You Voted! Here Are Richmond’s Favorites Things in 2023

by | Dec 15, 2023 | BREWS & SPIRITS, COMMUNITY, DOWNTOWN RVA, EAT DRINK, GOOD EATS, PINNED, RESTAURANT NEWS, RICHMOND NEWS, RVA READER'S POLL, SMALL BUSINESS

We asked and you responded with thousands of votes cast over 10 days. Thank you. Now, without further delay, we present the results of the Favorite Things Reader’s Poll 2023. Or before you jump in, you can take a look back at last year’s results HERE.

👋 Also, if you would like to partner with us, we are currently offering advertising at 50% off for first time clients! Reach out to us at hello@rvamag.com for details.

ZZQ DOMINATES FOR A 2ND STRAIGHT YEAR 
How does ZZQ Texas Craft BBQ continue to reign supreme amid a sea of worthy contenders? It’s more than choosing between their heavenly brisket, tender pulled pork, or decadently delightful mac and cheese. This is about understanding how ZZQ has managed to capture, and keep, the barbecue throne in a town recently crowned as a top ten barbecue haven.

WINNER! ZZQ
2nd: Smohk RVA BBQ
3rd: The Smoky Mug
4th: Alamo / Frontier by Alamo
5th: Deep Run Roadhouse

UPSET ALERT! ZORCH IS OUR NEW PIZZA KING
Tucked away in Carytown, this little shop is dishing out massive, mouth-watering pizzas with a side of infectious enthusiasm. It’s no shocker they’re now topping the local pizza charts. Enter Pizza Bones, the new kid on the block that’s taken everyone by surprise. Starting from obscurity, they’ve hustled their way to the number two spot, knocking last year’s top dog, Hot For Pizza, down to a humbling fifth. 

WINNER! Zorch PIzza
2nd: Pizza Bones
3rd: Belmont Pizza
4th: 8 ½ in The Fan
5th: Hot For Pizza

TBT GALLO IS OUR NEW HOMEGROWN TACO CHAMP!
Shoutout to TBT Gallo for making some serious waves in Richmond’s taco scene. It’s always nice to see a homegrown spot climbing to the top, all thanks to our readers voting for them. Big congrats to the team over there. If you haven’t yet, make sure to swing by Hatch Local and check out what all the hype is about.

WINNER! TBT El Gallo
2nd: Don’t Look Back
3rd: En Su Boca
4th: El Chido
5th: Y Tu Mama

ed. note: We have decided to disqualify Cabo Fish Taco from our readers’ poll due to its status as a national chain. While they do serve excellent tacos, our platform is committed to highlighting and promoting small, local businesses. This focus is at the heart of what our readers’ poll is all about.

COBRA BURGER, RICHMOND’S BURGER KING STRIKES AGAIN
In the realm of Richmond’s burger joints, Cobra Burger reigns supreme, sinking its fangs into the title for a second consecutive year. With a knack for the delicious, Cobra Burger isn’t just serving burgers; it’s serving up an experience. Each bite is a dripping with flavor, leaving no doubt why this hotspot clinched the favorite burger category once more.

WINNER! Cobra Burger
2nd: Beauvine Burger Concept
3rd: Smashed RVA
4th: Boulevard Burger and Brew
5th: Eazzy Burger

GARNETT’S IS THE NEW SANDWICH QUEEN
In a  stunning coup that was a surprise to us, Garnett’s has unseated the long-reigning sandwich sovereign, Coppola’s. This shake-up in the sandwich kingdom is nothing short of sensational. And let’s not overlook Stanley’s, the fresh face on the block, seizing the runner-up spot. It’s likely thanks to their philly cheese steak sandwich — a masterpiece of melty, meaty goodness that’s arguably the best philly that this writer has ever eaten. 

WINNER! Garnett’s
2nd: Stanley’s
3rd: Coppola’s
4th: Chiocca’s 
5th: Secret Sandwich Society

COUNTRY STYLE DONUTS IS RICHMOND’S SWEETHEART, AGAIN
Country Style Donuts does it again, reigning as Richmond’s beloved donut king. More than just a donut shop, it’s a confectionery paradise, whipping up treats so good they can’t stop coming back. What’s their secret? That’s for you to discover. Richmond has spoken – for donuts that are a cut above, it’s Country Style, hands down.

