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ZZQ specializes in Central Texas-styled smoked meats.
ZZQ/Facebook

18 Essential Restaurants in Richmond, Virginia

The abundant dining scene in Virginia’s capital offers classic soul food, Jewish deli fare, and much more

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ZZQ specializes in Central Texas-styled smoked meats.
| ZZQ/Facebook

If it’s been a minute since you’ve made the trip down I-95 to Richmond, now is the time to return. Dine near the scenic James River and carve out time to soak up the culture of Richmond’s arts and museum districts. Richmond’s nightlife scene has ballooned over the year, with arrivals like massive food hall-meets-entertainment mecca Park at RVA. And fresh imports like Kismet Modern Indian brought Richmond a taste of D.C.

This year, acclaimed Asian pop-up Young Mother plans to debut permanent digs on Cary Street and Suzy Sno combines with parent company Ruby Scoops under one Carytown roof. Sadly, Richmond bid adieu to its top tasting room Longoven in 2023. For another fine-dining seasonal sensation a bit further out, consider Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen run by an Inn at Little Washington alum.

It’s easy to stay well fed in Richmond thanks to these 18 essential restaurants, which represent just a snapshot of the the stellar food and hospitality River City has to offer. And for ways to spend a fabulous 24 hours in Richmond, go here.

—Tierney Plumb

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Lehja Restaurant

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Richmond’s outdoor mall Short Pump Towne Center houses this modern Indian jewel with a jaw-dropping wine selection from master of hospitality Sandjeep “Sunny” Baweja. Lehja excels at delivering both regional classics like the seafood kerala curry or expertly spiced biryani as well as inventive specialties, including a stuffed paneer tikka and shrimp chicken zafrani.

Brenner Pass

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Top Chef contestant Brittanny Anderson’s ode to the food and wine of the Alps, Brenner Pass offers a spacious, modern setting to enjoy fondue in Dansk pots, potato-topped flammkuchen (an Alsatian flatbread), or a dry-aged cote de boeuf au poivre. But save room for a trip next door to Black Lodge, a fun-loving dive bar born during the pandemic where killer cocktails pair nicely with the “Tower of Power” — a selection of hot dogs, patty melts, and French fries that satisfy late-night cravings in one fell swoop. Looking for something just a skosh more German? Head to Church Hill to sister restaurant The Metzger, where the Frühstück Brett (charcuterie, pretzel roll, soft egg) at brunch is an unmatched delight.

ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque

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Consistently regarded as Richmond’s best barbecue, this Texas-style ‘cue joint coaxes smoke into an array of supple, meaty treats served on a first-come basis starting at 11 a.m. Load up the tray with pulled pork shoulder, massive beef ribs, and, of course, the marbled brisket. Friday-only homemade pastrami and Sunday-only bacon ribs are worth special weekly trips. Try pastrami by the pound or in a sandwich with homemade kraut and “giddy-up” sauce. The team’s newer next-door burger spot, Eazzy Burger, is a collaboration with neighboring Ardent Craft Ales.

ZZQ for the $20 Diner
A Texas barbecue platter from ZZQ
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Stella's

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The scent of garlic and oregano welcomes you before you ever open the door at Stella’s, a welcoming Greek neighborhood spot from the Giavos family. Fill the table with flaky tiropita, keftedes (lamb and beef meatballs), and flaming mushroom saganaki, and prepare to share. Greek comfort food in ample portions includes braised lamb over butter noodles and the deliciously creamy artichoke moussaka. Around town, keep an eye out for six locations of Stella’s Grocery, a market specializing in pre-made meals and gourmet goodies, each one with a little something special.

