"That you may ruminate"

…On Eating in Richmond.

Posted by Steve on October 31, 2008

Over the past year, I’ve spent more time in (primarily downtown) Richmond, Virginia, than in any other city besides the one where I live. Considerably more time – actually, starting to approach a month. Yeah. Lots of time in Richmond.

Richmond’s a charming little city, and I wouldn’t mind moving there (though it isn’t my first choice of where to move. That’s moving back to Minneapolis). The Fan is a wonderful neighborhood (or conglomerate of neighborhoods?), with VCU giving it a great college-town aspect, and it’s also old enough that there’s still actual gas-lamp streetlights. I kid you not – I was walking along Meadow between Park and Stewart, and I smelled the gas, then looked closer at the streetlight, and I could see the filaments burning. Very cool. The city’s age also shows in the architecture of such buildings as The Jefferson Hotel, Main Street Station, and the Old City Hall. Downtown Richmond’s pretty hilly, by the way. I think that’s because it’s on the banks of the (surprisingly flood-prone) James River – which gives some very scenic natural areas.

The best thing about all my business travel to Richmond, though, is the plethora of outstanding local restaurants. So… here it is: some places you really, really, should eat while you’re in Richmond (and I’m not including the deli at a Ukrop’s).

Joe’s Inn, on Shields between Grove and Hanover. Without a doubt, my favorite spot for lunch in Richmond. I’ve yet to dislike anything there, but I’m particularly fond of their steak & cheese sub. Why? Simple: they don’t shave steaks, they don’t slice steaks, they don’t even chop steaks. No, they give you chunks of steak on that sandwich. Without a doubt, the steakiest and best steak & cheese sub I’ve ever had. With lettuce, tomato, mayo, and grilled onions. And remember, it’s located mid-block on Shields. I can never, ever, remember that: normally I just head up Strawberry from main to the corner of Strawberry and Grove, then say, “I thought it was here! I know it’s around here somewhere!”.

Bottom’s Up Pizza, at like 17th & Cary, down in Shockoe Bottom. Do not order more than one slice. Trust me on this. I am a glutton. I routinely eat over three pounds in one sitting. I routinely spend $10 at Taco Bell. I think I could take that steak from The Great Outdoors. I am hesitant to order a second slice, and not just because that would put me over my company’s reimbursement limit for lunches. The thick-crust pizzas, which the menu says have sourdough, come with excellent toppings (I’m a fan of a spinach, ricotta, sausage, and onion one called Karen’s Combo) and are simply enormous.

The Robin Inn at the corner of Park and Robinson. Don’t let the unfinished website that looks like ones I made in high school fool you. The place is still in business and likely to remain so, given that it serves pizza and pasta dishes that are of such good quality one first-time diner I brought there said afterwards, “It tasted homemade!”. They also have an amusing quirk: when you order a pasta dish like lasagna, it comes with a side of… spaghetti.

Star-Lite at the corner of Main and Robinson. On the border of Carytown, this place is astounding. I went there as a group of four for dinner, all of us expecting simple bar-fare. Instead, they had an audacious and broad menu: a wide variety, with things you just don’t often see. Each of us was, at a minimum, pleased by what we ordered. I actually loved what I ordered, the Grecian Chicken: breaded chicken breast with tomato, sweet peppers, kalamata olives, feta cheese, caramalized onions, and leaf spinach. Excellent, unlike anything I’d before, and the place has a really nice atmosphere, too – a sort of “Betty Paige driving a Harley” vibe that I really enjoyed.

Speaking of Harleys, I was at a biker bar about three weekends ago, where they had The Maine Lobster Game. Over the course of only two or three hours, I saw not none, not one, not two, but three people get themselves a $3 lobster dinner with that (assuming they each only played once – I don’t know if that was the case or not).

I have, to date, been unable to eat at Cajun Bangkok in Carytown, because I’ve always been with people who “get an upset stomach from spicy food” or “don’t like Thai” or “don’t like Cajun” or “am a boring gastronomic trogolodyte”. But I really, really want to. They mix Thai and Cajun! How awesome is that? Ten kinds of awesome, that’s how awesome.

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One Response to “…On Eating in Richmond.”

  1. […] The Twin Cities Daily Liberal « …On Eating in Richmond. […]

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