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Dining at Michie Tavern is like stepping back in time, 200 years

Historic Michie Tavern first began providing food, drink and lodging to travelers in 1784. Today, that tradition continues in the form of historic tours and southern mid-day meals.

The Ordinary is a small, low-ceiling building adjacent to the breezy verandas of the main building that is Michie Tavern.
The Ordinary is a small, low-ceiling building adjacent to the breezy verandas of the main building that is Michie Tavern.
Pamela Perkins Donnelly
Take a trip back in time, and dine on Southern fare of the 1800s at Michie Tavern.
Pamela Perkins Donnelly

The tavern capitalizes on its age as part of its patron’s experience. Diners at Michie Tavern will eat in an 1800s-style dining facility, called an Ordinary. The Ordinary at Michie Tavern serves traditional Southern foods that a traveler during the 1800s might have eaten.

Servers even don period frocks, complete with bonnet, and warm Southern hospitality mannerisms: "Seconds, M'am? Thirds for you, sir? Y'all eat up now, you hear?"

While the rustic restaurant has modern lighting, the lights are kept low. In addition, the low ceiling and the dark wood interior make the atmosphere feel very 1800s. Flatware, plates and cups are Jefferson Cup style, silver in color, adding to the overall impression that, “This is no ordinary, modern meal.” Servers even don period frocks, complete with bonnet, and warm Southern hospitality mannerisms.

Michie Tavern’s dining facility is divided into an entry way with tables and chairs, a mid-section that houses the main buffet serving line. Several rooms branch off the back of the serving line room, and stretch as far as the eye can see, in the dimly lit interior. When at capacity, Michie Tavern can open a second buffet to serve the back rooms. This setup makes private parties and large tour groups a breeze. In colder months, diners can enjoy a roaring fire.

Although, operations have been modernized with the all-you-can-eat buffet concept common in modern times, the food itself is quite uncommon and not all plagued by modern-day fat consumption concerns.The Southern menu includes traditional recipes for fried chicken, black-eyed peas, stewed tomatoes, biscuits and green beans with bacon.

Dieters beware! While the food definitely possesses a melt-in-your-mouth flavor, the caloric intake number is likely considerably higher than daily recommendatopms. And part of the period-frocked servers' hospitality is offering to bring to your table, seconds…thirds…fourths…until you ask for no more! Calorie tracking at that point just becomes uncharitable.

Virginia wines and brews have made their way as completely accurate "period" options to the Michie Tavern menu; mulled apple cider and cold water are other beverage options. Traditional Southern deserts like Peach cobbler are also available, if you have room after multiple trips to the buffet line, or seconds handed out from your sever.

Come as you are; no reservations are required, unless the group is 15-members large or more. And the buffet menu is the same delicious fare every day:

  • Southern Fried Chicken
  • Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Barbecue
  • Marinated Baked Chicken
  • Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Stewed Tomatoes
  • Cole Slaw
  • Green Beans
  • Whole Baby Beets
  • Cornbread and Biscuits

This mid-day fare, or lunch, is served daily year round; Michie Tavern only closes its doors on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Back in the 1800s the mid-day meal was considered the main meal of the day, with only a snack or light meal for dinner. Even just tasting a little bit of everything on the buffet may leave your belly so full, it does not needing any more food until breakfast, the next day.

Ticket prices break down as follow: Adult Buffet $17.50; Youth Buffet 12-15 $10.95; and Youth Buffet 6-11 $6.95. From April through October, the Ordinary is open from 11:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; operating hours are 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. from November through March.

When is a good time to visit Michie Tavern for lunch? Any time you want to make a meal special is the perfect time to do lunch at Michie Tavern. There is a romance to traveling back to a simpler time. If the children are bored, or need to get reinvested in history, Michie Tavern’s Jefferson Cup drinks and silver-plate dining ware might do the trick.

Don't forget that Michie Tavern closes promptly on time each day so make your plans accordingly. Also, since many people couple a tour of Monticello with Michie Tavern for lunch, timing your arrival can be tricky to avoid lines. Spontaneity is good; just allow enough time to eat with as many trips as possible back to the buffet bar, and some time to sit and digest once done.

While its location may not be authentic (it was originally located 17 miles away), Michie Tavern was built and operated by the Scotsman William Michie. Located in Albemarle County, Michie Tavern is less than a mile from Monticello, and about 3.5 miles from Charlottesville. Michie Tavern is located at 685 Thomas Jefferson Parkway in Charlottesville. For more information, check out their website.

Have a hankering for fried chicken or black-eyed peas? Michie Tavern serves them up every day of the year.

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