The best breakfast and brunch spots in Charlottesville, Virginia reflect the decidedly locavore ethos of this charming foodie city.
From farm-to-table touchstones and classic greasy spoons to European-inspired bakeries and international cuisine, Cville offers a great variety of breakfast dining options– as long as you know where to look.
Between the cosmopolitan influence of the University of Virginia and the beautiful surrounding landscape surfeit of vineyards, orchards, and farms that supply excellent local produce, meat, herbs, dairy, and grains, it’s perhaps no surprise that Charlottesville has come to be one of the best food cities in America.
This, of course, is a trend observable through the lens of the breakfast and brunch menus served throughout the city, as well. (And, fortunately, like all of our restaurant guides, this one highlights what is cool and unique about this local culture through the lens of each restaurant.)
Cville, moreover, is a city of eaters– which is why locals and visitors continue to celebrate the city’s fresh, delicious food scene. There are so many thoughtfully-run restaurants here, and those that serve breakfast do it really well.
Below, we spotlight the best breakfast and brunch spots in Charlottesville, Virginia– in no particular order. We’ve also highlighted what to order where for the quintessential experience.
Bookmark this list for easy reference later.
Tonic (Veggie-Forward Southern-Meets-Scandinavian)
Tonic is a relative newcomer in the well-established landscape of excellent regional dining in Charlottesville, but boy does it deliver on the theme. This veggie-forward Southern-meets-Scandinavian restaurant offers dazzlingly fresh takes on everything from snack boards and salads to grilled sourdough delights.
Think: beautiful tuna toast made on rye with pickled red onions and celery; a la carte pickled eggs, candied beets, green cabbage kimchi, and beautiful cheese spreads with local preserves. The vibe here is trendy and casual; the space is chic, bright & airy. Young folks often photograph their food here. Thus, it’s the kind of spot that’s equally suited to a light brunch or weekday happy hour.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a modern brunch spot that serves light, invigorating breakfast fare, Tonic is your best bet. They serve the kind of food and flavors that have become increasingly popular in foodie cities like New York and Los Angeles, bastions of food trendiness wherein colorful, minimalistic plates sing with acidity and umami.
(And for heartier breakfast options or more traditionally rich Charlottesville brunch fare, don’t worry: just keep reading.)
Also, FWIW, the cozy patio seating is lovely for outdoor dining in the Spring and Fall, especially– as if you needed another reason to linger over your meal.
Farm Bell Kitchen (Farm-To-Fork Favorites)
Farm Bell Kitchen is a locally-inspired farm-to-fork brunch spot on Main Street that offers one of Charlottesville’s best breakfast and brunch menus throughout the week— not just on weekends. Here, you can find everything from avocado toast with smoked salmon and poached eggs to Nashville hot chicken biscuit sliders, fried green tomatoes and banana beignets.
The restaurant offers a beautiful, bespoke menu of eggs benedict– crab cake benedict, house-cured pork benedict, fried green tomato and avocado benedict, and more!– plus some of the best brioche french toast and Belgian waffles that the city has to offer.
Charlottesville, of course, is an excellent city for farm-to-table dining— and here, those local ingredients really shine. You can see it in the freshness of the tomato chutney that dresses the Avocado Egg Bake, the sumptuous grilled chicken in the house Breakfast Tacos, and even the gritz woven into their signature Bayou Bowl.
It’s all delicious.
Ultimately, if the restaurant can source an ingredient locally– even if it’s just an herb or sauce– they will. That’s the beauty of not just dining in Charlottesville, but eating breakfast here. No matter what you order, you’ll be dreaming about it all day.
Guajiros Miami Eatery (Great Latin Breakfast)
This Miami-style restaurant often flies under the radar, but don’t let the lack of pretense fool you. Guajiros Miami Eatery is an unassuming Latin American restaurant known for making the best Cubans in Charlottesville– but it’s also a great place to get a hearty Latin-inspired breakfast in the city.
See, for example, their fantastic Cuban toast– a distant, buttery cousin of avocado toast served with cucumbers, cream cheese, dill, house pickles, and red pepper flakes.
Or, try the Huevos con chorizo, the toastiest of buttered cuban bread served with maduros, seasoned aguacate, house refried beans, and pickled red onion, which latter is something of a flavor staple on the menu.
