Piano keys float through the air on a mural on the wall of Chez Vin Wine Lounge, a Chester wine bar with subdued lighting and a relaxed ambience. Jazz melodies drift through the air as bartenders fill glasses with beer and local wines. As patrons chat with friends or engage in staring contests with strangers, chefs flavor blue crab claws with Old Bay seasoning, wrap scallops with bacon, and prepare other tapas.
BlackFinn American Saloon entices crowds to let loose with a bevy of cold drinks, an all-day menu of chic comfort food, and popular after-hours mingling. Tame ornery stomachs with the barbecue bacon sliders, four miniature burgers topped with melted cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and barbecue sauce on potato-roll beds ($8.99), or opt for the full-sized Black Angus saloon burger, complete with bacon, caramelized onions, and a miniature piano ($9.99). Diners can choose to sink teeth into grilled steak tips ($14.99) or pay tribute to America’s first and only overlords with an order of beer-battered fish 'n' chips ($11.99).
Located in the historic Shockoe Bottom district, longtime venue Hat Factory plays host to an extensive variety of live entertainment. For 13 days in October, the club morphs into Fear Factory, a ghoulishly gleeful haunted house spotlighting themed events every night. Scare-seekers may glimpse the spirit of clown Thurman "Laughing Man" Ray, whose undeadness adds a chilling layer to a seemingly innocent profession. The eerie extravaganza commences on Tuesday, October 19 with a special Halloween edition of the club's popular RVAlution with Dave Nada, a study in social interaction co-chaired by live performers and professional DJs. The Massacre-ade Ball on Saturday, October 30 provides the perfect excuse to wear that plainclothes police officer costume you've been storing all these years. The visually inclined can experience the spine-tingling Fear Factory teaser video here.
Most Americans won’t get the chance to see Cuba, but they can experience the culture and flavor with Kenn-Tico Cuban Bar & Grill’s cuisine. In a dining room decorated with panoramic shots of Havana Harbor or out on the new patio with skylights, a fountain, and 8-foot windows, plates are filled with traditional grub such as a sandwich of sliced pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on grilled cuban bread. Other classics include salmon topped with mango sauce, ropa vieja—shredded beef served up with onions, garlic, and peppers—and yucca sliced and fried until it looks like french fries back from a Caribbean vacation. Accompanying these dishes are homemade fruit milk shakes, freshly squeezed lemonade and limeade, and soft drinks such as Ironbeer and Materva. Knowing that their clients don’t always have time to stop in for their favorite dish, Kenn-Tico's chefs load up a cart with wraps and beverages to offer quick lunches downtown during the workweek.
Built in 1909, the Popkin Building once stood among the warehouses of Furniture Row as a showroom. Though its floors no longer house retail furnishings, they're now filled with new set pieces—such as barstools. Popkin Tavern reflects its building's past by displaying the original furniture company's sign against one wall and surrounding it with vintage photographs of bonnet-clad women, mustachioed men, and horses learning to drive history's first cars. Under wood-paneled ceilings, elegantly curved billiard tables form islands between heavy hardwood tables and curved banquettes. At these tables, vegetarians and carnivores alike nibble on casual gastropub fare that blends British culinary classics with Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors. To wash down bites, bartenders pour a range of local, regional, and national craft brews, featuring more than 15 on tap at any given time.
The sound of clinking pint glasses floats down from Mulligans Sports Grille's rooftop deck, spilling into the downtown street populated with charming shops and restaurants. Up on the deck, rustic wooden floorboards catch the ice-cold speckles of draft beer as bartenders dole out drinks from a shaded bar replete with numerous TVs. Servers, meanwhile, make their way up from the kitchen, decorating the forest-green tabletops with hearty sandwiches, giant wings, and other classic pub entrees. Inside the pub, guests can compete in games of ping-pong and pool. In addition to watching or loudly deriding the latest sports games or championship on 60 televisions, patrons can attend one of the bar's special events throughout the week, including $100-prize Texas hold 'em on Wednesday nights, team trivia on Tuesday nights, and Saturday-night corn-hole tournaments.