Ash Daniel photo
Best Bar for Grown-ups
The Wine Loft
4035 Whittall Way, Glen Allen, 368-1768
The Wine Loft has an extensive wine list, and owner Jeff Ottaviano's favorite is Amarone. "It's an Italian red wine where the grapes are dried for months before being pressed," he says. "It results in a tremendously complex wine that is rich, potent and long-lasting."
2. (Tie) Can Can; Capital Ale House
3. The Tobacco Company
Best Beer List
Capital Ale House
623 E. Main St., 780-2537; 4024-A Cox Road, Glen Allen, 780-2537; 13831 Midlothian Turnpike, Midlothian, 780-2537
Capital Ale House stocks beers from all over the world, but one of the most obscure is from a Belgian brewery that produces only a tiny batch of the beer each year. It also has an almost unpronounceable name, ‘t Smisje Wostyntje. Flavored with mustard seeds, it was originally called De Regenboog. "Some of us Capital Ale geeks still refer to it as Regenboog," says spokesperson Amy DuFour. It's just a tiny bit easier to remember.
3. Commercial Taphouse & Grill
2229 W. Main St., 353-2424
With the help of partner Jared Golden, interior designer Helen Reed and landlord Charles Diradour, Michelle Williams of Richmond Restaurant Group created a sophisticated 21st-century lounge on Main Street. "Jared and I had the idea of an upscale diner and lounge when we were in New York City a few years back," Williams says. "We wanted to create a restaurant and lounge with a big-city feel that was still casual and moderately priced."
2. The Wine Loft
3. The Republic
Best Cocktail List
203 N. Lombardy St., 355-3008
We know what artisanal means when it comes to food, but Richmonders are new to the craft bartending scene. At Balliceaux, the term means thyme-infused syrup, guava-chili purée and blood-orange bitters. It's fresh fruit muddled with small-batch liquor and pomegranate molasses. The unexpected flavors concocted at the Balliceaux bar meld surprisingly well and make each cocktail a beverage to be slowly savored — if you can.
2. Can Can
Best Happy Hour
11800 W. Broad St. (in Short Pump Town Center), 364-9744
What's the happiest thing you can drink at Firebirds happy hour? Spokesperson Tyler Michael says that it's "our top-selling drink, the Double Black Diamond martini. It's made with fresh pineapple and SKYY Infusions pineapple vodka and garnished with a pineapple slice." Paired with some half-price appetizers, it also sounds like a great way to forget about the August heat.
2. The Tobacco Company
3. Bar Louie
Jack Lauterback, Cha Cha's Cantina and others
One beverage that Jack Lauterback, also Style Weekly's drinks columnist, really loves is the Old Fashioned. "I make mine," he says, "by putting about a cube's worth of sugar in a shorter cocktail glass, adding two dashes of Angostura bitters, a bit of club soda and an orange slice. Add ice and then fill the glass with a good whiskey. Rye is traditionally used, but any bourbon or Canadian whiskey will work just fine."
2. Todd Moore, Wine Loft
3. (Tie) An Bui, Mekong; Mac McCormack, McCormack's Irish Pub
Best Sports Bar
Home Team Grill
1630 W. Main St., 254-7360; 11351 Nuckols Road, 967-9060
New bars and restaurants can often be overwhelmed the first night they're open, but for Garland Taylor, owner of Home Team Grill, it was a double whammy. The night in 2007 that he opened, VCU played Duke in basketball — and won. "We didn't even have a sign on the door, and they still found us!" he says.
3. (Tie) Buffalo Wild Wings; Glory Days
Best Dance Club
(Tie) The Tobacco Company Restaurant , 1201 E. Cary St., 782-9555 , and Vault , 1005 E. Main St., 648-3070
Jerry Cable of The Tobacco Company has been luring Richmonders onto the dance floor since 1977. His marketing team travels to bigger cities to keep on top of trends. Vault owner Mo Roman has seen his share of celebrities at the nightclub: Dave Matthews, Sissy Spacek, even a few politcos. "We have a revolving door of government officials," Roman says. "In fairness, they could have been upstairs at Bank [the attached restaurant]. After a certain time, both levels are open."
3. Lucky Buddha
Best Hotel Bar
The Jefferson Hotel
101 W. Franklin St., 788-8000
Ordering a drink (Ginger Mojito with fresh mint, anyone?), and some appetizers at Lemaire's elegant bar after work is a good way to scope things out without committing to a multicourse dinner. From 4 to 7 p.m., you can order beer and wine at a discount, or sample three appetizers for $20. And downstairs, TJ's will resume evening hours after Labor Day, offering $2 Virginia beers and three small appetizers for $10 between 4 and 7 p.m.
2. T-Miller's at the downtown Marriott
Best Place to Hear Jazz
1903 W. Cary St., 353-9280
When it was on Lombardy Street, the back room at Bogart's was legendary for the jazz musicians who came through town to stop and play. Nothing was lost in translation when the restaurant changed locations to Cary Street. Hot and cool live jazz can be heard throughout the week, along with funk and bluegrass, too.
3. GlobeHopper Coffeehouse & Lounge
Best Live Music Venue
708 E. Broad St., 612-1900
When their favorite names come through town, locals always cross their fingers that the show will be at The National. The renovated 1923 venue hosts everything from the Richmond Symphony to pop acts such as Adam Lambert, from Richmond's own Aimee Mann to postmodern rockers Devo. Best-kept secret? There's a tunnel from Gibson's Grill to the National. Dine at Gibson's and skip the lines before the show.
2. Innsbrook After Hours
3. The Camel
Best Boys' Night Out
3300 Norfolk St., Richmond, 353-4386; 6710 Midlothian Turnpike, 674-0790
The wives and girlfriends who let up a cheer when Shockoe Bottom's Club Velvet closed in May clearly didn't vote for this winner. But it's not their night out, is it? Paper Moon, founded in Richmond 16 years ago, has expanded to six locations nationwide, two of them in the region — one in South Side and one downtown, with 100 dancers between the two of them each evening.
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
3. Baja Bean Co.
Best Girls' Night Out
(Tie) BlackFinn , 1001 Haxall Point, 643-3466; and The Wine Loft , 4035 Whittall Way, 368-1768
Every Friday night, BlackFinn serves up Ladies Nights on the Canal — specialty martinis, complimentary appetizers and more. Once per month, a portion of a particular drink's proceeds go to a local charity.
Jeff Ottaviano traded in his career as an airline pilot to open The Wine Loft, where comfy seating, live music and an extensive wine selection (200 by the bottle, 70 by the glass) make it a great spot for gal pals to reconnect.
2. (Tie) Café Caturra; Can Can; deLux
3. Barrel Thief
Best Martini Selection
Martini Kitchen & Bubble Bar
1911 W. Main St., 254-4904
When the Martini Kitchen serves one of its 85 martinis, a server brings the drink in a shaker and pours it in front of you — equaling almost two drinks. Manager Edgar Rosales says he's always surprised that out of the about 3,000 martinis they sell each month, the most popular is the James Bond — a classic martini. But close runners-up are the sweet-tasting Ferrari and the Flirtini, which is topped off with champagne and particularly popular among the ladies.
3. 3 Monkeys
Best Bar Food
2525 W. Main St., 204-2525
Gotta try the hummus, the caramelized salmon and the spanakopita at 3 Monkeys, a few of the spot's most popular eats. And this Fan restaurant is hopping — the spacious patio will fill up, so reservations might be a good idea for a group. If you get a late-night craving for a homemade dessert or some fried calamari, the kitchen at 3 Monkeys stays open until 1 a.m. every day.
2. Sidewalk Café
3. Capital Ale House