Located centrally in the heart of Virginia, Richmond is a city that is growing every day and making its way into the hearts of unsuspecting visitors. It even ranked third on Travel and Leisure’s Best Places to Travel in 2016—which makes a lot of sense.
Richmond is full of historical sites and museums with eye-catching art and architecture, and boasts an extremely affordable cost of living. The city puts on numerous festivals such as the Greek Festival and the Folk Festival, has plenty of shopping, great universities—Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond—and has beautiful natural recreation at its doorstep in the form of the James River.
Although formerly a largely corporate city, it’s no wonder that Richmond (or RVA, as locals call it) has a growing appeal to millennials as more and more move to the city. But the best thing about Richmond is yep, you guessed it, the food scene. Visitors, nearby suburban dwellers and Richmonders can’t get enough of the local restaurants. They serve up every type of food imaginable. It seems there’s always somewhere new to try.
Compared to New York, D.C., or Chicago, Richmond is a small city. One of the advantages of this is that you can get amazing food without long wait lists or insanely high prices. More time and money to eat? Score.
I’ve compiled a list of what I think to be the 50 best things to eat in RVA before you die, but this list doesn’t even come close to representing everything that Richmond’s dense food culture has to offer. Happy eating.
1. Paella from Kuba Kuba
If you are only in town for one night, I recommend Kuba Kuba. This bodega-inspired restaurant in The Fan offers an array of authentic Cuban dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not only are they authentic, they are huge.
The bowls of paella are enough to feed a small army. The vegetarian paella—which comes with Cuban toast, plantains and an avocado—is only $12.95. The rice is cooked perfectly, and there are plenty of fresh vegetables and spices to make you feel like you’re in a real Cuban bodega.
Additional menu stand outs include the coconut risotto cakes, the Cuban-style roast pork and cafe con leche.
2. Fresh Fruit Cake from Shyndigz
Shyndigz is a favorite of every Richmonder with a sweet tooth. A slice of cake is about four times the size of a standard slice, but portion size is not the only thing that makes this dessert restaurant special. Located on Cary Street, Shyndigz is quaint, yet bustling, and serves arguably the highest quality desserts in Richmond. Cake is their specialty, with Fresh Fruit and Chocolate Salted Caramel being the two best-sellers.
Both are exceptional, but the Fresh Fruit cake is really special. It’s moist, and had thick, rich frosting that goes perfectly with the light fresh fruit packed throughout slices as big as your head. Go with a group so that you can also try their cake of the day, key lime pie, peanut butter pie and brownie sundaes.
#SpoonTip: Shyndigz is the ultimate date night spot.
3. Donuts from Sugar Shack
Fresh dough, sugary icing and a wide variety of toppings make Sugar Shack the go-to donut shop for those in the Greater Richmond area. With wild flavors like apple cake, chocolate Butterfinger, Samoa, S’mores, chocolate sweet coconut and cinnamon roll, there is a donut out there to satisfy anyone and everyone.
4. Mountain Tropp from Goatocado
Goatocado got its fame as a food truck serving up hungry Richmonders and is present at festivals like Riverrock and even Firefly Music Festival. Now located in Carytown inside of Carytown Bicycle Co., and with rumors for a restaurant opening in the near future, Goatocado continues to deliver fresh quinoa bowls, avocado breakfast bowls and mac and cheese.
The Mountain Tropp quinoa bowl is packed full of fresh arugula and topped with avocado, southwest black beans, pico de gallo, gouda cheese and a flavorful mango-lime sauce. It’s refreshing, filling, flavorful and healthy—it’s pretty much the ultimate street food.
5. Açaí Bowl from The Pit and The Peel
When in doubt, eat a smoothie bowl. The Pit and the Peel, located in The Fan, serves up filling, nutritious and flavorful açaí bowls for a great price. The wide variety of bowls provide something appetizing for everyone, and you can customize any bowl however you like.
