Best & Worst 2022: Food & Drink – – Richmond magazine

August 22, 2022
10:27 AM
This article has been edited since it first appeared in print.
Illustration by Bob Scott
Stella’s (Photo by Jay Paul)
Multicategory Winner
Stella’s / Stella’s Grocery
“I love to dine out, but it’s hard for me to turn my brain off and relax,” says Stella’s co-owner Katrina Giavos, who instinctively analyzes acoustics, ambiance and, of course, what’s on plate, always in restaurateur mode.  Adapting to pandemic changes, Stella’s increased takeout options at its markets and added patio seating at its flagship restaurant, where you’ll see the Giavoses’ vintage car collection parked on Lafayette Street. Their daughter’s adjacent lifestyle store, Our Life, morphed into a coffee, wine and mezze lounge among artisanal Grecian garments. The Giavos family and their staff, including Executive Chef Russ Williams, travel to Greece this month for further R&D as the Malvern Gardens Stella’s Grocery preps for expansion.
1. Stella’s 
2. Shagbark
3. Lemaire 
1. Stella’s Grocery 
2. Yellow Umbrella Provisions 
3. The Fresh Market
1. Stella’s / Stella’s Grocery 
2. Tie: 8 1/2; Peter Chang 
3. Tazza Kitchen 
1. Stella’s  
2. Greek on Cary 
3. Tie: Bell Greek Cuisine; The Grapevine; More Than Greek  
Union Market
2306 Jefferson Ave., 804-716-7233
From colorful tempeh taco salad prepared with marinated tempeh, red onion, and black bean and corn salsa to croissants overflowing with house-made tuna salad and breakfast burritos, Union Market in Union Hill offers a wide variety of lunch and dinner items. Sip on a iced coffee or a draft beer while enjoying a meal on the patio.
2. Garnett’s Cafe
3. Taste
Ipanema Cafe
917 W. Grace St., 804-213-0190
The Fan’s charmingly cavelike and exclusively vegetarian gem is at the top of the list, and it’s no surprise, with a menu populated by excellent homemade versions of all kinds of veg and vegan staples (black bean burgers, Buffalo cauliflower tacos, that awesome tofu Caesar). But the seasonal specials are tempting enough to divert diners from the strongest veggie burger craving. Some stars: Sichuan eggplant and tarragon sous vide carrots with tempeh lardons.
2. Tie: Fresca on Addison; Yummvees 
3. Hang Space
Photo courtesy Pinky’s
3015 Norfolk St., 804-802-4716
“Our approach to everything here is to make everything as good and consistent as possible,” says Pinky’s chef and co-owner Stephen DeRaffele. “On the menu since the restaurant’s inception, the chargrilled octopus remains a top-seller. Prepared with black garlic, smoked paprika oil, grilled radicchio and Hasselback potato, the dish is one that DeRaffele says “symbolizes our restaurant as a whole — it’s a good-looking dish that’s sharable and balanced.”
2. Lolita’s 
3. Tie: Cocodrilo; Conejo; Pizza Bones
Tie: Boka Tako; River City Wood Fire Pizza; Zorch Pizza
Richmond has a soft spot for a bite on wheels, and the three-way tie between these mobile ventures proves our unwavering adoration. Around since 2010, Boka Tako travels across the region, but Monday through Friday parks a truck at 9th and Cary streets for lunch. Helmed by Joe Lajoie, River City Wood Fire Pizza launched in 2013, stemming from a small oven and a love for the dough. “We average between 850-1,500 dough balls a week,” Lajoie says. And although Zorch Pizza now has a permanent home base in Carytown, its truck can still be found slinging slices at area breweries.
2. Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay 
3. Sammich
ZZQ (Photo by Eileen Mellon)
3201 W. Moore St., 804-528-5648
If there’s a list of the best barbecue in America, chances are ZZQ is on it. Since opening in 2018, ZZQ has nabbed nods from Texas Monthly, Food & Wine, Thrillist and the Washington Post. It’s their devotion to detail that makes ZZQ stand out from other folks with smokers, and that’s what owners Chris Fultz and Alex Graf are counting on as they prepare to open Eazzy Burger with longtime collaborators Ardent Craft Ales.
