Nightlife in Mechanicsville

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As a 20-year veteran firefighter, Shawn Gregory saw his share of action and understood how draining a day on the job can be. So when Shawn and his wife decided to open Halligan Bar & Grill––named after a common tool used by firemen––they wanted to pay homage to the brave individuals in the fire service. “I built this place kinda to be a clubhouse for me and my firefighter friends to kick back after a long hard day on the job,” Shawn describes on his website.

Alongside firefighter-themed gear decorating the walls, including helmet-covered lights and uniforms pinned to the wall, the original eatery’s pride and joy is a 1973 Seagrave fire engine donated by the Mangohick Volunteer Fire Department. The engine, cut in half, sits behind the bar and portions out libations from its pump panel-turned-beer taps. Fully operational lights dance across the bar, and sirens blare every time someone says the word “refill.” At Halligan’s second location in Glen Allen, bar stools flank an entire fire truck in the massive dining room, and the roof holds tables reserved for VIP seating.

3 N 17th St
Richmond,
VA
US

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.

1501 W Main St
Richmond,
VA
US

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.

308 E Grace St.
Richmond,
VA
US

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.

900 West Franklin Street
Richmond,
VA
US

Growing up, kitchens were the last place Emilio Peiro wanted to be. Over time, however, the youngest of five boys began cherishing his opportunities to cook traditional Spanish cuisine with his mother. Using her recipes, imported ingredients, and some additional skills picked up from his older brother, a fellow chef, Emilio now recreates his family’s meals at Emilio's Restaurante Español.

Said recipes include more than 45 tapas, ranging from flambéed chorizo to vegetarian- and vegan-friendly dishes, such as sherry-infused onion potatoes. For more substantial meals, Emilio and his culinary team toss garden veggies with smoked paprika and stir chunks of mussels, calamari, and shrimp into paella.

Bartenders complement Emilio’s bites with an extensive selection of handpicked Spanish wines, as well as housemade sangrias. After feasting, stick around until 2 a.m. for nightly live music, plus events such as salsa nights, where participants learn to dance while balancing bowls of salsa on their heads.

1847 W Broad St
Richmond,
VA
US

A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.

While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.

7502 W Broad St
Richmond,
VA
US