Where to Eat Near Richmond’s Convention Center
The neighborhood surrounding the Greater Richmond Convention Center hasn’t traditionally been considered a trendy dining destination. But this district, with its vintage storefronts that recall a time when men wore fedoras and women wore white gloves, is experiencing a remarkable renaissance. Cosmopolitan eateries are popping up left and right, bringing more people -- and restaurants -- to the area at a rapid clip. Here, you’ll now find everything from the perfect over-easy eggs to small-plates and fine dining hot spots, each optimizing the ingredients and rich culinary traditions of the region. So if it’s been a while since you’ve visited Virginia’s capital city, do yourself a favor and make time to savor Richmond’s delicious downtown revival.
If you’re in the mood for a post-conference nibble or a well-crafted cocktail, sit at the mahogany and granite bar and graze on small plates from the bar menu. Choices include pimento cheese served with local bread, a filet mignon burger and sushi-grade ahi tuna crudo -- 3 bar dishes that show just how versatile this kitchen can be.
2. Mama J’s
The $8 weekday lunch special might bring chicken and dumplings, beef tips or barbecued chicken, and usually includes a side and a drink. If you plan to stay and eat at the bar or one of the few tables, be prepared to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Takeout is always an option, but most people agree that either way, it’s worth the wait.
This place is smoking hot at the moment, so reservations are recommended if you’re tempted by chef Jason Alley’s local, Southern-inspired shareable small plates and entrees, or the bar’s all-draft beer selection. Two popular options are the pimento cheese spread served with Ritz crackers and the cheeseburger; a seafood stew with house-made seafood sausage also has been flying out of the kitchen. But keep in mind that local cooking means the menu changes with the seasons. Desserts also rotate: Be on the lookout for the South Boston cream pie or the seasonal candy bar, such as their elevated take on the Mounds.
Open for breakfast and lunch only, this diner, decked with old-timey wooden booths and pendant lights, abounds with charming touches: Each table has its own vintage lamp, and your waitress might call you “Hon’” or “Sweet Pea” as she refills your coffee. Food comes out fast, and breakfast is served all day. You also might catch a star noshing on those beloved biscuits – word has it that actor Paul Giamatti became a fan of Perly’s while filming the HBO series John Adams in the Richmond area. Can you blame him?
While this is a seafood-focused restaurant, chef Dylan Fultineer is no one-trick-pony; he’s equally adept at cooking non-seafood items on the open kitchen’s wood-fire grill. But a visit here would be incomplete without a sampling of the masterfully prepared oysters, and perhaps octopus or a beautiful Kona Kampachi crudo with beets and basil. Dessert is a simple affair here, with usually only 2 offerings and a cheese plate on the menu -- although there are plans to add more to the lineup, which means you’ll just have to come back.