The Pit and the Peel also specializes in smoothies and juices at the price of $5, a steal compared to overpriced bottled juices or from other juice bars. Their breakfast sandwiches, panini, salads and quinoa bowls go great with these fresh items. This Fan area café is the ultimate lunch break spot for a healthy and affordable meal.
6. Hangover Cure from Burger Bach
Everyone knows the cure to a hangover is grease, and Burger Bach has you covered with their Hangover Cure burger, plus more. All of their beef is New Zealand grass-fed beef, which makes each bite juicier and more flavorful than the next. Their fresh cut fries pair well with any of their many dipping sauces like their blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce or organic ketchup.
The Hangover Cure burger has Mexican green chile sauce, a fried egg, bacon, hot sauce, cheese and caramelized onions that all come together to make the perfect burger.
#SpoonTip: Pair it with fries or a plate of their sautéed veggies (if you want something healthy alongside your grease).
7. USS Sandwich from The Black Sheep
Richmond is full of history, and apparently so are The Black Sheep’s sandwiches. They offer a selection of nine “battleship” sandwiches, like the USS Virginia and USS Congress. These ginormous sandwiches are meant to be shared and are perfect for a large group meal.
Crispy French baguettes are loaded with a meat and stuffed with toppings, from green onions to granny smith apples to parsnip hummus. The variety of sandwiches assures everyone in your group can find something they want, and The Black Sheep is also vegetarian and vegan friendly, with sandwich options for both. All aboard The Black Sheep.
8. Red Velvet Waffles from LuLu’s
Waffles are good. Red velvet waffles from LuLu’s are great. LuLu’s makes them fluffy yet crispy and with a sweet and rich distinctly red velvet taste. They go well with a mimosa or a Bloody Mary during brunch.
Not only can you get red velvet waffles with pecan cream cheese, but you can also get them with fried chicken if you fancy classic chicken and waffles with a twist. For dessert, order the red velvet waffle strawberry shortcake for even more red velvety goodness.
9. Banh Mi from The Naked Onion
Serving up only takeout and delivery, The Naked Onion is the place to go for a quality sandwich at a great price. The pork belly or vegetarian sweet potato Banh Mi is a must. The thick toasted baguette with the sweet and flavorful pork belly and fresh vegetables make for an incredible introduction to the Vietnamese classic.
The sandwich is huge and filling, so get it for lunch and you can have leftovers for dinner. Talk about banh-g for your buck.
10. Glazed Donuts from Mrs. Yoder’s at the South of the James Farmer’s Market
Mrs.Yoder’s Kitchen has taken Richmond by storm, and have even been voted Best Donuts in Richmond. Mrs. Yoder’s sells their donuts out of a truck at the South of the James Farmer’s Market and does mobile catering. What makes these donuts special? Home-made fresh sourdough dough that is made on-site.
Mrs. Yoder and her family make the donuts from scratch and then sell them immediately, instead of making them ahead of time and bringing them. The result is hot, sticky, huge, melt-in-your mouth donuts that make you crave a second (or a third). When in Richmond, these donuts are truly a necessity.
11. Spaghetti from Joe’s Inn
If you’re heading to Joe’s Inn, go hungry. This small restaurant and bar offers some of the biggest portions in the city. Joe’s Inn serves breakfast all day, along with pizza, subs, steak, crab cakes and other classic dishes, but their spaghetti is arguably the best item on the menu.
The plate of Italian goodness probably weighs close to five pounds, and the noodles are hidden by layers of gooey cheese. Depending on what you order, the entree can also contain toppings like tomatoes, mushrooms, feta, eggplant or chicken. The dish is enough for 2-3 meals depending on your appetite (or one serving if you’re up for the challenge) and is great for sharing.
12. Sushi from Sticky Rice
If you ask anyone from Richmond where to go for sushi, they will probably say Sticky Rice. They’re known for their unique sushi rolls and they have a variety of vegetarian and vegan options that are fit for any omnivore. Their rolls have creative ingredients from goat cheese to shiitake mushrooms to tempura fried-sweet potato inside them, in addition to more traditional rolls.
