Wednesday, September 24, 2008

El Dorado

Why don't you come to your senses?
Opening near McGrady's in the old Monticello Diary building, El Dorado serves up Mexican and Salvadorean food. Since they've recently opened, they do not yet have an ABC license, so ordering a margarita or the sangria will have to wait. It's too bad because the tortilla chips would have been really good with a margarita. The menu is expansive and difficult to digest the first time. The veggie burrito will leave enough for lunch the next day. The combinacion guanaca includes a chicken tamale, a papusa, rice, beans, cabbage, and plantains. Perhaps it is unfair to compare this restaurant to its in town competition at this point. El Dorado joins Guadelajara, Aqui es Mexico (recently just moved into a bigger space), and El Puerto. The yellow walls and cavernous rooms of El Dorado give it a leg up. It looks like the back room will host some festive late nights in the near future. El Dorado is a welcome addition to the food node on that part of Preston.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Para Coffee

Officially opening last Thursday, Para Coffee (pronounced the Spanish way) is serving caffeine to anyone looking for some. It's many merits were enumerated here. I failed to mention they have free Wi-fi.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Turk Mountain

From the Turk Gap Parking area on the east side of Skyline Drive (Mile 94) the peak of Turk Mountain is 1.1 miles. The parking lot is only 10 miles from the southern entrance to the park. To reach the trail cross Skyline Drive to the western side. Follow the AT south for .2 miles and then follow the trail to the top. The best views are westward across a rock field. Crimora lies closest in the valley below. There are views of the Allegheny mountains across Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain to the the northwest. On the way up we were surprised by a rattlesnake. By the time we made it down he had slithered away.

Here's his angular head among the leaves and moss.
The telltale rattle.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Para Coffee

A sign outside Starbucks on the corner usually points the way. Para Coffee opened Monday, September 11, 2008. It's the independent coffeeshop that every college town community needs. It doesn't hurt that it's an alternative to Starbucks and Fox Park wasn't completely filling that niche. Para joins a bunch of other area coffeeshops.

Para has the eclectic furniture, a hallmark of independent coffeeshops. There is plenty of natural light. Outdoor seating is available. The old building, the previous home of Blue Wheel Bikes and then mod, couldn't be a better place for a coffeeshop. The bar is made of a gorgeous wood. The coffee served will be the hometown roasted Shenandoah Joe's. Snacks include Albemarle Baking Company goods and Spudnuts. Most people probably don't care but their plastic cups for iced tea are recyclable and the coffee is served in paper cups.

This place has been a success. There's been a void ever since the ERC (espresso royale caffe) closed, and that place didn't even have good coffee. The only thing going for it was the indie music and the do-it-yourself pizzas.

Admittedly, I've only been in Fox Park a few times, but every time I'm in there they play old Radiohead. In with the new!

Free Wi-fi!
19 Elliewood Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 293-4412

M-F: 8AM - 10PM
Sat: 9AM - 10PM

Boylan Heights

Replacing Orbitz Billiards on the corner of 14th Street and University Avenue, Boylan Heights opened September 5th. It's a burger joint first with about half the beers of the previous establishment. Everything else about it is an improvement. The garage doors are still in place and tonight they were open. A CSX train with five engines, laden with gravel cars, roared by during dinner. The dungeon-like atmosphere of Orbitz has somehow been scrubbed away. The multi-colored wall is painted over and the astronaut hidden by an oversized painting.

This is not your average corner food. The cheeseburger was certainly gourmet and the pulled pork was tasty. It's made with a generous amount of Stubb's BBQ sauce and topped with cole slaw. Sweet potato fries are not yet available, but they will be. Orbitz served a niche for a while but it was time for it to go. Writing this makes me wonder what's keeping St. Maarten's open.

Boylan Heights, in a revamped space with better food, is a welcome addition to Corner restaurants.

Holy crap, happy hour is cheap. $2 dollar pints from 4-7 every day. Thursday the special lasts until 9pm.

Dinner for 2: $22

102 14th St
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 984-5707