The town of Gordonsville, in Central Virginia, is tucked in the “middle of nowhere.” (Definition: not near a major highway.) Which is fantastic. But that doesn’t mean there’s nowhere to eat in Gordonsville.
If you’re driving through or near this small town, rest assured: Gordonsville has restaurant and eating options. And thankfully, most aren’t the usual chain restaurants.
Gordonsville is a Piedmont region town that sits between Route 29 to the west, Charlottesville to the southwest, and I-64 to the south. And the little town of Orange to the north (close to where President James Madison lived).
So, what’s there to eat in Gordonsville? Let’s explore a few eateries …
Pork barbecue is a staple in Virginia and in the South. Gordonsville isn’t the only place you’ll find it. But it’s always nice to have as an option beyond the usual burger. The BBQ Exchange offers up all the BBQ meats your heart desires, including hickory-smoked and slow-roasted pork shoulders and spareribs. The meats are dry cured and then cooked in their own wood-burning cooker, and the half chickens are grilled over live coals – as BBQ Exchange puts it, just like “the Rotary, Kiwanis, and Fire departments have become famous for serving on Saturdays across the Eastern seaboard.”
Order at the counter. There’s often a line, but it goes quickly – the staff know their menu and can advise you. If you’re like us, you strategize over sides, with each person in a group ordering different sides. You’ve got choices like Brunswick Stew, baked beans, hushpuppies, mac-and-cheese, and the indispensable collard greens. Sweet tea is on demand, and while they’ve got freshly baked rolls and pumpkin muffins, we went with our own standby: cornbread.
The decor is straightforward and welcoming. Tables are fitted with disposable paper. Once one guest leaves a table, the workers are quick to dispose of the old paper and lay on a new sheet. Sauces are available at every table. While sitting on the front porch is a great option, we opted for an indoor seat. And it was cool to see that they’ve got an old-school Galaga video arcade unit just inside the front door. Welcome back to the 80s!
If you’re like us, you get tired of seeing the same-ol same-ol architecture of fast food joints and chain restaurants, which is why just looking at the Exchange’s building is a pleasure. As they describe the “warm inviting feel” of their building: It’s a “rustic building with white washed tin siding and forest green roof.”
If you happen to visit Montpelier, President James Madison’s plantation about half an hour away just outside the nearby Town of Orange, you can get BBQ Exchange grub at their visitor center.
Pomme Restaurant – French Cuisine
Run by the Gasparini family, Pomme’s founder and long-time owner was Chef Gerard Gasparini, who unfortunately passed away in 2016. Chef Gerard was born outside of Paris in a small town named St. Soupplets. In his teens he apprenticed under the President of the Maîtres Cuisiniers of France, and then continued his training with a stint at the Plaza Athenee in Paris where at the age of twenty he became the youngest night chef to date. In 1989, he and his family moved to New Jersey where he became the executive chef at Baltusrol Golf Club. In 2005 he opened Pomme with his wife Maryvonne and son Guillaume who is also the resident Sommelier, Certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
So what can you expect at Pomme? Attire is “Casual Chic” – jacket and tie are not required, and the bar and lounge (which was renovated this past Spring) has a more laid back dress code. Lunch, dinner, and brunch are served. They are closed Sunday nights and Mondays. Opening hours are found on Pomme’s website.
We look forward to trying it another time, with the menu offering fish (Filet de Sole St. Germain, seared halibut), meats (pistachio crusted rack of lamb, chicken and mushroom crepes, sliced duck breast, filet mignon).
It’s difficult to find a bad review of Pomme. This comment is par for the course: “Pomme serves an outstanding meal, that is the best in the greater Charlottesville area.”
Burrito Baby: It’s what you need on occasion. Actually, it’s what you crave on occasion. Made to order burritos, tacos, bowls, nachos. Steak, pork, veggie, chicken, seasoned beef. They offer three kinds of rice, the Pico de Gallo-y and cilantro stuff, and chips with guac, pico de gallo, queso.
And they’ve got something your local Chipotle doesn’t offer: Ice Cream. Some good flavors too: Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Candy Bar Overload, Green Mint Chip, Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Cookie Dough, Orange Blossom, Cappuccino Crunch, Key Lime Pie, Peanut Butter Cup, and Butter Pecan.
Burrito Baby is located off of Main Street, not far from Pomme. Just be ready. More than one review mentions “Huge Portions”!
Jill’s Candy Cottage
A block away from Main Street, at 109 S. Faulconer Street, is Jill’s Candy Cottage. And yes, it’s in a cottage. If you want confections, they do them – handmade chocolates, fudge, cotton candy, and various snacks including nuts.
But chocolate seems to be where it’s at: chocolate oreos, chocolate mint oreos, peanut caramel clusters, chocolate-covered strawberries, nonpareils, and my favorite: dark chocolate espresso beans. And that doesn’t cover all the selection.
Tasty Freeze – 1950s Americana
If you’re in the middle of a Great American Road Trip, no matter how short or long, it just has to involve something like a Tastee Freez. Burgers, dogs, shakes, ice cream. Or a Patti Melt. Or Banilla Freezee (featuring bananas and vanilla wafers).
Tastee Freez brands itself as “The Original Soft Serve – Since 1950.” Although most of the franchise stores are in Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois, they are headquartered in Newport Beach, California.
While such an All American place is HQed in swanky Southern California, it is nice to know that they’re telling the truth with their slogan. Tastee Freez is, in fact, the originator of soft serve, since founder Leo S. Moranz invented a soft serve pump and freezer which enabled the product that we know and love.
Krecek Kakes Bakery – A Taste of Europe
If you’re not going to do the soft serve at Tastee Freez, you might want a dessert. Or a coffee to get you through the afternoon. Krecek Kakes Bakery & Coffeeshop on Main Street offer lattes, cappuccinos, and teas, and if your kids don’t like those options, soft drinks are available.
The bakery is, like every place on Main Street, housed in an old-school building with seating on a brick porch out front with a view of the train tracks across the street.
What sets Krecek apart is that their cakes, breads, cookies and pastries are baked on site – no shipping in the goods from a distant corporate bakery via truck for them. They describe their baked goods as “European-inspired,” which never sounds bad.
What’s on offer? Coffee cakes, pies, muffins, brownies, lemon bars, and our favorite, scones. Want something savory? Their breads selection includes Irish soda bread, whole wheat herb, garlic rosemary, and sourdough. Here’s the best part: they offer fresh French baguettes daily.
Krecek Kakes is open Monday through Saturday, although they were on vacation on the day we strolled through Gordonsville. Next time!!