Before you order your sushi, make sure to order the bucket of tater tots. You heard me right: tots at a sushi restaurant. The bucket brought to your table will be overflowing with crispy tots that are the best and most unexpected complement to sushi. This is important.
Wash everything down with Japanese sake or a $1 PBR beer during happy hour to live even more like a native Richmonder (it’s a running joke that PBR stands for People’s Beer of Richmond). Sticky Rice also has trivia and karaoke to make for a fun night out with great food.
13. Biscuits and Gravy from Early Bird Biscuit Co.
Biscuits and gravy may be a tried and true original, but Early Bird Biscuit Co. takes them to the next level. Their biscuits are large and the perfect amount of flaky. What’s better than a fluffy, flaky biscuit with homemade sausage gravy? Nothing.
Gravy not your thing? Don’t worry, Early Bird has inventive biscuit flavors that they change daily. These include pineapple upside down, everything bagel, strawberry Pop-Tart, Old Bay cheddar and countless others. Choosing just one is extremely tough.
Early Bird also makes bakery items like sweet rolls, Nutella hand pies, homemade Pop-Tarts and cakelets. Head over to this Fan area favorite for a biscuit breakfast and be sure to bring home a box of pastries. This spot is truly a Richmond gem.
14. Prosciutto di Parma Sandwich from Olio
There is no shortage of fantastic sandwiches in Richmond, but what makes Olio special is that only they use ingredients from local farms or imported from Europe. This deli makes classic Italian sandwiches and salads, but also has a large vegetarian sandwich selection.
Wishing you were still studying abroad in Europe? Never got a chance to go? Order the Prosciutto di Parma for a little piece of Italy: flavorful prosciutto, a large layer of fresh mozzarella, red peppers, balsamic and greens on ciabatta. A bite of this sandwich will make Olio your regular sandwich stop.
15. Cheese Pizza from 8 1/2
Located on Strawberry Street, 8 1/2 is a place you must try. Although they offer many Italian foods, their best item is their pizza, and many argue that it’ the best in all of RVA. At 8 1/2 they don’t mess around.
Choose white or red pizza, and then choose a meat or veggies for toppings if you wish, but the plain cheese is to die for. The ratio of sauce to cheese to crust is just right, and before you know it, one slice will lead to three. Grab a pizza from 8 1/2 and open your a bottle of wine for the perfect Friday night meal.
16. Frito Pie from Don’t Look Back
Ever craved Fritos and Mexican food at the same time? Yes? No? Either way, Don’t Look Back has got you covered with their Frito Pie. It’s simply a bag of Fritos stuffed with beans, red chile sauce, lots of cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce and an optional meat filling. This “pie” is arguably the most interesting food creations in RVA.
If that doesn’t entice you enough to go to Don’t Look Back, their Carytown location, adorable outdoor patio, friendly staff, customized tacos and out-of-this world guac will. Choose this place and don’t look back. Ha.
17. Nutella French Toast from 821 Café
821 Café is popular among VCU students and RVA dwellers, and for good reason. Their menu has every type of food imaginable for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there is no shortage of vegetarian and vegan options to cater to the high amount of meatless Richmond clientele.
If you’re having trouble choosing an item, pick the Nutella-stuffed French toast with bananas. Ugh, I’m drooling just thinking about it. 821 serves up thick slices of French toast with just the right amount of Nutella stuffed on the inside and topped with fresh bananas.
Or if you’re not a Nutella fan (gasp), you can order PB&J French toast, buttermilk pancakes, a breakfast (optional vegan) burrito (or any number of other mouthwatering plates) for brunch. You’ll leave feeling artsy vibes.
18. Bagel Sandwich from Lamplighter Roasting Company
Speaking of artsy, Lamplighter Roasting Company might be the ultimate spot in Richmond to channel your inner hipster. As a VCU favorite, lines are often out the door at peak meal times and weekend mornings—indisputable evidence that Richmonders can’t get enough of their coffee, bagels and sandwiches.
