OK, this is less a full coverage of the possibilities of dining in Richmond and more “Hey! I was in Richmond recently and happened to take pictures of these things that I ate! Yay!” (emphasis on the “yay”). I mean, I’ve got my staples that I like to hit in Richmond because I can’t find them anywhere else.
The big one is the mock sesame chicken at Panda Garden.
So I’ve been gorging on Panda Garden ever since I lived half a block away from it back in college. It’s been through a bit of history as well – the original location burnt down and they reopened a new all-vegetarian restaurant called Panda Veg across the street after that. And, just recently it seems, they started serving meat again and reverted back to the name “Panda Garden.” I love meat as much as the next omnivore, but pretty much the only thing I ever eat from there is the mock sesame chicken because it’s so incredibly amazing. I think of it less as “fake chicken” and more “delicious moist balls of joy and happiness in my mouth.” So amazing. Have yet to find anything like it anywhere else.
So, this next one is totally not related to Richmond at all. Go just an hour east of Richmond and you’ll find in the town of Williamsburg, AKA Land of Breeches, Poofy Dresses, and Outlet Malls. And, of course, amazing barbecue.
I’m sorry that the above picture is so grainy – I was lightheaded from lack of meat at the time, which greatly affected my photo-taking skills. Anyhow, Pierce’s BBQ is freaking amazing. It’s all sweet and smoky and delightful. There’s a bottle of Pierce’s BBQ sauce sitting in my fridge right now, to help me cope with the fact that the real thing is 1,500 miles away. The fries are, well, fries. Tasty, but nothing to write home (or write on a blog) about. Pierce’s sweet potato fries are apparently amazing, according to people who are into that sort of thing. But sweet potatoes and I are still in the early part of a friendship – we brush up against each other in hallways then give each other funny looks – so I cannot truly speak to the alleged deliciousness of the fries.
So while I was in Richmond, I heard rumors of a gingerbread stout, made locally by Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. It became a mini-obsession while I was there. I had to figure out a place where I could drink it to make my life complete. I got to hang out with my friend Scott on Christmas Eve, and he became my partner in crime in finding a bar that served this stout. This soon turned into just trying to find a bar that was open, period (did I mention it was Christmas Eve?). Just when we were about to give up, we happened to pass by The Camel on Broad St. And, lo and behold, not only were they open, but they carried the gingerbread stout.
The stout was…OK. I wanted it to taste more like gingerbread and less like stout. But this is my complaint about all beers that supposedly have flavor. The beer is mostly interesting due to the story surrounding it. Seems that Christmas Eve is a rather strange time to go to a bar. We’re sitting there up at the bar, just drinking our beer and talking, when some dude in a Pikachu hat wanders in off the street and gets a water. I compliment him on his sweet hat, whereupon he sits down and starts talking to us. Have you ever talked to someone while they were on acid? Imagine someone who has done so much acid that this is simply how they talk all the time now, due to what I’m sure are a crapload of neurons in their head being fried together. Imagine a New Age guru who learned everything he knows from Pokemon and Avatar The Last Airbender. That was this kid. To be honest, it was pretty fascinating – my luck usually gets me the creepy-crazy types, so this was a refreshing change. Kid had no place to stay that night, so Scott lent Pikachu (the name he went by, incidentally) his couch for the night.
And, in summary, Richmond is renowned for it’s delightful cuisine and bizarre homeless people.