Pints & Pint-sized: 821 Cafe

821 Cafe’s food–both quantity and quality–and great beer are worth the wait.

I have the feeling that some folks write off 821 Cafe due to its proximity to VCU. It’s true that, if your timing is bad, you might arrive just after a crush of students do. And even if your timing isn’t bad, you can still face a line out the door. It’s that tight inside. But the food–both quantity and quality–and great beer are worth the wait. I’m bummed it took me eight years of living in Richmond before I figured this out.

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Pint score:

With 18 taps the beer is as eclectic as the art on the walls and changes more often. Trinkin is your friend. There are always around four Virginia beers with one or two of those from Richmond. Happy Hour runs from 4:00 – 7:00 PM most days.

On Tuesday, April 22nd, they’ll celebrate their 10 year anniversary and served up the holy grail of Richmond beers: the Hardywood Gingerbread Stout. That alone would push their rating to a three but the other taps are no slouches either.

Belgians, stouts, IPAs–whatever your craving–they’ll like have something that fits the bill and a good chance of something you haven’t seen locally. As an added bonus, growlers. There is a reason to travel with an empty growler in the car, and that’s for the occasions when a restaurant like 821 Cafe has a favorite hard-to-get golden nectar.

Pint-sized score:

On a recent brunch visit we were surrounded by kids ranging in age from eight months to 10 years, which is testament to 821’s parental popularity. Even without kids, the noise level is loud enough that you could recreate your favorite scene from Pulp Fiction and not a single eyebrow would raise.

The big corner booth is the prize that every family hopes to snag but first come, first serve on that beauty so good luck. The tables in the middle are set against each other. That can be inconvenient for your neighbors if your little one is in that “must throw everything” phase, but 821 Cafe has such a laid-back vibe that I can’t imagine it happening often. Worst case, an acknowledgment of the thrown sugar packet and perhaps a beer on your tab and all will be forgiven.

While the art on the wall will keep your little one’s eyes dancing, make sure you have a couple of quarters handy to buy a button on your way out.

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

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