Lamplighter’s best items are their bagel sandwiches, with options to satisfy every type of eater. Egg bagels with ham, tofu, soy chorizo, bacon and asparagus are fit for both meat eaters and vegans. They even have Tofutti (vegan cream cheese).
Come here to get your bagels and lox fix, and make your breakfast even better with a house roast or a Thai iced coffee. Lamplighter is no New York bagel try-hard. They serve their own unique sandwiches, but what makes this a Fan favorite (pun intended) are the friendly vibes, calm atmosphere and great coffee that complement affordable, satisfying sandwiches.
19. Mixed Seafood Pasta from Edo’s Squid
This hidden gem serves up some of the best Italian food in RVA. While you may feel like you are walking up the stairs into a broom closet, don’t be fooled. Once you try Edo’s Squid, you will fall in love with this rustic and romantic hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Their simple and delicious menu serves up hefty portions of Italian inspired cuisine.
The mixed seafood pasta includes squid, mussels, clams, shrimp, fresh fish and octopus—essentially the entire ocean—and sits in a simple red sauce which allows the seafood to enrich each bite.
I suggest going to Edo’s Squid at lunch to avoid the evening crowds, and if you decide to take a midday trip, you might want to set time aside for an afternoon nap. You are going to need it after such a hearty and filling meal.
20. The Continental Pancake from The Continental Westhampton
If you’re craving all kinds of American foods at a high quality, you have to visit The Continental Westhampton. They’ve got cheesesticks, hush puppies, nachos, corn dogs, big salads, beef brisket, burgers, fish tacos, pizzas and more—I could go on and on.
In addition to all of those items, they serve giant savory stuffed pancakes that you can’t find anywhere else. The Continental pancake is truly a winner, filled with pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut, house sauce and Greek yogurt.
If you’re craving veggies, the vegetarian pancake is stuffed with broccolini, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, sauerkraut, Swiss and Greek yogurt. The Continental may serve foods you might find at ball-park or a chain restaurant, but the quality here is a huge upgrade from anywhere else.
21. Ramen from Foo Dog
They serve five types of ramen, all of which are delicious. You can’t go wrong with their classic Japanese style ramen, but the kimchi soba noodles are a flavorful alternative. Next time it’s cold or rainy in RVA, do yourself a favor and go to Foo Dog.
22. Ice Cream from Bev’s
Looking for a place to cool off in the hot Richmond summer sun? Be sure to try the infamous Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream. Beverly Mazursky opened Bev’s over 25 years ago in Carytown and the business has thrived there ever since. If you don’t spot the ice cream parlor for its hot pink exterior, the line of hungry Richmonders will give it away.
You can always find staple ice cream flavors like strawberry, cookies n’ cream and mint chip, but if you are feeling adventurous, Bev’s has flavors for that mood too. Every day they have a flavor specials for those who like to take their frozen treats to the next level. Some of these include watermelon gelato, white chocolate mocha chip and peach yogurt. Two scoops, please.
23. Injera with the Works from Addi’s Ethiopian Restaurant
Addi’s Ethiopian Restaurant, a Shockoe Bottom local favorite, serves the most authentic Ethiopian food in the entire city. You may even forget you’re smack dab in the middle of Virginia after a few bites of this east African cuisine.
Their traditional Ethiopian dish consists of small portions of many different meats, vegetables, lentils and more, all on a piece of spongy bread called injera, which doubles as a utensil to eat the food with. No serving lacks spices or flavor, and the sharing style allows you to try numerous foods in one sitting. After all, sharing is caring.
24. Koa Pad Sapparot from Sabai
If you wanted to know where to get the best Thai food in Richmond, look no further than Sabai. This restaurant boasts Thai street flavors and is known for their extravagant colorful cocktails. Make sure to go for dinner though, and be sure to order the Koa Pad Sapparot.
