By Rebecca Thomas
After many years of trial and error, I’ve figured out that mid-afternoon is the ideal time to enjoy a drink at a bar. The afternoon light and sense of calm make sitting at the right bar pure pleasure. I like Sundays in particular, but Thursdays can work just as well depending on your life. On Fridays and Saturdays, I want to enjoy some lovely things before the crowds and noise arrive, then head home to make dinner. I know I sound old, but that’s just another way of saying wise.
I moved to Richmond three years ago to have a more urban life. One of the great discoveries was the restaurant scene. The quality is outsized for the city. I’ve hardly even been to every place, but a few favorites stick out in my mind and keep me coming back for more.
My picks are as follows:
Metzger Bar & Butchery
Metzger is a tried and true favorite. The cocktails are inventive without being overly precious. The bartenders are friendly and chat you up the right amount, which for me is enough to have a good conversation about what I might like, but not so much as to force me to understand the intricacies of what I am about to consume. I recommend anything off of their small plates menu to stave off hunger until dinner. Chef and owner Brittanny Anderson’s food is a delight. Metzger resides comfortably in the sweet spot between sophisticated and warm.
Laura Lee’s is the neighborhood joint everyone in Richmond wishes they had. Lucky for all of us, the atmosphere is inviting to everyone. Their cocktail list and menu is imaginative enough to please my foodie tendencies, but not so over-the-top that I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my father. The bar is usually filled with southside regulars who will easily chat with anyone. I particularly like grabbing a glass of sparkling rosé and heading out to their enclosed patio on a beautiful day.
Jackson’s Beer Garden & Smokehouse is the reason my entire block often smells like delicious barbecue. The historic renovation is home to a quirky series of rooms, which gives the place a cozy vibe. The bar is intimate with a friendly staff, who wave at me as I head out for my daily walks. Their sheltered outdoor patio has a view of the smoker. It’s a great spot to grab a beer and dig into some happy hour smoked wings.
Secco Wine Bar has the female trifecta; the co-owner, bar manager, and executive chef are all women. Their new location in the Fan is beautiful and gracious. They still offer the stellar wine list from their days in Carytown, plus they added well-made cocktails to their repertoire. I can easily make a meal out of the antipasti. My favorites are the fried chickpeas and za’atar-spiced almonds, perfect accompaniments to their curated list of natural wines. They happen to serve the best burger in Richmond (really), so I have to make it a point to wrap it up after a drink (or two), otherwise the diet goes deliciously out the window.
These are but a few of the wonderful options where you can go to get a little hazy on a beautiful afternoon. Go find yours!