WINNER! Country Style Donuts
2nd: Sugar Shack
3rd: Westhampton Pastry Shop
4th: The Treat Shop
5th: First Stop Donuts

LUCKY AF IS SUSHI ROYALTY WITH ANOTHER WIN
In the bustling sushi scene of Richmond, Lucky AF isn’t just playing the game – they’re setting the rules. Their social media teases with snapshots of sushi that looks delicious. But it’s one thing to drool over those pictures, and quite another to experience the flavors in person proving that sometimes, what you see is exactly what you get. 

WINNER! Lucky AF
2nd: Akida
3rd: Fighting Fish
4th: Sticky Rice
5th: Miyabi Sushi

GOATOCADO, THE TOWN FAVORITE FOR VEGETARIAN OPTIONS
From the bustling streets to Main Street, Goatacado has sprouted as Richmond’s vegetarian virtuoso. We remember those days when an all-veggie food truck was a rare gem in Richmond. Fast forward to now, and they’ve rooted themselves firmly in the city’s culinary soil. This isn’t just a place to grab a bite; it’s a testament to conscientious cooking.

WINNER! Goatocado
2nd: 821 Cafe
3rd: Roots Natural Kitchen
4th: Nile Ethiopian
5th: Harrison Street Cafe

LEMON CUISINE IS RICHMOND’S KING OF THE CURRY
In Richmond’s quest for the ultimate curry, bursting with spice and flavor, Lemon Cuisine of India has emerged as the undisputed leader. Hot on its heels are Sabai’s tantalizing offerings, followed by Mekong’s robust flavors. Not to be outdone, Tulsi Indian Cuisine and Mom’s Siam add their own distinctive flair to this spicy race.

WINNER! Lemon Cuisine of India
2nd: Sabai
3rd: Mekong
4th: Tulsi Indian Cuisine
5th: Mom’s Siam

PHO TAY DO TAKES THE PRIZE
Nestled in the heart of what we’re playfully dubbing Richmond’s ‘Little Asia’ neighborhood (let’s see if that catches on!), a diminutive shop has been quietly stirring up a storm. This cozy, once cash-only haven is where you, our discerning readers, and yes, we, the magazine staff, unanimously crown as the purveyor of the city’s best pho.

WINNER! Pho Tay Do
2nd: Mekong
3rd: Pho Thein Phat / Pho So 1
4th: Pho Luca
5th: Mom’s Siam

CITY DOGS IS THE HOT DOG FAVORITE
When it’s hot dog time in Richmond, City Dogs leads the pack with its irresistible franks. A long time dive-y sports bar has been serving them up for a long time to residents of The Fan and college kids. Trailing closely was relative newcomer to the scene Black Lodge and their inventive delcious dogs, Boulevard Burger & Brew’s full of flavor classic takes, the unique creations from Fat Kid Sandwiches inside Hatch Local, and the delightful Ellie’s Hot Dogs and Ice Cream. 

WINNER! City Dogs
2nd: Black Lodge
3rd: Boulevard Burger & Brew
4th: Fat Kid Sandwiches inside Hatch Local
5th: Ellie’s Hot Dogs and Ice Cream

FAT DRAGON SLAYS THE COMPETITION FOR THE WIN
In the quest for RVA’s most tantalizing fried rice, aka asian dishes, Fat Dragon emerges victorious going from fifth last year to first along the way. Hot on its trail are Peter Chang Richmond’s exquisite offerings, followed by the flavorful delights at Mekong. Sabai and Mom’s Siam also make their mark.

