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48 (Gay-ish) Hours in Richmond

by April Stamm
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Dec 9, 2017

There's something about the Richmond that's surprising. Sure there is perfect pimento cheese (I had it three times, in three very different incarnations in less than three days), and yes, there is Monument Avenue, but there is also a culture to the city that is welcoming, quirky, extraordinarily creative and diverse. Here's how I'd spend 48 hours...

Lunch at The Daily
Nestled in the heart of Richmond's Carytown neighborhood, The Daily does fresh and natural with style and real flavor. The well-thought menu is friendly for special diets (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and paleo options are all available), but doesn't leave out the omnivores. With options ranging from a Blackened Mahi BLT to a Barbeque Tofu Sandwich (made with local tofu), and a lovely array of bountiful salads, and pizzas to boot, The Daily is an excellent pre-shopping entre to your Richmond excursion.

Shopping in Carytown
With your belly full, head right out the door to the charming and eclectic shopping area of Carytown. Packed with almost exclusively small, locally owned shops you can find everything from clothes and jewelry from local designers, to books and records. Don't miss LBGTQ-owned and more than friendly Mongrel, a gift/card/trinket store where you can find everything for everyone back home. World of Mirth is a delightful toy and game store, not to be missed if you have young ones or just feel like a kid most of the time yourself.

Dinner at L'opossum
To eat dinner at L'opossum is to experience L'opossum. The menu verbiage including descriptions like "Darth Grouper Held at Bay by a Rebellious Coalition" only chip away at the restaurant's culinary quirkiness. David Shannon (owner and chef) backs up all of the oddity with deliciously crafted and inspired food and cleverly made cocktails.

Catch a Show at Richmond Triangle Players
From world premieres of original works to seminal works in the cannon, Richmond Triangle Players explores gender, sexuality, family, and equality across orientations and identities. From the sublimely hilarious to the heart wrenching and thoughtful, recent seasons have included gems like "The Normal Heart" (Larry Kramer), "Cloud Nine" (Caryl Churchill) and "The View Upstairs" (Max Vernon).

Stay at Quirk Hotel
When it's time to lay your head down, why not do it in modern yet cozy pink and white style? Quirk Hotel brings together luxury and modern artistic sensibilities. Rooms are light yet snug, featuring custom designed beds made from salvaged floor joists of the original building and perfect amenities (caffeine bar with Keurig coffee makers, large walk-in showers and loads of cleverly beautiful and functional bureaus, and built-in drawers). Art is king here; rooms highlight local and world-renowned artists and Quirk has its own art gallery adjacent to the hotel.

Day 2

Brunch at Sub Rosa Bakery
After you've slept off your fun from day one, start your day at Sub Rosa Bakery with a lingering coffee and pastry brunch and keep it local with a perfect cup of Lamplighter coffee (locally roasted in Richmond, sustainably produced) and a gorgeous pastry or granola with housemade yogurt. Pastry and bread are made in-house and baked in their wood-fired masonry oven.

Visit The Valentine
To call it a historical society or even a museum doesn't do it justice. The Valentine exhibits explore the past, present and future of Richmond with a complex, critical, and loving eye. Director Bill Martin probably says it best, "In our exhibitions and programs you will discover a new narrative that breaks through the preconceptions of you might have of Richmond. We are more than the Civil War. From a KKK pamphlet to a portrait of George Washington, from the Pride Flag that flew over the Federal Reserve to a dress from an early Irish immigrant, we reflect this much broader and more complex history of our city. Our hope is that you discover something about yourself at the Valentine.... you learn something new, you are challenged, and you smile."

Explore the Scott's Addition Neighborhood
You've started your day with righteous caffeine and fulfilling combos of flour and butter, you've soaked in some honest and thought-provoking culture, now it's time to see what Richmond has to offer in the liquid category. The Scott's Addition neighborhood is a bourgeoning neighborhood once predominately warehouses now booming with hip loft apartments, clever restaurants and libations.

Create your own "tipple crawl" and hit some faves. Blue Bee Cider makes complex and crisp ciders. No cloying, I just dropped a green apple jolly rancher into a sprite, buffoonery here. Take a quick stroll to Ardent Craft Ales and sample of some tried and true, well-crafted brews like their Triple IPA and some seasonal specials like a Sweet Potato and Sage Saison. Finally, sit quietly and ponder the creamy smoothness of Reservoir Distilleries beautiful whiskeys and bourbons. Each batch is individually tasted to determine aging, no schedule -- just passion.

Dinner at Comfort
You know you're at your last stop in Virginia when there is a four-foot sign for Duke's Mayonnaise above the bar. Finish your trip to Richmond, a city full of what you didn't expect in such a great way, with what you may have expected, in an equally great way. Comfort is just that, southern comfort food done right.

Stuff yourself with fried catfish, meatloaf, pulled pork, paired with your pick of mac and cheese, fried okra, cheddar cheese grits and more. Even here, though, there is a dichotomy, the food is perfect, Southern, belly-warming food like your grandma would make, if you had a Southern grandma who was a damn good cook. However, look around and you're not just surrounded by locals, you're not just surrounded by tourists. They are not all white, not all black, not all straight, and not all gay... they are not all anything. They are Richmond: a truly diverse and welcoming beacon in Virginia.

April Stamm is a lifestyle and food writer and chef based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.


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