up attending the University of Virginia, I can assure you you'll be coming back to eat. Enjoy.
ON GROUNDS FOOD
Take it Away
Marco and Luca's Dumplings
+ other options on the Corner
ON GROUNDS COFFEE
CLOSE TO GROUNDS FOOD
+ other options at the Downtown Mall and Barracks Road