2. Mission BBQ  
3. Deep Run Roadhouse
8510 Patterson Ave., 804-750-2000
Serving prime cuts and neat pours of scotch since 1994, Buckhead’s channels the classic steakhouse vibe. From the ubiquitous sides and starters such as escargot and creamed spinach to the exceptional waitstaff and its lengthy list of reds — continually recognized by Wine Spectator magazine — time stands still at this Patterson Avenue stalwart. Owner Mark Herndon says, “To further enhance our wine program, a wine cellar is on the horizon. The cellar expansion will allow us to store an additional 1,200 bottles.”
2. Tie: Hondos Steak House; Ruth’s Chris Steak House 
Mosaic Catering & Events         
3100 Cutshaw Ave., 804-525-2190
Feeding the masses is an unpredictable feat, and from events at Main Street Station to 1,000-person wedding banquets, Mosaic Catering and Events has been a reliable go-to for decades. Using hyper-seasonal ingredients and led by a tenured crew, Mosaic has also introduced express catering, offering a quick turnaround on thoughtfully curated — and plated — food for life’s last-minute celebrations.
2. Cater 2 Events 
3. Eat Kitchen & Catering
Zorch Pizza (Photo by Justin Vaughan)
Zorch Pizza          
2923 W. Cary St., 804-562-0279
“We already had a lot of wonderful customers that would seek out the truck and now are regulars at the restaurant,” says owner Rob Zorch of debuting his namesake ’za shop in Carytown in 2021. Dishing out everything from Grandma-style slices to an upside-down version that pours vodka sauce on top, Zorch says buffalo wings and the option to grab a sixer with a slice are on the horizon.
2. Mellow Mushroom 
3. Belmont Pizzeria
Gelati Celesti
Have you ever wondered what makes Gelati Celesti ice cream so creamy? President Steve Rosser credits a process that minimizes air during churning and takes full advantage of quality, rich ingredients. Known for their specialized flavors, the company’s best sellers are Chocolate Decadence and Just Ask — a white chocolate ice cream studded with with Oreos and peanut butter.
2. Scoop
3. Ruby Scoops
Pearl’s Bake Shoppe
5811 Patterson Ave., 804-285-2253
Making the world a “sweeter” place has always been a Shaheen family motto and tradition. Three Shaheen sisters — Kelly Polk, Holly Shaheen and Melissa Berling — purchased Pearl’s Bake Shoppe from owner Laurie Blakey earlier this year. “Good food makes people happy. It’s as simple as that,” Polk says. “We love knowing that we can provide the kind of gift that comes straight from the heart.”
2. Carytown Cupcakes
3. Frostings Bake Shop
Photo courtesy Alewife
3120 E. Marshall St., 804-325-3426
Sustainable seafood meets its best possible end in the hands of Alewife chef de cuisine Bobo Catoe, who is known for inventive takes on cuts like rockfish collars and mackerel tails. Three members of Alewife’s leadership team — Catoe, owner Lee Gregory and beverage director Andon Whitehorn — scored big at this year’s Rising Star Chefs Awards for D.C.-Chesapeake in the chef, mentor and bartender categories, respectively.
2. The Hard Shell 
3. The Boathouse
Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken          
2200 W. Broad St., 804-355-1059
When asked if there were any exciting news or updates to share regarding the only Virginia location of the fried chicken chain, owner Henry Loving replies, “The exciting news is we are not changing our recipe.” Mic drop. After countless wins in this category over the years, it’s probably safe to say that Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken knows exactly what it’s doing.
2. Ukrop’s Market 
3. Publix 
Photo courtesy Portico
12506 River Road, 804-784-4800
The beauty of Portico, says owner Paolo Randazzo, is that “you drive away from the city, through the woods, and then bam! — there’s our patio. It’s transportive.” Blooming in the summer, warmed by a towering stone fireplace in late fall and smelling of raindrops in the spring, Portico’s patio and chef Randazzo’s classic lamb risotto are never out of season.
