With candles illuminating its rustic wooden furnishings and duck confit garnishing its pizzas, The Bellytimber Tavern strikes a satisfying balance between modern refinement and classic pub comforts. To complement a selection of draft brews as well as a full slate of harder options, the food menu incorporates all the bar standards, including small plates of fried chicken wings and bowls of Richmond red chili with housemade bread. However, even the staples come with an elegant twist: The wings are made with all-natural chicken, and the pizzas, which are fired in a brick oven, feature unusual toppings such as broccolini, caramelized bacon, and vegan cheese, if desired. As patrons slurp up the foamy heads of Guinness or toss back pints filled with a rotating selection of craft beers, they can rest their eyes on flat-screen TVs or sling their contact lenses at artwork by emerging artists hanging on the walls. Beneath the bar’s vintage-style copper ceilings, special events range from live music and DJ sets to VCU Rams game-day parties.
Godfrey's signature "dinner and a show" involves a bit more glitter and makeup than the usual dinner theatre. That's because the show eschews the standard piano crooners for costumed drag queens who sing and groove to disco, house, and pop hits. During these vibrant weekend acts, guests can whoop it up while enjoying top-shelf liquors and an eclectic lineup of international dishes that run the gamut from spring rolls to baked spaghetti. The fun even extends to weekend mornings, when the performers strut their stuff during a brunch that pairs pulsing music with banana-stuffed french toast, quiche, and feather boas made entirely out of bacon. All the while, ornate lamps twinkle against mirrors and red walls, adding to the fun, theatrical ambiance.
Built in Richmond's first high-rise apartment building and named for the artesian well that once provide water to its tenants, The Well carries on the edifice's history of welcoming visitors. The restaurant, owned and run by the same family that owned Cous Cous, exudes a comfortable retro feel, with recycled wooden doors supporting the bar and an old jukebox in the corner. The food, however, is not stuck in the past: the menu consists of classic dishes imbued with inventive twists, like shrimp po boy sandwiches with soubise and spiced aioli, and roasted beet sliders topped with fried pickles. Specialty drinks are named for staff members' canine friends, meaning patrons don't actually have to swallow hair from their own dogs.
Homestyle comfort foods on the Babe's of Carytown menu tackle cravings and complement plenty of brews and shots. But as satisfying as the meatloaf, taco specials, burgers, and omelets are, Babe's may be even better known for its entertainment and events. Weekly drag shows showcase female impersonators, and sometimes male impersonators, whose dramatic wigs and oversized glamour regularly dominate the stage. That same stage hoists laypeople to stardom, too, with Wednesday night karaoke, while concert nights feature bands like Tonic Jane. While drag, rock, spotlights, and comfort food draw audiences indoors, it's the sand-covered patio, replete with palm-roofed gazebos and a staff of aproned dolphins, that extends the fun beyond Babe's doors.
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 first Funny Bone location opened in 1982 and has spread infectious laughter ever since. Established stars such as Drew Carey and Jerry Seinfeld have graced the stage, as well as up-and-coming talents with fresh faces, fresh routines, and that fresh pine scent. The venue also plays host to a full-service bar, where patrons may steep their sorrows in calming brews then ingest them triumphantly.