This dish is served in half of a pineapple, and is overflowing with fried rice, vegetables, your choice of protein, cashews and more pineapple. The juicy pineapple adds a tropical element to the fried rice; it’s basically a built-in dessert. To-go boxes will are never necessary at Sabai.
25. Popsicle from King of Pops
What started as a single popsicle cart in Atlanta has now become a Richmond summer sensation. King of Pops is literally popping up all over Richmond; you can find them set up on street corners, at local farmers markets, festivals or at their newest location, Pop Patio in Scott’s Addition.
They aim to provide an ecologically responsible, fresh, all-natural frozen treat in a fun neighborhood environment. King of Pops’ inspiration stemmed from a trip to Central America and Mexico where the owners learned about the wonders of a spicy-salty concoction combined with sweet fruit flavors; some of their refreshing and tasteful flavors include key lime pie, pineapple habanero, coconut lemongrass and blood orange.
26. Brussel Sprouts from The Daily
The Daily is a staple restaurant for anyone looking to have a healthy meal in Richmond. They use organic and local ingredients, and have extensive vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and paleo menu options. Located in the heart of Carytown, this bistro style restaurant is a high-quality spot for a family dinner, a cocktail or even a casual lunch date.
The Daily’s crispy seasoned brussel sprouts are a must and are by far the best vegetables you will find in RVA. Other favorites from their extensive menu include the fig & pig pizza, seared rare tuna and blackened fish tacos.
27. Sour Cream and Blueberry Pie from Proper Pie Co.
There are cake fans and there are pie fans, but Proper Pie Co. has the ability to blow away anyone, even someone on #teamcake. Located in Church Hill, this pie shop bakes all kinds of classic pies—including savory pies—and eclectic flavors like sour cream and blueberry.
A slice of the blueberry is a necessity. The slight tang from the sour cream coupled with sweet berries under a pile of crumbly topping and fresh whipped cream is unreal. Of course Proper Pie Co. also has favorites like apple, lemon meringue, pumpkin to satisfy any and all pie enthusiasts.
28. Goat Cheese Pesto Sandwich from Urban Farmhouse
Urban Farmhouse Market & Café is a favorite of VCU students and professionals on their lunch breaks. Conveniently located on Broad Street, Urban Farmhouse doubles as a quaint café and a small market, selling a variety of super healthy and organic finds, wine, fresh baked goods and more.
They really stand out when it comes to their homemade food. Urban Farmhouse is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their menu changes seasonally. Their sandwiches are a standout; the goat cheese and pesto sandwich with peppers is one of the most satisfying sandwich combinations and something you should not leave without ordering.
Urban Farmhouse serves their food with sides of fruit, carrot sticks, or organic kettle chips to amp up every meal’s healthiness. Order a mug of their fresh brewed coffee or specialty drinks for a lunch that will leave you feeling both full and fresh.
29. Cupcakes from Pearl’s
Celebrating a birthday? Need a sugary treat to satisfy your sweet tooth? Then Pearl’s is for you. This gourmet bakery serves up some of the finest confections in Richmond and with everything baked fresh daily, you’ll never be disappointed.
Their cupcakes are works of art. With over 120 flavors, you can find anything from chocolate covered strawberry to brown butter espresso to apple blackberry. You’re going to want to get a dozen—picking one is an impossible task.
30. Lobster Combo from The Hard Shell
The name of the restaurant signifies their specialty: seafood with shells still intact. At The Hard Shell on Cary Street, “go big or go home” really rings true. To really get the full experience, you have to order the lobster combo. A fully shelled large Maine lobster, mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp and corn plus two sauces of your choice (one better be butter) make the plate a seafood lover’s dream.
If for some reason this doesn’t make your mouth water, The Hard Shell has everything under the sea, pun intended, from lobster chowder to seared salmon to shrimp and grits.
