City Cheat Sheet: Richmond, Virginia
The Scout Guide Richmond Editor Cheney Edmunds photographed at the Quirk Hotel. Photograph by Kate Thompson of Betty Clicker Photography.
A revitalized city brimming with fashionable boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and distinct art galleries, Richmond has rightfully earned its spot on the map as a hip Southern city that is worth a weekend visit. A Virginia girl through and through, The Scout Guide Richmond Editor Cheney Edmunds grew up in Norfolk and visited Richmond often during her school days at Randolph-Macon College. After moving back to the area four years ago, Cheney was overcome with excitement seeing a new and improved Richmond.
“I adore the city’s rich history, beautiful architecture, and diverse population,” she says. “Richmond’s vibrant art culture, amazing food scene, live music and festivals, and great shopping make every weekend full of fun and exploration. There’s never a dull moment!”
Here, our Richmond Editor sets the agenda of where to go and what to do while visiting The River City.
WHERE TO STAY
Located downtown, The Jefferson Hotel (101 West Franklin Street) is a Richmond icon with its dramatic Beaux Arts architecture, beautifully appointed suites, and fine dining. Recently renovated, posh guest rooms offer plenty of space for R&R after a long day of sight-seeing. Cheney recommends unwinding by hitting up the hotel’s bar, Lemaire, for happy hour cocktails and a cheeseburger.
Perfectly situated in Richmond’s vibrant Arts District, the new boutique art hotel Quirk Hotel (201 West Broad Street) is a hub for the creative community. From grabbing a cocktail at the rooftop bar to dining at Maple & Pine and perusing the onsite art gallery and gift shop, there’s plenty of excitement within the hotel. Plus, Cheney offers this pro tip: If you use the promo code SCOUT when you book, you’ll get a 15 percent discount off the price of your stay through December 2017.
WHERE TO EAT
BREAKFAST // Cheney’s all-time favorite breakfast spot is The Dairy Bar (1602 Roseneath Road), a greasy spoon tucked in the hip Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Known for their filling breakfasts and milkshakes, the eatery is a Richmond institution.
BRUNCH // The RVA hot-spot Millie’s Diner (2603 East Main Street) is well worth the wait to get a table. Order the Devil’s Mess or Cheney’s favorite, the soft scrambled eggs with lobster. In the Jackson Ward neighborhood, the fried chicken biscuit at Saison Market (323 North Adams Street) has a well-deserved following, but you can’t go wrong with any of the eatery’s offerings. If southern comfort is calling your name, head to Lunch and Supper (1213 and 1215 Summit Avenue), sister restaurants that have a down-home feel and serve up classics like chicken and waffles and biscuits smothered in sausage and bacon gravy.
LUNCH // For raw vegan and gluten-free fare, the Jackson Ward cafe Nettie’s Naturally (100 West Clay Street) has an array of healthy options from smoothie bowls to quiche, along with their signature desserts. Local grocer Ellwood Thompson’s (4 North Thompson Street) is a perfect place for a quick bite to eat with a sushi counter, grain bowl counter, and an amazing selection of dishes at their hot bar and salad bar. Thursday through Saturday, the Near West End seafood and meat market Yellow Umbrella Provisions (5603 Patterson Avenue) whips up a sandwich du jour, which ranges from a lobster roll to fried pork loin. If a picnic is on the agenda, grab tasty accoutrements like their shrimp cheese ball, crackers, and a bottle of wine.
DINNER // Richmond’s new Shagbark (4901 Libbie Mill East Boulevard) eatery takes locavore beyond the plate, as the restaurant is beautifully decked out in decor crafted by local artisans. Chef Walter Bundy’s menu is a cornucopia of the Commonwealth, featuring an array of fresh seafood culled from the Chesapeake and produce grown at nearby farms. Tucked in the Fan, Acacia Mid-town (2601 West Cary Street) makes fine dining approachable and is a favorite for locals due to fresh continental fare and tasty cocktails. Carytown’s East Coast Provisions (3411 West Cary Street) is Cheney’s favorite haunt for happy hour, thanks to their margaritas and oysters. Mama J’s (415 North 1st Street) is RVA’s go-to for soul food—Cheney recommends the collards and catfish. Church Hill’s neighborhood restaurant and bar The Roosevelt (623 North 25th Street) puts its own special twist on Southern food — dishes like ramp sausage with cheese grits and poutine with pimento cheese. For late-night bites, Richmond’s beloved eatery Heritage (1627 West Main Street) now offers drink specials and snacks from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
WHERE TO DRINK
COFFEE // Richmonders love a good cup of coffee, and there is no shortage of locally owned coffee shops in the city. In Carytown, Cheney enjoys Can Can Brasserie (3120 West Cary Street) for the people-watching. Designed to look like an authentic Parisian cafe, it’s the perfect place to grab a croissant and cup of espresso. A few blocks from Can Can, you’ll find Sugar & Twine (2928 West Cary Street), where along with coffee, there are plenty of confections and fresh baked goods. With three locations spread throughout the city, you have plenty of opportunities to visit the hip Lamplighter Coffee Roasters (1719 Summit Avenue, 116 South Addison Street, 26 North Morris Street), which also offers an array of tasty sandwiches and sweet treats. If you are in the Virginia Commonwealth University area, be sure to swing into Alchemy Coffee (814 West Broad Street), which is housed in the old Arts Depot. If you’re wandering through the Arts District, you can get your caffeine fix at Lift (218 West Broad Street), which is also a fun lunch spot where Cheney recommends “The Works,” a lox bagel sandwich.
