The workday is done, but instead of settling into the couch to vegetate for a few hours before bed, you're in the mood to blow off some steam, maybe take in some live music, perhaps just shoot a little pool while enjoying a beer. Does Richmond have you covered? You bet.
Kick Back With a Cold One
Sometimes you just need to relax and pour some hops down the hatch. Choose from more than 40 beers on tap and keep them cold on the ice rail along the bar at Capital Ale House (623 E. Main St.; 4024-A Cox Road; 13831 Village Place Drive; 780-ALES, capitalalehouse.com). For more of a hip vibe, head to the dimly lit Commercial Tap House (111 N. Robinson St., 359-6544), where the creative descriptions of beers on tap are as fun to read as the brews are to drink. County Rib and Ale House (11045 Hull Street Road, 675-4447) features more than 20 microbrews on tap, along with nightly events like live music, karaoke and wing night. The extensive selection at Museum District beer haven Caliente (2922 Park Ave., 340-2920, calienterichmond.com) goes down easy alone or alongside the spicy Cajun, Caribbean and Southern-influenced cuisine. Sample locally brewed libations like the ever-popular Legend Brown Ale on the patio at Legend Brewing Co. (321 W. 7th St., 232-3446, legendbrewing.com), or indulge in a Big Nasty Porter at Richbrau Brewing Co. (1214 E. Cary St., 644-3018, richbrau.com), where there's a restaurant downstairs and a dance club with pool tables upstairs.
Dance All Night
Shakin' and groovin' is a great way to cancel out the calories you're consuming on a night out. On Thursday through Saturday nights, Bandito's (2905 Patterson Ave., 354-9999, banditosburritolounge.com) removes tables to make way for a DJ and a rump-shaking college crowd. Vault, the dance-club portion of posh restaurant/bar Bank (1005 E. Main St., 648-3070, bankandvault.com), also features a DJ in a more upscale environment. If you're feeling extra frisky, dance in one of the two cages that extend from the ceiling at Bahama Joe's (6922 Staples Mill Road, 262-9652, bahama-joes.com). Or grab 20 of your closest friends and inquire about Bahama Joe's decked-out party bus, which allows you the use of a smoke machine to make your grand entrance and employs a bartender to mix drinks while you cruise from club to club. For a hipster scene, hit '80s nights at Mars Bar (115 N. 18th St., 644-MARS, marsbarrestaurant.com), where you'll find a dance floor in back packed with ladies bopping and singing along to songs from their childhood.
Many bars host live music — with anything from jazz and mojitos to a country crowd and Nashville cover band. For a laid-back taste of the Big Easy, head to Emilio's Tapas Bar (1847 W. Broad St., 359-1224, emiliosrichmond.com), with vibrant, brassy music and international tunes on hand each week. At Grandpa Eddie's Alabama Ribs & BBQ (11129 Three Chopt Road, 270-RIBS, grandpaeddiesbbq.com), you'll hear classic rock, bluegrass and other rotating acts on Friday and Saturday night in a family-friendly atmosphere. Shenanigans Eatery & Pub (4017 MacArthur Ave., 264-5010, greenpub.com) has music more nights than not — spanning acoustic rock to jam bands. Weekend nights at Siné Irish Pub & Restaurant (1327 E. Cary St., 649-7767, sineirishpub.com) often bring live bands like Jubeus, whose upbeat pop includes Latin, Celtic, funk and reggae influences. Pool hall The Triple (3306 W. Broad St., 359-7777) books local acts as well as those from as far away as Canada in genres spanning hip-hop, rockabilly and anything in between. A new and unexpected venue for live music is Plaza Duckpin Bowling (523 E. Southside Plaza, 233-8799), where you'll find duckpin bowling alongside mid-sized national acts. A stage and dance floor were built in the center of the alley and feature a regular roster of touring indie, Americana and rock bands.
Richmond's got its fair share of inventive drink lists — you'll be tempted to work your way through them, but pace yourself. Above Verbena is V Lounge (2526 Floyd Ave., 359-3122, verbenarichmond.com), where an upscale ambiance is completed by an extensive drink list with such treats as a caramel-apple martini. Patina Grill (3416 Lauderdale Drive, 360-8217, patinagrill.com) features combinations like the Sakepom, a mix of Pama, sake, champagne and grenadine. The modern take on Japanese at Sushi O (1228 Alverser Plaza, 897-9878, sushiova.com) is reflected in its libations list, featuring the Wild Lotus — a concoction of Absolut Currant, lychee and black currant nectar. Element Lounge (119 N. 18th St., 788-8001, elementloungeva.com) features an extensive mojito selection, such as the Pineapple Passion, with passion-fruit rum and pineapple juice.
Down the Pub
These neighborhood pubs may make you want to move just so you can become a regular. The Corner Café (800 N. Cleveland St., 355-1954) is tiny, but its selection of beers on tap and pub fare keeps it bustling day and night. You won't want to miss the Irish sing-alongs at St. Practice Day on the 17th of every month at O'Toole's (4800 Forest Hill Ave., 233-1781, otoolesrestaurant.com) that pay homage year round to the real deal in March. At Rare Olde Times (10602 Patterson Ave., 750-1346, rareoldetimespub.com) you can hoist a Smithwick's and listen to the owner croon: He's both head chef and a weekend singer. The beer list at Rosie Connolly's (1548-A E. Main St., 343-1063, rosieconnollys.com) recalls far-off places and is accompanied by a list of popular combinations. Ever tried a Poor Man's Black Velvet (Guinness mixed with cider)? Sunday game nights featuring a chance to play your favorite old-school board games like Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots, Twister and Battleship are one of the draws at the pub portion of Patrick Henry's Pub & Grille (2300 E. Broad St., 644-4242): It's tucked below the "grille" part and stays open later.