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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).