Richmond has a lot to offer people who are into food. If you were to ask a few of your RVA foodie friends, “what are your top must-do things in the Richmond dining scene?” or “what Richmond restaurants and dishes would you recommend to visitors?” you would probably get a variety of answers. We are fortunate to have so many great options in our little city. However, the same few things would jump out as repeat popular suggestions. Every city has its claims to fame, its signature dishes, its local haunts, and its “I’m kind of a big deal” restaurants.
For every popular signature dining experience in Richmond, there are dozens of overlooked gems all around us. When I think, and I mean really think hard, about my favorite things about Richmond dining, I come up with some really quirky little things. I guess I am aware of all the meals and restaurants here that would impress a visitor, and I have recommended them several times, but as a local Richmonder, those aren’t the experiences that make me love my city’s food scene. I like the signature stops along your typical Richmond foodie tour that elicit “ooh”s and “ahh”s, but I am absolutely enamored with the funny little things that keep me coming back for more.
For me, it’s the little things that count. The things that may go unnoticed, but that after several visits to a place, you come to expect, and maybe even look forward to. These are the things that I usually keep to myself, thinking that outsiders just wouldn’t understand. And maybe they wouldn’t, because there is nothing grand about them. But they are the little things about Richmond restaurants that make me smile, and although these are tiny aspects of the dining experience, I would be devastated if they ever went away.
This list is far from comprehensive, and it’s written in no particular order. I’m sure that just as soon as I hit “Publish,” I will think of ten more. It’s difficult to stop myself, but if I didn’t, this post would never be completed. Because I am sure that I’ve left some out, I would love to hear your favorite little things about Richmond or your own city’s dining scene in the comments! So without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things. . .
- The way the butter that accompanies the bread at Can Can Brasserie is filled to the brim of each butter container, then scraped flat across the top to form a perfectly flat buttery surface
- The salty, briny capers in the vegetarian paella at Kuba Kuba
- The lovely ladies room at Urban Farmhouse Market and Cafe. No really, I have often thought that I would live in that bathroom if I could. TMI?
- The seasonal vegetable plate at Parkside Cafe, featuring local vegetables bought across the street at the farmers’ market and cooked to perfection within hours of purchase
- The mismatched salt and pepper shakers at the Black Sheep; each table has a different set and each set is quite interesting
- The graham cracker center of a Key Lime popsicle and the vanilla wafer center of a Banana Pudd’n popsicle from King of Pops.
- The slate cheese platters at Secco, with the name of each cheese written in chalk right below it
- The combination of creative sauces drizzled on every taco served by the Boka Truck
- The black and white films silently projected on the wall at Stella’s
- The pickle of the day at Citizen, which is often unusual, sometimes hard to identify, and always delicious
- The delicate and precise latte art at Lamplighter Roasting Company, which always reminds me of the very first time I was ever served a latte with fern-shaped foam (magical!)
- The crispy crunch and the melt-in-your-mouth center of each bite of tandoori cauliflower at Balliceaux
- The booth screens on the high backed booths at Ipanema Cafe, which always make me feel like I should confess my sins to fellow diners (which could also be blamed on the happy hour wine deal)
What are your favorite “little things” about your local dining scene?