Egg noodle hilopites with gigantes beans, pine nuts, cherry tomato, kalamata olive, feta, fresh mint, and extra virgin olive oil from Stella’s
Egg noodle hilopites with gigantes beans, pine nuts, cherry tomato, kalamata olive, feta, fresh mint, and extra virgin olive oil from Stella’s
Stella’s/Facebook

Garnett's

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This relaxed and homey corner cafe offers some of the best sandwiches in the city. Try one of several “Croques,” like the Croque Park Avenue with black forest ham, gruyere, spinach, and garlic aioli under a blanket of mornay sauce, or the Scuffletown Chicken Sandwich, a classic version with big chunks of chicken and a pickly twang. Garnett’s happy hour ($3 glasses of wine and pints of beer, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and week-long $33 date night special (any two menu items and a bottle of wine or pitcher of beer after 6 p.m.) are two of the best-kept secrets in Richmond.

Edo's Squid

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At the top of a flight of carpeted stairs sits this consistently-packed Richmond institution for rustic, Italian-American dishes like scungili (conch) insalata, braised fennel, and spaghetti with crab meat. Sister restaurant, Dinamo, offers a more casual take on the vibe, with crostinis and homemade pasta. And for takeout, try another sibling restaurant, 8 ½ , with crushable heroes, seasonal antipasti, and some of the best pizza the city has to offer. Edo’s Squid is currently on holiday break through January 11.

Restaurant Adarra

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Named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants in 2020, Adarra marries Basque flavors and cooking philosophies with hard-to-find, easy-to-enjoy natural wines from around the world. Seafood, especially conservas, is the star of the show, and chef Randall Doetzer draws out its full potential with his arsenal of garlicky, paprika-tinged sauces. Whether you’re in the cozy dining room or Adarra’s charming back patio, there’s not a bad seat in the house (but you’ll need a reservation to get one).

Celladora Wines

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Just named one of Wine Enthusiast’s best new restaurants in America, the Fan District wine shop with just four tables seamlessly showcases natural wines alongside wine-friendly fare like flounder ceviche and cumin okra from chef Ben Burakoff. Hands-on owner Megan Lee Hopkins helps diners with pairings, and retail purchases come with a $15 corkage fee. Don’t miss the Thursday and Friday lunch offerings from baker and artist Olivia Wilson, and pop in for a super chill Dub Brunch on Sundays.

Jamaica House Restaurant

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Around since 1994, owner Carena Ives recreates the Jamaican food of her childhood, like jerk chicken, curry goat, and beef patties, from a small restaurant on Broad Street. At its new location (just a few blocks down from the original), channel Caribbean vibes while sipping fresh-pressed juices while awaiting a whole crispy-skinned snapper escovitch.

A curry vegetable platter at Jamaica House Restaurant.
Chad Williams, Creative Visual D

L'Opossum

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Inn at Little Washington alum David Shannon showcases the fantastic twists on exquisite French fare he’s refined throughout his fine-dining career. Luscious dishes include swank bank (lobster mac and cheese) and a Fabergé egg “bedazzled” with caviar and dill cured salmon, plus “vodka-powered accoutrements et les jigglés de la Champagne rose.” L’Opossum captures the eclectic spirit of its Oregon Hill neighborhood, between a phallic stained glass window and bathroom bursting with clowns. Try the very fun, plastic-wrap-covered Laura Palmer cocktail with gin, Dolin Blanc, cherries, and lime.

Sub Rosa Bakery

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Wood-fired breads made from locally-grown, house-milled grains and the flakiest seasonal pastries fill the case at this Church Hill bakery owned by brother-and-sister duo Evrim and Evin Dogu. While pastries like the fig and cheese croissant and seeded braid usually enjoy the spotlight, sleeper hits like the earl grey cookie or Turkish pogaca (a biscuit-like dough stuffed with feta) hold up nicely for the trip back home. Bonus: a small but excellent selection of natural wine and cider available to-go.

Helmed by Mexico City-born chef Danny Mena, Conejo’s kitchen mills heirloom corn daily for their fresh tortillas, which anchor the menu’s street food offerings like tuna-topped tostados de pescado and crispy taquitos, as well as their seasonal selection of tacos. Conejo’s gorgeous bar is the ideal seat for enjoying their vast collection of tequilas or a perfect margarita.

