Located just outside the Downtown Mall, Bang! is an Asian-inspired tapas restaurant with a vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan-friendly menu that, unfortunately, does not take reservations. Well-known among students for its delicious food and unique drinks, I decided to visit Bang! to see if it was worth the wait.

Despite Bang!’s popularity among Charlottesville locals and University students alike, it is one of the local restaurants that does not accept reservations beforehand. On the night that I decided to go to Bang!, I was apprehensive about my chances of getting a table, but when I showed up on a Friday night with a group of four friends around 6:45 p.m., we were seated within 10 minutes, starting the meal off on a great note.

Upon being seated, I quickly noticed the variety of people enjoying their meals — from families with children to couples on first dates and University students — the ambiance of Bang!’s atmosphere was warm and inviting, creating a comfortable and familiar environment for all of its patrons. Instead of a reusable menu, paper menus are placed on the table with pens next to it, as diners check off which items they want to order. 

While the servers suggested ordering two to three tapas per person, my friends and I could not decide on only two dishes we both wanted, so we ended up ordering a plethora of items from the menu, ranging from firecracker shrimp to goat cheese dumplings. The dishes came out one at a time, giving us the opportunity to fully enjoy each of the flavors on its own.

The aroma wafting from the dishes as they were placed on our table was delicious, and each was just as flavorful and tasty as the last. My favorite two dishes were the firecracker shrimp and the flash fried brussels sprouts. The firecracker shrimp was crispy and warm, served with a slaw that balanced out the richness of the garlic sauce, while the flash fried brussels sprouts were the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with a combination of miso mayo and sweet soy sauces. 

McKenzie Mallory, fourth-year College student and manager of Bang!, has been working at Bang! for the past eight months, moving quickly from working as a server to the general manager position. Mallory thinks that Bang!’s unique menu and welcoming environment are what make it so appealing to students and locals alike.  

“I love the tapas style,” Mallory said. “[Bang!] is the first tapas-style restaurant I’ve been to in Charlottesville and I just fell in love with it. I also love the staff, [working at Bang!] is a very inclusive experience.” 

Bang!’s patrons clearly also feel the same, as there are regulars who frequent the restaurant. Bang! is not just a restaurant for a single occasion, it is perfect for all occasions and all groups of people, with an outdoor patio and upstairs and downstairs seating areas. 

“We have a couple regulars that come in and they’ve been loyal for the last 20 years,” Mallory said. “I think it’s the people that create the vibe and I think they’re doing a really great job of it.”

Currently, Bang! has a different array of offerings than their usual menu because of Charlottesville Restaurant Week, which took place from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5. Charlottesville Restaurant Week is a week where diners get to dine at participating restaurants and enjoy three courses for just $19, $29 or $39. During restaurant week, Bang! charged $29 per person for three dishes, with $1 of the proceeds from each meal going to Restaurant Week’s selected charity. This year, the charity was the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank of Charlottesville

However, the restaurant tries to keep some of its most classic and popular dishes on the menu at all times, such as the rich and creamy goat cheese dumplings. In addition to their amazing food, Bang! is also known for having fun and unique cocktails. Two tempting drinks offered are “Sin City” — a blackberry and pomegranate martini — and a new drink they’ve introduced called “Not Your Mother’s Mule,” which is a habanero tequila mule. 

Overall, Bang! is a restaurant that is definitely worth the wait. The delicious food, ambient atmosphere and fun cocktails make it a unique Charlottesville restaurant that is likely to remain a favorite for years to come. Stop by Bang! for a casual dinner with your family, a celebration with friends or even a first date as it’s the perfect place for any occasion. 

Currently, Bang! is also hiring servers and bartenders. If you’re interested, reach out to bangrestaurant@gmail.com