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Critics' Favorite Hideaway: Lamplighter Roasting Co.

Lamplighter Roasting Company is known for its latte, but food and dessert are equally appealing. Photo by Ash Daniel.

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It's not just because Eric Ripert has latte'd there, but Lamplighter's cachet ratchets up with every repeat visit. Desserts are fresh and fun. We dig the sandwiches and deviled eggs. And the coffee is exquisitely roasted. The free-form garage space has handmade character that's a bike-up, walk-over magnet for all kinds of people looking for a good place to hang.

“I am so taken with Lamplighter,” reviewer Robey Martin writes. “I love the college look and vibe. I actually think I might absorb intelligence whilst sipping a hot brew there. If it is possible to gain hip points, this is the place that would have some to spare. It is a simple concept. Put good coffee with solid shop-style food, sell it at prices your general public can afford and offer options that your vegan and vegetarian alternatives can appreciate.

“Homemade vanilla syrup in a full-fat latte? A contemporary coffee high five. Made-to-order cheesy macaroni with a spicy vegan chorizo? A faddish food win. A sandwich that makes good use of grilled leeks, fennel and asparagus, deftly pairing vegetables that couldn't be more incongruous? Stylish sandwich victory.

“I have yet to visit the repurposed gas station that it isn't packed with scenesters, hipsters (I hesitate to use this word) and rock stars. I expect the long line to order my locally roasted coffee. I am happy to chat with the friendly servers about a band I've never heard of or receive a book recommendation (all three books have been great reads). This is my top place in Richmond right now. It is fresh. It is current. And for those of us that bubble-sit on our street etiquette, modern is served as a side with every dish.”

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