It's been said that Oxford is like a small Athens (or Athens is a large Oxford, take your pick), but I disagree. No, if there is any pair of college towns which are apt to be compared as one another's larger or smaller alternative, it's Oxford and Charlottesville. Both are small towns which would be of little consequence without their respective universities. Said universities are perceived as--and to an extent, rightfully so--places for upper-middle-class Southerners to send their snotty kids to get liberal arts degrees. Both places have great bar scenes with good live music. Both have strong literary traditions. Both have large, overwhelming Greek scenes.
If this is coming off as repetitive to seasoned Cup readers, that's because it is. Remember this? Yeah, my UVA friends saw that and, once Evan Button ruined my proclamation that Ole Miss was going to "beat that ass like somebody owes us money" they made sure to let me hear it.
But, times have changed and, with no exception, this post is going to be a bit different than the last. Instead of passive-aggressively inviting our opponents to our fair town, I will be giving we Rebels a rundown of the sights to see, eats to eat, and drinks to drink in C'Ville. It truly is a fantastic town--as you would expect any place which shares much in common with Oxford--which has left memorable impressions on yours truly. Why, I (barely) remember a night in Charlottesville about two years ago. FotC Hoyt Brumley and I lost several games of beer pong in the basement of a fraternity house, had our defeated asses dragged to The Virginian, then, after drinks for which I am certain we did not pay, engaged in play fisticuffs in the street during a cold, winter night. Our guests were, naturally, quite amused by our exhibition.
Ah yes, Charlottesville: a damn fine time, even if you get punched in the face by your friends.
After the jump, hear what a few good UVA alumni amigos of mine (let's call them "Case Face" and "The Schmenz") had to suggest to those of us making the trip to Thomas Jefferson's hometown this weekend.
Breakfast- For early morning hangover reduction, The White Spot (Ryan Nerguson fucking LOVES that place) seems to be where it's at. It's "a locally owned joint with a rich history and a really unique feel to it." And, while recommended for its breakfast, its late night vittles seem to be the talk of the town. "I highly recommend the Gusburger (having at least one while you're a student is a UVa tradition of its own)," says Case Face. Contributors on Yelp tend to agree with this sentiment, saying "this place is drunk food Valhalla" and that many are "not sure life can get much better than being hammered eating a Gus Burger." Looks like I've got a plan for tonight. Thanks, Wahoos.
The Bluegrass Grill is also apparently "amazing" for breaking fast or brunching. If my sources are to be believed, the only issue with this place is the wait one must endure for a table.
Lunch- Recommended to me was Bodo's Bagels, a place I'm pretty sure I've eaten at. "There are three Bodo's locations, all in Charlottesville, and it's definitely a local favorite. You can tell by the line thats usually out the door that this place is worth the wait." If it's the place I'm thinking of, I got a PB&J bagel. Yeah, I'm seven, so what. Also recommended was Little Johns, a sub place that's open 24 hours a day.
Dinner - XLounge, which is a type of club, apparently has the most noteworthy Mac and Cheese of any place submitted to me. Therefore, I felt the need to mention it. Head that way, eat your Mac, then dance to mashups and HausMusik. Bang! is a popular place to get good food and even better drinks, as it is more renowned for its wine and cocktail list than the actual food prepared. It is, however, in apparently tight quarters so be prepared for a wait. Marco and Luca, a name reminiscent of a gay Portuguese couple, is actually a well-liked and authentic Chinese restaurant which, per Yelp has the "best dumplings ever."
For something more upscale, hit up Zoccalo. According to Frommers, "the chef-owners draw their culinary inspiration from Latin America, offering the likes of a super-tender pork loin rubbed in Latino spices and served under a delicious pineapple mole sauce and along with Brazilian-style shredded collards and a sweet-potato cake." According to Google reviews, it is "not a place for people of color." So you weigh the good, Latin-American fusion against the racism (which, clearly, is killing me inside) when you're deciding whether or not to eat here.
Drankin' - Charlottesville has a great bar scene dominated by The Corner, an area of restaurants, bars, and shops just off of the "grounds" (it's called a "campus," y'all). "The Virginian is probably the most classic UVa-feel for drinks on the Corner, with private booths that are good for parties up to five or six." It is also likely where I will be taking back a few tonight. According to my rival correspondents, "many of the bars have recently renovated and offer nice outdoor patio seating and even a variety of outdoor games like cornhole (aka baggo)."
"Baggo?" Who calls it that?!
Any(wa)hoo(wah), "everyone should also check out the downtown mall. You can hop on the trolley at a few places on the grounds and it will take you by the Corner and then downtown. [The Mall is] an outdoor pedestrian mall with a bunch of cool shops and places to eat and drink. There is also an ice rink [ED: Probably not going to use that in June, Case.], a movie theater, and an outdoor pavilion where live music is often played in the evenings." Down there, you can find places like Millers which is apparently a jazz lounge where The Dave Matthews band got its start. Then there is the South Street Brewery which is an excellent local brewery within walking distance from the downtown mall.
Culture- You know how Oxford has a hard-on for William Falukner? What, with the Rowan Oak museum and the statue on The Square and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the enduring literary tradition and all that? Yeah, well multiply that by 20 and replace a Nobel Prize winning author with the third president of the United States of America and you've got UVA/Charlottesville's hard-on for Thomas Jefferson in a nutshell. Monticello, the estate of Jefferson and the image on the back of older nickels, is just a few miles from the center of town and truly is a treasure of American history. There you can see Jefferson's home, wine cellar, vineyard, gardens, brewery, stables and whatever the hell else is there. Hoyt, 25 Days a Week, and I went during our last jaunt to UVA before our trip back to DC and really enjoyed everything we saw there.
Also, UVA's groooooouuuunnnnddds(say it with a deep, nasaly accent while swirling an imaginary brandy snifter--there you go) are quite impressive. The Rotunda is an architectural spectacle and the areas immediately surrounding it have a very colonial yet regal feel to it. A couple hundred yards or so from the Rotunda lies the dormitory of Edgar Allan Poe, preserved to look creepier than shit. A few hundred yards from there is, I dunno, more old stuff. Just check it out. It's a cool place.
So, will I see you down/up there?