The Roosevelt, Virginia | Photo courtesy of The Roosevelt
The fourth most populous city in Virginia, Richmond has a rich cultural and historical heritage, which goes back to the Powhatan Confederacy and colonists from the first British settlement in the Americas, Jamestown. Today Richmond has a rich cultural and culinary offering, with a number of all-American and international dining venues on offer. Here is our guide to eating out in Richmond, complete with 10 of the best restaurants in the city.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
Located in Richmond’s oldest neighbourhood in a restored apothecary, The Rooseveltoffers a rustic dining environment, along with a cuisine that is distinctively not local to the area. The chefs prefer flavours more commonly found in the South, including spicy chicken delicacies. The Roosevelt first opened in 2011 and has received rave reviews and gained numerous awards since. The Roosevelt completes a trio of successful culinary ventures for owner Kendra Feather, following the success of Ipanema Cafe (1998) and Garnett’s Cafe (2009).
Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Seafood, American, Vegetarian, $$$
This steak and seafood restaurant is beautifully situated on the majestic James River. The Boathouse offers a diverse selection of modern American cuisine, including seafood and vegetarian dishes, with an accompanying wine bar. This unusual dining experience is well worth the visit, and not just for its award-winning food. The Boathouse is situated on the top floor of a recently restored power station, offering stunning views of the city and river. The station previously supplied electricity to Richmond’s trolley car fleet. While seafood lovers will instantly enjoy what’s on offer, diners should not miss out on the restaurant’s stone oven flatbreads, which have given national recognition to The Boathouse.
For travellers looking to add a little Caribbean zest or Latin spice into their culinary journey through Virginia, a pit stop at Pescados is an absolute must. This restaurant takes the idea of a traditional seafood restaurant and adds a tropical, colourful twist to maximise the taste and vibrancy of the dishes on offer. Pescados uses organic local ingredients to accompany its fresh seafood dishes, prepared with fish flown in on a daily basis. Each dish is carefully handcrafted and seasoned with a selection of exotic spices and flavours. For those looking for something other than seafood, there are delicious alternatives available on the menu, and a truly inspired selection of cocktails.
This Vietnamese restaurant offers delicious Asian cuisine, but a special mention must also be given to its vast collection of beer. Winning first place in the Great America Beer Bar Craft Beer Contest, Mekong has built up a reputation for being one of the best beer bars in Virginia. The menu offers a fine selection of Vietnamese cuisine covering appetisers, soup, salad, grilled platters, and several noodle and rice dishes, served with a selection of meats and vegetables. Mekong hosts regular events, usually beer-related, and often showcases the latest beer-on-tap releases, but it also has a hand in cultural events happening in the local community. They couldn’t say it better themselves: ‘Mekong is for beer lovers’.
For steak lovers, Hondos puts the prime in steak. This restaurant leads the way for steaks and chops and also provides a succulent selection of seafood dishes. The venue is perfect for romantic evenings, and for bigger groups, but an intimate meal in sophisticated surroundings is on offer for all. The menu includes a wide selection of cuts, including cowboy cut ribeye, filet mignon, porterhouse and Kansas City strip among others. For seafood fans, the twin South African lobster tails, tuna mignon, and jumbo Chesapeake lump crab cakes are highly recommended. The side orders are also delicious additions to any meal. Located in Glen Allen, Hondos has a reputation for a high standard of service and tender, tasty steaks.
Specialising in modern American cuisine with an Italian twist, Tarrant’s Café combines good quality food with a compelling historical connection to days gone by. In 1883, number 1 West Broad Street officially became a chemist’s shop, under the name of Harrison and Pierce. By 1905, it was bough by Willam G. Tarrant who created the Tarrant Drug Company. Tarrants the chemist survived until 1987, when Tarrant’s Cafe was born, delivering sophisticated, yet reasonably priced cuisine to the area. After servicing the community as a pharmacy for over 80 years in the Old Richmond Historic District, it only seems fitting that today, this building can still cater to the needs of the local community, this time in the form of fantastic food, including mouth-watering pizzas.
Oysters and beer | Courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster Co.
This delicious restaurant gives customers an authentic taste of Southern cooking. Branding itself as New Southern Cuisine, Julep’s Executive Chef Randall Doetzer regularly refreshes the menus to make the most of each season. Open since 2003, Julep’s is housed in the refurbished, oldest commercial building in Richmond, in the river district. Originally built around 1817 by Charles Whitlock, this building was used as a lumber house, a candle and soap factory, a brewery, a cigar-box maker, a market and a locksmith, before finally becoming this charming restaurant. This speakeasy also hosts events throughout the year, including fundraisers for charities.