The Best Restaurants in Richmond

Richmond is known for its centuries-old history, but the sizzling dining scene is creating its own tasty story for the ages. Dine like a local with this guide to some of the best places to eat and drink in Virginia’s capital city.

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Photo By: Courtesy of ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque

Photo By: Courtesy of Fred + Elliott

Photo By: Courtesy of Mama J’s Kitchen

Photo By: Courtesy of Nick Hancock

Photo By: Courtesy of Stella’s

Photo By: Courtesy of Fred + Elliott

Photo By: Courtesy of Fred + Elliott

Photo By: Courtesy of Mel Calabro

Photo By: Courtesy of Fred + Elliott

Photo By: Courtesy of Katy Best

Photo By: Courtesy of Kate Magee

Photo By: Courtesy of Kate Thompson

Photo By: Courtesy of Lemaire

Photo By: Courtesy of Lehja

Photo By: Courtesy of Soul Taco

ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque

Although Richmond is traditionally in the pork barbecue belt, native Texan and self-taught pitmaster Chris Fultz has brought the Lone Star state to ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque in Scott’s Addition. Focused on the Texas trinity of 'cue — brisket, ribs and sausage links here the meat can be bought by the pound or stuffed into over-the-top sandwiches. Hungry loners can tackle The Tres Hombres sandwich, a one-pound behemoth made with brisket, pork shoulder and beef sausage. Better yet, bring friends, sit in the outdoor patio and dive into the sampler platter, a huge tasting of everything on the menu, including homemade sides, like jalapeno mac and cheese, that are as decadent as the mains.

L’Opossum

The scruffy Oregon hill location of L’Opossum belies chef-owner David Shannon’s luscious art-filled interior, including tabletops made from Andy Warhol’s Rorschach wallpaper. But it’s truly the food and clever menu descriptions that are art, like his Cocky Yet Classic and So Very Comfy-Cozy Coq au Vin and Filet Mignon of Beef "Swellington." Part opulence, part irreverence, this special spot is a refreshing addition to the upscale dining scene.

Mama J’s Kitchen

A cornerstone in the revitalization of Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood, Mama J’s Kitchen is a family-owned and -operated restaurant that's famous for its authentic soul food and is beloved by locals, visitors and the city’s glitterati. Here, you’ll find Southern favorites like the award-winning fried chicken, pan-fried catfish and pork chops, plus traditional sides like macaroni and cheese, collard greens and candied yams. Pro tip: Try to save some room for the homemade cakes and cobblers.

Restaurant Adarra

With its Basque-inspired pintxos, a clever cocktail program and a Spanish-leaning natural and biodynamic wine list, at Restaurant Adarra, you might think you were sitting in a little Basque village instead of Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood. Using the framework of true Basque cuisine with local Virginia ingredients, the menu is packed with small plates with big flavor like cured meats, marinated boquerones, roasted octopus, smoked mussels, shrimp al ajillo and lamb gnocchi.

Stella’s

Serving up rustic and modern Greek cuisine since 1983, Richmond restaurant landmark Stella’s is named for septuagenarian matriarch Stella Dikos, who you’ll still see in the kitchen whipping up her Greek specialties. Along with traditional mezes, there are Greek comfort foods and hearty entrees including grilled psari (whole fish topped with lemony ladolemono) and traditional braised lamb shank with Greek noodles topped with a Corfiot brown butter sauce and sheep’s milk cheese. You can also pick up some prepared to-go foods from Stella’s Grocery across the street.

Perly’s

Jewish delis are enjoying a resurgence throughout the US, and that’s certainly true at Perly’s. Opened in the mid-1900s as one of Richmond’s first delicatessens, it’s still cranking out traditional favorites like matzo ball soup, knishes and juicy hot pastrami sandwiches. But husband-and-wife co-owners Kevin and Rachelle Roberts go beyond the classics with loads of exciting new twists, from egg rolls filled with corned beef and sauerkraut to The Benny Goodman, two hand-grated potato latkes that are topped with smoked salmon, perfectly poached eggs, dill hollandaise and salmon roe.

Longoven

Skeptics weren’t sure whether Richmond was ready for a tasting menu restaurant showcasing avant-garde techniques and ingredients gorgeously plated with surgeon’s precision and tweezers. However, Longoven has proven that Richmonders are cutting-edge when it comes to fine dining and a reservation at this pop-up turned brick-and-mortar spot in Scott’s Addition is one of the most highly coveted in town. Guests can sit indoors or in a covered garden patio to enjoy a seven-course tasting that includes dishes like asparagus custard with blue crab, nori, salt cured egg and pickled chamomile, plus exquisite desserts and mignardises.