2. The Boathouse 
3. The Lilly Pad 
2727 W. Broad St., 804-367-4992
Tasty morsels and cocktails abound at Sabai, the Broad Street eatery a carefully crafted atmosphere of tropical plants and ironwork. It’s a special spot, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to sit on the swing seats. And if you’re super lucky, they’ll be serving slow-roasted lamb shank that night.
2. Mom’s Siam 
3. Pad Thai  
Foo Dog         
1537 W. Main St., 804-342-1800
Fun, hip and approachable, this outpost from EAT Restaurant Partners doubles as a popular Main Street watering hole. Cozy up to a bowl of steaming ramen and get slurping — the Malaysian, made with coconut broth, dotted with chili oil and adorned with a poached egg, is a crowd pleaser.
2. Takara Ramen 
3. Ramen Spot
Kogi RVA (Photo by Jay Paul)
Kogi RVA (formerly J Kogi)        
325 N. Second St., 804-225-8734
Reintroducing itself late last year as Kogi RVA, this Korean-inspired Jackson Ward eatery also hit refresh on its menu. Bulgogi rib-eye and dak tori chicken bowls call for the house-made No Spicy No Cry sauce, while fire chicken wings and kimbap rolls are best eaten at the bar accompanied by a boba-based bevvie.
2. Tie: Bonchon; Gogi Bibimbap; Yewon 
3. Tie: Korean Garden; Zzaam! Fresh Korean Grill
6004 W. Broad St., 804-288-8929
Mekong boasts a menu of “Star Wars” opening crawl length that’s chock-full of all of the grilled platters, hot stone bowls, noodle soups and broken rice dishes you want, and in addition, it’s a killer destination for seafood. From May to September, belly up to a plate full of ginger scallion soft-shells (you can also get sweet and sour tamarind sauce — tough call). If it’s not summer, grab the crawfish xao rau que or the crispy rainbow trout with bamboo shoots.
2. Vietnam 1 
3. Pho Tay Do  
Photo courtesy Peter Chang
Peter Chang          
11408 W. Broad St., 804-364-1688; 2816 W. Broad St., Suite A, 804-728-1820
A 2022 James Beard finalist for the nation’s most outstanding chef, Peter Chang is known for the fiery Sichuan food that he perfected cooking for dignitaries at the Chinese embassy. Chang’s mission is to introduce true Chinese food to new audiences, and he does so at a dozen restaurants throughout Virginia and Maryland, including two in Richmond. Chang plans to open his first D.C. restaurant, Chang Chang, this fall.
2. Peking  
3. Beijing on Grove 
Osaka Sushi & Steak         
5023 Huguenot Road, 804-288-8801
Head sushi chef Elias Mendoza’s love affair with tuna began as a daytime tryst, when he could often be found rolling bluefin behind Osaka’s sushi bar at lunch, before progressing to leading dinners at this River Road sashimi and steakhouse. One Monday — yes, the restaurant is open Mondays — spicy yellowtail crunch met bluefin tuna topped with avocado, making a nigiri ménage à trois appropriately called “blue moon roll.”
2. Lucky AF 
3. Akida Japanese Restaurant 
Photo courtesy TBT El Gallo
TBT El Gallo
2118 W. Cary St., 804-918-0158
Mexican flavors meet Richmond style at this food-cart-turned-taqueria. Owner Carlos Ordaz-Nunez explains, “I’m not afraid to blaze my own path and modernize some techniques on my journey. Our food, while authentic, is really a love story of a culture as experienced through the perspective of second-generation Latino. I don’t view Mexican food the same way that my parents do, and I think that’s what really defines TBT El Gallo.”
