Striking out from home to wander and explore is a regular part of my life. Whether it is a short trip to a favorite getaway, or a long adventure to some place entirely new, occasionally seeing the city I love through the rearview mirror is an integral part of keeping it close to my heart.
I think most wanderers and adventurers would agree that one of the best parts of exploring a new place is finding the hidden gem - a place that captures a certain somewhere-ness that only works where it is, and it works perfectly.
Since opening in 2013, Salt Artisan Market outside of Charlottesville, Virginia has been one of those places for me and a whole lot of other people. A few short miles from Jefferson's Monticello and historic Michie Tavern, Salt makes its home in an old filling station on the Jefferson Vineyards estate. Its hard for me to place Salt in any generic category like restaurant, cafe, market, etc. - though it fills all of those roles with elegant simplicity. When I walk under the stone pillared roof over what used to be the filling station's car port, and through the nostalgically familiar screen door, it feels as if I'm walking in to someone's home - a feeling that only continues as I'm welcomed and fed.
Salt Artisan Market is a purposefully curated oasis for travelers and locals alike. On any given day, both weather-worn construction types and vineyard hopping out-of-towners alike can be seen perched in dainty antique tea-time-esque furniture or out on the patio around a wine barrel dining on an expertly crafted sandwich or sipping a cup of Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co. Dark as Dark.
Like the coffee, as much of Salt's fare as possible is sourced locally and chosen for its quality, its story and a close connection to the Salt team. Owner, Barrett Hightower proudly speaks personally of each craftsperson behind the products on her shelves and that pride shines through in every aspect of Salt.
One might easily drive past Salt Artisan Market on the way to a vineyard or historical site, or never even take the fifteen minute detour off of I64, but to do so would be to miss the rare opportunity to find that hidden gem of adventuring that is so seldom found or so often under appreciated. I hope you take the time to find Salt Artisan Market, grab a cup of coffee and soak in the beauty both inside and outside of this place we love.