J.R. Crickets RVA
1509 Chamberlayne Ave.
Second place: Sticky Rice
Third place: Karaoke Karla
Originally started in Atlanta, J.R. Crickets is a sports bar that specializes in the world's best lemon-pepper chicken wings, as well as spare ribs that fall off the bone, plenty of beer and other comfort foods. You may have seen the chain mentioned on numerous Atlanta reality TV shows, or heard actor Donald Glover or rapper TI call the company's wings the best in the country. The Richmond spot is co-owned by Ernest Ellis and Sherima Williams, and is inside the old Glenn's Restaurant that operated for some 40 years. The owners say that Jr. Crickets RVA aims to be "like the new Cheers," the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
One way they do this is by having karaoke nights – a little bit of action on Thursdays, but the main event goes down every Saturday, with warm-ups around 8 p.m. and the real action running from 9:30 to 1:30 a.m. Hosted by DJ K-Dawg, it's the kind of karaoke competition that sometimes attracts real top-shelf talent. "It's a packed house with some real talent in the building," Ellis says. "You got fun people but every once in awhile you actually got Marvin Gaye singing for real, or James Brown, and it makes you think: Did I have too many drinks or is that person for real?"
As far as upcoming news, Jr Crickets has a new location opening soon at 1000 N. 25th St. featuring takeout only in Church Hill.