Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

Brown's

1218 Avon St., Charlottesville, VA - (434) 295-4911
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/24/2014 8:16:00 AM
I recently spent some time in Gordonsville, Virginia, which back in the late 19th century was known as the Chicken Leg Center of the Universe. After the Civil War, the town's "chicken ladies," gained national renown for standing on the train platform and offering trays full of fried chicken and biscuits to travelers, who could reach out the window of a stopped train, grab what they wanted, and pay. I had hoped to find modern-day renditions of the legendary fried chicken in Gordonsville, which today does host a yearly Fried Chicken Festival in May, but I did not. However, the nearby city of Charlottesville is a 21st century fried chicken bonanza.

I had dreamy chicken and waffles at Ace Biscuit & Barbecue (reviewed here), and superb drumsticks and thighs at Wayside Takeout & Catering (also reviewed here), and I ate countless excellent pieces of fried chicken at the most unlikely gas-station eateries in and around the city. By unlikely, I mean that these places appear to be standard-issue service stations with a basic mini-mart inventory of beef jerky, beer, cigarettes, sundries, and lottery tickets. But somewhere to the side or at the back of so many of them is a place where great fried chicken is cooked and served.

Brown's is one of the best. Until 2011, it was known as Stoney's Grocery, but it is now helmed by Mike Brown, who became known to local chicken devotees for the superior quality of what he served at his mini-mart in Esmont, south of Charlottesville. From the outside, you'd never know it's worth a stop, except as a bargain – a sign in the window advertises 10 pieces of chicken for $10.99. But once you walk in the door, a first drawn breath will sound the good-eats alert, for the air is redolent of good cooking – not just fried chicken, but also collard greens, spuds, and fruit cobblers to accompany it. Yes, this nondescript place serves four-star bird: drippy and juicy, fine and fatty, tingling with pepper and a shot of some subtle, sneaky spice that veritably glows on your tongue, commanding you to want more and more. At first crunch through the luscious crust, it seems merely well-salted, but as you devour it, intriguing spices keep rolling across your tongue, making this an endlessly intriguing eating experience.

There is no place to eat at Brown's. All business is take-out.

2 out of 2 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Fried Chicken
Fruit Cobbler
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The meat of this thigh is saturated with savory juices, and all are shored in by a brilliantly-seasoned crust.
"The meat of this thigh is saturated with savory juices, and all are shored in by a brilliantly-seasoned crust."
Michael Stern





Nothing about Brown's facade hints at how good it is. But ask any fried-chicken connoisseur around Charlottesville, and it likely will be at the top of their honor roll.
"Nothing about Brown's facade hints at how good it is. But ask any fried-chicken connoisseur around Charlottesville, and it likely will be at the top of their honor roll."
Michael Stern


Fruit cobbler always is available for dessert. This one is apple.
"Fruit cobbler always is available for dessert. This one is apple."
Michael Stern


Thighs are the most sumptuous part, as shown here, but drumsticks, wings, and breasts are not to be ignored.
"Thighs are the most sumptuous part, as shown here, but drumsticks, wings, and breasts are not to be ignored."
Michael Stern


It hardly looks like a great restaurant, and in fact you cannot eat on premises, but anyone who prizes four-star fried chicken needs to put Brown's on the hit-list.
"It hardly looks like a great restaurant, and in fact you cannot eat on premises, but anyone who prizes four-star fried chicken needs to put Brown's on the hit-list."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com