2. En Su Boca  
3. Don’t Look Back
Mexico Restaurant
The team at Mexico does more than whip up amazing, customized guacamole and hearty barbacoa plates — they’re also community builders. Open since 1990, the family-run venture support charities, educational initiatives, family support groups, African American and Hispanic heritage projects, fire departments, sports teams and more. Good community beckons inside the restaurant, too — Mexico creates a fun, festive vibe with friendly staff.
2. Tie: En Su Boca; Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant 
3. Mi Jalisco 
Naan from Lemon Cuisine of India (Photo by Isaac Harrell)
Lemon Cuisine of India         
3215 W. Broad St., 804-204-1800
Killer appetizers such as the lasooni gobhi (crisp-fried cauliflower tossed in a tangy tomato glaze; you can also get it with chicken) supplement a menu of Indian classics, plus lamb, goat and seafood options. Visit during lunch — it’s a smorgasbord complete with soup, a special side, rice, naan and dessert for $12.
2. Lehja 
3. Anokha 
The Daily Kitchen & Bar
2934 W. Cary St., 804-342-8990; 12201 W. Broad St., 804-360-3800
Mike Flynn, chef of The Daily Carytown, strives to “be here for everybody — we take the greatest care to prevent cross-contamination, especially when cooking gluten-free,” he says. “We use fresh knives, gloves, cutting boards and follow our in-house procedure for each gluten-free order.” Flynn says the No. 1 seller is gluten-free pizza, but he also praises the shrimp al fresco with either gluten-free noodles or zoodles. “It’s light and fresh.”
2. Minglewood Bake Shop 
3. Tie: Pinky’s; Tio Pablo
Burger Bach
Brittany Schmitt, assistant manager of the Midlothian Burger Bach, has sampled the simple, fresh “bach” cuisine the multi-location burger spot is modeled after while visiting New Zealand, where their food is GMO-free, translating the same vision to the restaurant. But what makes a juicy burger? “They’re individually patted, shaped and pressed by hand, daily, by the hundreds,” Schmitt says. “Our prep cooks are legendary.”
2. Cobra Burger
3. Five Guys 
Five Guys
This fast-food chain, made up of independently franchised locations, employs more than 5,000 workers, with stores in every state, excluding Alaska. One thing they all have in common? Customers are presented a heaping helping of Five Guys’ regular or Cajun boardwalk-style fries. Check out their secret menu item — nacho fries, coated in hot, melted, classic Kraft American cheese.
2. Burger Bach
3. Can Can Brasserie
Sub Rosa (Photo by Eileen Mellon)
Sub Rosa Bakery          
620 N. 25th St., 804-788-7672
Beloved for their wood-fired pastries and naturally leavened breads, Sub Rosa Bakery has been a fixture in Church Hill for a decade. Their secret? Locally grown, stone-ground flour from small farmers in Virginia and Pennsylvania. “Fresh flour tastes better,” explains Sub Rosa Bakery co-owner Evrim Dogu. “And stone-ground is more nutritious. … Most important of all, buying directly means we know exactly what we are supporting ecologically and economically.”
2. Tie: Pearl’s Bake Shoppe; Shyndigz
3. Tie: Idle Hands Bread Co.; Westhampton Pastry Shop
North End Juice Co.   
718 N. Cleveland St., 804-729-7340; 2400 Jefferson Ave., 804-562-1208
North End Juice Co. first opened in 2016 with a single blender and juicer. Today, it is a well-known and loved Richmond superfood spot known known for fresh juices, wellness shots and smoothies at both of its locations. The North End crew recommend first-timers try the fuego wellness shot or the blue suede shoes smoothie.
2. The Pit and the Peel
3. Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar
Nate’s Bagels          
21 S. Allen Ave., 804-939-5310
Nate Mathews approached bagel baking with the mind of an engineer, and the end result  was pretty close to perfection. After two years of carb-filled research, Mathews opened Nate’s in 2018, and it’s been a line-out-the-door kind of spot ever since. Where else can you find a bagel banh mi with braised pork belly and funky pickled radishes on the same menu with a traditional lox bagel?
