My Favorite Restaurants of Richmond: VA's Food Scene

One of the greatest privileges going to a school integrated into a city, like Richmond, VA, is the vast amount of choice at our fingertips. We’re not limited to the standard Jimmy Johns and Dominoes (which are all amazing chains...don’t get me wrong) but we have local restaurants and cafes that are all one of a kind. As a self-proclaimed Richmonder, after attending school in this city for about three years I’ve narrowed down my favorite restaurants and why they’re so near and dear to my heart. Here are my top seven Richmond restaurants (in no particular order) and exactly why I love them.

Thai Top Ten

When I first visited Richmond back in the day, the first restaurant I ate at was Thai Top Ten. From the outside, it seems like a bit of a hole in the wall, but upon entrance, the reddish-orange walls and Thai art decor drew me in. The environment just felt old school, laid back and comforting in a sense. I got my favorite (and also the most basic Thai dish), pad thai. It was perfectly spicy, slightly sweet, and classic with no bells and whistles attempting to impress, yet moutherwateringly delicious. For me, it’s the perfect comfort food and every time I eat it, I’m brought back to my first visit to Richmond. I’m a sucker for Thai food and this is by far my favorite take-out Thai.

Greenbriar Cafe

Greenbriar Cafe is my home away from home. It’s where I study, get a quick delicious bite to eat or grab my morning vanilla, almond milk latte. Their menu items are dubbed after well-known Richmond streets which gives it a local feel, not to mention almost all their ingredients are locally and farm sourced. My favorite item on the menu is the Main Street, a unique take on the classic BLT sandwich. It’s hands down the best BLT I’ve had in Richmond to date, comprised of uber crispy bacon (stacked high), mixed greens, roasted tomatoes, avocado and basil mayo all atop fresh sourdough. I also adore their smoked salmon bagel, it’s to die for. The restaurant is co-owned by married couple Meredyth Temple and Chef Julius Green and they’ve truly brought their vision of a cozy cafe combined with gourmet eats to life with Greenbriar Cafe, my Richmond go-to.

Fighting Fish

Ever since I traveled to Hawaii last summer, I crave fresh fish all the time, especially tuna in particular. I discovered Fighting Fish a while back, as I’ve always been a sushi lover, but I’ve recently been going there more often when I decided to try their irresistible poke bowls after my trip. My favorite order is the Hawaiian and spicy tuna bowl with all the essential fixings. Half of the tuna is marinated in a sweet, acidic, Hawaiian inspired sauce and the other half in a spicy, mayo-based sauce. It has sushi rice, mango, avocado, pickled onions, cucumber, and ginger, seaweed salad and masago and it’s my ideal sushi-esque dish. It has a perfect balance of all my favorite flavors and not to mention, the restaurant's atmosphere is charming and intimate (not to say that I don’t order take out all the time!).

Buz and Ned’s

Buz and Ned’s is my homey barbecue joint, where I know I can get guaranteed-good Southern comfort food (me being a half Southern Virginian gal). It's barbecue at its best, bringing down-to-earth Southern comfort to the heart of Richmond, what can be considered a Southern city. My go-to order is the savory pulled pork sandwich married with crunchy, yet creamy coleslaw. On the side, I order potato salad with fried okra (to die for). I love eating this barbecue in the outside seating area equipped with wooden tables and benches, on a sunny day. Every time my parents visit, it’s our go-to place and simply can’t be replaced.

Proper Pie Co.

My favorite pie in the world is coconut cream pie and Proper Pie Co. does it perfectly. I could easily not have a sweet tooth craving, but if someone mentions Proper Pie Co., I’m ready to go. My mouth waters thinking about the chocolate cream and coffee toffee pies, or a classic slice of apple pie topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. With a new daily menu every day, I love the chance to try new pies whenever I go, always usually reverting to my trusty coconut cream pie. They also have savory pies, my favorite being the mince and cheese. Before Proper Pie, I'd never had a savory pie unless you count the Marie Callender’s frozen chicken pot pies, but this savory treat was life-changing. It’s so rich, creamy, cheesy and has the perfect umami flavor with the hardiness of the beef, all encapsulated in a warm, buttery and flaky crust. I truly can’t get a slice of pie as delicious anywhere else, making Proper Pie a cornerstone Richmond establishment.

Greek on Cary

When I’m craving fresh Mediterranean food, I know exactly where to go. Greek on Cary is a quintessential Richmond restaurant, that everyone knows and loves. It’s simple, fresh homemade Greek food in the heart of Carytown. My favorite dishes are the calamari with cherry peppers and the filet kabob with a side of rice pilaf, grilled vegetables and choban salad. The filet kabob is perfectly seared and medium rare in the middle, with warm pilaf and charred veggies on the side that tie it all together. It’s down-to-earth Greek cooking, always leaving your heart and belly full as ever.

Edo’s Squid

Last, but definitely not least, is my favorite, Edo’s. This may be one of my fave Richmond restaurants by far (as of right now). I have a lot of fond memories at this quaint, yet bustling with life old school Italian joint. I have a passion for authentic Italian food and Edo’s meets that criteria. It’s the best date night spot, birthday spot and dinner on any day of the week spot; basically, I’d literally find any reason to go to Edo’s. Walking into the restaurant can be a bit overwhelming and hectic, but as an Edo’s veteran, I always know that the wait is worth it. My favorite spot is the lefthand corner table next to the window where you get a good view of the hustle and bustle of Harrison Street. Dimly lit with candles, it provides a balanced atmosphere that’s both calm and exciting. My favorite dishes to get at Edo’s are the fried squid (calamari) as a starter, with a generous amount of lemon squeezed on top, and the mussels in a spicy marinara as my main. Be sure to get dessert; the tiramisu is unparalleled in richness and that distinct, quality espresso flavor.

Richmond is a foodie city on the rise. Its restaurants have a distinct identity that’s globally inspired, yet have an extremely local feel to them (most sourced with local ingredients and are locally owned). Restaurants in this city truly feel like they belong to Richmond solely, and that’s what makes the food scene so special. I hope reading this made you hungry because I know for certain that writing it did. Mark Richmond on the map for your next trip and try any of the amazing local restaurants or if you currently live here, be sure to add these to your list of favorites.

 

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