Special/Signature Issues » ii

Favorite 52

A year's worth of options all over the map. Our annual critics' picks.

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Acacia Mid-town  A deft touch with seafood, meats and desserts with
prix fixe options. Cocktails a specialty, James Beard-nominated chef. 2601 W. Cary St. 562-0138. http://www.acaciarestaurant.com

Amici Ristorante  Upscale dining in a two-story townhouse with classic northern Italian fare, wines, longtime staff. 3343 W. Cary St. 353-4700. http://www.amiciristorante.net

Amour Wine Bistro  Specialty gastronomic concept with fixed-price lunch, dinner and weekend brunch paired with select wines. Menu changes weekly. 3129 W. Cary St. 353-4020. http://www.amourwinebistro.com

Amuse  Playful appetizers, cocktails, desserts and new American cuisine in bright setting, balcony seating and attentive service. 200 N. Boulevard in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. 340-1580. http://vmfa.museum

Anokha Unique Cuisine of India  Chic and creative Indian food prepared to order in upscale suburban setting. 4015 Lauderdale Drive. 360-8686. http://www.anokha.us

Aziza's on Main  Thin-crust pizzas, meats, local foods with a Lebanese twist, cream puffs and more from focused chef-owner in casual cafe. 2110 E. Main St. 344-1523. http://www.azizasonmain.com

Bacchus  A very-Fan staple for pasta, seafood, cocktails and wines in a longtime corner cafe. 2 N. Meadow St. 355-9919. http://www.bacchusonmain.com

Balkan Restaurant  Tiny winner with stuffed burger, hearty ethnic foods, friendly and knowledgeable service. 8905 Patterson Ave. 754-2255.

Balliceaux  Fan favorite for local foods, cocktails, live music, stellar design and a be-seen atmosphere. 203 N. Lombardy St. 355-3008. http://www.balliceauxrva.com

Belle Vie  Buttery bistro for Belgian chef with French fare, wines, a frou-frou fantasy in the 'burbs. 1244 Alverser Plaza. 379-3338. http://www.bellevieva.com

Bistro 27  Airy street-view dining room with classic pasta, Euro flavors, meats specialty, service with finesse, notable chef. 27 W. Broad St. 780-0086. http://www.bistrotwentyseven.com

Bistro Bobette  Sure-fire French bistro fare with classic flavors, choice ingredients, notable chef, wines. 1209 E. Main St. 225-9116. http://www.bistrobobette.com

The Black Sheep  Popular-for-a-reason, tasty and affordable full-service neighborhood cafAc. Save room for dessert. 901 W. Marshall St. 648-1300. http://www.theblacksheeprva.com

CafAc Rustica  Unique, high-flavor favorite with schnitzel, seafood, salads, creative entrAce specials, wines. Value and intimacy in downtown bistro. 414 E. Main St. 225-8811.

Can Can Brasserie  Showy Carytown hot spot for cocktails, wines, raw bar, seasonal French classic dishes, frites, breads, chattering masses. 3120 W. Cary St. 358-7274. http://www.cancanbrasserie.com

Chez Foushee  Old-school elegance, seasonal menu, sophisticated favorite for weekday lunch and weekend drinks and dinner. 203 N. Foushee St. 648-3225. http://www.chezfoushee.com

Comfort  Perennial favorite for meatloaf, southern sides, desserts, extensive whiskeys and rustic charm. 200 W. Broad St. 780-0004. http://www.comfortrestaurant.com

Cous Cous  Tagines, meze, mediterranean and Moroccan menu and dAccor. Late-night music and bar scene. 900 W. Franklin St. 358-0868. http://www.couscous900.com

Croaker's Spot  Manchester highlight with renovated dining rooms, famous fried fish and soul food. Smooth service and busy. 1020 Hull St. 269-0464. http://www.croakersspot.com

Da Lat  Popular, affordable Vietnamese with wide menu, friendly service, booths, full bar. 9125 W. Broad St. 762-9330. http://www.dalatvirginia.com

Dot's Back Inn  Burgers and roadhouse comfort food, regulars at the bar, brews and noise. Kid friendly with a retro vibe. 4030 MacArthur Ave. 266-3167. http://www.dotsback.com

Edo's Squid  Beloved upstairs dining room for seafood, pasta, wines, salt and garlic. Expect a discerning crowd. 411 N. Harrison St. 864-5488. 

The Empress  Quirky-good small plates, savories to sweets, in casual handcrafted cafAc with caring service. 2043 W. Broad St. 592-4000. http://www.theempressrva.com

Garnett's CafAc  Quaint retro luncheonette with soups, sandwiches, coffee and pastries, personalized service. Beer and wine. 2001 Park Ave. 367-7909. http://www.garnettscafe.com

Ipanema CafAc  Best vegetarian with changing, inventive menu in cozy cellar; desserts, bar, music and staying power. 917 W. Grace St. 213-0190. http://www.ipanemaveg.com

Julep's New Southern Cuisine  Quality, seasonal ingredients, creative plates and cocktails in historic charmer with romantic edge. 1719 E. Franklin St. 377-3968. http://www.juleps.net

Kuba Kuba  Bustling bodega with hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner, seafood to meats, famous tres leches cake. Expect a crowd. 1601 Park Ave. 355-8817. http://www.kubakuba.info

