The Mid-Atlantic state of Virginia provides a taste of the South, with all the charm, hospitality and history travelers could desire, alongside a pleasing combination of small town and big city amenities (i.e. it’s easy to find both a parking spot and James Beard-nominated restaurants).
While Richmond might not be Virginia’s tourism mecca, with its 1607 founding, the city offers more history than you’d find in many U.S. destinations. Plus, the fortune 500 and startup hot spot is Virginia’s business capital. It’s not wonder why the city keeps making hip lists like “10 Coolest Cities to Visit in 2018” (Forbes) and “10 U.S. Cities with an Unexpectedly International Foodie Scene” (Fodor’s Travel). The latter is particularly exciting for foodie travelers, as is the following list of downtown Richmond’s best eateries—a mix of classic Southern fare and exotic bites from across the globe.
Boasting rave reviews from national publications, L’Opossum is a can’t-miss when you are in Richmond. Earning a James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence, the French-inspired menu is just as delightfully odd as you’d expect from the restaurant’s name. Case in point: the “Ebullient Bowl of Bouillabaisse” is described as “accented with absinthe, saffron and rouille. Pro Tip: Rouille is the gay uncle of pimento cheese.” Other wordsmith-y gems await on this menu, as well as the cocktail list.
626 China St.
Nota Bene Restaurant & Bar
A casual and relaxed atmosphere awaits at Nota Bene, along with a menu filled with wood-fired entrees and other Italian-inspired items. Think extensive antipasti options, pizza (the “fig and pig” with fig preserves, prosciutto and gorgonzola is a favorite) and decadent pastas. Grab your seat early — there’s only seating for 54 — and be sure to enjoy your entree with a glass of wine. The list is carefully curated to appease only the finest appetites.
2110 E. Main St.
Pasture combines dining experiences with fresh ingredients sourced from within the state and an impressive craft beer list. The menu is Southern, but not in an overly, chicken-fried way. Instead, the restaurant offers items ranging from the simple–like pimento cheese and Ritz (a staple in any true Southern household), and red beans and rice topped with pickled okra–to the more adventurous–like curry fried chicken livers with a soy reduction and pickled chilis, and salt-cured duck breast with yellow curry gravy and green beans. You can also find Southern classics like chicken and dumplings, and hoe cakes.
416 East Grace St.
Serving New American cuisine at The Jefferson Hotel, a historic property that begs a visit, Lemaire fills the menu with local ingredients and culture. Sustainability is a priority at this Virginia Green-certified restaurant. The cocktail list features upgraded classic cocktails alongside more than 200 wine choices, many of which are quite affordable. Expect plenty of seafood, plus hearty servings of other carnivorous options.
101 West Franklin St.
Founded by Virginia natives, Saison celebrates international cuisine inspired by the founders’ travels to Central America. The result is what they call “New Southern Food.” Befitting the ever-evolving menu, the ambiance is anything but ordinary. If you’re lucky, you’ll find such delectable bites as a play on pecan pie and Peking called “Pekin” Pie (a mixture of confit duck leg, caramelized onion, five spice gelée, pecans and cracklins), oxtail sopes and the Rundown (with seasonal seafood, sweet potato and a coconut-habanero broth).
13 West Marshall St.
Housed in the Tarrant Drug Company drugstore that was founded in 1905, Tarrant’s Cafe serves Richmond’s downtown locals a neighborhood-style dining experience. The expansive dinner menu offers seafood, steak, poultry, pasta, pizza, sandwiches and more. Hints of the building’s long history, like the former pharmacy’s tin ceilings and chandeliers, add a touch of nostalgia to the cozy atmosphere.
1 West Broad St.
A new restaurant with Mediterranean flair and flavors stemming from Italy, France, Greece, Northern Africa and the Middle East, Bar Solita specializes in wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas, as well as your favorite cocktails. The menu includes vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options, as well as those perfect for the carnivore in your clan. Try the breakfast pizza (breakfast sausage, two eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, bacon, mushrooms, red onion and garlic) for a truly safe bet, or branch out a bit and try something maybe a little unfamiliar, like the empanadas stuffed with broccoli and ricotta, or the galaktoboureko, a Greek egg and semolina custard layered between honey phyllo sheets.
123 West Broad St.