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Richmond for VCU parents & student

s
stevedc Dec 11, 2008 07:19 PM

With a son at VCU, we find ourselves in Richmond a few times each semester. It's usually only for a couple of hours or a drop-off or pickup -- we live near DC, so this is not a major trip -- but it's nice to take him out. Plus sometimes we have time to kill between VCU events. We're looking for two things, perhaps separately:

* Richmond institutions, the kinds of places no one should leave Richmond without visiting. These could be dives, ice cream parlors, chili parlors, donut parlors -- Richmond's equaivalent of, say, the potato donut place in Charlottesville, or Ben's Chili Bowl in DC, or Graeter's Ice Cream in Cincincinnati.

* Restaurants not terribly far from VCU with moderate prices and good food. We have found a place on Main in the Fan where we had a terrific breakfast; sorry, don't remember the name. It was in a brick building that had been renovated, had an upstairs, and was across the street from a funky-looking place with what appeared to be Japanese lettering.

We found a so-so sports bar/restaurant also on Main. The pizza parlor down in Shockhoe Bottom (that triangle spit of land) was good, And we've tried Thai and cajun in Carytown. (We found a fantastic chocolate store in that retro-looking shopping plaza on Cary Street.)

What else should we try? On a couple of other trips, we wound up eating at Tara Thai and Famous Dave's -- places we like, but we can drive half-a-mile from home and go to those, so it's not an adventure.

All tips appreciated!

  1. j
    jeanmarieok Jan 7, 2009 05:35 PM

    Three Monkeys has been consistantly good, and cheap - 2525 W. Main (burgers, sandwiches, salads, a couple of entrees) Same people own Kuba Kuba, which is one of my all time Richmond favs.

    Joe's Inn (I am sure lots of people don't love this place, but I really love the spaghetti ala Joe and the spaghetti ala greek. and it's still my favorite greek salad in Richmond) On Shields someplace. Qualifies as a dive for sure.

    Millies - on the edge of Shockoe Bottom, technically Church Hill I think. Love their brunch. Pricier for dinner, but I've never been disappointed.

    If you are there during the week and you see a Christophers Runaway Gourmet cart on the sidewalk, try the tarragon chicken salad with sesame noodles and cucumbers as your side. I get cravings for this sometimes, and live 20 miles outside of downtown now, and have made the drive.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeanmarieok
      j
      jeanmarieok Jan 7, 2009 05:56 PM

      I forgot Sally Belle's for box lunches. A Richmond tradition for sure. Can't just walk in, need to preorder. http://www.sallybellskitchen.com/sbkd... I'd call first, and see if you can order and pick up, or if they have to deliver it. it's been awhile. They have good southern chicken salad, potato salad, and pimento cheese.

      Legend Brew Pub - across the river from downtown - food is ok, maybe, but they have the best outdoor deck in Richmond, and pretty tasty home brews. Every person I have ever taken there has thanked me and returned. Anyone here remember when the 'restaurant' was 6 bar stools and a plastic table and chairs? Pick a warm afternoon or evening, and stick to sandwiches and appetizers.

      Avenue 805 on N. Davis - I have a thing for the salmon blt, and the 4 cheese grilled cheese sanwich with tomato soup. No lunch on the weekend though.

      Lulus in Shockoe Bottom - I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the salmon with black sesame seeds, the orrichetti with crab meat, and my husband had a really good lamb shank there.

      1. re: jeanmarieok
        v
        VaPaula Jan 8, 2009 05:18 PM

        That is so funny that you mentioned Christopher's Runaway Gourmay. I work a few blocks from there and am having serious WITHDRAWALS right now! They closed up their carts for the season - 2nd week of December. I think they come back in early March. Love that chicken salad!

      2. j
        julesgarcia Jan 3, 2009 10:59 AM

        Bev's ice cream in Carytown is an institution as is a show at the Byrd Theatre
        For funky fun food:
        Cafe Rustica
        Black Sheep Cafe
        Comfort
        MammaZu--this is the same chef/owner as Edo'sSquid but divier and better vibe. Edo's is also loud in a way that prevents conversation
        SIx Burner has less vibe than the others but good food.
        Millie's brunch
        Glad you tried Kuba Kuba
        I'd skip Strawberry St Cafe
        The bar at Can Can is nice but the food is very ordinary.

        1 Reply
        1. re: julesgarcia
          w
          wcheuk Jan 5, 2009 05:31 AM

          Sally Bell's Kitchen at 708 Grace St, near VCU, is an old Richmond box lunch place.

        2. a
          AMFM Jan 1, 2009 06:16 PM

          this is more a destination place.... but anyway if you haven't been you should go to lewis ginter botanical gardens. either for the lights at christmas or for the gardens in the spring or summer. but anyway i have heard that eating at the robbins tea house while there is lovely but i have never done it.

