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Aug 13, 2009 09:31 AM

Where to get casual Southern food in Richmond, VA? (or better yet, towards Charlottesville)

I'm spending some time up in Charlottesville and there's no restaurant up here that serves down-home, Southern country cooking. Places that list themselves as "home cooking" spots serve up sides that you'd associate more with northern climes - think mashed potatoes, green beans, pinto beans, potato salad, etc. Fox's Cafe is such an example. Even Michie Tavern.

I tried Scottsville, VA, a small town south of C'Ville, and they have a place called Lumpkin's that has been going for 40-some years. Called today and it's the same thing - green beans, pintos, cole slaw, baked apples. No turnips or collards. No casseroles.

I'm looking for a place you'd find in the Carolinas or Georgia - somewhere that does collards, squash casserole, limas, okra&tomatoes, black-eyed peas, lady peas. Sometimes these will be associated with BBQ joints, but Charlottesville doesn't have BBQ joints either!

So yeah, I'm willing to drive to Richmond to get my Southern veggie fix. I don't really care if the BBQ is good (because seriously, what BBQ is in Virginia?), just as long as the veggies and sides are righteous. Any tips?

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  1. This won't help you with greens and sides, but as far as bbq is concerned, K&L Barbecue in Hopewell is definitely worth checking out for good eastern NC style barbecue. They also have the unusual VA beef bbq in eastern NC style sauce if you're curious about that. They're not open on weekends, though.

    1. LOVE comfort. it's fabulous. fun funky atmosphere with southern comfort food.

      4 Replies
      1. re: AMFM

        I'd seen a lot of praise for this place and am planning on trying it out. I see they also serve weekday lunches, which is a good thing (I like having lunch be my big meal of the day, esp. for Southern food).

        1. re: mikeh

          the fried catfish with collards and fried okra or squash casserole... mmmmmmmm.

          1. re: AMFM

            Second the comfort recommendation. Also Q Barbeque in Midlothian has good BBQ as well as ribs (I love their pulled smoked chicken) and outstanding collards, corn pudding, hush pupppies and solid mac and cheese.

            Croaker's Spot also gets good press but I have not been there.

            1. re: Janet from Richmond

              Croaker's Spot is excellent & a fun experience.

              Never have understood why people rave over Comfort, a major disappointment to me.

      2. Have you tried Mel's Cafe on West Main? I haven't, but understand it to have home-cooked, soul food. Eppie's on the Mall has collards...

        1 Reply
        1. re: cvillemel

          Tried Mel's Cafe just the other day and the collards weren't good at all. Completely bland. Like eating boiled notebook paper. Ran into the exact same problem at Spry's BBQ in the Hickory Hill Store on Hwy 29 just south of C'Ville. The famous sweet potato pie at Mel's? I found to be entirely mediocre.

          I like the collards at Eppie's. I have no idea how they impart so much flavor without using pork stock or fatback.

        2. I was recently in Richmond and had the best greens in my life at Africanne on Main. It's not strictly Southern food - it's more like Southern food with African cooking methods and seasonings. Really uique stuff, but absolutely delicious.

          1. Maya has some of the things you are looking for. They are right down the street from Mel's. Just had some great Biscuits and gravy there for Brunch. For BBQ Check out Jinxs, Way down market street, or Blue Ridge Pig which is out in Nelson County but worth the drive.