31. Bacon Donut Holes from Lucy’s
Lucy’s Restaurant is a go-to brunch place in the Jackson Ward for many Richmonders. While their lemon pound cake French toast and chicken and grits are some of the richest breakfast foods you’ll find in RVA, you can’t leave without their bacon donut holes.
Order them as an appetizer or a dessert, or bring them home for later. Just order them. These are no Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins; these spheres of cakey goodness are sweet and savory in all of the right ways. You’ll leave Lucy’s as happy as you are stuffed to the brim.
32. Barbeque from Buz and Ned’s
What’s better than barbeque in the summer? Barbeque from Buz and Ned’s in the summer, of course. Their two locations on Boulevard and West Broad bring more than just barbeque. Buz and Ned’s offers it all: barbeque pork, chicken and beef, brisket, baby-back ribs, catfish, chicken and shrimp skewers, fried shrimp and sides like mac and cheese, onion rings, hushpuppies and more.
This joint is like a backyard barbecue, except ten times better. Next time you are feeling exceptionally Southern or are just craving some quality barbeque, don’t hestitate to head to Buz and Ned’s.
33. Grilled Cheese from Home Sweet Home
Richmond has a sweet spot for grilled cheese. I don’t know why it does, but I know that I’m not mad about it. Home Sweet Home makes the best grilled cheeses in the city and for brunch, lunch and dinner. They put a major twist on the classic comfort food with gourmet ingredients.
For brunch, try the Yes Ma’am with aged cheddar, peach compote and baby kale, or The Bountygate with cured smoked ham, fontina, giardiniera, hanover tomato and a fried egg.
For dinner, The Jerk (with jerk chicken, sweet and spicy pickles, baby kale, and edam cheese) and The Chesapeake (with crab dip, spinach, and sharp cheddar) are both phenomenal options. Good luck picking just one, and don’t forget to try the tomato soup.
#SpoonTip: Partner up with someone and split two to get the best of both worlds.
34. Anything and Everything from Well-Made Pastry Alliance
Do you wish you were eating a homemade baked good from your grandma right now? Well, the Well-Made Pastry Alliance, or WPA Bakery, produces the same feeling you have when eating your grandma’s treats. Their assortment of cakes, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, donuts, buns and more are the highest quality possible, and picking just one is a form of torture.
WPA is also known for their vegan and gluten-free recipes, making it an even more appealing RVA spot. Your grandma may have used loads of butter, eggs and gluten, but trust me, at WPA, you won’t be able to taste the difference.
35. Big Breakfast from City Diner
Classic, simple, cheap, American—these are all words to describe City Diner. It’s no wonder that this little diner is the favorite among Richmond dwellers (including Tim Kaine). With all of the new creative “foodie” brunch places, sometimes it’s hard to find just a simple plate of eggs, bacon and biscuits.
City Diner has got you covered with their Best Breakfast plate, and the name says it all. Consisting of three eggs any style, your choice of breakfast meat, home fries or fried apples and a short stack of pancakes, this meal is exactly what you’re craving.
The best part? It’s only $7.75. Your stomach and wallet (and your possible hangover) will thank you.
36. Number 52 from The Fancy Biscuit
Number 52 is a biscuit with a kick. This famous order from The Fancy Biscuit starts with a warm, homemade, fluffy buttermilk biscuit. It’s then topped with salty country ham, pepper jack cheese, a poached egg and sriracha hollandaise.
Despite the hustle and bustle of this busy restaurant, diners feel right at home in their cozy booths. The Fancy Biscuit has a welcoming and rustic ambiance, and their efficient order-at-the-counter system gets you in and out quickly.
If you are looking for a satisfying yet quick bite to eat, be sure to stop by this small restaurant on Cary Street. If by some miracle you are still hungry after your meal, Shyndigz 2 Go is right next door, so you can grab a slice of cake to top it all off.
