Top Ten Richmond Restaurants
Owned by womxn + people of color
In case you didn’t know, I am a Richmond evangelist. I love it here. I have lived elsewhere (Charlottesville & NYC) and prefer Richmond wholeheartedly. The pace is more manageable than bigger cities, the art school provides us with a steady influx of creative types, it’s ridiculously bikeable, there’s loads of easy access to nature, and the music scene is just right for an aging hipster/punk like me.
I’m so dang effusive that I am frequently asked for recommendations for food/drink in town. SO I set out to compile an actual list of my ten favorite places, but with the requirement that they be owned (or co-owned) by a womxn or a person of color (or both, obviously). Unfortunately there are no photos to accompany the list, because I hate being That Person taking photos of their food. But each of these places is 100% delicious.
Mama J’s Kitchen (Jackson Ward) - Hands-down the best hardcore Southern Soul Food in Richmond, in a spot that can get busy but never feels hectic. Has a fabulously neighborhood-y, family vibe.
Helen’s (The Fan) - A very Richmond spot with great people-watching and a beautiful copper bar. Solid American fare, great vibe, and yummy brunch!
Sen Organic (Carytown) - One of the most calming places I’ve ever been, to say nothing of the exceptional food and flavors! Organic, French-inspired & vegan-friendly Vietnamese fare, including vegan Pho!
Laura Lee’s (Southside) - Cheery New American restaurant with a patio and lots of vegetarian options, including a stellar mac and cheese. Great for brunch!
Sabai (The Fan/Broad Street) - Hip Thai spot with unique offerings and small plates that you don’t see in most (Americanized) Thai restaurants. Tropical vibe, beer garden, and patio.
The Broken Tulip (Carytown) - A super unique dining experience: sit at family style tables and go on a culinary adventure over a six local-ingredients-only courses and no menu choices to make! Don’t worry, when you make your required reservation you can let them know about dietary requirements.
Dinamo (VCU Area) - Dark, tiny, and hip, with a menu that is mostly Italian, with a little Jewish thrown in there. Nestled in a very “Richmond” way between a tattoo shop and a froyo store. Date night fave.
Mama Zu (VCU Area, Oregon Hill) - Super legit Italian restaurant with just one menu and it’s on the chalkboard. Huge portions. One of those places where many celebrities have eaten, but from the outside it kinda looks like a place to buy drugs.
Stella’s (Near West End) - Charming and warm Greek spot situated on a random commercial block in a super residential neighborhood. Food is legit, portions are huge, but best if you have reservations!
Metzger (Union Hill/Church Hill) - Attention meat lovers: find seasonal & sustainable rustic German-inspired plates here.
BOOZE (+ DESSERT)
Blue Bee Cider (Scott’s Addition) - I feel like this is self-explanatory, but Blue Bee is THE boozey cider place in Richmond. Cute little tasting room, and some lovely outdoor seating. Bonus: on weekends they sometimes host craft fairs!
Secco (The Fan) - These are the nicest wine people ever, and that’s coming from someone who drinks maybe two glasses of wine per year, and when I do I want it to be the sweetest, most low-brow wine ever. They are never judgmental and always happy to help you find the one you want, even if it takes a few/many tries.
Whisk (Downtown/Shockoe) - Cozy coffee/sweets shop perfect for some downtime away from the bustle of downtown. The macarons are stellar.
Scoop (The Fan) - Same owner as Whisk, their whole Thing is small batches and seasonal flavors. And omg one of their topping options is cocoa nibs, my 100% fave.
COFFEE SHOPS & BAKED GOODS
Stir Crazy Cafe (Northside) - Comfy spot with classic coffee shop vibes: couches, laptops, chalkboard menus, tons of flyers for local shows and events. They serve Counter Culture coffee, which may be heresy to local-only coffee aficionados but tastes excellent!
Brenner Pass/Charilift (Scott’s Addition) - Controversial Opinion: the restaurant Brenner Pass is super delicious (and there’s a CHEESE CART) but I’m way more excited by the attached coffee shop, Chairlift (not a great name). They pour a tasty latte and their baked goods are phenomenal (best caneles I’ve ever had)! Plus, more cheese. The back room is a perfect spot to get some work done.
Sugar and Twine (Carytown) - I take most of my non-studio/non-home meetings at Sugar and Twine exclusively for the baked goods. The cheddar biscuits are awesome, and they have a rotating cast of scones, croissants, cookies, and muffins that never disappoint (including vegan items). Solid tea selection, too!
Sub Rosa (Church Hill) - One word: BREAD. If you’re looking for a croissant or any other breadlike breakfast/brunch food, go to Sub Rosa. Lucky for me it’s up a giant hill so I rarely want to bike there, or else I would go every single day. Bonus: it’s right around the corner from Dear Neighbor, the most Brooklyn-ish shop in Richmond.
Brewer’s Cafe (Manchester) - Not only is the coffee great and the space is always bustling, but owner Ajay Brewer is super quick to donate coffee and food to social-justice related causes (like Feminist Camp!) This place is a true community spot.