In Search of Comfort Food

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420 E. Grace St.  |  804-377-3968  |

If you’re into Southern comfort foods, then you need to get into Julep’s.  The place is filled with an Old Richmond charm and atmosphere from the staff to the menu to the historic building. The menu offers a variety of comfort foods choices, such as the Rockfish, served with  lump crab, smashed new potatoes, broccoli puree, sunchokes, turnip, leek veloute, pole beans and pepper jam.

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Lunch. Supper!

1213-1215 Summit Ave.  |  804-353-0111  |

It seems like every time I visit Scott’s addition I find some new local gem that Richmond has to offer. This time, it was a classic Southern Smokehouse- Lunch. Supper! This popular dining spot has been crafting fresh and delicious comfort food since 2012, and it’s worth checking out on your next venture into Scott’s Addition. A full bar with all of the essential local breweries on tap, as well as amazing food and hospitality, this place will transport you into the heart of the South in one delicious meal. Their Braised Short Ribs made fresh on site and served with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus provide all the comfort one might seek on a chilly late-winter evening.

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Café Rustika

414 E. Main St.  |  804-225-8811  |

How cool is it that our search for comfort foods in the River City can lead us to German comfort foods. That’s what we delightfully discovered at Café Rustika. We were served the Jagerschnitzel Platter with spätzle and sauerkraut. Our schnitzel was a pork loin cutlet, hammered out thin, breaded and fried. (Veal and Chicken are also available!) The spätzle is house-made egg noodles sautéed in butter, and the sauerkraut consists of pickled cabbage with onion, bacon and juniper. The meal was served with a basket of brötchen, or German-style rolls, which are made in house every day. They’re toasted before serving, so that they have a hard, crunchy crust but a soft, warm crumb. Our tasty dish was complemented with a half liter of Pilsner Urquell, the world’s first pilsner, which is available on draught. (from an official golden Pilsner Urquell tap faucet, which helps create the perfect pour). What better way to wash down a perfect meal than with a perfect pour?

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Poe’s Pub

2706 E Main St.  |  804-648-2120  |  Poe’s Pub on Facebook

Located right on the edge of Shockoe Bottom, Poe’s Pub has been faithfully serving up classic comfort food to a stream of loyal customers for a quarter century. The place is warm and familiar, with memorabilia of times past covering the walls. It’s the place to go with friends for a  taste of American comfort food and a few drinks. Their Meatloaf Plate piled high and served with broccoli and mashed potatoes  provides an exceptional bang for your buck. Everything is made in-house, including the coconut cream pie that you simply must save some room for.

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Pad Thai Restaurant

8460 Meadowbridge Rd., Mechanicsville  |  804-559-0062

One happy Yelp reviewer said it best: “It’s a hole in the wall for sure, but I’d put the food up against any other Thai in Richmond.” You might even wonder if you’ve found the right place – unassuming building and gravel parking lot. The travel posters inside the small building begin building your confidence, as does the friendly family staff. But one bite of the food, reasonably priced and oh-so-authentic, removes all doubt that you have, indeed, come to just the right place – one you’ll come back to. The Tom Kha Gai soup starts your Thai meal off perfectly, with tender morsels of chicken in a delicious coconut milk broth, with lime dressing, lemongrass and ginger-like galangal.

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Iron Horse Restaurant

100 S. Railroad Ave., Ashland  |  804-752-6410  |

For two decades, Iron Horse has served fine food and drink beside the railroad tracks in Ashland. Their seasonal, Southern modern American menu includes fresh regional seafood, hand-cut steaks and chef-inspired nightly specials. Iron Horse provides several dining options, including lunch servings and sandwiches, dinner entrées, lighter fare and freshly made desserts, from the upscale-casual bistro on one side of the restaurant and the neighborhood pub atmosphere on the other. Settle into the Iron Horse to watch the trains go by as you enjoy their pumpkin soup, garnished with pumpkin seed, pomegranate-smoked paprika oil and a fried sage leaf. Like any quality seasonal menu, soup selection varies with availability of ingredients.

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Capital Ale House

13831 Village Place Dr., Midlothian  |  4024 Cox Rod, Glen Allen  |  804-780-2537  | 

Take one look at their beer menu and you can quickly see why these folks call themselves “Virginia’s beer authority.” But beyond the hundreds of selections of brews (on tap or in the bottle), you’ll discover a delightful menu featuring appetizers, salads, sandwiches and delicious entrees. You’ll also discover comfort when you order their Mac-n-Cheese Southern, which tantalizes with creamy cheese sauce, bacon with pulled pork in the center, BBQ sauce and corn pico de gallo.

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Latitude Seafood Co.

