In its own quiet way, Charlottesville offers a culinary destination to make any foodie salivate and restaurants that can go plate-to-plate with any city across the country.

With an appetite for excellence, the entrepreneurial restaurateurs of Charlottesville operate more than 100 independent restaurants, cafes, bistros, grills and pubs.

These are people who are passionate about good food and great dining who make the most of abundant farming and agriculture in the area. The area hasn't adopted a "farm-to-table" approach - here, it's just a way of life. Always has been. Always will be.

The result is a dazzling array of menus that draw on the freshest foods of the region: organic produce, handmade cheeses, free-range poultry and grass-fed beef, all expertly prepared with a nod to regional traditions plus flavor influences from around the world. French? Japanese? Southwestern? Indian? Thai? You'll find it all alongside pulled pork, biscuits and black-eyed peas and traditional Virginia fare.

Much of the dining is casual, with most places offering a mix of indoor and outdoor seating to make the most of the mild climate. But locals offer atmosphere for any occasion, from formal fine dining to street food and treats found strolling the Saturday morning City Market, from stews made on-site to fresh crepes and melt-in-your-mouth donuts hot out of the oil.

Last but not least, food lovers take note: some of Albemarle County's best eats aren't found in restaurants at all. Visitors delight in seeking out the "hidden kitchens" of Albemarle County, meandering scenic back roads and stopping off at country stores and farm stands where flavor and freshness can't be beat. 

Virginia's non-profit Local Food Hub also offers an online directory of where to find fresh, locally grown foods.

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