For months now, Richmond has been a divided city. The Debbie Downers have sworn off the big race before it even happens, vowing to hunker down and ignore an athletic event of global proportions gracing our streets. Happily, for every naysayer, there’s an upbeat local who’s more than willing to deal with some inconvenience while the city enjoys its moment in the sun.
While the latter group and scores of visitors will avail themselves of Richmond’s vibrant dining scene during the race it’s a given that some people will refuse to deal with the whole thing. For them, takeout will reign — and hopefully, some motivation to check out their neighborhood spots.
Other than Monday and Tuesday, Jackson Ward stays out of the racing fairly well, meaning residents and nearby worker bees should have no problem filling their pie holes. The Cultured Swine and JKogi, both on Second Street — the outer limit of the race route those days — are making it a party with tents out front all week.
The Swine will serve up turkey legs, cotton candy and sandwiches — all hail the Belly Mi, a sigh-worthy Southern take on the Vietnamese banh mi made with pork belly, pickled vegetables and bourbon-bacon pâté inside a crusty baguette — in addition to full service inside. If you haven’t yet experienced how JKogi hits multiple pleasure points on the tongue, try katsu, a panko-breaded chicken, radish and egg sandwich. It also delivers.
Those situated south of Broad Street in Monroe Ward can’t go wrong walking over and nabbing to-go meals at Kohlmann’s Neighborhood Market next to Perly’s. Ready-to-go containers of chicken penne, Greek pasta and Perly’s potato salad complement Hebrew National hot dogs and myriad panini for easy pickup meals. Making your way to a fan viewing zone? The Foushee Street door of Tarrant’s Café hides the bustling delivery side of the restaurant, but also serves up hand-held or take-away quick eats such as pizza slices, fried chicken or fish tacos, all for about the cost of a PBR tallboy.
Shockoe Bottom will see lots of two-wheel action except for Monday through Wednesday, but denizens of Tobacco Row and environs can stay well-fed at Castanea, chef Philip Denny’s recently opened restaurant, market and gelateria. At lunch, grab a lobster roll with saffron aioli or a Spanish meatball sub to go, and for dinner, hanger steak or pork ragout with bucatini, dates and almonds can be taken out. Denny’s house-made gelatos in flavors such as papaw, Sicilian pistachio and hot Mexican chocolate are swoon-worthy enough to impress an Italian.
As long as they stay west of Lombardy and south of Monument, Fan residents should be able to move around fairly freely to procure sustenance. Keep in mind that even when there aren’t cyclists from 75 nations in town and crowds of tourists to watch them, there’s always a constant parade of people grabbing food at 8 1/2, so if you’re craving pizza or eggplant parmigiana, save yourself some waiting time and call ahead to order.
Harvest Grocery & Supply has a limited but appealing sandwich menu, but it also carries local meats cut to order if you’d just as soon get something to throw on the grill. Bombolini Pasta has you covered if you’re craving fresh or frozen pasta — carbonara, alfredo, chicken Marsala, meatballs, to name a few — to cook at home. Pick up a dark chocolate truffle fig bonbon at the counter for the ultimate sweet bite afterward.
Church Hill and Union Hill
You’ll have a whole lot of company Thursday through Sunday, with cyclists winding their way through the historic streets. Metzger’s Bar & Butchery is doing you a favor by opening for lunch the entire race week. Expect a full bar, schnitzel sandwiches and probably a line for to-go orders. When you need to lay in some provisions as well, Union Market serves well-crafted sandwiches and grocery staples. The smoked trout wrap with pickled red onion and cucumber is a gem — plus soups and salads seven days a week.
On the Fringe
Because it’s just beyond the race route, any day’s good to score food at Stella’s Grocery where the selection is almost as broad as a restaurant menu. Think monster Greek salads, the best lima bean salad you’re likely to find, classics such as dolmas and moussaka, entrees of roasted lamb with vegetables, sandwiches and vanilla wafer-studded banana pudding. As Stella would say, eat! S