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.
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.
Elegantly lit and plushly upholstered, The Byrd Theatre looks much the same as it did on its opening day in 1928—and sounds much the same, too, thanks to its centerpiece, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Every Saturday night, resident organist Bob Gulledge takes his seat at the orchestra-pit console and might preface the evening's second-run screening of a blockbuster film with selections from Phantom of the Opera or a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The antique pipes and bells—which occupy four rooms above the stage—roar back to life with a candy-colored sonority that triggers nostalgia and wakes up any vaudeville performers napping inside.
Since 2007, The Byrd Theatre Foundation has helped facilitate the restoration and preservation of the 1,300-seat auditorium and its organ, making sure it stays State and National Historic Landmark it is today. The Byrd Theatre supplements regular screenings with year-round events, ranging from film and comedy festivals to public-arts forums.
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.
Barksdale Theatre has staged professional productions of groundbreaking plays—including world premieres and Broadway musicals—for nearly 60 years. Lauded by critics, Steven Dietz’s play Becky's New Car uses witty dialogue to plunge viewers into a woman's midlife crisis. When a millionaire mistakes Becky for a widow during a moment of flirtation, she doesn't correct him, sparking an accidental extramarital affair that grants her access to an opulent, unfamiliar world. Throughout the play, Becky engages the audience by soliciting opinions or enlisting their help.