Hometown Travel: Great Richmond Restaurants

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Last night I was watching (on DVD) an episode from the first season of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show. I’m not sure I’ll watch any more of it, he’s a little crass, but I enjoy food shows. In this episode he was traveling back to his home state, New Jersey (insert snide comment here). I won’t go into how half my college was from NJ, so I know they can’t all be bad, and I’ve never really been there except to drive to New York and to drop off Ashley once. ANYWAY, what I thought was interesting was the going back to places in your hometown.

Way out in Chesterfield county, in the part where I lived growing up, we didn’t have much in terms of local restraunteurs. Anything good was at least a 15-minute drive, and those were mostly chains. I’d say at least 50 % of the time when we ate out, it was at Applebee’s, because that was the only thing close. When they started to build up a little, we also had a Ledo’s Pizza and a Chinese restaurant not too far away. And hey, there was always Ukrop’s, except you couldn’t go there for lunch after church (they’re closed on Sundays).
When I went to school, however, I was blessed with being much closer to downtown and to wonderful thing I like to call not-chain restaurants. Now I am no food snob, but Pizza Hut just doesn’t have the same atmosphere as, say, Uncle Gio’s down the street in Nashville.
Anyway, if I were to take people on a tour of my hometown favorites in Richmond, here’s where we would go:
Full Kee (6400 Horsepen Rd.). After spending six weeks in China I was confronted with the fact that no Chinese restaurant in Richmond–or much elsewhere–has actual Chinese food. It’s all Americanized. And though I have found no place that can satisfy my craving for tie ban niu rou, Full Kee is the only place I’ve been to that is pretty authentic. On our first trip back to Richmond from Nashville, we stopped by the house, threw Chester out of the car, and zoomed right back to Full Kee for my birthday dinner. Yummmm.
Galaxy Diner (3109 W. Cary St.). Maybe it’s just me, but I loved being served by someone with pink hair and multiple face piercings in a place with sliding glass doors and a 50s space theme. The chili cheeseburgers and fried pickles help too. I miss Carytown so much I can’t even think about it. I love how Nashville is open all night, and it’s not so scary to be downtown as compared to Richmond, but Carytown has a certain flair that I haven’t found in Nashville. As far as I can tell, there is no World of Mirth here.
Su Casa Mexican Cafe (4013 Broad St.). I don’t know why it’s so much better than other Mexican places in Richmond–maybe because it’s miniscule, has awesome salsa, and is owned by Greeks, so you can have your enchiladas and baklava for dessert. But it was definitely me and my mom’s favorite little Mexican haunt. Also Mexico Restaurant was also very, very good.
Strawberry Street Cafe (421 Strawberry St.). Oh, the wonder. Awesome quiche. Wonderful desserts. And a salad bar in a bathtub. Love at first sight. And it’s only about three minutes from Gordon’s, a great jazz club on Lombardy St.
And of course, what trip to Richmond would be complete without a dressed-up dinner at The Tobacco Company? (1201 E. Cary St.) This restaurant holds a lot of history for our family–my parents went there the day they bought our house in VA, Mr. V and I went there for our first dating anniversary, and it is the home of Mr. V’s favorite hamburger ever. It’s beautiful, it has insane amounts of character, and it’s probably the only fancy restaurant I ever ate at in Richmond. 🙂 If you get prime rib, they bring you seconds for free. The seafood is sooo good. I could go on and on….but you should just go.
Hope you enjoyed your virtual tour. Take notes for if you ever visit my hometown!

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