2. Cupertino’s NY Bagels  
3. Chewy’s Bagels
Blanchard’s Coffee
4930 Forest Hill Ave., 3121 W. Broad St., 26 N. Morris St.
Grab a cup of Black Dog at Blanchard’s, and you might notice that it’s described as having notes of mango and blueberry. How? Because the folks at Blanchard’s are absolute bean wizards, and that’s exactly what you’ll taste when you take a first sip. Blanchard’s is a champion of complexity and depth of flavor, and that mantra is practiced at each of its three locations every morning. They serve A-plus pour-overs, too.
2. Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox 
3. Ironclad Coffee Roasters
Moore Street Cafe           
2904 W. Moore St., 804-359-5970
With a high-energy, no-frills breakfast done right, Moore Street Cafe stays bustling. “It’s a party, and everyone is welcome,” says owner Charlie Hughes. A stop at the Scott’s Addition diner is incomplete without a stack of flapjacks and a wallet-friendly mimosa pitcher. Allowing more patrons to get their pancake on, this year saw the debut of their outside “Moore-Mosa Bar” and picnic area.
2. SB’s Love Shack
SB’s Love Shack (Photo by Eileen Mellon)
SB’s Love Shack          
6935 Lakeside Ave., 804-922-2371; 2600 W. Main St., 804-214-4222
Thinking back to the days when going to grandma’s house meant a full belly, SB’s Love Shack owner Sarabeth Hagen opened her first restaurant with only five tables and three menu items. Now, with a second location on Main Street, Hagen compares the two restaurants to a country mouse and a city mouse: “Food is awesome, service is the best, music is pumping, but you’re going to Grandma’s house in Lakeside and your cool aunt’s house in the city.”
2. Millie’s Diner
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
2410 Ownby Lane, 804-420-2420 ; 820 Sanctuary Trail Drive, 804-420-2420
Hardywood has cemented its place as a Richmond institution over the past decade, not only for crafting award-winning beer using Virginia-sourced ingredients such as blackberries, pumpkins, peaches, honey and ginger, but also for being leaders in environmental stewardship. Hardywood was the first brewery in the state powered entirely by renewable energies, including solar, biomass and wind.  
2. The Veil Brewing Co. 
3. Triple Crossing Beer  
Cirrus Vodka
1603 Ownby Lane, 804-495-1148
A standout in the 3% of vodkas that are made from potatoes, as opposed to grain, Cirrus is one of the producers putting Richmond on the map for craft booze. “Cirrus holds a gold medal from the World Spirits Competition … and has been the fastest-growing nonflavored vodka in Virginia the past two years,” says Tom Ellington, sales and marketing director.
2. Virago Spirits 
3. Belle Isle Moonshine 
Photo by Joey Wharton, courtesy Belle Isle Moonshine
Belle Isle Moonshine  
615 Maury St., 804-723-1030
A few years ago, the hard seltzer craze came in hot, and the effervescent, low-cal drinks have stuck around ever since. In 2019, Belle Isle Moonshine introduced its own canned options, with flavors such as transfusion, as well as the most recent cherry-lime drive in collaboration with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. “Canned cocktails have opened up new channels … and overall makes Belle Isle Moonshine that much more accessible,” says Director of Marketing Brandon Day.
2. Main Line Brewery 
Once Upon a Vine
4009 MacArthur Ave., 804-726-9463
Once Upon a Vine has made a name for itself by featuring a vast array of hard-to-find wines and beers — and some other prized rarities. “People may not know that we do a heck of a lot of business in retro candies,” says owner Bob Kocher. “Wax bottles and lips, candy mustaches, Necco wafers, Clark bars … you don’t see them around in other stores anymore.”
2. Corks & Kegs 
3. Second Bottle Wine & Snack Shop 
Blue Bee Cider (Photo by Jay Paul)
Blue Bee Cider
1320 Summit Ave., 804-231-0280
“Our guiding motto is to draw a circle and invite everyone in,” says Blue Bee’s outreach director, Brian Ahnmark.  “We’ve got ciders for all kinds of people, for all kinds of reasons: single varietals from Colonial times, vinous-style ciders, which combine apple and grape; we’ve smoked some of our ciders. … We’ve got products for beer fans, wine fans, spirits fans.”