The Plato del Pacifico bowl at Conejo.
Conejo/Facebook

Lost Letter

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Lost Letter’s cool vibey dining room, expert service, and refined-yet-rustic Italian fare are three good reasons to get gussied up and make it a date night. Try the acciughe al verde — beautiful, plump anchovies swimming in an herbaceous sauce — and the zuppa di vongole — a masterpiece of brothy clams, and don’t skip a slice of tri-layered spumoni ice cream cake for dessert. Looking for bivalves? Head over to sister restaurant, Lillian for oysters on the half shell.

Cobra Burger

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Richmond’s most metal burger joint, Cobra Burger is proudly loud and in your face. Get your fix of true smash patties, made from Harris Farms beef, which, like Cobra’s trolls on Yelp, is ground fresh daily. You can’t go wrong with the classic Cobra Burger, loaded with Cobra Sauce, pickles, pickled red onions, cheese, and “shredduce;” just don’t ask for substitutions because this just isn’t that kind of spot.

Stanley’s

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You’d be hard pressed to find a funner spot than Stanley’s, a little taste of Philly in the Fan. It’s the home of meaty cheesesteaks and heavenly hoagies like the Mckoko, with a melange of meats, plus Cooper Sharp White cheddar, pickled red onions, and Duke’s Mayo with a Calabrian kick. Hit the bar on Sundays for football and a requisite Surfer on Acid.

Alewife

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The South’s best new restaurant of 2020 according to Southern Living, Alewife is all about sustainable Mid-Atlantic seafood and the waterways that surround the Chesapeake Bay like rainbow trout to skate wing. Start with an ethereal cocktail while you peruse the chalkboard specials, which change frequently. Plan ahead with reservations for this always-bustling spot. Alewife’s team recently added a casual seafood sibling called Odyssey in the West End.

Seafood dishes from Alewife
Seafood dishes from Alewife
Alewife [official]

The Roosevelt

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Since taking over the kitchen at The Roosevelt in 2022, chef Leah Branch has made the Church Hill restaurant a destination again, all thanks to the chef’s sure hand and old soul point of view. Think crab soup with saffron cream and bottagra and tobacco smoked pork butt with Deb’s (as in food anthropologist and writer Deb Freeman’s) Nana’s collards. Thanks to wine director Troy Hancock and beverage director Zack McRoy, The Roosevelt’s beverage program shines with Virginia-born bottles and inventive cocktails.

Grisette

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Grisette’s menu flexes on French classics (think steak frites and fluke en papillote) with a sincere commitment to using local and peaking ingredients. And then there’s the wine. Affordably priced and exceedingly drinkable, any pour pairs nicely with chef Donnie Glass’s curated smorgasbord of charcuterie. When in The Fan, snag a seat on the patio at Jardin, a wine shop with selections by the glass plus snacks from the Grisette family.

Lehja Restaurant

Richmond’s outdoor mall Short Pump Towne Center houses this modern Indian jewel with a jaw-dropping wine selection from master of hospitality Sandjeep “Sunny” Baweja. Lehja excels at delivering both regional classics like the seafood kerala curry or expertly spiced biryani as well as inventive specialties, including a stuffed paneer tikka and shrimp chicken zafrani.

Brenner Pass

Top Chef contestant Brittanny Anderson’s ode to the food and wine of the Alps, Brenner Pass offers a spacious, modern setting to enjoy fondue in Dansk pots, potato-topped flammkuchen (an Alsatian flatbread), or a dry-aged cote de boeuf au poivre. But save room for a trip next door to Black Lodge, a fun-loving dive bar born during the pandemic where killer cocktails pair nicely with the “Tower of Power” — a selection of hot dogs, patty melts, and French fries that satisfy late-night cravings in one fell swoop. Looking for something just a skosh more German? Head to Church Hill to sister restaurant The Metzger, where the Frühstück Brett (charcuterie, pretzel roll, soft egg) at brunch is an unmatched delight.

