Richmond’s hidden gems: Broad Street

Welcome to Part Three of our series exploring some of Richmond’s best kept secrets — restaurants that serve up delicious food while somehow managing to fly under the radar. Next up: those lesser-known spots on Broad Street.

Welcome to Part Three of our series exploring some of Richmond’s best kept secrets — restaurants that serve up delicious food while somehow managing to fly under the radar. Make sure you check out Part One where Matt Sadler explores some of Richmond’s breakfast spots and Part Two, an exploration of some of the best places to get Eastern Asian cuisine in town.

Part Three: Broad Street

Downtown RVA/Broad Street has made significant strides over past few years. As part of the revitalization, several eateries have popped up, all within a couple blocks of Broad. While some places like Comort and newcomer Belvidere at Broad have basked in the limelight, there are other restaurants, old and new, that haven’t received the public attention that they deserve.

Louisiana Flair

(322 E. Grace Street)

It is hard to know how far under the radar Louisiana Flair really is. They definitely have a following, but in the same token they should be busier. They are that good. Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Etoufee, Gumbo, Jamabalaya — this place has the works.

Lousiana Flair is open during the week until 6pm. I stop by the place for both breakfast and lunch. Breakfast boasts different egg sandwiches and a few entrees. Their catfish and eggs may just be the best breakfast in town. Owner/operator Nate explained to me that marinating the catfish a day before frying is what makes the difference. For the people who love sweets in the morning, Wednesday is Beignet Day. These tasty treats are almost as good as what you might find at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. For lunch, there are always Po’Boys — catfish, shrimp, soft shell crabs, etc. Nate also posts daily specials where you might find the other creole classics. The etouffe is served every other Tuesday, and Jambalya can be found on Fridays.

While the place is not known for its beauty, the real artistry is what served on the plate. Make sure to extend a cheerful “hello” to Nate the next time you visit.

Nick’s Produce

(400 W. Broad Street)

The danger of Nick’s Produce is that no matter how hungry I am, I always find myself leaving with a sandwich. Nick’s Produce and International Market is technically a grocery store; I make quarterly visits to replenish my supply of Greek Olive Oil. These guys will tell you that Greek Olive Oil is the best. Why? Because, it is Greek. They will also tell you that Greek oregano is the best. Why? Because it is Greek. You get the picture.

The deli counter is located in the back of the store. They have a full supply of meats and cheeses. As I wait for them to cut me some kefalotyri (for saganaki), I will always end up ordering a sandwich or gyro for the ride home. The food is simple. Good bread. Good meats and cheeses. Fresh produce and condiments. Where it seems like most sandwich shops have all their meats pre-sliced and portioned, there is something refreshing about things being cut to order. In the end, Nicks is more about the experience, but you always walk away with a good sandwich to boot.

Bistro 27

(27 W. Broad Street)

This place is the best — a nice restaurant that people never recognize. Heck, it took three years of a friend babbling about the place before I tried it, and then it was only because I met Chef Carlos at a gathering and he was telling me about his food.

This place is great. The white table clothes make it a special occasion place, while the bar is casual and comfortable. Bistro 27 features both lunch and dinner menus. Chef Carlos will often pull from his Brazilian roots and his Italian training to make some simply wonderful meals.

Some “must haves” at 27 include the Shrimp Bobo or the Blood Sausage Appetizer. Also, if in season, the Oxtail Stew is hearty and flavorful. Chef Carlos is also known to grill up one of the best ribeyes in town. For the adventurous eater, turn over the reigns to the chef, and you will not be disappointed. He serves both a four- and five-course tasting menu. Sit at the bar for this experience, because you can enjoy the commentary of the chef as you enjoy the food.

While this list may not be as obscure as some of the other places I have listed in the past, there is no doubt in my mind that each one of these places should be busier. They all provide good food at good prices and hence they are gems in the Richmond dining scene.

(Photo by Jeff Auth)

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Matt Sadler

In the hopes of experiencing the perfect meal, Matt “The Marinara” Sadler searches the foothills of Manakin, the barrios of Chesterfield, and the corners of Oregon Hill only to realize that he is easily satisfied.

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