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.
In the kitchen of Mediterranean Bistro, chef Mama Sue draws from years of restaurant experience and treasured family recipes when hand-making zesty salads, flaky phyllo pastries, and inventive pita and pasta dishes. Each meal carries with it not only a satisfying blend of sauces, spices, and veggies, but also a colorful name, such as the Oh Dayum hummus pita, filled with shredded carrots, plum tomatoes, and pepperoncini. The It Was You Fredo fettuccine is peppered with calamari, shrimp, scallops, and alfredo. The bill of fare samples from the finest examples of American, Greek, and Italian cuisine, resulting in a delicious melting pot of shareable mezzes, hearty hero sandwiches, and savory fire-grilled kebabs.
Amid the hum of live entertainment and sleek leather couches, classic American and continental dishes doused in dressings such as spicy garlic, key-lime barbecue, and sweet teriyaki sauce or cucumber-dill aioli convene with more than 85 martinis, beer, and wine. The drinks clink beneath strings of colorful lights, rustic barrel arches, and six 48-inch plasma TVs glimmering with sports games. Six nights a week, guests can raise their glasses to live entertainment ranging from local musicians to line-dancing lessons, all of which offer them a reprieve from lackluster evenings of playing checkers against their goldfish.
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.
In 2009, The New York Times named The Camel Richmond's "premier venue" for "up-and-coming Southern rock and bluegrass bands, acoustic singer-songwriters, and jazz and funk musicians." So far, nothing's changed: The Camel still hosts local and nationally touring acts such as Ben Kweller and James McCartney, who, unlike his father, has never toured with a band named after icky bugs. But even though it's lauded for providing live music seven nights a week, The Camel makes a space for all art, including occasional film screenings.
Like its entertainment lineup, The Camel's cuisine is an eclectic mix of American flavors. The culinary team, lead by executive chef Xavier Beverly, whips up gourmet vegan risottos, grills fresh seafood, and tops flatbreads with spinach, mushrooms, and hummus. But they also keep things casual with finger foods such as the popular sausage stars and housemade beef burgers crowned with horseradish mayo. Served until 2 a.m. nightly, each dish can be paired with local or craft beers, which fill the 28 taps lining The Camel's exposed brick wall.
The Camel is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.