Where to Eat in Richmond, Virginia, Right Now

Richmond is just getting started.

Alewife: Richmond, Virginia
Photo: Robbie Caponetto

Richmond, Virginia, is a city with a deep and complicated history, but lately, it has gained a reputation as a hip landing spot for young professionals and young businesses. The eclectic city is home to picturesque row homes that could give Charleston's Rainbow Row a run for its money, and craft companies like Belle Isle Moonshine that swear they couldn't have planted roots anywhere else—but Richmond has recently gained traction as one of the South's next, big food destinations, ranking with Nashville and New Orleans as one of the South's best food cities. Not only is Richmond home to one of the South's best new restaurants, Alewife, but in recent years the city has seen a remarkable outpouring of culinary creativity. Dine at any of these hot spots, and you'll soon understand that Richmond's culinary ascendance is just beginning.

Alewife

"Here, Szechuan peppercorn-dusted oysters and scallops with carrot-miso butter feel at home alongside cornmeal biscuits and refried lentils," Priya Krishna writes of Alewife, which was voted the South's Best New Restaurant just a few years ago. "It's a place that [chef and owner Lee] Gregory says exemplifies the growing diversity of Richmond's population and foodways." Order the Siren's Song—a signature sampler platter that changes by the hour, repurposing the night's food scraps or odds and ends into supremely innovative Mid-Atlantic tasters. Current starters include the lobster salad with pickled mushroom, herbs, apple, and sunchoke, and the peacock cantaloupe salad with grape vinaigrette, tea jelly, and pistachio. As for entrees, don't miss the swordfish chop with tomato braised greens, butter beans, and smoked pork belly.

Longoven

Longoven is an exciting new player in Richmond's diverse dining scene, bringing sophistication and refinement to a city known for its relaxed groove. Located in the Scott's Addition area, they "offer seasonal tasting and snack menus that change regularly, highlighting the best products from [their] farmers and purveyors." You'll find dishes like a ramp butter-poached lobster with spring pea, pickled ramp, and a sauce of buttermilk and fig leaf oil on the extended menu, which is available to browse online.

Mama J’s

From the relaxed dining room to the generous portions of fried chicken and catfish, this South's best local restaurant feels like home. Mama J's is Richmond's go-to spot for true Southern soul food. It's a family-owned-and-operated spot in the historic Jackson Ward area that celebrates the tradition of eating good food with family. On the menu, you'll find fried chicken, trout, crab cakes, pork chops, beef brisket, and barbeque spare ribs—and that's just the lineup of entrees. There's a whole host of sandwiches, starters, and sides to try too. If you didn't bring your appetite, just snag a seat at the bar—the signature drinks are all named after members of the Mama J's family.

Stella's

Stella's is Richmond's go-to for Greek food. Inspired by both rustic and modern Greek fare, Stella's fills their menu with Mediterranean classics like spanakopita, dolmades, and keftedes as well as flavorful entrees such as moussaka (sauteed eggplant with spiced aromatic ground beef baked with bechamel), braised lamb shank, and Stella's crab cakes. The restaurant is one in a long lineage of restaurants named for Stella Dikos, a legend in the Richmond food scene.

Sub Rosa Bakery

Led by brother-sister duo Evrim and Evin Dogu (who received James Beard Award-semifinalist status in 2019 and 2020), Sub Rosa Bakery takes "homemade" to new extremes: They "mill their own stone-ground flour from Southern-grown grains and bake homemade bread in a wood-fired oven," writes Hannah Hayes for Southern Living. "Evin's morning selection of delicious chocolate croissants and pastries filled with fig and Manchego cheese provides reason enough to schedule a wake-up call." No trip to Richmond is complete without something delicious baked by the team at Sub Rosa Bakery.

Sub Rosa Bakery owners Evin and Evrim Dogu
Sub Rosa Bakery owners Evin and Evrim Dogu are siblings and James Beard Award semifinalists. Robbie Caponetto

GWARbar

The restaurant may be named after a heavy metal band (Gwar) and decorated with fake blood splatters, but after one glance at the menu, GWARbar immediately defies any expectations or easy categorizations. Here, you'll find a menu that sets cauliflower nuggets and house-made seitan (cheekily named "Hail Seitan") beside half-pound house ground beef cakes. Don't leave without tasting the homemade Twinkies, which are waffle-battered and topped with maple whipped cream.

The Roosevelt

Tucked away in Richmond's Church Hill area sits The Roosevelt, a neighborhood gem where you can snack or feast on the menu's offerings, which include small plates like cornbread, grilled baby squash, and a crawfish roll, and entrees like seared scallops, grilled rockfish, and a confit turkey leg. The century-old building has been home to numerous restaurant concepts—from seafood to Mexican—but The Roosevelt's pioneering role in Richmond's culinary growth has cemented its status as a modern RVA institution.

The Roosevelt
John Murden

L'Opossum

This formal-yet-funky fine dining restaurant essentially encapsulates the spirit of Richmond—it is artful and excellent, but it still doesn't take itself too seriously. L'Opossum's clever, elegant menu features playfully named dishes like "Les Escargots à la Ham Biscuit," which comes with a sweet garlic buerre blanc, and "Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras in an Autumn Frame of Mind," which, according to the restaurant's menu, is "tucked into a cardamom spiced acorn squash, charred red onions, brown butter toasted pecans & sake soused plums en gastrique." When you show up for a meal at L'Opossum, you're in for an adventure.

More Dining Spots

Other spots not to miss: Perly's Restaurant and Delicatessen for Jewish deli boards; Helen's for brunch and dinner; Kuba Kuba for a taste of Cuban café culture, and Little Nickel; a tropical diner serving charming coastal-inspired food and drinks. No matter where you land, you can't go wrong with a meal in Richmond.

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