The River District encompasses most of Richmond’s downtown and riverfront neighborhoods. Characterized by stunning 18th and 19th century architecture, an abundance of options for outdoor recreation and gorgeous views of the water, it’s an area of the city that shouldn’t be missed. Here’s a list of the best restaurants to check out while you’re there.
Once a shopping destination, East Grace Street is now home to Pasture, an eclectic restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine with a twist. Chef come owner Jason Alley and his business partner Michele Jones seek out fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms and producers to form the basis of their delightful menu, even featuring a ‘Farmers’ Board’ so customers know exactly where their food is coming from. Be sure not to miss their large craft beer selection, of which many come from here in Virginia.
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Heritage has become one of the top restaurants in all of Richmond. Its success is largely due to the trio in charge: Chef Joe Sparatta runs the kitchen, his wife Emilia is charge of the front of house and her brother Mattias Hägglund is behind the bar. Together, they turn Southern cuisine on its head, offering new takes on the classics with an arsenal of specialty ingredients and a distinct French flair. Pimento cheese spread transforms into pimento croquettes served with a smoked tomato aioli, while Hudson Valley duck is served with local turnips, mushrooms, forbidden rice and mustard greens.
Pan seared jumbo lump crab cake | Courtesy of Julep’s New Southern Cuisine
If genuine French cuisine is something you crave, head over to Bistro Bobette, located on the edge of the River District in Shockoe Slip. Seeking to replicate the family-owned neighborhood bistro loved by all, the restaurant’s dining room is cozy with brick accents on the walls and dark wood floors throughout, while the food is traditional and aaccessible. Try Bistro Bobette’s croque monsieur (open-face ham and cheese sandwich) for lunch or the bacon-wrapped rabbit for an indulgent dinner.
Oysters and beer | Courtesy of Rappahannock River Oyster Co.
Located near Pasture on East Grace Street, Julep’s New Southern Cuisine, as the name suggests, specializes in reinvented Southern fare. Executive Chef Randall Doetzer expertly refreshes traditional dishes without rendering them unrecognizable. Try the crispy fried green tomatoes paired with pimento cheese and pepperdew aioli, or the jumbo lump crab cake with root vegetable hay, crisp slaw and grilled red pepper remoulade. Just be sure to pair your meal with one of the restaurant’s specialty cocktails – they are truly fantastic.
In 2012, Rappahannock Oyster Company officially joined the East Grace Street restaurant row. After years of supplying other restaurants with their oysters, cousins Travis and Ryan Croxton opened their own kitchen with Executive Chef Dylan Fultineer at the helm. Rappahannock’s menu is fresh, unique and not surprisingly, relies heavily on fresh seafood. Besides enjoying the company’s raw oysters on the half shell, try the locally sourced wood-grilled scallops served with butter glazed carrots, oyster mushrooms, fregola sardo and yuzo.