2. Buskey Cider 
3. Courthouse Creek Cider    
Can Can Brasserie  
3120 W. Cary St., 804-358-7274
The unofficial anchor of Carytown — as everything around it seems to change — Can Can Brasserie has remained rooted as the reliable spot for a Parisian-inspired breakfast, people-watching and a killer happy hour. Speaking of, their moules frites happy hour, Sunday dinner service and their burger will soon return for the first time since the pandemic.
2. The Daily Kitchen & Bar 
3. Zorch Pizza
Lunch / Supper  
1213-1215 Summit Ave., 804-353-0111
“What I believe sets us apart is our space … the owner collects kitschy things like funny license plates, modern art and plants, and we have a beautiful beer garden,” says Amanda Carter Fritts, general manager. “We have an indoor/outdoor feel where people of all ages feel comfortable. And we serve breakfast all day! Chicken and waffles at 9 o’clock at night? It doesn’t get better than that.”
2. ZZQ 
3. Tazza Kitchen
Photo by Molly Peterson, courtesy Midlothian Chefs Kitchen
Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen    
11501 Busy St., 804-893-3562
Since opening in 2021, Midlothian Chef’s Kitchen has become a regional standout that’s even managed to entice the downtown crowd to travel across the river for dinner. Helmed by chef and co-owner David Dunlap — whose resume includes stints at three-Michelin-star standout The Inn at Little Washington and Quirk Hotel’s Maple & Pine — the restaurant marks a step onto his own culinary path and presents everything from wine dinners to a chef’s table experience and cooking classes.
2. Tie: The Boathouse; Sergio’s 
3. Tie: Burger Bach; Charred; Howlett’s Restaurant & Tavern; Tazza Kitchen
Julep’s New Southern Cuisine    
420 E. Grace St., 804-377-3968
Julep’s owner Amy Ayers says she “fell in love with high-end Southern cuisine” while traveling to Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta; and Savannah, Georgia. “I knew if I ever opened another restaurant in Richmond, that’s the kind of food I wanted to serve,” she says. Ayers, the former owner of Cabo’s Corner Bistro, thanks her loyal staff and customers for supporting her through 20 years of mint juleps and perfectly fried green tomatoes.
2. Lillie Pearl 
3. Perly’s 
Joe’s Inn (Photo by Rob Hendricks)
Multicategory Winner
Joe’s Inn
205 N. Shields Ave., 804-355-2282; 2616 Buford Road, 804-320-9700
A common Venn diagram shows “cheap,” “good” and “fast” with only the tiniest intersection of the three. Joe’s Inn is that spot — though we’d call Joe’s Greek-Italian-American diner fare “affordable” rather than the C-word. What’s part of their secret? In the tradition of a Greek kaffenion, they serve local Rostov’s coffee, Trial & Error Distillery limoncello, and house-baked breads and desserts. An in-house pastry program is less expensive than wholesale buying, but it is swiftly disappearing in many places. Come to think of it, so is the independent diner serving both breakfast and late-night dinner. We’re thankful Joe’s Inn continues the tradition.
1. Joe’s Inn 
2. Chicken Fiesta 
3. Tie: Bocata Arepa Bar; Charlotte’s Southern Deli and Tapas 
1. Joe’s Inn 
2. Kuba Kuba 
3. Heritage
Red Salt Chophouse & Sushi’s surf and turf cheeseburger (Photo by Katie Brown)
Red Salt Chophouse & Sushi   
12221 W. Broad St., 804-360-8080
This steakhouse-sushi bar combo is one of the best date-night spots in the West End, with painstaking attention given to every dish on its lengthy menu. Fresh fish, gorgeous beef, excellent service and top-notch wine choices (the 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc is on there right now) make Red Salt a memorable experience.
