The 8 Best Restaurants To Try In Richmond, Virginia
In the heart of Virginia, Richmond not only has a rich cultural and historical heritage but also boasts a number of cultural restaurants. Richmond’s culinary scene is forever growing and changing, so here is an updated list of the city’s latest top 10 places to eat.
Millie's Diner, Virginia | Courtesy of Millie's Diner
A firm favourite of Richmond’s since 1989, Millie’s Diner is situated in Church Hill near Shockoe Bottom. Although doubling its size in 1991, Millie’s remains an intimate dining experience, with only 44 seats. The restaurant exudes historical charisma, with its 1940s era décor and façade. Owned and operated by Paul Keevil and Lisa Edwards, their kitchen is open and inviting, and adds to the restaurants charm and cosy vibe. The menu is a fusion of international culinary fair, which is made from fresh ingredients and changes every three weeks. Millie’s is renowned as the must-go-to diner for brunch in Richmond, and has frequently been awarded that accolade by critics. Their drinks list features bloody marys, and mimosas are also popular favourites. With their eclectic chalkboard menu displays and retro jukeboxes, complete with an amazing collection of vintage 45s, old world charm meets new age cuisine at Millie’s.
Although originally a Harrison and Pierce chemist shop in 1883, before being bought by William G. Tarrant in 1905, it became reincarnated as when Tarrant’s Café in 1987, and has since been delivering sophisticated and delicious food to Richmond. Serving modern American food with a pinch of Italian flavour, Tarrant’s Café also celebrates its historical predecessor of the Tarrant Drug Company, with the interior still displaying elements of its drug store past, such as pharmaceutical signs. The café is also located in Old Richmond Historic District, adding to the eatery’s cultural character. The menu offers an impressive array of food, from ahi tuna to fried polenta and their selection of pizzas. These are wonderfully accompanied by their range of draft ales and beers.
Offering rustic dining in a restored apothecary, The Roosevelt opened its doors in 2011, and has since become a firm favourite among food lovers. Located in Richmond’s oldest neighbourhood, The Roosevelt has received a number of awards and accolades since its opening. It was voted Restaurant of the Year 2012 by Style magazine, and again in 2014. Their cocktail menu and head chef and co-owner Lee Gregory have also been praised by critics and patrons alike. The Roosevelt completes a trio of successful culinary ventures for owner Kendra Feather, following the success of Ipanema Cafe (1998) and Garnett’s Cafe (2009). Serving mouth-watering appetisers such as spicy fried pighead, main dishes such as catfish and pork shoulder, and desserts like coconut cake and peanut butter pie, it’s no wonder foodies return to The Roosevelt year after year.
Oysters and beer | Courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster Co.
Serving up what they describe as ‘New Southern cuisine’ since 2003, we have Julep’s. The menu is seasonal and ingredients and flavours are carefully selected by Head Chef Randall Doetzer. In 2012, the restaurant was awarded the title of ‘best Southern-inspired dish’ for their signature shrimp and fried green tomatoes by readers of Richmond Magazine. The restaurant’s premises are also steeped in history, and are among the oldest commercial buildings in the river district in Richmond. Originally built around 1817 by Charles Whitlock, this building has seen multiple uses before becoming the quaint and atmospheric restaurant it is today, from a lumber house, a candle and soap factory, a brewery, a cigar-box maker, a market and a locksmith.
Throughout Richmond, the name Stella Dikos is legendary, with this Stella’s restaurant being the third incarnation by the famous foodist. Located in a residential area near West End, Stella’s has a cosy and homely feel, which is amplified by the delicious rustic and modern Greek food. The interior consists of a long, marble-topped bar and a communal dining table in the centre of the room. Highlights on the menu include the saganaki, dolmades, keftedes, homemade tzatziki and Stella’s signature sautéed calamari with sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. Desserts include a chocolate-hazelnut baklava and fried dough loukoumades bathed in honey and sugar syrup. Stella’s also have a range of early bird Meze Ora, where they have small plate and drink specials, perfect if you are meeting friends for a late lunch or early dinner. With ambient Greek music, and Greek films playing out on the back wall, diners will be transported to the Mediterranean.
Owned by a local family, and located near James River in the historic Tobacco Row, Old Original Bookbinder’s offers the perfect recipe of rich history and atmosphere. With its exposed beams and brickwork, this restaurant is saturated in architectural style. The menu features classic seafood dishes, from fried calamari to clams casino and crab cakes, not to mention the lobster. However, Bookbinder’s signature plates are the steak and crab, where an eight-ounce filet mignon is accompanied by a five-ounce jumbo lump crab cake, and their surf and turf of filet mignon and broiled lobster tail. Diners can enjoy their meal el fresco on the stunning patio, or in one of the more intimate alcoves.
A recent edition to Richmond’s culinary scene is Heritage. A contemporary American eatery, Heritage aims to create the perfect symphony of food, drink and atmosphere. Triple threat Chef Joe Sparatta, mixologist Mattias Hägglund and manager Emilia Sparatta have a real passion for food, and this is reflected in Heritage’s impressive food and drink menu. Their dinner menu is a selection of small, medium and large plates to suit any appetite, and feature the likes of shrimp crackers, pimento croquettes, bourbon barrel smoked pork belly, and local cobia and tilefish. Innovative cocktails, local craft beers and ales on tap, and a large selection of wine, beautifully complement and complete the Heritage dining experience.
Bringing fresh and modern gastronomic delights to Richmond is the New American restaurant Lemaire. The restaurant is housed in one of Richmond’s most iconic cultural attractions, The Jefferson Hotel. The menu is created by head chef and Richmond native Walter Bundy, and comprises locally grown ingredients that reflect influences of the South. The menu is divided into cold, hot and main dishes, so you can customise your dining experience as you wish. Lemaire also boasts an impressive and innovative cocktail list, which features regular favourites but with a modern twist. Furthermore, their wine selection of over 200 wines means there is ample choice for guests to create their own unique dining experience.