Monday, February 9, 2009

Foodie Travels: Richmond, VA

Late last week my wife learned that she'd be traveling to Richmond, VA, during the weekend, for work. Being the dutiful husband that I am, I yelled "ROAD TRIP!" and started giggling to myself that I'd be getting out of the house. Yeah, I invited myself. But it wasn't until a few minutes later that it hit me -- I'd invited myself to a weekend in Richmond, VA. Not my idea of the most culinarily refined city, and definitely not someplace where I'd voluntarily plan to spend the weekend.

So, yesterday (Sunday), when we were looking for brunch, I was starting to get a little worried. We stopped by the hotel restaurant and weren't too impressed. So we asked the concierge where we should go, and he recommended a restaurant that was a couple of blocks away. We went there, and were informed that there wasn't an open table for another three hours!

After this news, my wife turned to me and said, "Lets go exploring!" And we did. Now keep in mind, it was late morning, and I hadn't had my coffee yet, so I was cranky. Very cranky. And my wife is leading me on a search for food through side streets that have no open restaurants, or traffic on them. As we walk, we come across the "Canal Walk" of Richmond. A nice, and relatively new pedestrian area along a local canal. It's a miniature "River Walk" in Austin, TX, minus the restaurants, stores, and people.

An hour later, we've walked the full length of the canal walk, and we're on the other side of the tracks -- literally and figuratively. We make a left onto 17th street, go down a block, and we run into a neighborhood of restaurants, cafes, and stores. And we go into the first place we see -- the River City Diner. After a five minute wait at the bar, we are seated, and my rumbling tummy began to relax.

This River City Diner (from what I can tell it's a local chain), is decorated with a revitalized urban feel. The brick wall is exposed, with old style painted signs and properly distressed plaster. There are chalk boards on the walls giving the daily specials, next to flat screen HDTVs. This place mixes new and old with a refreshing hip style. Oh, and they played the best music ever -- 80s.

So, now I'm relaxed, the caffeine from the coffee is entering my blood, and my omelet appears. It's huge, and takes up half of my plate. Filled with ham, cheese, peppers, and onions, this is one hearty omelet. In addition, the hash browns were fantastic. I didn't see any onions or spices in the hash browns, but there was plenty of flavor. I suppose it came from grease, onion salt, garlic powder, etc. My meal also came with a rather plain biscuit, but all in all, I can't think of anything to complain about.

Atmosphere: 4/5
Food: 3/5 (Standard diner food)
Service: 4/5
Total: 11/15
Price: $ (most entrees less than $10)

Conclusion: This diner, in an urban neighborhood that is turning around, was a great find. I was quite happy with the food and service. When I'm in town again, and I'm looking for a quick, cheap, and delicious meal, I'll be heading there again.

Restaurant Info:
River City Diner
7 N 17th St.
Richmond, VA 23219

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