Zinburger: Good Vibes and a Tasty Meal

Blanco BurgerRESTAURANT:  Zinburger

DATE OF VISIT: 1/14/18

ADDRESS: Barracks Shopping Center 973 Emmet St N, Charlottesville, VA 22903

GENRE: American – Burgers & Bar

AFFORDABILITY: The burgers range from around $10 to $15 which is borderline starting to get expensive for a filling, gourmet burger with no sides. A little on the pricier side compared to some other Charlottesville burger places, but you’re not going to walk away hungry. Shakes are about $6 but are quite large and filling.

VENUE: The restaurant was large and had an earthy and contemporary bar feel. It was really nice, with large fireplaces near outdoor seating and a variety of indoor seating including a full bar, high tables, low tables, and booths. Definitely different from a lot of the darker-themed burger places in Charlottesville.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: I came into Zinburger with literally zero idea of what the restaurant was and I was really pleasantly surprised. I walked in right after a basketball game finished and so a huge crowd was rushing in. They handled the influx of people beautifully (also props to them for being open late on a Sunday night).

I didn’t catch my server’s name, but he was absolutely incredible. He explained to my table the background of the restaurant, explained the VIP rewards program (which is pretty awesome, I recommend signing up), and went through the menu options. He double checked for allergies and was super accommodating to all of my table’s needs. He even reassured me when he handed me my shake that one of my substitutions was made even though it didn’t look like it was, which was really nice. He really set the tone for a great meal and I was super appreciative of that.

It was also cool how they have Burgers of the Week, Shakes of the Month, and other specials that change up their menu everytime you come.

Truffle Fries

THE FOOD: For appetizer, my table ordered Truffle Fries and Sweet Potato Waffle Fries. They were good and as expected. I especially liked the truffle aioli dipping sauce, that was especially tasty, even with the sweet potato fries. I guess the only downside is that the burgers themselves do not come with fries or any sides so you have to pay more if you want some.

Sweet Potato Waffle Fries

For my burger I ordered the Blanco Burger (Pepper Jack Cheese, Pico De Gallo, Guac, Lettuce, Chipotle Mayo) with a Turkey Patty. From what I understand, they create all the patties (beef, turkey, and veggie) in the restaurant. It was probably one of the tastiest patties I have ever eaten. Turkey can be especially dry and they did a superb job making it juicy and soft and absolutely scrumptious. Overall the burger was really tasty. The chipotle mayo wasn’t overpowering and the pico de gallo and guacamole tasted fresh. Though I think next time I’m going to order the similar but slightly different El Diablo (Fire Roasted Jalapenos, Pepper Jack Cheese, Braised Onions, Lettuce, Chipotle Mayo).

Bars of Zin Shake

For my Shake I ordered the Bars of Zin (Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Spread, Kit Kat Pieces, Fresh Whipped Cream) but I substituted the chocolate with vanilla ice cream. That substitution was definitely a good one, because I think otherwise the shake would be far too chocolatey. I didn’t expect the kit kats to be blended in the shake, but that was really nice because it added a slight chocolate-grain texture with each sip. It was a great filling shake and I definitely recommend.

ACCOMODATIONS: They have veggie and turkey patties that can be substituted in all their burgers. They also will try their best to accommodate to food allergies and were really great about making substitutions as needed.

OVERALL: Overall, I recommend! It was a great full-service dinner experience for a really nice price. The TVs are broadcasting sports on the walls making it a great place to grab a drink or have a nice meal while watching sports. It’s also a very spacious restaurant which was nice. On a warmer day, I think I definitely would want to sit outside next to the fancy outdoor fires, I think that would be a lot of fun. It’s a good place to get a tasty burger and delicious shake in a nice, clean restaurant more upscale and warmer ambience in Charlottesville.

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Chopt: Charlottesville Chopt Salad Yumminess

Kebab CobbRESTAURANT:  Chop’t Creative Salad Company

DATE OF VISIT: 8/15/17 (Second Day of Opening)

ADDRESS: Barracks Road Shopping Center (1117 Emmet Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903)

GENRE: Salad

AFFORDABILITY: Most of the entrees are around $10. I wouldn’t necessarily call it cheap, but the quantity is filling and the variety of options is really nice.

PARKING: Plenty of parking around Barracks Shopping Center

VENUE: Chop’t just had its grand opening a few days ago. If you’ve ever been to a Chopt in DC or NYC, the first thing you will notice is that this Charlottesville Chopt is MASSIVE. Definitely a different experience than you would have if you have been to one in a city. There is seating outside and inside there are several tables and booths as well. Everything is very clean and sleek and the fabric in the booths was really nice too. The only potentially confusing part is that a lot of people may enter from the side door and not the main entrance.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: The minute we walked in we were greeted by someone explaining how ordering works and the menu. Another employee also checked up on us while in line and the manager did twice: in line and also while we were dining. Multiple employees came by to pick up our finished dishes while we were dining or to ask if we wanted more free bread. Even while ordering, employees would always ask if we wanted more sauce or our salad chopped more finely. Everyone was super friendly and it was a great first impression to have of the restaurant.

chopt options

So many fresh options!

How it works is you can make your own salad or choose one of the many preset combinations. They will put the salad materials in a bowl and hand you a ticket (that you later hand to the cashier when you pay) and will then lead you to a chopping station.

chopt-unchopped.jpg

My Kebab Cobb, waiting to be “Chopt”

At the chopping station they slice-and-dice your salad however fine you would like it (don’t have to chop it if you don’t want) and add the dressing.

chopt gif

Chop chop chop chop chop!!