WATERING HOLES // In the past five years Richmond’s craft beer scene has exploded, growing from a handful of microbreweries to now nearly 30. Tucked in Scott’s Addition, Ardent Craft Ales (3200 West Leigh Street) brews classic style beers that range from a friendly farmhouse ale to a dark rye stout. Around the bend, The Veil (1301 Roseneath Road) is the go-to for hop enthusiasts as they serve mostly IPAs and embrace high-gravity barrel aging. East of town in Fulton Hill, Triple Crossing Brewing Co.’s second taproom and production facility (5203 Hatcher Street) pairs its brew with brick oven pizza made on site by Billy Bread. For a listing of all the area’s brewery offerings, be sure to use the Richmond Beer Trail as your guide.
If spirits are your preference, pop into Reservoir Distillery (1800 Summit Avenue) for whiskey tasting, or James River Distillery (2700 Hardy Street) to sip on Øster Vit, an Aquavit distilled using discarded shells from Rappahannock River Oysters.
WHERE TO SHOP
Downtown, the haberdashery Ledbury (315 West Broad Street) is the place to shop for fashion-forward men thanks to their tailored button-ups and sport coats, along with an array of handsome accessories. A few blocks away, the women’s boutique Verdalina (325 West Broad Street) focuses on sustainable and American-made attire, while neighboring Mod & Soul (323 West Broad Street) has trendy boho-chic garb. Across Broad Street, Blue Bones Vintage clothing boutique and Steady Sounds record shop share a brick-and-mortar location (322 West Broad Street) where they house a trove of old-school treasures.
In Carytown, Cheney enjoys shopping at Traveling Chic Boutique (3143 West Cary Street), a store where both mothers and daughters can both find fun and affordable pieces. Down the road in the River Road Shopping Center, stock up on closet staples at Monkee’s of Richmond (5003 Huguenot Road), where you’ll find feminine favorites like Free People, Milly, and Alexis.
Plan to spend some time in the Libbie Grove area, where Libbie and Grove Avenues intersect. Must-visit stores include CCH Collection (5718 Grove Avenue), which offers a selection of chic, versatile pieces designed by the owner. For upscale accessories and clothing (including items for kids), stop by Nellie George (5714 Grove Avenue), and be sure to say hello to shop dogs Nellie and George while you’re there. In this shopping district you’ll also find longtime favorites The Shoebox (401 Libbie Avenue, Suite 3), which has been providing Richmonders with stylish footwear for more than 25 years, and Carreras Jewelers (121 Libbie Avenue), which sells gorgeous fine jewelry and estate pieces and is celebrating 50 years in business.
If you’re shopping for the younger set, 1Z2Z3Z (5720 Patterson Avenue) has a playful duds and accessories for babies and toddlers, along with fun nursery décor. For tween fashion, nearby clara b. (5716 Patterson Avenue) sells cute age-appropriate clothes for girls.
For the home, visit Gilt and Ash (5730 Patterson Ave) for gifts and unique accents for your abode, Sheppard Street Antiques (1126 North Boulevard) for a mix of vintage furnishings and garden adornments, Verve Home Furnishings (4903 West Leigh Street) for far-out finds and statement pieces, Church Hill’s Dear Neighbor boutique (2415 Jefferson Avenue) for highly curated gifts, Crème de la Crème in Carytown (3156 West Cary Street) for beautiful linens and pieces that reflect a European flair, and Roaring Pines (2025 Venable Street), a coffee-bar-meets-soda-fountain that also sells American-made wares.
If you’re seeking a housewarming gift, graduation gift, or a present for pretty much any occasion, pay a visit to Tweed (4035 Lauderdale Drive) in Short Pump, where you can have your purchases personalized with a monogram. And if you have time for a jaunt out of town, Midlothian’s Gather (920 Mount Hermon Road) is just a 25-minute drive from downtown. Located off the beaten bath, this magical farmhouse sells locally made goods and art, and serves tasty boxed lunches.
WHERE TO EXPERIENCE THE ARTS SCENE
With Richmond’s new contemporary CURRENT Art Fair debuting just last year, the city’s art scene is on fire. RVA First Fridays is an excellent way to experience the downtown Arts District, as you can cover a lot of ground in an evening. Off West Main Street in The Fan, Page Bond Gallery (1625 West Main Street), Glave Kocen Gallery (1620 West Main Street), and Reynolds Gallery (1514 West Main Street) each offer distinct perspectives of contemporary art with pieces by local and national artists alike. For locally made screen-printed posters and textiles that make the perfect Richmond souvenir, swing into the nonprofit art center Studio Two Three (3300 West Clay Street). The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 North Boulevard) is always worth a visit, but this summer it’s a must-see thanks to the Yves Saint Laurent show on display through the end of August. Last but not least, Virginia Commonwealth University’s much-anticipated Institute for Contemporary Art (818 West Broad Street) is slated to open later this year.
For more information on what to do and see in Richmond, Virginia, follow TSG Richmond on Instagram.