Over the past decade, Richmond has been cultivating a roster of restaurants and chefs that would make any city blush. Virginia’s capital has some of the east coast’s best seafood, tacos, ethnic-inspired dishes, and more. But where Richmond really shines is in its chefs’ take on traditional southern food. From braised greens to pork chops, the southern food scene is as delicious as it is varied. So get on over to RVA (that’s residents’ code Richmond, Virginia), and indulge in southern cuisine like never before.
The Roosevelt may only be a few years old, but it landed in Richmond with a splash. Chef Lee Gregory as named a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic Region in 2014, and more accolades have poured in since. Housed in an early 1900’s-era building in Richmond’s oldest neighborhood (Church Hill), the restaurant puts an elegant, but unpretentious twist on southern cooking with dishes like roasted swordfish with black lentils and bacon butter.
A trio of partners bring a wealth of experience to Richmond’s most popular southern restaurant, but chief bartender and beverage program crafter Mattias Hägglund can be a draw all on his own. A Richmond native, Hägglund has developed an expertise on the history of mixology, using it to delicious effect in his award-winning cocktails – try the Holy Mole for something that combines both local and exotic flavors.
As one of the oldest among Richmond’s modern southern restaurants, Julep’s has been around to experience the city’s culinary transformation from a steak-and-seafood town to one that celebrates local, seasonal ingredients and creativity. Recently, the restaurant transformed itself, finding a new location downtown, and new menu, and bringing in new Executive Chef Matthew Tlusty. One example of change? A locally-inspired version of Carbonara (playfully called Karbanara), featuring local kale and Virginia ham.
Saison’s rotating menu of seasonally-inspired southern dishes are the brainchild of two friends from rural Virginia, who have made it there mission to combine classic southern cooking techniques and modern creativity, with a dash of Central American flavor mixed in. Located in the historic neighborhood of Jackson Ward, the diner feels a little bit rustic, and a lot charming. Currently, we’re drooling over the Rohan duck breast with roasted beets and blackberry jam!
Can’t decide between The Roosevelt or Heritage? How about Southbound, which is a collaboration between the owner/chefs of the two (plus local farmer Matt Gottwald). In 2015, Bon Appetit named Southbound to its list of 50 nominees for America’s Best New Restaurant, and who could blame them? With dishes featuring pork belly meatballs and burgers topped with bacon-tomato jam served in a warm, inviting environment, it’s sure to make similar lists in the future!
About Brian Beard
Brian Beard is the owner of River City Food Tours in Richmond, Virginia. His walking food tours allow both residents and visitors of Richmond to explore the city’s diverse culinary scene and history.”