At the cash register, at least that day, they were giving out free pieces of bread. Again, everyone was super friendly.

THE FOOD: I ordered the Kebab Cobb because I love Tzatziki and Pita Chips and Feta in my salads. I got it double chopped (in my opinion, the more chopped the better, I was just too excited to eat to get it even more chopped) and with extra Tzatziki. It was absolutely delicious. Mixed well you would get a little bit of every flavor in every bite, which is the advantage of the chopping. And the flavors were definitely strong. The rich Tazatziki balanced out the spicy peppers really well and the Pita Chips added a nice crunch – a much appreciated change in texture to the rest of the salad. I definitely 100% recommend. Especially if you love the “El Jefe” at Roots. Very different from the El Jefe, but it has the pita chips and feta which will remind you of it.

My friends also enjoyed their salads, the Smoky Santa Cruz and Spicy Santorini (pictures below)

ACCOMODATIONS: You can customize to your heart’s content. They have so many different add-ins and options. Just let them know you have food restrictions and they will work with you.

OVERALL: I always think when you get to watch your food being made, the experience is heightened. That mantra stayed true at this restaurant. Tasty food, decent price, decent portions, friendly employees. I couldn’t ask for much more.

A lot of local college students may be wondering “how does it compare to Roots?” I think they are both different. While they have some overlap in selling salad based food, I think the chopped salad experience and the options are just very different from what you find at Roots.

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Fry’s Spring Station: UVA Gem on JPA

IMG_20170712_103204_080

RESTAURANT: Fry’s Spring Station

DATE OF VISIT: 5/1/17 and 5/12/17

ADDRESS: 2115 Jefferson Park Avenue (corner of JPA and Alderman, near the Jefferson Scholars’ Foundation Building) right on the Inner/Outer Loops

GENRE: “Industrial-styled” Pizza and Italian Eats

AFFORDABILITY: For the amount and quality of food, it definitely is on the affordable end for college students looking for a great sit down restaurant to bring family, friends, dates, etc. Entrees in the $10 to $15 range with a great amount of food.

PARKING: Free parking along parts of JPA and also across the street at the other shopping complexes.

VENUE: Casual, great for families, but can also be fancy. Does offer a fine drink selection with wine and beer for those interested and fancier options.

GENERAL: Fry’s Spring Station is definitely one of those gems near grounds that I think is super underrated. I had always heard amazing things about their brunch, but was super excited to go for dinner there twice in early May. A fire station turned restaurant definitely gives the restaurant a cool look. It was pouring rain both times I went, so I couldn’t eat outside, but they open the “garage” doors when the weather is nice giving the restaurant a cool indoor/outdoor feel. The staff is super friendly and both times the food arrived fairly quickly. Also cool that they have some high tables with board games making it for a fun time with friends depending on what you are looking for.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. Did not take note if there were gender neutral bathrooms.

THE FOOD: For Appetizer, I strongly recommend the Angry Grandma. Cheese curds (or wings) smothered in a sauce, topped with radishes, cilantro, scallions, fried chili crisps, and a great ranch dipping sauce. Cheese curds are absolutely delicious and were a great way to start the meal (how can you go wrong with fried cheese?) The radishes provided the perfect complement with a great sour taste that somehow my friends and I could not get enough of.

The first time I went I ordered the Funghitown pizza (Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, White Sauce, House Mozzarella, Arugula) and the second time I ordered a Margherita (Housemade Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato, Basil, Olive Oil).

The Funghitown was definitely delicious. I had to take a little less than half home because it was so filling. There is a lot of Arugula on top, but easy to pick-off if you are not a fan. The caramelized onions provided the perfect balance of sweet with the savory of the scrumptious white sauce. The mushrooms were a flavorful addition that definitely helped make it a filling meal.

The Margherita was a lot sweeter than I expected, but was definitely a solid gourmet pizza and I would eat it again. The homemade mozzarella was super fresh and the olive oil was not too overbearing.  Don’t expect to take leftovers because it is a lot less dense, which was a little bit disappointing after having eaten such a filling Funghitown the week before (I love leftovers!), but still a tasty option that I would eat again.

For dessert both times I ordered the Fried Pizza Dough. Essentially glazed strips of donuts made from pizza dough (definitely have a taste difference from donuts though so don’t think you’re just ordering classic Krispy Kreme’s or something like that); they were absolutely delicious. Warm and fresh from the fryer, they came with a silky mocha-nutella dipping sauce that complemented it super well. Honestly, I think I’m probably just going to order the Fried Pizza Dough to-go whenever I want a sweet bite because it is so good.

I think next time I go, I definitely want to check out their drink selection. What’s cool is, even though they have a ton of alcoholic drinks, they have a fairly sizable and somewhat-unique non-alcoholic beverage section. I’m looking forward to trying some of those out! Also I hear a lot about their brunch selection, so I definitely want to check that out as well.

OVERALL: You’ll most definitely find something you’ll want to eat and leave with both your stomach and wallet happy. Again, a well-kept, versatile place to just eat a decent meal at a decent price with friends or loved ones. Super close to grounds and honestly a much better ambiance than many places on the corner (also probably easier to find free parking nearby).