La Grotta  Upscale cellar-level long-timer with full-blown Italian menu and extensive wines. 1218 E. Cary St. 644-2466. http://www.lagrottaristorante.com

Lamplighter Roasting Company  Laid-back coffeehouse with sandwiches, desserts,  indoor-outdoor seating and local art. 116 S. Addison St. 728-2292. http://www.tallbikecoffee.com

Lemaire  Showy setting, stellar regional foods, cocktails, wines, range of price points from notable chef. A must-try classic in the Jefferson Hotel. 101 W. Franklin St. 788-8000. http://www.lemairerestaurant.com

Little Venice  Old world meets West End; well-executed, traditional dishes; experienced staff. Upscale pricing, strong service, suburban. 10482 Ridgefield Parkway. 741-6022.

LuLu's  Restaurant  Urban cafAc with comfort-food roots, tasty and fun. Music, desserts, cocktails. Brunch takes reservations. 21 N. 17th St. 343-9771. http://www.lu-lusrichmond.com

Mamma 'Zu  Italian perfection from chef with regional following; changing blackboard menu, no-frills setting, good wines. Cash or Amex.  501 S. Pine St. 788-4205.

Mezzanine  Trend-conscious seasonal bistro fare, seafood to meats, cocktails and crowds in Carytown two-level charmer with patio. 3433 W. Cary St. 353-2186. http://www.mezzanine3433.com

Mekong  Superior beer selection and tasty Vietnamese food from longtime local favorite, affordable, low-key atmosphere. 6004 W. Broad St. 288-8929. http://www.mekongva.com

Millie's Diner  Satisfyingly serious meats and seafood with casual attitude; one of Richmond's must-try classics; busy brunch, quality jukebox. 2603 E. Main St. 643-5512. http://www.milliesdiner.com

Mosaic CafAc  Updated West End eatery with clean flavors for lunch and dinner, desserts, bar and table service. 6229 River Road. 288-7482. http://www.mosaicedibles.com

Osaka Sushi & Steak  Serene and consistent, popular for sushi and grilled meats, gracious service, jazzy design. 5023 Huguenot Road. 288-8801. http://www.osakasushiva.com

Patina Grill  Rare independent in Short Pump, seasonal menus with international flavors, cocktails and warm service. 3416 Lauderdale Drive. 360-8217. http://www.patinagrill.com

Pescados  Latin and Caribbean seafood cheerfully presented in a casual suburban cafAc. 13126 Midlothian Turnpike. 379-7121. pescadosseafood.com  Also, Pescados China Street, 626 China St. 644-3474. http://www.pescadoschinastreet.com

Q Barbeque  Clean counter-service with brisket, corn pudding, pineapple hot dish, pulled pork and chicken from pit master champion, beer. 2077 Walmart Way, Midlothian. 897-9007. http://www.qbarbeque.com

Rowland Fine Dining  Daily spring roll, soup and fish choices, seasonal entrees, desserts, drinks and brunch in a gracious Fan highlight. 2132 W. Main St. 257-9885. http://www.rowlandfinedining.com

Secco Wine Bar  Personality and customers, food-forward staff, inventive notable chef, value-driven wines in small street-front corner. Cheese and charcuterie spot-on. 2933 W. Cary St. 353-0670. http://www.seccowinebar.com

Sensi Italian Chop House  Fine cuisine in Shockoe Bottom; prime steaks, pasta, desserts and cocktails, top chef. 2222 E. Cary St. 648-3463. http://www.sensirestaurant.com

Six Burner Restaurant  Gourmand favorite with changing menu, seasonal flair, popular short ribs in relaxed Fan setting with bar. 1627 W. Main St. 353-4060. http://www.sixburner.net

Stronghill Dining Company  Innovative design, eclectic comfort foods, moderate prices, cocktails, brunch, casual approach. 1200 N. Boulevard. 359-0202. http://www.strongillrestaurant.com

Tarrant's CafAc  Downtown be-seen for all-purpose eating and drinking, hummus to pizzas to seafood, Sunday brunch, desserts, great bartenders. 1 W. Broad St. 225-0035. http://www.tarrantscafe.org

Tastebuds American Bistro  Moderately priced changing menu of pastas and meats, cocktails and wines in cozy neighborhood cafAc. 4019 MacArthur Ave. 261-6544. http://www.tastebudsamericanbistro.com

TJ's  Lemaire's deservedly popular sibling; well-executed American fare from breakfast to apps at the bar. Business lunch standout. 101 W. Franklin St. 788-8000. http://www.jeffersonhotel.com

Umi Sushi Bistro  Short Pump's strong point for sushi. Friendly service, attractive setting, fresh product and flavor. 11645 W. Broad St. 360-2077. http://www.umisushibistro.com

Wild Ginger  Fun, upscale option for Chesterfield and Powhatan; smart bar for wines and cocktails, sushi, flavorful menu, excellent service. 3734 Winterfield Road. 378-4988. http://www.wildgingerva.com

Zeus Gallery CafAc  Regulars pack in for seasonal menu, beef and lamb to shellfish, wines, casual scene, Sunday brunch with cocktails. 201 N. Belmont Ave. 359-3219.

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