Brenner Pass

You may not expect an Alpine-focused restaurant in Virginia’s capital city, but that’s exactly what chef Brittanny Anderson has created with her industrial-chic Brenner Pass in Scott’s Addition. Lush ingredients that can be found in the Alps are central to many of the French, Swiss and Italian-inspired dishes, including classic Gruyere and Emmentaler fondue served with speck, cornichons, fingerling potatoes and homemade sourdough. As a native Richmonder, Anderson likes to showcase what’s local and in-season throughout the menu in hearty dishes like stuffed onions with Savoyard pork sausage and comfort foods like a killer brisket and short rib burger with fondue.

Perch

Celebrating the Pacific Rim background of chef-owner Mike Ledesma, Perch fuses traditional Filipino dishes, Hawaiian flavors and coastal ingredients. Start with a pu-pu platter with crispy lumpia and tuna poke, then try the signature dish, a whole fish with perfectly crispy skin — thanks to the 1,000-degree wood-fired oven — served with garlic fried rice and seasonal vegetables. Guests can opt to sit outdoors on the restaurant’s covered patio or in one of the two sea-inspired modern dining rooms that offers a peek into the open kitchen and is filled with floor-to-ceiling glass, white tiles and vivid blue accents.

Alewife

Named after an Atlantic herring, Alewife is all about familiar and new-to-the-table seafood. Chef-owner Lee Gregory brings his laser-focused attention on local and sustainable seafood to the table in his urban-seafood-shack-meets-cozy-brownstone spot — complete with seasonal patio dining — in Church Hill. Follow the lead of in-the-know locals and opt for the signature Siren’s Song, a chef’s choice of unexpected dishes, such as crispy crab claws, roasted rockfish tails and smoked fish dip, served family-style on a lazy Susan.

Sub Rosa Bakery

Brother-and-sister team Evrim and Evin Dogu have been baking French-style breads and pastries in the wood-fired stone ovens at Sub Rosa Bakery since 2012 and are greatly admired in the baking (and bread-eating) communities. From their perfect croissants to their Turkish pide topped with sesame and nigella, all of their breads are made from regionally grown heirloom grains that are milled and sifted in house daily.

Heritage

There’s nothing better than that comfortable neighborhood spot oozing with friendly hospitality and delicious food. In Richmond’s historic Fan neighborhood, Heritage is that restaurant. General manager-co-owner Emilia Sparatta sets the mood by creating a warm and convivial atmosphere that’s a perfect match for chef-co-owner Joe Sparatta’s lovingly prepared and local-sourced seasonal dishes like pimento croquettes with smoked tomato aioli and Autumn Olive Farms pork steak with farro risotto and kale and shishito peppers.

Lemaire

Located in Richmond’s grande dame, The Jefferson Hotel, and named for Etienne Lemaire, President Thomas Jefferson’s personal maitre d’ who has been credited for introducing fine dining to America, Lemaire is known for exquisite food and service. Focused on upscale Southern cuisine and local ingredients, it’s not uncommon for the seasonal menu to include dishes like crispy fried deviled eggs served with Virginia country ham and red pepper preserves, Virginia peanut risotto and Berkshire pork loin over Carolina Gold rice middlins. Don’t skip dessert or you’ll miss out on delicious treats from roasted peaches and cream to frozen s’mores.

Lehja

James Beard semi-finalist chef Sandeep "Sunny" Baweja of Lehja serves up creative takes on conventional Indian cuisine in a contemporary sleek space in Short Pump Town Center. In addition to classic dishes like tandoori and curry, the menu includes modern dishes like deconstructed butter chicken and a melt-in-your-mouth spice-and-yogurt-marinated grilled chicken with tomato butter sauce. Whatever you choose, just be sure to add an order (or two) of the excellent naan.

Soul Taco

A favorite of Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Soul Taco has made-to-order tacos that fuse traditional Latin American flavors with familiar Southern dishes at its two full-service restaurants in Jackson Ward and Shockoe Slip. Filling options include cornmeal-crusted catfish with tomatillo salsa, low country camarones and chorizo and the super popular root beer braised oxtail with chicharrones, pineapple salsa and agave hot sauce.

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