Style Weekly put out their "Best of Richmond" issue last week. I don't think there was a single category that I agreed with. Nevermind that it was their "biggest reader survey" ever, it was out of touch or maybe the majority of their readers don't live within the city limits of Richmond. The "Richmond Metro Area" is not Richmond. Much like the "DC Metro Area" is not DC. And, if it's not apparent from everything I have ever posted ever, I hate the suburbs. I may be a product of the Northern Virginia sprawl, but I in no way endorse it - meaning, I could not care less about the opinions of non-city dwellers regarding the "best of" anything within city limits.
I also think that there were far too many categories, so I've made my own list based on me spending way too much money and going out way too much.
Best Venue: Alley Katz
This is based solely on the space and not on the names the venue attracts. It's big enough, but maintains an intimate feel. The staff is friendly, the drinks are cheap and the soundsystem is great.
Best Sushi: Akida
Sure, they don't have tater tots, but those aren't Japanese, so why would they? For someone looking for authentic sushi and sashimi, this is the place to go. The space is small, rarely loud and great for a first date or taking a friend from out of town.
Best Cafe/Coffeeshop/Place to use the internet for free: Lamplighter
It's not just for hipsters, it's become the neighborhood hangout. I cannot go there without running into at least three people I know, and like. They have never once messed up my order, and everything I've tried on the menu is delicious and reasonably priced. The vegan and vegetarian options make this place great for everyone. The staff is friendly and patient, even during their busiest hours. Though, I recommend ordering ahead if you want a TLT&A during their lunch rush. They cook in order the orders are placed, and it'll be ready when you get there.
Best Museum: The Children's Museum
Sure, the VMFA has the Picasso exhibit, but have you ever taken your small relative to the Children's Museum? I have just as much fun as they do pretending to drive the ambulance, digging for dinosaur bones and making crafts. (Related: I am a huge dork.) I've never tried to go without a small relative, that probably wouldn't be welcomed by museum staff or parents, but it would still be fun. My nephew's favorite exhibit is the Newsroom.
Best Place for Karaoke: New York Deli
The crowd is different every week, and spands well beyond the regulars. The talent is unexpected and those performing are unassuming. I don't love the DJ, I think he talks too much and has terrible hair, but that's neither here nor there. (But seriously, dude, you should cut that ponytail off.)
Best Brunch: Lulu's
Have you had the Red Velvet Waffle? No? You are missing out. Though, perhaps you prefer a savory brunch over a sweet one, in which case their menu is perfect for you. Omlettes, fritattas, meat, it's all there. I like to go with a friend and split the RVW and the Greek fritatta. Though, it fills up fast, so go with a small group or with a couple people and sit at the bar.
Best Restaurant: Water Grill
I like seafood and I like patios and I reallyreally like seafood. Nevermind the great service or ambiance or it being conveniently located down the street from Bev's and The Byrd, get me some scallops!
Best Bar: Ehhh, this is a toss up. I can't decide between Bamboo or The Whisky.
Bamboo: It's always full of townies and the food is fairly high-end for a bar. For late night snacking I like to get the fried eggplant appetizer. I also like that all the staff has a constant smirk on their faces.
The Whisky: They serve their entire menu until last call. All of it. And from open to 3 pm, they offer a 25% discount to anyone who lives or works in The Fan and on rainy days ask for the "rainy day discount." They offer plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options. Don't ask for your regular drink, tell the bartender what you like and have them recommend something new - you will like it, promise. Try the green bean fries.
Best Place for Finding single men with jobs and cars for your friends who don't go out much: The Rebublic
Seriously, it works. Every single time.
Sure, there are other places to go, but most other categories seem irrelevant as Richmond isn't large enough to really support multiples of things. And besides all be do is go to shows, karaoke and drink anyway.