Virginia Has Lots Of History But May Even More Dining | Richmond

Culinary riches in Virginia

History has labeled Richmond, Virginia, as a town of many things, including the capital of the Confederacy and the stronghold of the tobacco industry. But we suspect the storied city's current era will be remembered for its food.

Pasture: Chef Jason Alley is on a crusade to revitalize Richmond's downtown, one bowl of grits at a time. The recently opened Pasture offers riffs on classic flavors: Roasted potato soup comes with a crisp potato skin swiped with curried crème fraiche, and cheese grits might be larded with pickled chiles and topped with guajillo-braised pork. The pimento cheese, however, is dependably traditional, made with Duke's mayonnaise and served with Ritz crackers.

The Roosevelt: Lee Gregory has created the restaurant we wish we lived next to. We'd roll out of bed in time for a brunch of breakfast-sausage corn dogs and steamed mussels with chorizo in "Bloody Mary broth." We'd return for early evening cocktails and a snack (pig's-head terrine? chicken-skin slider?). But the day wouldn't end before we'd had dinner, finished with a slice of Coca-Cola layer cake (see the recipe).

Peter Chang China Café: After opening and departing several restaurants across the South, it seems that roaming chef Peter Chang has settled in Richmond. The food is as good as you've read: Hot and numbing dry beef will leave your mouth in an altered state for hours; scallion bubble pancakes crafted by Chang's wife emerge from the kitchen like allium-themed sculptures.

The Magpie: Chef Owen Lane is a master of using familiar ingredients in surprising ways. Take an appetizer of hearts of palm: The stalks are deep-fried and tossed with roasted poblano chile pesto. Magpie's intimate dining room is an ideal spot for a date.