WINNER! Fat Dragon
2nd: Peter Chang Richmond
3rd: Mekong
4th: Sabai
5th: Mom’s Siam

MOORE STREET WINS BEST BREAKFAST
Newly added this year, the best breakfast category has found its first champion in Moore Street Cafe. A Scott’s Addition gem, this unassuming diner, with its no-frills charm, has been a local staple, growing into a crowd favorite for its honest, hearty fare. Post-pandemic, it’s the place to be for a top-notch breakfast – but be warned, you’ll need to rise early to snag a seat at this beloved hotspot.

WINNER! Moore Street Cafe
2nd: Perly’s
3rd: Joe’s Inn the Fan
4th: SB’s Main Street Love Shack
5th: Millie’s Diner

GARNETT’S IS THE SPOT FOR LUNCH 
Garnett’s, a cherished relic turned lunch haven in The Fan, continues to be the neighborhood’s go-to spot. Once a 1908 drug store, now a classic sandwich shop, it has made a lasting impression with its delicious sandwiches. Garnett’s Cafe, nestled on a picturesque corner in The Fan, is a blend of nostalgia and culinary delight, serving up not just sandwiches but also classic salads, daily soups, and irresistible cakes and pies, complete with the perfect coffee counter.

WINNER! Garnett’s
2nd: Kuba Kuba
3rd: Union Market
4th: Joe’s Inn In The Fan
5th: Coppolas’ Deli

EDO’S SQUID IS OUR HALL OF FAME DATE NIGHT SPOT
Edo’s Squid has transcended mere categories; it’s time for a RVA MAG Hall of Fame spot dedicated to this culinary icon. A beacon of the city’s food scene, it has consistently delivered excellence, playing a pivotal role in setting the bar for the mid-2000s culinary revolution that brought Richmond into the national spotlight. More than just a restaurant, Edo’s Squid embodies the essence of the city’s fine taste and gastronomic heritage. It’s a cozy date night favorite, a favorite choice of our staff and our readers.

WINNER! Edo’s Squid
2nd: L’Opossum
3rd: Stella’s
4th: Grisette
5th: Alewife

PERLY’S FOR THAT DELICIOUS BRUNCH
Earning accolades nationwide, Perly’s stands as a brunch beacon in Downtown Richmond. It’s an exquisite fusion of a classic diner and Jewish culinary tradition, wrapped in a decor that never fails to impress. Whether it’s a simple, soul-satisfying breakfast or a more elaborate meal, Perly’s consistently hits the mark.

WINNER! Perly’s
2nd: LUNCH.SUPPER!
3rd: SB’s Main Street Love Shack
4th: Moore Street Cafe
5th: Helen’s

MEET US AT JOE’S INN FOR HAPPY HOUR
In the timeless ritual of happy hour, Joe’s Inn emerges as the beloved choice of The Fan’s residents and beyond. Unchanged through the decades, this Richmond icon stands as a testament to simplicity and authenticity. It’s not just about the simple, satisfying food or the fair prices; it’s about being a part of Richmond’s dining history. Followed by Fuzzy Cactus, En Su Boca, 3 Monkey’s, and Bamboo Cafe, Joe’s Inn leads the pack, proving that sometimes, the best experiences are the most familiar ones.

WINNER! Joe’s Inn
2nd: Fuzzy Cactus
3rd: En Su Boca
4th: 3 Monkey’s
5th: Bamboo Cafe

SEE YOU AT HELEN’S FOR LAST CALL
As the night winds down, Helen’s stands as the enduring hotspot for Richmond’s night owls which continues to charm new generations with its iconic status. More than just a restaurant, Helen’s is a mosaic of hip clientele and an ambiance that’s perfect for both friendly gatherings and serendipitous encounters. It’s the go-to spot for people watching, buoyed by weekend music that pulses until 2 am.