2. Lehja 
3. Tazza Kitchen
Demi’s Mediterranean Kitchen      
4017 MacArthur Ave., 804-525-4576
Dot’s Back Inn chef/co-owner Jimmy Tsamouras covered his kitchen shifts to attend a 2015 wedding in Greece and returned to find his restaurant finessed. “My staff were doing well without me,” Tsamouras jokes. “I needed a job.” Two years later he opened Demi’s, named for his daughter, and unlocked the door to Greek, Lebanese, Moroccan, Tunisian and Turkish cuisine on the North Side, favoring warm spices, seafood and a banging preserved lemon vinaigrette.
2. Hobnob 
3. Dot’s Back Inn
Blue Atlas (Photo by Eileen Mellon)
Blue Atlas     
1000 Carlisle Ave., 804-554-0258
Located inside the former Robert Fulton School and helmed by husband-and-wife team Ben Watters and Rachel Best, Blue Atlas offers a little bit of everything. From a workspace with a view to a neighborhood market that’s perfect for a snack pit stop, to a restaurant influenced by global flavors with vegan bites in the mix, this East End respite checks all the boxes.
2. Ms. Girlee’s Kitchen
3. Carini Italian Restaurant
Little Nickel      
4702 Forest Hill Ave., 804-230-8743
This “tropical diner” from the Giavos family is known for fun, orchid-garnished plates and mood-altering cocktails such as the mezcal- and rum-based sharpshooter. But where the Nickel truly shines is with its shareables, like the flaming pu-pu, a fire-centric platter of beef skewers, crab rangoons and lumpia, and the ruby in the rough, a boozy punchbowl with rum, falernum, brandy and a tongue-tingling combo of citrus and spice.
2. Laura Lee’s  
3. Tie: Galley; Southbound
Mama J’s       
415 N. First St., 804-225-7449
“I’m in the business of making people feel good, whether it be with our food or interacting with our staff,” says co-owner Lester Johnson. “People don’t go out to feel bad.” What feels good lately is Mama J’s new brisket sandwich, always the hotline bling — mac and cheese and greens — and Johnson’s grandmother’s pineapple-coconut cake, which the wise get boxed to go before even glancing at a menu.
2. Saison 
3. Restaurant Adarra 
The Roosevelt
623 N. 25th St., 804-658-1935
Hitting its decade mark last summer, this Southern-tinged neighborhood restaurant has entered a new era in recent years with new co-owner — and seasoned restaurateur — Mark Herndon and a fresh voice in the kitchen with executive chef Leah Branch. ”We’ve had a great run for sure, but it feels like now we are really getting into a different kind of groove,” says co-owner Kendra Feather. Stay tuned for the return of brunch.
2. Alewife 
3. The Hill Cafe 
The Tobacco Company Restaurant       
1201 E. Cary St., 804-782-9555
“We’ve gone from being a fern bar filled with tobacco-related artwork to a more open, clean Art Deco aesthetic,” says David Campbell, Tobacco Company’s communications and marketing director. The three-story dining and “entertainment complex” has live music Friday-Sunday, multiple dining rooms, a cocktail lounge and a dance floor with a DJ. “Every day is different,” Campbell says. “We make memories here.”
2. Tie: Bottoms Up Pizza; Old Original Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse; The Hard Shell 
3. Miyabi Sushi 
Industrial Taphouse  
10392 Leadbetter Road, 804-299-2649
This hoppin’ Hanover hot spot is where residents pull up to grab a midweek pint and end up rubbing elbows with neighbors and spotting a familiar face or three. Traditional bar nosh, 20 taps, kid-friendly vibes and weekly live music make this a destination for brunch, dinner and all the in-between moments. Fun fact: The Executive 1 burger is named for co-owner Sarah Chapman’s grandfather, who developed Industrial Air Park where the restaurant is located.
2. Kreggers Tap and Table 
3. Iron Horse Restaurant
August 22, 2022
10:27 AM
1910 Byrd Ave., Suite 100
Richmond, VA 23230
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