Richmond’s dining scene is a rapidly evolving assortment of restaurants featuring everything from the trendiest epicurean delights to authentic international cuisine to traditional southern fare. As the downtown neighborhoods are renovated, more and more places are opening up to accommodate hungry Richmonders and visitors-especially those looking for something a little different. Additionally, the outlying suburbs are no longer areas where chains and fast food places reign. All sorts of eateries-from fine dining to casual pubs-have sprung up.
The busy downtown area is home to several places to grab a quick bite on a lunch hour or for entertaining that important business client. Lemaire, at the magnificent Jefferson Hotel, is the ultimate dining experience-superb new southern cuisine in elegant surroundings. Europa Mediterranean Café offers everything from sandwiches and salads to more substantial entrees and is a fun place to stop after a long day for some sangria and tapas. Fast becoming a Richmond favorite is Casablanca, with its decor reminiscent of Rick’s Café from the classic movie and innovative dishes named after the film’s stars. For a casual relaxed atmosphere, the Penny Lane Pub serves up traditional pub fare and plenty of beer on tap to go with it. If you’re out late and need something to eat, stop by the Third Street Diner. This 24-hour diner is famous for breakfast which is available anytime.
This is the place to be for Richmond nightlife. On Friday and Saturday nights many places have live music-from jazz to reggae to rock and roll. Havana ’59 is a popular club serving up Cuban food and a Latin beat with plenty of outdoor seating for the warmer months. Cobblestone Brewery has Jamaican/Cajun fusion food and several microbrews including their own. Awful Arthur’s and the Surf Rider Grill specialize in seafood but both have plenty of pasta and meat dishes as well, and for contemporary cuisine, None Such Place is a romantic restaurant with dark wood and candlelight.
Many of Richmond’s best restaurants can be found in this trendy warehouse district. The dining room at the historic Berkeley Hotel is known for their excellent food, impeccable service and serene atmosphere-the perfect spot for a special occasion. Sam Miller’s Warehouse is one of the original establishments in this area and has remained popular for its prime rib and seafood and for the live music playing on weekends. The Tobacco Company is a local favorite. Three stories of artifacts and antiques surround diners as they enjoy traditional American fare in the renovated warehouse.
The elegant Fan District with its stunning architecture and treelined streets is home to several great neighborhood restaurants. The opera-themed Caffe di Pagliacci presents homemade Italian specialties in a cozy dining room. Avalon and the Strawberry Street Cafe are casual bistro-style places great for a Saturday lunch or a weeknight dinner. But it is not all about food in the more laid-back Fan neighborhood-there are several places to hear live music including New-Orleans jazz and zydeco at Gumbo Ya Ya and rhythm and blues in Bogart’s Back Room.
Eateries like Farouk’s House of India and Chopstix Vietnamese restaurant are fine examples of the diversity of this eclectic neighborhood. For wonderful breads and pastries, stop by Baker’s Crust Bread Market-a fashionable bistro with a creperie-or visit Coppola’s deli for hearty sandwiches. Richmond’s finest Italian restaurant is located here as well; Amici Ristorante has received accolades from Bon Appetit and Southern Living magazines. After dinner, relax with a coffee at Coffee & Co. or one of the many sidewalk cafés along Cary Street.
Richmond’s restaurant scene is continually growing to meet the needs and adventurous tastebuds of its population. While there is not the huge club presence like in larger cities, many places attract live bands to suit a variety of music tastes. Take a look at the Weekend section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch which comes out on Thursdays or pick up a free copy of Punchline.
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