I had the pleasure of visiting Richmond, VA for about two months and fell in love with this small yet charming (and punching way above its weight in food!) city. The city is a haven for food lovers and folks wanting to experience the right mix of Southern charm and personality (for me, this includes great manners with a focus on innovative new cuisine and experiences, like any number of the pop-up bars we saw in town).
Over the course of two months, we sampled many cuisines – and despite the limited storefront-appeal of many restaurants, found Richmond has many treasures: great local oysters, amazing Southern food (especially Mama J’s, where the staff know locals so well they can tell you who will be heading to Church by 7pm on Wednesday to help you estimate your wait time, and Comfort, which passes 100% of proceeds to homeless folks in Richmond), and great ethnic cuisine from German to Italian to Japanese (the German and Japanese food were especially authentic to what I’ve experienced, and shockingly large portions for the price).
In addition, Richmond has a variety of amazing historical sites, having been involved in America’s history from the Civil War to modern historic events.
One of the most interesting things to do in Richmond is a walking tour through its historic districts or ‘wards’ / ‘editions’ and soaking in the colonial architecture and beautiful foliage.
Richmond has beautiful old storefronts downtown, vibrant hipster neighborhoods like Scott’s Edition with artisanal meaderies and other craft liquor stores / barbecue joints, and an amazing Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is great for a stroll, whether during the day or at night to absorb the different pieces of graffiti and view the James River.
Richmond is also host to a set of beautiful buildings, from the Virginia state capitol building to historic hotels – and the home of young Edgar Allen Poe – and many others. One of my favorite discoveries was a neighborhood set back behind a door, offering a romantic glimpse into Richmond’s historic past.
Richmond also has a fair share of stately buildings and historic gathering places, like the Jefferson Hotel (amazing restaurant, and previous home of many alligators who were shunned to its main fountain after their owners realized a full grown alligator might not be the easiest pet to keep).
Other amazing restaurants combined the beautiful architecture and food – for example, the old Tobacco Company, which has an amazing indoor courtyard.
Although I don’t have photos of it, Richmond also has a great and unexpected side, as shown by its Gwar Bar or pop-up dining spaces with themes like Alice and Wonderland. Two months was a great introduction – I’d love to go back and see more of (and eat more of…) Richmond!