ZZQ Texas Craft Barbeque

Consistently regarded as Richmond’s best barbecue, this Texas-style ‘cue joint coaxes smoke into an array of supple, meaty treats served on a first-come basis starting at 11 a.m. Load up the tray with pulled pork shoulder, massive beef ribs, and, of course, the marbled brisket. Friday-only homemade pastrami and Sunday-only bacon ribs are worth special weekly trips. Try pastrami by the pound or in a sandwich with homemade kraut and “giddy-up” sauce. The team’s newer next-door burger spot, Eazzy Burger, is a collaboration with neighboring Ardent Craft Ales.

ZZQ for the $20 Diner
A Texas barbecue platter from ZZQ
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Stella's

The scent of garlic and oregano welcomes you before you ever open the door at Stella’s, a welcoming Greek neighborhood spot from the Giavos family. Fill the table with flaky tiropita, keftedes (lamb and beef meatballs), and flaming mushroom saganaki, and prepare to share. Greek comfort food in ample portions includes braised lamb over butter noodles and the deliciously creamy artichoke moussaka. Around town, keep an eye out for six locations of Stella’s Grocery, a market specializing in pre-made meals and gourmet goodies, each one with a little something special.

Egg noodle hilopites with gigantes beans, pine nuts, cherry tomato, kalamata olive, feta, fresh mint, and extra virgin olive oil from Stella’s
Egg noodle hilopites with gigantes beans, pine nuts, cherry tomato, kalamata olive, feta, fresh mint, and extra virgin olive oil from Stella’s
Stella’s/Facebook

Garnett's

This relaxed and homey corner cafe offers some of the best sandwiches in the city. Try one of several “Croques,” like the Croque Park Avenue with black forest ham, gruyere, spinach, and garlic aioli under a blanket of mornay sauce, or the Scuffletown Chicken Sandwich, a classic version with big chunks of chicken and a pickly twang. Garnett’s happy hour ($3 glasses of wine and pints of beer, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and week-long $33 date night special (any two menu items and a bottle of wine or pitcher of beer after 6 p.m.) are two of the best-kept secrets in Richmond.

Edo's Squid

At the top of a flight of carpeted stairs sits this consistently-packed Richmond institution for rustic, Italian-American dishes like scungili (conch) insalata, braised fennel, and spaghetti with crab meat. Sister restaurant, Dinamo, offers a more casual take on the vibe, with crostinis and homemade pasta. And for takeout, try another sibling restaurant, 8 ½ , with crushable heroes, seasonal antipasti, and some of the best pizza the city has to offer. Edo’s Squid is currently on holiday break through January 11.

Restaurant Adarra

Named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants in 2020, Adarra marries Basque flavors and cooking philosophies with hard-to-find, easy-to-enjoy natural wines from around the world. Seafood, especially conservas, is the star of the show, and chef Randall Doetzer draws out its full potential with his arsenal of garlicky, paprika-tinged sauces. Whether you’re in the cozy dining room or Adarra’s charming back patio, there’s not a bad seat in the house (but you’ll need a reservation to get one).

Celladora Wines

Just named one of Wine Enthusiast’s best new restaurants in America, the Fan District wine shop with just four tables seamlessly showcases natural wines alongside wine-friendly fare like flounder ceviche and cumin okra from chef Ben Burakoff. Hands-on owner Megan Lee Hopkins helps diners with pairings, and retail purchases come with a $15 corkage fee. Don’t miss the Thursday and Friday lunch offerings from baker and artist Olivia Wilson, and pop in for a super chill Dub Brunch on Sundays.

Jamaica House Restaurant

Around since 1994, owner Carena Ives recreates the Jamaican food of her childhood, like jerk chicken, curry goat, and beef patties, from a small restaurant on Broad Street. At its new location (just a few blocks down from the original), channel Caribbean vibes while sipping fresh-pressed juices while awaiting a whole crispy-skinned snapper escovitch.

A curry vegetable platter at Jamaica House Restaurant.
Chad Williams, Creative Visual D

L'Opossum

Inn at Little Washington alum David Shannon showcases the fantastic twists on exquisite French fare he’s refined throughout his fine-dining career. Luscious dishes include swank bank (lobster mac and cheese) and a Fabergé egg “bedazzled” with caviar and dill cured salmon, plus “vodka-powered accoutrements et les jigglés de la Champagne rose.” L’Opossum captures the eclectic spirit of its Oregon Hill neighborhood, between a phallic stained glass window and bathroom bursting with clowns. Try the very fun, plastic-wrap-covered Laura Palmer cocktail with gin, Dolin Blanc, cherries, and lime.

