Charlottesville is well known for its restaurants and is a prime destination for self-proclaimed foodies (in fact, this city ranked 14th in the nation for most restaurants per capita in 2013). But C’ville isn’t known just for its quantity of restaurants, but for the quality of those eateries as well. Which is why this city is a wonderful place for engaged couples (that’s you!) to host their weddings and all of the fun events before and after the ceremonies—including the rehearsal dinner. To give you an idea of what your Charlottesville rehearsal dinner could look (and taste) like, we’re highlighting the most incredible rehearsal dinner venues on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.
The Downtown Mall is one of the longest and most beautiful pedestrian malls in the nation. It’s filled with fun boutiques, shops, art galleries, theaters, and many fantastic restaurants and private venue spaces. Since many couples will choose to marry at one of the area’s surrounding farms or vineyards, we often suggest that they host their Charlottesville rehearsal dinner on the Downtown Mall to show off the city’s slightly more urban vibe. This is a surefire way to expose guests to all this city has to offer, from sprawling oak-covered hills to hip music venues.
Like a catchy tune, a meal at Zocalo won’t soon be forgotten. “Zocalo” in Latin America means “center of town,” and this restaurant is smack-dab in the middle of the Mall, the very center of Charlottesville. Ask any local and they’ll tell you that this C’ville staple is a great place to spend a Friday or Saturday night.
Not only does Zocalo have a killer event space with an awesome aesthetic, but their Latin-inspired menu consistently delivers. They have mastered each and every plate, making it hard for even devoted customers to decide what to order each time.
Zocalo’s rehearsal dinner space is perfect for any size soirée: they can accommodate up to 350 (!) people for cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres or 200 for a seated meal. If you’d prefer a more intimate space for your rehearsal dinner at Zocalo, the space can also be divided up into three sections.
Since coming on the C’ville scene in 2011, Commonwealth has maintained a steady following thanks to its hearty Southern menu and rooftop Skybar. Even cocktail gurus will tell you this is the place to go for a solid drink. For proof of its popularity and success, you need only show up on a weekend to see how packed the place is. Their modern look downstairs is spot-on and their casual bar, complete with plenty of cozy seating, it a go-to spot for happy hour.
Commonwealth’s uncomplicated menu, teeming with the best meats, cheeses, and produce from local farms, has something for everybody: lamb chops, crispy duck breast, and a roasted cauliflower steak that makes even the most steadfast carnivores jealous.
Keep in mind that Commonwealth is only available for private events Sunday-Thursday, so if you’re having a Friday wedding, this is a perfect option. The dining room accommodates up to 75 people for a seated dinner.
Old Metropolitan Hall is one of C’ville’s favorite event spaces, and it is absolutely brimming with beauty. An artfully restored watering hole from the ’40s, the space was designed with weddings and wedding photography in mind—every nook and cranny of this awesome venue is just as photo-worthy as the last.
For the couple who wants to infuse their rehearsal dinner space with their personal style and taste, Old Met is perfect. This venue comes to you as a blank slate: you bring in your own caterer, rental items (some tables and chairs are included with your rental fee but you’ll be responsible for dinnerware, glassware, etc.), and decorations with which to make this place entirely yours. But don’t think you’ll be on your own to make your dream come true; the wonderful people at Old Met will work with you to make sure everything is just perfect. On the day of the event, your only job should be to eat, drink, and revel.
Old Met Hall offers two gorgeous floors. Upstairs you’ll find a stunning ballroom with wood floors, 14-foot ceilings, and exquisite chandeliers; downstairs has a custom copper bar, black and white diamond flooring, and exposed beams. If there’s dancing to be done, it’ll be done there. After dinner, spill out onto the outdoor patio so you and your guests can take in the Mall’s nightlife.
Young (at heart), scrappy and hungry? We’ve got just the place for you. Hamiltons’ has been a popular dining spot in Charlottesville since they opened their doors in 1996. With incredible customer service, a menu focused on farm-to-table dining, and imaginative cocktails, Hamiltons’ is one of those places you won’t be able to stay away from. This is certainly a venue that will show your guests what Charlottesville is all about: great food and great people.
The private dining area at Hamiltons’ is separate from the main dining room and even has its own entrance right off the Mall on First Street. Able to accommodate only 10-20 people, a rehearsal at Hamiltons’ is guaranteed to be an intimate affair allowing you and your loved ones enough privacy for great conversation and after-dinner toasts. What’s more, it even has its own bathroom and lounge area—talk about the VIP treatment.
Don’t be fooled by its unassuming name: The Space Downtown might be just the kind of place you’ve been looking for. This restaurant and event space is located just one street off the Mall on Water Street and is ideal for the couple looking for a modern, clean-lined rehearsal dinner space. With gorgeous exposed brick, hardwood floors, and a flexible floor plan, you won’t regret a meal at here (although you may regret passing up the BBQ duck turnovers).
The Space Downtown can accommodate anywhere from 10 to 200 people and the kitchen staff will work with you to create a custom menu for your Charlottesville rehearsal dinner. Since The Space Downtown only caters to private events, you can expect their their utmost attention and care in ensuring your rehearsal dinner goes off without a hitch.
Is your mouth watering yet? We’re sure any one of these restaurants will make the perfect backdrop for a Charlottesville rehearsal dinner that will impress your guests, so check out their listings and send them an inquiry–and be sure to include us in your head count, won’t you?