Nightlife in Richmond

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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

One of the Science Museum of Virginia’s current exhibits includes a few basketball players—just don’t expect LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. These basketball players are two rats, playing a live one-on-one game to demonstrate operant and classical conditioning. Throughout the three-story museum, more hands-on examples of science await at five permanent exhibits. Inspect a rock from the moon, explore a life-size space capsule, and generate energy by pedaling a stationary bike. Kids can even build their own playground with materials such as mats and foam blocks.

Inside the IMAX Dome, a screen 10 times the size of a typical 35 mm screen shows a wide range of educational films. Outside the museum, plants in the BayScapes Garden thrive without pesticide, fertilizer, or the encouragement of a motivational speaker, and an onsite greenhouse offers free planting areas for visitors to contribute greenery and learn about sustainable farming.

2500 W Broad St
Richmond,
VA
US

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.

204 E Grace 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

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.

3166 West Cary Street
Richmond,
VA
US