If you’re looking for breakfast tacos– well, you know the name of the game. Here, they’re served straight up, with perfectly coddled eggs, warm corn tortillas, a delicious cilantro aioli, cheese, and various proteinous add-ons like steak, chicken, or seafood.
Beyond the breakfast menu, they also offer delicious Cuban coffee (the best in Cville, for sure) and variations thereof like cafe con leche, cortaditos, and coladas. If you’re a coffee snob, it’s worth dining here for this alone.
Blue Moon Diner (Classic Greasy Spoon)
Blue Moon Diner is a Charlottesville throw-back that offers the city’s best version of a classic greasy spoon. This place has been around for ages, serving no-frills breakfast staples in a trailer-style walk-up.
Go here for hearty eggs-and-toast platters, diner-style pancakes, an iconic Hogwaller Hash, veggie scrambles, and hearty brunch specials like Breakfast BBQ and Breakfast Burritos. It’s the kind of place where ketchup flows freely and skillet dishes are the star.
They also offer intriguing seasonal specials like crustless quiche made with local duck eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and potatoes– a mix of foodie flavors and homestyle techniques.
The menu here is generous and extensive, with several reliable hits that have been on rotation for ages. There are seasonal specials like the above-mentioned frittata, of course, but ultimately Blue Moon Diner knows how to play the hits, which is likely why they’ve been around for so long.
Bodo’s Bagels (Fast-Casual Bagels)
Bodo’s Bagels is a classic for fast-casual breakfast in Charlottesville. If you never eat a Bodo’s bagel during your visit to Cville, you’re simply doing it wrong. This place is super casual– more of a grab-n-go or drive-through affair than a true breakfast “restaurant”– but it is also a fixture of the community.
Bodo’s Bagels offers a wide variety of New York style bagels, but really they are their own thing entirely. (Let’s call it a Charlottesville-style bagel, shall we?) All are made fresh each morning and designed to be made into one of the establishment’s signature bagel sandwiches– egg, cheese, and avocado; hummus, watercress, and turkey; classic cream cheese, etc.
The art here, moreover, is in the toppings– which is why the “make your own bagel sandwich” option is the way to go for the signature experience. Every UVA student who eats bagels has a signature Bodo’s order– to this day, I stand by my undergraduate combo of egg, cheddar, watercress, and avocado on an everything wheat bagel– and that’s part of the magic.
^ Bodo’s makes all these toppings from scratch, too, which is part of the appeal. If you get hummus on your sandwich, for example– they’ve made that hummus in-house. If you get strawberry preserves with your cream cheese bagel– they made the preserves from scratch, as well.
The avocado schmear is fresh-mashed, not pre-packaged guac. You get the idea. It’s fresh, it’s hearty, there’s an infinite number of topping combinations to try, and the people love it. Bodo’s is a Charlottesville staple for a reason– and most mornings it boasts a quick-moving line to prove it.
Cou Cou Rachou (Gorgeous French Pastry)
Yes, another bakery– but there are so many good ones here! Cou Cou Rachou is a French patisserie specializing in– you guessed it– French locavore pastries. I say “locavore” because they beautifully showcase Charlottesville’s local purveyors and seasonal organic ingredients through the lens of pastry.
Expect, for example, unique twists like local goat cheese, sweet pea, lemon, dill, and olive oil-infused croissants; or seasonal peach-blueberry almond swirls adorned with edible flowers.
Naturally, the results are masterful. They also have beautiful refrigerator treats on hand, like chocolate mousse with mascarpone chantilly, roasted local strawberries, hazelnuts, and sage flowers. Yum!
An Impressive Pedigree
The bakery is helmed by pastry chef Rachel De Jong, who cut her teeth as a pastry chef at fine establishments on both coasts, including DC’s The Inn at Little Washington and Los Angeles’ Petit Trois. Oh la la!
While working with Ludo Lefebvre at the latter establishment, Rachel earned the French nickname ‘Rachou’, which is the French version of “Rach”. ‘Coucou’, pronounced “koo-koo”, is a sweet, friendly way to hello in French.
Ultimately, the bakery’s name– which means, “Hello, Rach”– is meant to conjure similar feelings of warmth and hospitality.
As of this writing, fresh pastries are available Thurs-Sun at Cou Cou Rachou’s petit bakery on Preston Ave. (And if you can’t make it out on those days, you can also find select Cou Cou Rachou baked goods at The Workshop at the Wool Factory daily.) This is really just a pop-in, pop-out grab n’ go spot with limited casual seating– but the pastries here are really something.
