5 Best Dive Bars in Richmond, VA
Fine dining restaurants are great for romantic first dates; patio restaurants are ideal for enjoying the fresh air. But, if you really want to delve into the personality of a city, you need to visit at least a couple of dive bars. If you’re headed to Richmond this vacation season, check out the city’s collection of fascinating hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. Each spot has something unique to offer and its own story to tell.
This crowd favorite is located northwest of downtown Richmond, near the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) campus. The mood is casual, the crowd eclectic (with a heavy nod to those with piercings and tattoos), and the food is surprisingly good. Vegans will find a good selection of choices here, but carnivores won’t be disappointed, either. The bar is noted for its cheap beer prices (currently $1 for Miller high life and $3.50 for Pabst), and Empire hosts live music most nights.
Address: 72 West Broad Street Richmond, VA
Live bands, darts, pool tables and plastic corpses hanging from the ceiling: these are just a few of Wonderland’s many draws. The bar, located just east of downtown, is the brainchild of Chad, a confessed horror movie fanatic. Somehow, the combination of Halloween decorations, music memorabilia and Christmas lights works. Add affordable and tasty food (they serve a great fried mac and cheese), cheap drinks and fascinating people and you’ve got a great place to spend a few hours.
Address: 1727 East Main Street Richmond, VA
3. The Village Café
Located at the entrance to the VCU campus, the Village Cafe is part working-class bar, part sports bar and part university hangout. You’ll find patrons of every age group and every demographic here, but everyone gets along well. Beer is the drink of choice at the Village Cafe and the bar offers a good selection of draft beers, with prices starting at just $2. The food at the Village Cafe includes a smattering of affordable (if somewhat predictable) sandwiches. The culinary highlight is the house milkshake (in a host of flavors, without alcohol), a Richmond favorite.
Address: 1001 W. Grace Street Richmond, VA
4. McCormack’s Irish Pub
Open from 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., McCormack’s is the quintessential working man’s bar during the day and an Irish punk music bar at night. Located in the Shockoe District of Richmond, this pub has a diverse mixture of patrons and everyone is made to feel welcome. The kitchen serves until closing time, a rarity in Richmond, and the menu features an usual, but well-executed, selection of bar food and burgers.
Address: 12 North 18th Street Richmond, VA 23223
5. Cary Street Café
This self-proclaimed “hippie bar” is located in downtown Richmond and features live music most nights with an emphasis on jam bands, reggae and blue grass groups. The menu here offers many vegetarian options, including a portabella mushroom burger and a hummus wrap with roasted red peppers. They also serve breakfast all day. Daily happy hour prices start at just $2 for rail drinks.
Address: 2631 West Cary Street Richmond, VA
Phone: 804 353-7445
Remember: to best enjoy a dive bar, keep your liquor order simple. No frozen drinks, please. Chat up the bartender (when she’s not busy) about the history of the joint, and sample the house specialty, whether that’s a sandwich, a shot or a bowl of chili.