15532 WC Commons Way, Midlothian  |  804-379-8100  |

Latitude Seafood has found a winning combination by pairing a lively bar scene and casual, fun dining room with excellent seafood dishes as well as a variety of entrees for all tastes. Chefs Kevin Grubbs and Carlos Perez, also part of the four-person ownership team, have also combined to produce their truly delicious Halibut Scampi. It starts with a fresh halibut caught off the Canadian coast, a firm, sweet fish, paired with a tangy and buttery shrimp scampi. Everything about this dish screams “Comfort!”

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MOSAIC Restaurant

6229 River Road  |  804-288-7482  |

Located in the River Road Shopping center, Mosaic has long been a favorite with the locals, along River Road and throughout the region. Our photographer Dave Masucci enjoyed all that he sampled but found special comfort in the chef’s special twist on mac and cheese. Mosaic calls it their Sriracha Honey Chicken & Mac. The dish features chicken breasts lightly fried and prepared with sriracha honey, along with their signature mac and cheese. Dave also enjoyed the open kitchen concept, which he described as his own version of dinner theater.

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Mama Cucina

4028 Cox Road (Innsbrook Shoppes)  |  804-346-3350  |

If you’ve overlooked this restaurant, thinking it’s run-of-the-mill strip shopping center Italian, think again. Mama Cucina offers delightfully prepared, authentic Italian fare in a warm, cozy atmosphere – Italian comfort food at its best. May we recommend the Chicken Carbonara Farfalle. The chopped chicken is sautéed in a delicious cream sauce with prosciutto and peas and tossed with farfalle.

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The Pickle Barrel 

12912 Plaza Dr.  |  804-708-0166  |  Pickle Barrel on Facebook

There’s nothing but comfort — and fantastic food — at this cozy, little dining spot, located right at the Goochland County line. One bite of just about anything on the menu and you’ll swear grandma is back in the kitchen. You’re going to love their Golden-fried Oysters served with hot, crispy French fries and cole slaw.

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Metro Diner

5625 W. Broad St.; 804-510-0780  |  11525 W. Broad St.  |  804-767-4594  |

With two locations in the West End, Metro Diner is quickly becoming a favorite with Metro area residents, who enjoy the large portions, the delicious fare and the friendly service. There are so many items on their extensive menu, but how could any true Southerner resist the Fried Chicken and Waffles. Just imagine: half a fried chicken alongside a Belgian waffle, topped with powdered sugar and sweet strawberry butter and served with their signature sweet and spicy sauce.

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The Grille at Magnolia Green

7001 Awesome Dr.  |  804-639-5701  |

One of the county’s newest entries onto the local dining scene is the Grille, which serves as the dining room and clubhouse for the beautiful Magnolia Green Golf Club. The sleek, modern dining room offers a full bar and delicious fare, from sandwiches, street tacos and flat breads to pizzas and delightful entrees. Warm up with their Pow! Pow! Shrimp, featuring jumbo battered shrimp served with spicy Thai sauce, crispy wonton straws and seaweed salad.

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Howlett’s Restaurant & Tavern

3530 Festival Park Dr., Chester  |  804-930-1034  |

Howlett’s has long been famous for its great food and cozy atmosphere. The menu features a variety of comforting favorites such as their prime rib, crabcakes and fresh seafood. One of our top picks for comfort is their boneless pork chop topped with candied apples and cherries. Complete your meal with a choice of two sides, such as the mashed potatoes and broccoli.

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Sports Page Bar & Grille

504 England St., Ashland; 804-496-6700  |  8319 Bell Creek Rd., Mechanicsville; 804-559-4700  |

This Cheers-like restaurant, established in 2003 in Midlothian, is locally owned and operated. Since 2003, they’ve opened three additional locations, including Mechanicsville (2006) and Ashland (2015). Both Hanover locations have high-definition TVs for enjoying the big games, while the Mechanicsville location also offers 15 booths with individual TVs, pool tables and a kids’ game room. Warm up your engines with their hearty chili (pairing perfectly with winter spectator sports), savoring large chunks of beef and just the right complement of beans and spicy heat.

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Jake’s Place Restaurant & Market

511 Thompson St., Ashland  |  804-798-3287  |

Jake’s Place has an unforgettable down-home quality that infuses everything from their storefront and country decor, to their carefully crafted and daily smoked barbecue. The Baby Back Ribs are slow-cooked, topped with Jake’s Sauce and then “flame-kissed on the grill” to give them that gorgeous dark glaze. Pair it with the sweet potato fries and their made-from-scratch hush puppies to experience the full meaning of Southern comfort food.

Ashley Jefferson
Author: Ashley Jefferson

Ashley Jefferson is the EIC of River City Mag. She currently lives in Richmond, VA with her fiance.

Ashley Jefferson
Ashley Jefferson is the EIC of River City Mag. She currently lives in Richmond, VA with her fiance.