Weekenders: Loren Mendosa

Like many C-villians, our P+K crew pines for weekends. When we wisely choose to spend one living life in lieu of life maintenance chores (and manage to get out of working), we open ourselves up to the ridiculously wide range of options this gem of a town and region offer. It’s overwhelming AF. With this embarrassing wealth of opportunity comes a first-world challengetread the path you know or branch out to new adventures? To expand our horizons on the latter, we decided to tap the community of dynamic industry pros in Charlottesville for their picture of the ideal weekend and make a series out of it.

Welcome to Weekenders, which will aim to answer the question:

If you had one perfect weekend to spend in Cville, what would you do?


Loren Mendosa, co-owner of Lampo

Loren Mendosa, co-owner of Lampo

The played-out adage about ‘never forgetting your first’ swirls in our minds as we flank Loren Mendosa at the bar of Mas Tapas. It’s 6ish on a Saturday and the joint’s signature swagger is already in high gear. Good-looking servers sporting good-looking dishes glide by. Cocktail mavens sling booze and nod their heads to vintage Arcade Fire that plays through piped speakers. A small crowd gathers by the front door. We cast them a side eye of pity while sipping our drinks.

We’re here to get the goods on Loren’s blueprint for a dope Cville weekend, but first a brief throwback to a broiling night in July 2015. We’d just flown in from Maine to close on our home and do recon on the town. The Mas tractor beam drew us to the bar where we watched some cat next to us slay the menu in a visceral way that tipped his hand—dude had to be in the industry, more than likely a chef. It was an impressive display that would have made Caligula proud. Drinks flowed, conversation sparked, and so began a bond with our very first Cville food personality.

In time we would become Lampo disciples, and when we got around to launching P+K, the best (steakhouse) pizza place in the league would be the subject of our inaugural blog post. So, being suckers for synchronicity, it seems poetic for Loren to be the first in this series.   

Friday

The weekend starts right here at Mas. I’m sitting at the bar drinking a ‘slightly dirty’ or ‘dusty’ Kangaroo (Tito’s vodka martini) and catching up with Mike Ketola while he slaves away at the grill. I always hit the patatas bravas and typically leave the rest of my order to the crew. They know my taste pretty well by now. The vibe here energizes me and sets the tone for the rest of the night.  

After happy hour, I rendezvous with some friends at my apartment on the Mall. Andrew mixes a few rounds of negronis and we ‘get ready’ for the next phase of the night.   

Any time there’s a hip-hop show at the Jefferson and I’m off work, you’ll catch me in the crowd, and if it’s a Friday date, even better. I love kicking off a weekend with live music.

After the show we do late night at Mono Loco. Shots are usually the jam at that point. Michael Lewis and everyone who works there - all solid people.    

Saturday

It’s 10 am or later, I’m probably waking up on the couch wondering how I’m going to manage this hangover. Do I say ‘fuck it’ and hit Riverside Lunch for a burger or go a healthier route and salvage the day? (The truth is I’m pescatarian these days, so my options are more clear.) I’m digging on The Juice Place lately and their Rich Green Smoothie - avocado, spinach - with a shot of royal jelly. I’m a big fan of bees.  

Now I’m walking the Mall, feeling good and inspired, and planning a hike in Nelson County. I’ll either pack a lunch and hit the road or grab something on the fly from Bodo's or Blue Ridge Pig.

My go-to hike is Crabtree Falls - good range of terrain and fantastic views. My head clears and I get into a zen zone out there. At some point I’ll stop at a vista and have a late lunch.

On my way back toward Cville, it’s early evening and I’m in the mood to round out the afternoon with a local wine buzz, so I drop in at Pollak Vineyards and reflect on the day with a glass of wine.

Saturday evening is chill. I’m starving and always thinking about pasta, so I have a few friends over for dinner. Most likely I’ll make pasta al norma - a strozzapreti with really, really charred eggplant, tomatoes, Calabrian chillis, basil and ricotta salata. We’re drinking a 2010 Crivelli Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato. It’s super floral, light and easy to drink and goes so well with spicy pasta. You can drink it all night.

Sunday

After a lazy Sunday morning we’re brunching. I’m hitting one of the pop-up brunches in town like Mas, Mono Loco or (ahem) Lampo. We call it the ‘traveling gangsta brunch’ because you look around the patio and lots of restaurant crews have a table - Mono Loco, Mas, Fitzroy, etc. - and we all mingle. I’ll order two entrees and one sweet dish like French toast ‘for the table’. And I’m working three beverages: coffee, bloody mary and ‘mix your own’ mimosa - a bottle of champagne and a small OJ so I can control the proportions. Bartenders probably bristle about this. Inevitably shots of Espolon go down, followed by an epic nap.

The Sunday night plan depends on my post slumber mood. We’re talking about an ideal weekend here, so let’s say I wake up late evening refreshed and game for one last jam to round out the weekend. It’s a no brainer - I’m at the downstairs bar at C&O catching up with Anthony. I’m all about that coffee and chili infused Campari in his Jota Jota, or can easily go dealer’s choice with him behind the bar. And you really can’t make a wrong turn on the C&O late night menu.