37. Bone Marrow from Graffiato
Roasted with bacon and pistachios and sprinkled with lemon juice, Graffiato’s bone marrow dish is surprisingly delectable. Their small-plate style of dining allows you to try many different items on their menu, so if the idea of eating bone marrow freaks you out, share it with some fellow skeptics so you can all take a leap of faith together.
I also suggest trying the potato gnocchi served with pork ragu, whipped ricotta and crispy rosemary, or one their creative wood fire pizzas from this Italian-with-a-twist restaurant located on Broad street.
38. Devil’s Mess from Millie’s
Located in Shockhoe Bottom, Millie’s is the definition of brunch in Richmond. While you will usually run into a bit of a wait, it is always worth it here. I suggest trying to snag a spot at the counter, that way you can watch them cook and serve up each delicious dish.
The Devil’s Mess is a mouth-watering must-order. The open-faced omelet comes with spicy sausage, onions, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes and curry, and is topped with melted white cheddar cheese, slices of fresh avocado and a mound of breakfast potatoes. If that doesn’t send you straight into a food coma, I don’t know what will.
39. Fried Green Tomatoes from Julep’s
Recently named one of Richmond’s 25 Best Restaurants by Richmond Magazine, Julep’s specializes in new Southern cuisine. The upscale restaurant has a strong essence of both elegance and authentic southern charm.
Their most popular appetizer, the fried green tomatoes, is the most popular for good reason. Exceptionally battered and crispy, these warm, juicy tomatoes rest on top of a bed of pimento cheese grits and are topped with a peppadew aioli. This fancier take on the classic comfort food dish makes Julep’s really stand out.
40. Sautéed Sea Scallops from Acacia Mid-town
Acacia Mid-town is loved by Richmonders not only for its cuisine, but also its service, consistency and atmosphere. Each dish is beautifully presented and packed with flavor. Its free valet service and growing buzz may make it hard to walk in, so make sure you get a reservation.
One of their best items on the menu is the sautéed sea scallops, served over a bed of housemade potato gnocchi and spinach with a parmesan butter sauce. For a perfect complement to this flavorful meal, enjoy it with a glass of their house white wine and sweet cream panna cotta.
41. Catfish Nuggets from Mama J’s
If you have a soft spot for good hearty southern cooking, you will absolutely love Mama J’s. Located in Jackson Ward, this bustling restaurant will leave you begging for more. Mama J’s puts a personal touch on every meal and makes you feel like you are sitting in your grandma’s kitchen.
I suggest coming hungry because you’ll want to order everything on the menu. For a complete Mama J’s experience, start with a tall glass of sweet tea and corn bread muffins. Make sure to order their crispy catfish nuggets and some creamy mac n’ cheese on the side. Neither you nor your happy stomach will regret it.
42. Pimento Cheese from Pasture
If you’re looking for a restaurant that specializes in small plates and fresh local ingredients, look no further. Pasture was built on the concept of sharing quality food with friends and family around the table. Their menu offers snacks, salads, sandwiches, soups and sides to be enjoyed by all.
Among Pasture’s impressive array of choices, the pimento cheese with Ritz crackers is my favorite. This simple snack is crafted with the perfect amount of peppers, sharp cheddar cheese, mayo and a few spices for a little extra kick. If you love it as much as I do, be sure to try out their recipe in your own kitchen. But don’t forget curry roasted cauliflower or black eyed pea falafel.
43. Oysters on the Half Shell from Rappahannock
This farm to table restaurant provides fresh, locally grown, Chesapeake Bay oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Co. At their Richmond restaurant location, called Rappahannock, we like our oysters served up raw with just a little lemon juice to bring out the natural flavors. You can also order them with bourbon citrus granita and trout caviar or baked with turnips, eggplant, zucchini, sugo and herbs.
If you are trying to save a few bucks, go from 4-6 pm Sunday-Thursday for their happy hour specials. You can get $1 oysters, $3 craft beers, $5 house punch and $5 draft prosecco.
