2013 State of the Plate 

Richmond dining adventures, 14 favorite dishes, and what we're missing. Plus, our 2013 Restaurant of the Year: Aziza's on Main.

click to enlarge Roast squid with chorizo and rice from Aziza's on Main, our 2013 Restaurant of the Year. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Roast squid with chorizo and rice from Aziza's on Main, our 2013 Restaurant of the Year.

Among the discussions in Richmond restaurant circles this year is whether reiterative behavior is a good or bad thing. Chefs grouse about who's copying whom, and whether it's flattery, a genuine food movement or a blatant rip-off. Did menus that seemed new last year launch a dozen derivations the next? Is it possible for a restaurant to stay perpetually ahead of the curve and also relevant and busy?

Diners are left to wonder whether anything is original while they watch trends pop and fizzle, lurching from offal to hominy to sun-chokes to bitters. "I'm over this Richmond thing of gastro, fusion, yadda yadda," one diner commented last week on StyleWeekly.com."Where is authentic in Richmond?" Others want the city's chefs to rival ambitious food provocateurs and offer each trendy option, ASAP.

It's a difficult truth that restaurant work can be brutal, making it all the more meaningful to achieve success night after night. Fortunately there are chefs and owners keeping the faith. And there's enough deliciousness coming out of Richmond to satisfy the jaded diner and the one who's always ready to enjoy. Everything new might seem old again, or is it the other way around? Deveron Timberlake

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2013 Restaurant of the Year: Aziza's on Main
This Shockoe Bottom cafe offers thrills without frills.

Critics Hot Spots
The places in Richmond that are packing them in.

Bite Ahead
What's fresh on arrival in Richmond bars and restaurants.

Favorite Plates
The flavors that enchant us around town.

Old Flame: Rowland
Here's what continues to warm our reviewers' hearts.

The Eyes Eat First
These local beauties have visual appeal.

Wish List
What else could we possibly want in Richmond restaurants?

Star Service
Who's doing right by Richmond's tables.

Heavy Hitter
How Jason Alley keeps Richmond relevant in food circles.

Critical Thinking
Constructive advice for restaurant owners from well-meaning reviewers.

Dinner Partners
Meet Richmond's largest team of food reviewers.

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