WINNER! Helen’s
2nd: Bamboo Cafe
3rd: New York Deli
4th: GWAR Bar
5th: Patrick Henry Pub

1115 (ELEVEN FIFTEEN) CROWNED RICHMOND’S TOP FOOD TRUCK
In a twist of fate and a dash of clarity, 1115 (Eleven Fifteen) emerges as the true champion in Richmond’s food truck arena. Our apologies for the mix-up, but let’s set the record straight: this truck, with its innovative and delectable offerings, rightfully claims the top spot. They’re followed by River City Wood Fire’s sizzling selections, Intergalactic Tacos’ out-of-this-world flavors, Auntie Ning’s Asian fusion delights, and the plant-based wonders of Tiny Vegan. Richmond’s streets have spoken, and 1115 (Eleven Fifteen) is the culinary hero we all deserve.

ed. note: Smashed RVA got the most votes in this category, but they never had a food truck and instead were a pop up. We should have included pop ups in this category this year to clear up this kind of stuff. We apologize for the mix up. Please support Smashed RVA, the burgers are delicious.

WINNER! 1115 (Eleven Fifteen)
2nd: River City Wood Fire
3rd: Intergalactic Tacos
4th: Auntie Ning’s
5th: Tiny Vegan

BLANCHARD’S IS OUR CAFÉ FAVORITE
Blanchard’s, a name long familiar in Richmond, has blossomed into the city’s coffee consciousness, emerging as the premier café destination. With its comfy locations scattered across the city, Blanchard’s isn’t just about coffee; it’s a brand synonymous with success and quality. Alongside their famed brews, they offer a menu of excellent food, solidifying their status as the go-to café. 

WINNER! Blanchard’s
2nd: Lamplighter Coffee Roasters
3rd: Sub Rosa
4th: The Smoky Mug
5th: Stir Crazy Cafe

THE FAN HAS IT ALL.
In the culinary and nightlife heartbeats of Richmond, The Fan stands out as the clear favorite. Garnering top votes for both its diverse array of restaurants and its vibrant bar scene, this neighborhood has cemented its status as the city’s epicenter of food and social delights. 

Which neighborhood has your fav restaurants?
WINNER! The Fan
2nd: Church Hill
3rd: Scott’s Addition
4th: Carytown
5th: Museum District

Which neighborhood has the best bars?
WINNER! The Fan
2nd: Scott’s Addition
3rd: Carytown
4th: Shockoe Bottom
5th: Downtown

THE JASPER DOMINATES FOR 2ND TIME 
It’s not a huge surprise that an approachable bar that treats drinks as an artform and was one of the firsts to kick off the cocktail movement in town — is the most popular cocktail spot in town. The Jasper is your two time favorite place to grab a fancy drink.

WINNER! The Jasper
2nd: Can Can Brasserie
3rd: The Roosevelt
4th: Emerald Lounge
5th: Black Lodge

JARDIN TAKES THE CROWN AS RICHMOND’S WINE HAVEN
At Jardin, nestled in The Fan, has creatied a haven for fine dining and wine enthusiasts. This venue isn’t just about its extensive wine selection paired with flavorful dishes; it’s about the entire experience, complete with a unique patio setting that on a nice day is one of the best in the city. Quickly ascending to the top, Jardin has captured the hearts of wine lovers citywide.

WINNER! Jardin
2nd: Can Can
3rd: Brambly Park
4th: Celladora Wines
5th: Bar Solita

THE VEIL IS RICHMOND’S FAVORITE CRAFT BREWERY
The Veil has brewed its way into the hearts of Richmond’s craft beer enthusiasts, known for its bold and innovative approach to beer-making. Not just a brewery, but a trendsetter in the beer collectors’ market, The Veil has carved out a distinct niche within the city’s vibrant beer landscape. Complementing their unique beers, they frequently collaborate with food partners, enhancing the tasting experience. Also, their involvement in putting together key craft beer events makes them a central figure within that community. 

WINNER! The Veil
2nd: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
3rd: Triple Crossing Beer
4th: Väsen Brewing Company
5th: Ardent Craft Ales

BAMBOO THE FOREVER RICHMOND DIVE BAR
Richmond’s Bamboo Cafe, an enduring icon in the city’s bar landscape, has clinched the title of favorite dive bar from last year’s champion, Cobra Cabana. This victory isn’t just a win; it’s a testament to the cafe’s perennial allure, as evidenced by the packed house every night. A favorite haunt for decades, Bamboo’s triumph reflects its deep-rooted connection with the community, where getting a seat at the bar is now a coveted achievement, symbolizing its cherished status among Richmond’s locals.

