In general, the drinking is better than the eating in the short radius from CenterStage, but most everything is affordable and therefore more palatable. Here's where to go now for before — and after — theater sloshing and noshing:
700 E. Broad St., 644-2637
Attached to the National, this rocking full-service eatery has a subterranean lounge, 7 Below, and a two-level dining room serving appetizers, sandwiches, entrAces and desserts. Portions are substantial and often sharable, especially for late-night drinkers. Lamb sliders are a favorite. Open daily.
414 E. Main St., 225-8811
Best of the bunch for cuisine, this small but bustling hideaway is a four-block walk from CenterStage, allowing time to reflect on Chef Andy Howell's culinary finesse. Frog legs and Spanish pulled-pork-stuffed bananas are new to the fall menu, but there's plenty more at this foodie favorite. Weekday lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner Tuesday-Sunday.
Capital Ale House
623 E. Main St., 780-2537
A straight shot down Sixth Street, this restaurant with patio and music hall is a beer-lovers' paradise, with a constant parade of international brews, a pub-grub menu with weekly cheapskate specials on burgers, and other beer-compatible dishes. Lunch and dinner daily.
O'Neill's Penny Lane Pub
421 E. Franklin St., 780-1682
For 30 years this authentically British pub has cast its spell on Richmond. Bangers and mash, and cottage pie, Guinness, darts, a Liverpool bar full of regulars and exceptional service give this beloved spot a character all its own. Open nightly except some Sundays.
500 E. Broad St. in the Marriott, 648-2255
This newly designed, full-service restaurant has outdoor seating around a fire pit and the requisite screens and contemporary dAccor inside. Food runs the burger-steak gamut at moderate prices. Open daily, a one-block walk from the theater.
Pie is the newest in a local restaurant group that includes the Fan's Si Tapas and downtown's Bank and Vault. This Italian restaurant in the former Berry-Burk building, at 525 E. Grace St., is under construction with an anticipated late-fall opening. S