The Fitzroy (Upscale Southern Brunch)
The Fitzroy is the Downtown Mall’s latest upscale brunch offering, with a focus on elevated Southern Classics ranging from Chicken and Waffles and Breakfast Burgers to a very “Charlottesville” Breakfast Burrito made with local eggs, lightly dressed greens, and a gorgeous green chili pulled pork.
Modernists love the restaurant’s sleek, polished interior (think: leather booths, exposed brick, black-and-white checkered tile) and the creative cocktail menu.
Epicureans and locavores alike also appreciate the international approach to brunch here, as the Fitzroy also serves excellent takes on multinational staples like chilaquiles (with roasted tomato salsa and a delightful ancho crema), as well as a peppy avocado toast, gorgeous locally-sourced salads, and a crowd-pleasing seasonal frittata.
Ultimately, whether you want a classic “eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns”-type of breakfast, a “Big ‘Ol Donut”, or a lovely brunch salad, the Fitzroy can deliver. As a result, it’s a great Charlottesville brunch spot for parties with vegetarians and picky eaters, as well (most dishes are served with minimal sauce work and are easy to modify if necessary).
MarieBette Cafe & Bakery (Lovely Lattes & Brunchy Sandwiches)
MarieBette Cafe & Bakery is a beloved European-style cafe and bakery that is somewhat of the new kid on the block, even though it’s already amassed an adoring following. They have two locations in Charlottesville– one in Rose Hill and one on the Downtown Mall (the so-called Petit MarieBette).
In addition to a lovely, classic European pastry set (think: caneles, kouign-amann, palmettos, croissants) they also have gorgeous breakfast sandwiches, quiche, and crepes. Seating is limited, but the coffee and lattes are excellent for sipping at the narrow window-side tables.
Though they are small, both bakeries are always bustling. Try the hot Fifeville sandwich (smoked turkey, bacon, avocado, spinach, tomato, onion, and cheddar with tahini-herb mayo on sourdough) or the Ablemarle (chicken salad, dried cherries, almonds, and spinach on a fresh house baguette) for the classic experience of both their bread and their brunch.
Beyond The Bread
For a bread-less option, the Everything Avocado Bowl (featuring everything-spiced avocado, lentils, pickled beet, spinach, sweet potato, chevre, and sunny egg with a choice of lemon tahini or local green hot sauce) is an enduring crowd favorite.
Ultimately, this is not a great spot for large parties, but if you’re looking for a place to sip a latte and read quietly in the corner or to grab a quick croissant on the way to your next adventure, MarieBette’s is just the spot. Be sure to try the seasonal latte or the London Fog!
The service, meanwhile, is fast, friendly, and efficient– and the heavenly smell of freshly baked bread is just a pleasantry that comes with the territory.
Beer Run (For Biscuits, Bowls, & Beer)
While Beer Run is understandably known as one of the best places to buy creative craft beers in the region, they also serve deceptively great biscuits, bowls, and weekend brunch!
On Saturdays, they offer a wide variety of American takes on breakfast tacos all made with local eggs, with an average of 10 varieties on the menu. There’s a “cowboy” taco with local eggs, local sausage, and organic black beans, for example, and also an “El Capitan” made with local chorizo, among others.
Sundays, meanwhile, bring more traditional brunch offerings to the fore– including excellent biscuit dishes and signature grain bowls that change seasonally.
See, for example, their buttermilk fried chicken biscuit with pimento cheese and bacon– or their above-shown “Beat’em To It” grain bowl featuring a locally-made NoBull veggie burger. (<—The best veggie burgers around!)
We also just love their honest, no-fuss omelets like the Green Goddess, which features organic spinach, kale, sauteed onions, garlic, and feta cheese with verde salsa and avocado on top, along with a side of fruit and toast.
Otherwise, you can expect well-rounded, often organic offerings like Smokey Lorraine Omelets and Butternut Lasagna with caramelized onions, walnuts, and honey alongside folksy regional classics like Pimento BLTs, Allagash Fish Tacos, or traditional Shrimp n’ Grits. Seasonal fruit and local bacon are never hard to find, either– which is all you could ever really ask for in a well-rounded brunch menu.
Related: The 15 Best Restaurants in Charlottesville, Virginia. (<—For unique, decidedly “local” meals!)