WINNER! Bamboo Cafe
2nd: Cobra Cabana
3rd: The Sidewalk Cafe
4th: GWAR BAR
5th: Patrick Henry Pub

BABES IN CARYTOWN IS RICHMOND’S QUEER QUEEN
Once again, Babes in Carytown stands as Richmond’s top haven for the queer community. As one of the nation’s oldest gay bars, its win is no mere coincidence but a reflection of its enduring significance. Babes isn’t just about the weekly queer-centric events, affordable drinks, or its status as a prime dance spot; it’s a symbol of inclusivity and celebration. It leads the way, followed by The Liberty Public House, Diversity Richmond, Fallout, and Godfrey’s, each contributing to the tapestry of Richmond’s queer nightlife.

WINNER! Babes In Carytown
2nd: The Liberty Public House
3rd: Diversity Richmond
4th: Fallout
5th: Godfrey’s

THE JUNGLE ROOM IS THE DANCE SPOT
The Jungle Room, with its blend of house music, tiki cocktails, and a lush, plant-filled interior, has helped revitalize Richmond’s dance scene. Emerging from a period in Richmond where dance venues were scarce, it offers an escape into an exotic space. This enchanting spot not only provides a space to dance away the night but also a sensory journey with well thought out design and ambiance.

WINNER! The Jungle Room
2nd: New York Deli
3rd: Babe’s of Carytown
4th: Tobacco Company
5th: Helen’s

HOTEL GREEN WINS FOR DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Hotel Green, standing out with its roaring twenties vibe and artful mini golf, clinches the top spot for offering a distinctively different experience in Richmond. It’s not just a game venue; it’s an immersive journey back in time, complete with thoughtful touches like handwritten notes. Perfect for locals and visitors alike, Hotel Green offers a blend of quirky fun, theatrical flair, and a dash of elegance.

WINNER! Hotel Green
2nd: The Richmond Squirrels
3rd: Rivercity Roll
4th: Richmond Kickers
5th: Top Golf

LOCAL ICON PLAN 9 MUSIC STILL THE GO TO FOR RECORDS
It’s nice when longtime local small business are still appreciated. Plan 9 Music, enduring economic shifts and evolving musical tastes, has cemented its status as the premier destination for record lovers in Richmond, again and it wasn’t really that close of a vote. More than a store, it’s a cultural landmark, a hub for vinyl aficionados and a showcase for local talent. This legendary spot has not only survived but thrived, proving that vinyl is indeed back in vogue. 

WINNER! Plan 9 Music
2nd: Deep Groove Records
3rd: Vinyl Conflict
4th: Wax Moon
5th: Small Friend Records & Books

KICK BOOMIN’ IS THE STREETWEAR SPOT
In the wake of Round Two’s trailblazing legacy, Richmond’s streetwear landscape has flourished with spots embracing the trade and thrift ethos that took over the city about a decade ago. So now it’s Kicks Boomin that has risen to the forefront, crowned by you, the readers, as the undisputed king of streetwear finds in town. 

WINNER! Kicks Boomin
2nd: The Spot RVA
3rd: Crewel and Unusual
4th: CHILALAY
5th: Rotate

CARYTOWN TOBACCO IS THE SMOKE SHOP AGAIN
Carytown Tobacco reaffirms its status as the top smoke shop in Richmond, standing out amidst the bustling retail stretch of Carytown. Its prominence isn’t just about location; it’s a testament to the exceptional selection and service they offer. In a market where many smoke shops might seem indistinguishable, Carytown Tobacco distinguishes itself as a cut above.

WINNER! Carytown Tobacco
2nd: Kulture
3rd: Higher Education Richmond
4th: Katra Gala
5th: Bob Marley Tobacco

WORLD OF MIRTH IS A RICHMOND INSTITUTION
October marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of World of Mirth, Carytown’s fun and quirky toy and gift emporium. A long time supporter of the mag, you RVA readers have said thank you and twice picked the shop as your favorite for funky toys, games, books, and collectibles. Head in to the shop and pick up a new plush friend for the kiddo in your life, or get a gag gift for the office party. 