          1. a
            AMFM Dec 12, 2008 06:45 PM

            sometime when you're in town i highly recommend eating at the jefferson. unfortunately, lemaire is undergoing renovations so dinners might be different for awhile, but the fabulous brunch in the gorgeous and historic setting should still be there. it's leisurely but lovely! VERY richmond!

            4 Replies
            1. re: AMFM
              s
              stevedc Dec 14, 2008 03:35 PM

              Thanks to all. We went to pick up our son for Winter break yesterday and thought we'd stop for barbecue before leaving town, but when we drove by Kuba Kuba a few blocks from campus, the appearance alone was so appealing that we had to stop. I had the Chicken Pineapple Sandwich, as did my son (along with a Nehi orange soda), and my wife had the Tortilla Con Langostino (an omelette with crawfish -- delicious). As a former Tampa Bay resident, I appreciate good tostones (fried, sweet plantains) and Kuba Kuba's satisfied. For dessert, we shared a large piece of Tres Leches cake. Wonderful. Can't wait to try all the other recommendations.

              1. re: stevedc
                p
                princsoreo Dec 23, 2008 12:58 PM

                If you're an adventurous eater you MUST try Nile (www.nilerichmond.com). It's ethiopian and right near VCU. You can get a sample platter and try a bunch of different dishes plus you eat with your hands. It is delicious and while not an institution, definitely a must-try. A great little hole-in-the-wall Italian place is Arianna's. The eggplant-parmesan pizza is to-die-for. A great spot for lunch is European Market (www.euromarketgourmet.com). It's also a deli-type place but a bit more high end. I love the arc de triomphe which is (I think) turkey, brie and bacon on a baguette. If you like Thai food, check out Thai Diner in Carytown and in the summer Mom's Siam (www.carytown.org). I would put both in the "institutions" category.

                1. re: princsoreo
                  p
                  pollychowing Jan 1, 2009 04:32 PM

                  Lunch at the VA Museum Cafeteria (Blvd & Grove), and a look around is a treat for you and a cultural experience too.

              2. re: AMFM
                a
                AMFM Jan 5, 2009 06:21 AM

                oh i just ate at TJs this week. also nice. still a great setting there at the Jefferson. it truly is a beautiful hotel and a richmond treasure.

              3. mikebmassey Dec 12, 2008 07:02 AM

                I agree with Janet on 3 items. Edo's Squid is really good, although loud. Comfort is yummy as well. CanCan is pretty good food too.

                My favorites:
                Buz and Ned's BBQ. Buz battled and beat Bobby Flay in ribs on "Throw down". However, I love their pulled pork. It's the best BBQ I have ever eaten. Anywhere. Their sauces is great. If they still have the jalapeno cheese fries, get them. If they don't, get the sweet potato fries. The mac and cheese is great too. If you're up for a cocktail, get a hard lemonade. Bourbon and home made lemonade. Yum.
                www.buzandneds.com/

                Kuba Kuba - Long wait for this Cuban food, but well worth it. Sunday brunch is a lonnng wait. www.kubakuba.info/

                Millie's Diner - The best brunch in Richmond. Seriously great food. I heard dinner is good as well, but never went. www.milliesdiner.com

                Akida - Sushi. Not really an institution, but good sushi none the less. (no website - but it's in the 'Fan'.

                Coppola's on Cary Street - Great Italian deli. Go for the subs. Awesome. coppolasdeli.com

                Bamboo on Cary in the Fan is nice too. I always got the filet there. Small place, so it might be tough to get a table.

                Joe's Inn for breakfast. Simple, good breakfast. joesinn.com

                Strawberry Street Cafe is good, but the food is a bit dated (dated in the "they have not changed the menu in YEARS" dated).

                1 Reply
                1. re: mikebmassey
                  j
                  Janet from Richmond Dec 12, 2008 07:11 AM

                  The issue with Buz & Ned's is wait time and A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E & the jalapeno cheese fries are no longer there. IMO the best pulled pork in Richmond is at Benny's BBQ on Forest Hill Ave and the people are very nice.
                  Agree on Kuba Kuba...it's great (and I forget it too often).
                  Strawberry St. Cafe is definitely 1986 all over again.

                2. j
                  Janet from Richmond Dec 12, 2008 03:50 AM

                  Edo's Squid at Harrison and Grace (above a Stuffy Sub Shop) is a Richmond must. Great Italian, seafood, and a bit funky. They take reservations as well. Also Comfort on Broad (a couple of blocks east of Belvedere) is becoming more and more a Richmond institution and is good comfort food, with a twist. Recommend the fried catfish, fried okra and the must have is the Banana Pudding Cream Brulee for dessert. Lulu's down in Shockhoe Bottom is very good and casual and another Richmond tradition is weekend brunch at Millie's Diner...be prepared to wait, get a Bloody Mary or Mimosa (or Evil Keevil) and do some good people watching while waiting. Lulu's also has a good brunch and Millie's is very good for dinner as well.

                  If you wonder back to Carytown, CanCan is always fun.

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