Richmond’s best kept food secret

Richmond’s best kept food secret
Richmond’s best kept food secret
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I grew up in Richmond and attended all of the obligatory school field trips to all of the local historic monuments, museums, churches and battlegrounds. Though I only recently moved back, I’ve made it a point to keep up with the restaurants and food trends opening, closing and passing through. I thought so, at least.


Cottechino Sausage with Celery Root Slaw & Persimmon Ketchup on a WPA Bun at Dutch & Co.


Founded by Maureen Egan, who wrote “Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, VA,” and Richmond Magazine editor Susan Winiecki, Real Richmond Food Tours takes locals and tourists alike on a 2 1/2 hour exploration of Richmond’s “authentic, quirky, culinary and cultural.” On foot, a group of approximately 12-15 strangers become friends as everyone moves from restaurant to historic landmarks to consume and absorb all that is Richmond, past and present. Meeting and chatting with chefs and business owners, while sampling their fare, learning fun facts and walking off those calories at the same time? Win, win.


Dutch & Co.’s chefs, Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow


In recent months Fred and I (together and separately) have gone on four different tours: Carytown, Shockoe Bottom and Church Hill – all neighborhoods I thought I knew inside out. On each occasion, I was shocked to discover restaurants and information about my stomping ground that was entirely news to me. The Church Hill Tunnel? I had no clue. The authentic wood-fired oven pizza place whose namesake honors the Locomotive 231 entombed right next to it? Also, no clue.


And our fourth tour? We recently attended the debut of their new event series: Powerhouse. Chef J. Frank served up a delicious 3-course buffet at the home of Frances Lewis on Monument Avenue. Jay Barrows, Lewis collection curator, walked and talked us through some of the Lewis collection that hasn’t made it to VMFA. How long have we all wanted to get inside of that monument on Monument?


Our tastes at WPA Bakery; Raspberry Cheesecake Square & Hummingbird Cake (Gluten Free)


For me (and these days I’m not alone) chefs are celebrity. Artists. To be able to chat up Dutch & Co.’s chefs Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow with a mouthful of their cotechino sausage with celery root slaw and persimmon ketchup, or talking through a mouthful of fried oyster with remoulade to The Roosevelt’s, Kendra Feather, and her newborn, Calvin, is more titillating than Ryan Gosling buying me a drink. Well, um… you get the idea.



WPA Bakery’s John Murden sweet talking the Real Richmond Food Tour

On each tour, we experience savory, sweet, stories, perhaps a libation here and there, and about a mile and a half of ambling exercise. We gaze out pensively at the architecture and deep history of the city and imagine the battles, the speeches, the moments that have happened right where we stand. We talk to our new friends, who just as easily may be our old neighbors, as travelers from afar, about what we’re tasting and seeing. As we part, filled with food, history and ready to put our legs up, we exchange phone numbers and email addresses. In case we want to meet up and do another neighborhood together next week.



  1. Great post!! I love Real Richmond Food Tours — great idea, great for the City.

  2. That sounds like loads of fun and right up your alley!!

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