WINNER! World of Mirth
2nd: Mongrel
3rd: One Eyed Jacques
4th: Velocity Comics
5th: Paper Tiger

DIVERSITY THRIFT IS YOUR FAVORITE THRIFT STORE
Diversity Thrift has been a pioneer in supporting Richmond’s queer community for decades and stands tall as the city’s favorite thrift store in our reader’s poll in 2023. Long before ample resources were available, it transformed discarded treasures into vital funding for the local queer community initiatives. It’s nice to see them as still a favorite of the resident in town and see they can still make an impact for the community. 

WINNER! Diversity Thrift
2nd: Ashby
3rd: Fan Thrift
4th: Rumors Boutique
5th: Circle Thrift & Art Space

BYGONES FOR THE VINTAGE LOOK WIN
Bygones, not just a store but a time capsule of fashion, secures the win for Richmond’s best vintage look. Alongside Halcyon, another iconic beacon of the city’s past elegance, these two are often seen as interchangeable in the hearts of long-time residents. Both epitomize not only a range of classic styles but also the essence of Richmond’s cherished yesteryears.

WINNER! Bygones
2nd: Halcyon
3rd: Blue Bones Vintage
4th: Cobblestore
5th: Saturn Returns

TWO RABBITS VINTAGE FOR THE WIN
In the realm of vintage furniture and home goods, Two Rabbits Vintage has hopped its way to an overwhelming victory, capturing the hearts of Richmond’s residents. Though not our area of expertise, the votes spoke volumes, placing Two Rabbits Vintage in a league of its own. We are going to make it a point to go check out the goods.

WINNER! Two Rabbits Vintage
2nd: Class & Trash
3rd: West End Antique Mall
4th: RVA Antiques
5th: Boho To Go

CLEMENTINE FOR THAT MODERN LOOK
In a category where choices seem limited, Clementine has emerged as Richmond’s favorite for modern, original retail fashion. Despite the expectation of more variety in a city of Richmond’s size, Clementine stands out, thanks to its dedicated base of loyal patrons.

WINNER! Clementine
2nd: Dear Neighbor
3rd: Rosewood
4th: Shockoe Atelier
5th: Ledbury

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in eat drink

What is the Go-To Ice Cream Spot in Richmond?

This summer is one of the hottest on record in Virginia, so that got us thinking about delicious ice cream. Luckily for all of us, Richmond is brimming with ice cream shops, offering everything from classic scoops to dairy-free options. Here's a quick overview of some...

Richmond Named No. 1 ‘America’s Best Town To Visit’

CNN just crowned Richmond as the No. 1 best town to visit in the U.S. this year. CNN travel editors explored the country, searching for cities full of things to do, loads of personality, and not typically swarming with tourists. Richmond topped the list for several...

Our Richmond Barfly’s Happy Hour List 2024 

Picking a spot for happy hour in downtown Richmond can be a pain. But don't worry, we've got you covered. If we've missed your favorite haunt, need to update the information or you want your business included, just reach out. We’ll be adding to this list as we go...

RVA 5×5 | Substantial Doubt of Competency, More Meals Tax Issues

While the Mayor and friends were busy celebrating the AAA bond rating upgrade atop City Hall, inside the lower levels the city continues to fall apart. Most notably, the meals tax fiasco that we were told was being handled and improved is showing more and different...

Wave That Flag! Richmond’s Pride 2024 Events Are Here to Slay

We are a little late on this but Virginia Pride has unveiled the schedule for its annual "Endless Summer of Pride" campaign, a celebration of the Richmond region's LGBTQ community. The campaign kicked off on May 31 with a pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall,...

Time For A Richmond Pizza Date!

Over the last decade Richmond has become a proper pizza town. Local pizzerias dish up a variety of styles at every price range. Pizza is the food of the people so naturally it makes a great date. You can learn a lot about a person across a slice. Are they a folder?...