Size matters when letting a stroll decide where your growling stomach will find satisfaction. The good news is that Bellevue is as compact as North Side is sprawling. It's bounded on the east by Brook Road, on the west by Hermitage Road, on the north by Westbrook Avenue and on the south by West Laburnum Avenue. And the lively, L-shaped corridor of MacArthur and Bellevue avenues beckons with two charmingly eclectic restaurant rows.
The Mill on MacArthur
With a stated mission to focus on seasonally available, locally farmed produce and locally raised poultry and beef, the Mill aims to bolster your conscience and tickle your taste buds. The proof is in the eating: Virginia-raised chicken, country fried and nestled inside a buttermilk biscuit sandwich ($8), under a blanket of white country gravy is nothing short of sensational. The eatery isn't big but knows its customers, with shelves of picture books and amusements for small fry. And a solid bar teases daily imbibing specials and tap takeovers. Hometown fave Bev's ice cream in multiple flavors seems to suit all ages.
4023 MacArthur Ave., 716-1196
Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Dot's Back Inn
Discussing Bellevue without acknowledging Dot's Back Inn would be like talking about Mamma 'Zu without mentioning garlic: impossible. As unchanging as Dot's may seem, the addition of a covered patio switches up the whole look of the classic diner, and gives much-needed seats for the dedicated regulars. Constant are the bathrooms wallpapered in vintage ads touting Campbell's soup and Lysol, and the longstanding list of 21 heroic burgers. Dot's will fill you with strapping options such as grilled corn cakes studded with kernels buried under black beans, onions, peppers, tomatoes and provolone cheese ($7.25) or the well-endowed andouille sandwich ($6.95), oozing swiss and thick slices of grilled onions. The menu gets hipper, but Dot's stays classic.
4030 MacArthur Ave., 266-3167
Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-midnight
Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tastebuds American Bistro
Considered North Side's best little secret, Tastebuds American Bistro isn't pricey despite a menu of seasonal and creatively imagined offerings such as crepes stuffed with wild mushrooms and goat cheese ($8) brightened with blueberry gastrique. The 40-seat eatery bustles Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when a $23 fixed-price menu generously allows guests to choose their salads and entrees from the regular menu, narrowing the selection only on dessert. Bourbon-glazed-pear bread pudding with Virginia salted peanut caramel, a fixture on the menu since opening day and with good reason, makes a case for letting a pro decide your last course.
4019 MacArthur Ave., 261-6544
Tuesday-Saturday 5 p.m.-close
Stir Crazy Café
Written in the hip-neighborhood code is the stipulation that the heartbeat be fueled by a coffee shop that does more than just caffeinate. Stir Crazy is Bellevue's beating heart with all-day breakfast, sandwiches, quiche and salads to sustain the body. To attend to the mind and soul are book readings, coffee with a cop events, art openings and bands such as My Son the Doctor. When all else fails, there are homemade desserts and espresso.
4015 MacArthur Ave., 864-0264
Monday-Tuesday 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Two sisters transformed what once was a hardware store into a restaurant with booths as generously sized as the portions. An enormous, four-sided bar is the centerpiece — think "Cheers" — in a space which seats 120 (a sure sign we aren't in the Fan). Junior diners and beer drinkers gravitate to a basket of five soft pretzels ($5) with spicy mustard, warm and salty. It's all here, from salads such as the spinach ($10) with more cranberries, roasted red peppers, bacon, egg and goat cheese than baby spinach leaves, to sandwiches, burgers and entrees. This is where the neighborhood comes when there's a group to entertain, because Northside Grill has the space, a patio and enough reach in the menu to satisfy everyone.
1217 Bellevue Ave., 266-4403
Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-close
Sunday 10 a.m.-close
Richmond will never be a great food town until it's a great wine town, owner Gary York says — and his mission is to make it one. York's wine list, exclusively Italian and particularly deep in reds, is testament to his frequent trips there to meet winemakers and producers. Unsurprisingly, Enoteca Sogno, which means "wine-bar dream," focuses on seasonal Italian food such as fava bean crostini ($8), a mouthful of spring and available for only about three weeks until it, too, becomes a dream. Cue the slurp-worthy spaghetti with fresh clams ($14) sautéed with white wine and garlic or classic whole branzino ($24), the skin crackled from roasting with garlic and herbs, to understand why it isn't only the neighborhood folks who eat here.
1223 Bellevue Ave., 355-8466
Tuesday-Saturday 5 p.m.-close
Omega Grecian Restaurant
Bellevue's newest addition will make you feel like family from the moment you step in the door. The former Shenanigans got a face-lift and the tasteful dining room boasts booths, tables and a small bar serving traditional Greek food from the kitchen of Themie Xyderis, who got his start at his family's restaurant, Venice, a longtime Carytown institution. Begin with buttery spanakopita ($6.25) and move on to pasticcio ($10.95), Greek lasagna of spiced ground beef, tubed noodles and béchamel with subtle notes of allspice for sweetness, and you'll feel like you're in a whitewashed seaside Greek village.
4017 MacArthur Ave., 262-1081
Tuesday-Saturday 5-10 p.m., Sunday 5-9 p.m.