Located off of exit 121 on interstate 64, right at the bottom of the road leading up to Jefferson’s Monticello, Michie’s Tavern is one of Charlottesville’s most unique dining experiences. Even if you don’t plan on combining the trip with a tour of Jefferson’s home, the Tavern is worth the stop, as it’s genuinely notable in terms of atmosphere and food quality.
History of Michie's Tavern
The history of the building itself dates back to the 18th century. This is reflected in the theme of the restaurant both inside and out. The landscaping around the building is full and rich with trees, shrubs and floral arrangements. This gives the entire area a distinctly early American feel. The building itself reflects this both in structure and style. There are two well decorated stairways leading up to the main entrances. The building’s two stories are distinctly colonial. They remain true to their late 1700s construction. They keep with the historical precedence of the area and Monticello itself.
The Interior of Michie's Tavern
Every aspect of the interior is faithful to the 18th century tavern “feel”. This is right down to the attire and accent of the waiters and waitresses. Even dishes and silverware are styled to remind you of colonial America. Thus the experience provided to the customers is certainly full and well thought out. The meal itself is a buffet comprised of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and other staples of southern hospitality cooking. Though don’t assume that you’re getting a cheap chain buffet style meal. The food is uniquely excellent in terms of taste and quality. It doesn’t require the surrounding presentation to make it worth your while.
The Buffet Line
After you sit down your waiter or waitress will bring you more of whatever you want on a new plate. Thus you only need to go through the buffet line one time. Deserts and a decent selection of wine and traditional beers are also available. All are in step with the rustic southern presentation of the rest of the menu.
The General Store
If you need to walk off your meal but aren’t interested in going through the ordeal of Monticello, the “General Store” is a shop housed inside the Meadow Run Grist Mill right along the same parking lot as the Tavern, and gives you an opportunity to do so. The general store is essentially a historic gift shop with two levels, a running mill wheel and an area kept open for wine tasting during the busier weekend hours.
The combination of the Tavern and General Store make this attraction autonomous from the overshadowing notoriety of Monticello. Stopping here for just the Tavern is a worthy investment of your time and resources. The only possible downsides are the price of the buffet at $17 per person. However kids under the age of six do eat free and youth prices are a bit cheaper. Also the Tavern’s only hours of operation are from 11am to 3pm. Therefore there’s no opportunity to eat an evening meal there. These hours also make Saturday and Sunday around lunchtime extremely popular. Therefore, it’s often difficult to get seated quickly on the weekends.
Avoiding the Weekend Crowd
Yet those issues are not enough to significantly reduce the value of this experience. This is especially true if you have the opportunity to go on a weekday afternoon and avoid the weekend crowd. Even if you can’t make a weekday, the quality of the food and experience is definitely worth the wait in line, and even the few extra dollars you pay for their buffet.
Ideal Meeting Spot
This place is ideal as a meeting spot for family, or as a couple’s afternoon out. The atmosphere and rustic style make every aspect of this place cheerful and appealing. Once you go, it’ll definitely be a spot you’ll remember and want to return to, should future travels permit it.