Best of Richmond

Nightlife

Best Dive Bar 

The Forest Restaurant

Critics' Pick

click to enlarge When we stopped by the Forest last year for our annual Bar Guide, newcomer Chase Nelson told us the place ”makes me feel like home.” - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • When we stopped by the Forest last year for our annual Bar Guide, newcomer Chase Nelson told us the place ”makes me feel like home.”

5057 Forest Hill Ave.
233-1940
doitintheforest.com

It's an ominous sign, walking into a bar and seeing an idling police car parked across the street with the headlights turned to low. Even more unsettling is that none of the folks occupying barstools inside the Forest Restaurant seem to acknowledge the cruiser. And then you begin to wonder if that's because it's such a rare occurrence or because it's such a regular one that no one pays it any mind. Who cares? That uncertainty is part of what makes the Forest an ideal watering hole for those willing to step out of their comfort zone. It isn't an intimidating bar. It's just a little oasis of blue-collar drinking and dining in Westover Hills, where the median age of the clientele is "not-hipster." The menu leans toward deep-fried everything, the diner-esque décor is mostly an afterthought and the waitresses tend to give as much attitude as they get. It's the kind of place where the regulars don't acknowledge you until your third visit, or their third shot of whiskey. Unless, that is, you're asking for the bathroom, whereupon one invariably will stick a finger in the air pointing to the general direction of the front door (to get the men's, you have to head around the side of the building). It's a questionable setup. But "questionable" is but one of the dozen or so ingredients that make for a great dive bar — or a diner, for that matter.

(No prior years awarded this category)

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