44. Mac’n Cheetos from Social 52
Social 52 is a popular destination for Richmonders when they hit the town for a night out. With an extensive craft beer list, a convenient location in the Fan District and a build-your-own grilled cheese night combined with Cards Against Humanity on Tuesdays, Social 52 combines a fun atmosphere with a quality menu. It’s a place to be on both weekends and weekdays.
If you stop by for a beer, make sure you order their Mac’n Cheetos. The creamy macaroni and cheese topped with crunchy Cheetos is the ideal snack to indulge in while enjoying a couple of drinks with friends.
I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why I didn’t think of this genius combination first.
45. Banana Pudding Crème Brûlée from Comfort
A Comfort staple is their famous banana pudding crème brûlée. I’m not sure about you, but a hybrid of these two equally amazing desserts together sounds fantastic. The layer of caramelized bananas hides a thick layer of pudding-like crème brûlée.
Make sure to save room after your filling, home-cooked meal for this comforting dessert.
46. The Perfect Egg from Dutch & Co.
Located in Churchill, Dutch & Co. is a quaint and cozy spot. Their prix fixe menu offers an appetizer, entree and dessert for just $28. This restaurant is the definition of fine dining on a budget.
The Perfect Egg is an appetizer taken to the next level. Consisting of a rye crusted soft-boiled egg, a piece of cured salmon on a bed of braised cabbage, topped with quinoa and a cumin yogurt, this plate will definitely spark your appetite for more. Follow it with their skirt steak and the stroopwafel made up of a cinnamon waffle, caramel and vanilla bean ice cream. Be right back, making a reservation right now.
47. Grilled Octopus from Stella’s
Although you can still see the tentacles and all, the grilled octopus from Stella’s—a Greek restaurant that combines both modern and rustic Greek cooking—is a dish worth being adventurous for. Yes, an eight-limbed sea creature can be that good.
The beautiful presentation of the octopus, just-right seasoning and chewiness of the dish will truly wow your palette. Pair this grilled delicacy with Stella’s classic spanakopita for an appetizer and follow them with a plate of moussaka to really feel like you’re in the heart of Greece.
48. Southern Poutine from The Roosevelt
The Roosevelt in Church Hill is well-known for their quality entrees like house smoked pork shoulder and their creative desserts, like salted caramel panna cotta with peanut granola and foie gras pound cake. But when dining here, you must order the Southern poutine.
What is poutine, you may ask? Only the ultimate Canadian indulgence (and drunk food). At The Roosevelt, they take a Southern American twist on this French fry dish, topping their homemade fries with pickles, pickled onions, pimento cheese and sausage gravy. Talk about the best and most treat yo’self way to begin a meal.
49. Pizza from Bottom’s Up
Ah, Bottom’s Up, the infamous Richmond original, serving up huge slices of deep dish pizza. This Shockoe Bottom pizzeria is a go-to for so many Richmonders and a magnet for visitors and tourists. And the fame is definitely deserved. If you come to Richmond, you have to go to Bottom’s Up.
The mounds of ooey gooey cheese on the thick layer of soft chewy crust are divine. One piece is so huge that it’s enough to fill you up, but it’s so good you won’t be able to stop. Since it’s already so big, you might as well throw on a ton of meat, veggies and toppings on your pie for an indulgent slice of pizza.
50. Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich from Whisk
Whisk is a RVA newcomer, but owner and head pastry chef Morgan Botwinick’s pastries and breads indicate no sign of a rookie. At this bakery, you can find everything from coffee cakes to pimento cheese croissants to Parisian sandwiches to macarons.
The summer staple at Whisk is their macaron ice cream sandwich that comes in a variety of flavors like pistachio, coffee toffee, mango coconut, watermelon, matcha green tea and more. For the most light, airy, creamy and refreshing summer treat, one of these bad boys from Whisk is just what you’re looking for.
Whether you live in Richmond or will just be in town to visit, make sure to try as many of these dishes as possible to get the true experience. You will definitely fall in love with the food, and you might just fall in love with the city.