University of Virginia

The Biltmore Grill
December 2004
by Marc B. Zawel

Ask any of the 19,000-plus students at the University of Virginia to name the bar that best represents the Charlottesville campus, and the answer you’ll hear over and over again is the Biltmore Grill. Located at the edge of a gorgeous university designed by Thomas Jefferson, this bar has its own special place in Cavalier lore. The Biltmore opened decades ago on Elliewood Avenue as a boarding house for female visiting students. Today the stately bar still helps bring young people together, serving up stiff drinks to today’s thirsty coeds.

The Scene: Competing with a bevy of other bars for attention, the Biltmore always draws a crowd. “We’re the staple and we’ve been here the longest,” says Rebecca Lehnert, the bar’s regional manager. “Besides, it’s an old house, how cool is that? We’ve even had old guys come back and say, ‘My room used to be up there!'” The bar’s layout and design — stained glass light fixtures, vine-covered patio, enclosed porch, large stone fireplace and rough-hewn wood — may remind you of your grandparents’ house, but the throngs of tipsy students inside are anything but laid-back. “The bar definitely gets its bumps and bruises from the students,” Lehnert says.

Girls at the Bar: “The ladies here are beautiful,” says Joe, a first-year law student. “There are always lots of pretty Southern belles and sorority girls.” Guys trying to plead their case to cute coeds can also take heart in the favorable girl-to-guy ratio.

When to Go: This place is packed by midnight every night of the week, but Thursdays are the busiest. Wahoos start the weekend off right by bringing in their own special 22-ounce mug that they bought at the Biltmore. You can bring it back to the bar for $2 beer refills. “You know it’s Thursday when you see everyone carrying their mugs,” says Steve, a junior psychology major.

Dress Code: Guys will feel at home wearing khaki pants or jeans and collared shirts. Girls dress with an emphasis on attracting attention, slipping on short skirts and halter-tops.

At the Bar: The Biltmore bartenders pour all of the college staples — pitchers, shots of Jäger, Red Bull and vodka and Coors Light tall boys — along with a few libations that aren’t found north of the Mason-Dixon. One of the most potent is the Kansas City ice water, a sassy Southern version of the Long Island iced tea flavored with a dash of lime juice.

Hours: Open every day, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Where It’s At: 16 Elliewood Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia

Phone: (434) 293-6700

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