Sub Rosa Bakery

Wood-fired breads made from locally-grown, house-milled grains and the flakiest seasonal pastries fill the case at this Church Hill bakery owned by brother-and-sister duo Evrim and Evin Dogu. While pastries like the fig and cheese croissant and seeded braid usually enjoy the spotlight, sleeper hits like the earl grey cookie or Turkish pogaca (a biscuit-like dough stuffed with feta) hold up nicely for the trip back home. Bonus: a small but excellent selection of natural wine and cider available to-go.

Conejo

Helmed by Mexico City-born chef Danny Mena, Conejo’s kitchen mills heirloom corn daily for their fresh tortillas, which anchor the menu’s street food offerings like tuna-topped tostados de pescado and crispy taquitos, as well as their seasonal selection of tacos. Conejo’s gorgeous bar is the ideal seat for enjoying their vast collection of tequilas or a perfect margarita.

The Plato del Pacifico bowl at Conejo.
Conejo/Facebook

Lost Letter

Lost Letter’s cool vibey dining room, expert service, and refined-yet-rustic Italian fare are three good reasons to get gussied up and make it a date night. Try the acciughe al verde — beautiful, plump anchovies swimming in an herbaceous sauce — and the zuppa di vongole — a masterpiece of brothy clams, and don’t skip a slice of tri-layered spumoni ice cream cake for dessert. Looking for bivalves? Head over to sister restaurant, Lillian for oysters on the half shell.

Cobra Burger

Richmond’s most metal burger joint, Cobra Burger is proudly loud and in your face. Get your fix of true smash patties, made from Harris Farms beef, which, like Cobra’s trolls on Yelp, is ground fresh daily. You can’t go wrong with the classic Cobra Burger, loaded with Cobra Sauce, pickles, pickled red onions, cheese, and “shredduce;” just don’t ask for substitutions because this just isn’t that kind of spot.

Stanley’s

You’d be hard pressed to find a funner spot than Stanley’s, a little taste of Philly in the Fan. It’s the home of meaty cheesesteaks and heavenly hoagies like the Mckoko, with a melange of meats, plus Cooper Sharp White cheddar, pickled red onions, and Duke’s Mayo with a Calabrian kick. Hit the bar on Sundays for football and a requisite Surfer on Acid.

Related Maps

Alewife

The South’s best new restaurant of 2020 according to Southern Living, Alewife is all about sustainable Mid-Atlantic seafood and the waterways that surround the Chesapeake Bay like rainbow trout to skate wing. Start with an ethereal cocktail while you peruse the chalkboard specials, which change frequently. Plan ahead with reservations for this always-bustling spot. Alewife’s team recently added a casual seafood sibling called Odyssey in the West End.

Seafood dishes from Alewife
Seafood dishes from Alewife
Alewife [official]

The Roosevelt

Since taking over the kitchen at The Roosevelt in 2022, chef Leah Branch has made the Church Hill restaurant a destination again, all thanks to the chef’s sure hand and old soul point of view. Think crab soup with saffron cream and bottagra and tobacco smoked pork butt with Deb’s (as in food anthropologist and writer Deb Freeman’s) Nana’s collards. Thanks to wine director Troy Hancock and beverage director Zack McRoy, The Roosevelt’s beverage program shines with Virginia-born bottles and inventive cocktails.

Grisette

Grisette’s menu flexes on French classics (think steak frites and fluke en papillote) with a sincere commitment to using local and peaking ingredients. And then there’s the wine. Affordably priced and exceedingly drinkable, any pour pairs nicely with chef Donnie Glass’s curated smorgasbord of charcuterie. When in The Fan, snag a seat on the patio at Jardin, a wine shop with selections by the glass plus snacks from the Grisette family.

Related Maps