Full Plate: 9 Favorite Richmond Dishes to Try in 2016 

From surprising vegetarian creations to homey cookies that can inspire a Proustian reverie, our reviewers look back on some of their most memorable dishes of the year.

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Scott Elmquist

Maitake at Metzger Bar and Butchery

Ironically, given the restaurant’s name, my favorite dish is vegetarian. It’s as if owner and chef Brittanny Anderson hired little garden fairies to create her meat-free dishes. Maitake — a roasted hen-of-the-woods mushroom and kale over a beautiful hash brown patty topped with an egg — is earthy and delicious. metzgerbarandbutchery.com. — R.M.

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  • Scott Elmquist

Chocolate-Frosted Gingerbread Cookies at Beet Café in Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market

As an unabashed lover of sweets, I’m thrilled when I come across desserts that remind me of childhood. Beet Café’s gigantic chocolate-frosted gingerbread cookies do just that. As I wrote last year, they’re “a throwback to my mother’s chocolate-frosted gingerbread, a combination I only learned in adulthood is far from commonplace.” ellwoodthompsons.com. — K.N.

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  • Scott Elmquist

The Perfect Egg at Dutch & Co.

This egg is oddly perfect indeed. Blending textures and flavors, cured salmon pairs with the earthy tones of cumin yogurt to create amazing results for this rye-crusted soft-boiled egg. On paper, it just shouldn’t work as well as it does. dutchandcompany.tumblr.com. — M.F.

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  • Ash Daniel

El Venezolano at Kanoa Latin Cuisine

Two cornmeal arepas serve as a blank canvas for a variety of fillings: soft cheese, avocado, seasoned black beans, shredded beef and eggs, served with a side of plantains. Savory, sweet and filling. kanoacuisine.com. — M.F.

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  • Scott Elmquist

Chicken Gganpunggi at 88 Garden

Chicken wings are as ubiquitous as FitBits these days, but some rise above the flock. There’s no version I dig more than the chicken gganpunggi at 88 Garden, where meaty wings manage to be both crispy and sticky, redolent of garlic and covered in sesame seeds. I can make a meal out of a plate of these beauties. Search Facebook for 88 Garden. — K.N.

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  • Scott Elmquist

The Vegan Reuben at Ipanema Cafe

Since switching to his vegan-before-6 diet — in which former New York Times writer Mark Bittman recommends eating vegan meals during the day and a regular dinner for better health in his 2013 book, “VB6” — I’ve rediscovered the wonders of Richmond’s longest running vegetarian restaurant. This sandwich isn’t a poor imitation mimicking a meaty classic. It soars on its own. Tangy cabbage, buttery bread and creamy dressing all complement substantial pressed tofu for a satisfying lunch. ipanemaveg.com. — M.F.

click to enlarge ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel

Fish Soup at Dinamo

Close your eyes and you can almost pretend that you’re seaside when eating a bowl of fish soup loaded with mussels, rockfish and calamari, all tasting so fresh that you can practically smell the salty air. Pasta and tiny, diced carrots and onions round out the flavor profile, which comes across as a satisfyingly rustic and thoroughly pleasing start to a meal. dinamorichmond.com. — K.N.

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  • Ash Daniel

The Roasted Bone Marrow at Graffiato

It’s sweet and salty, sour and bitter — and umami. And there’s bacon. And pistachios. It is delicious. graffiatorva.com. — R.M.

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  • Ash Daniel

The Beet and Fennel Salad at Dinamo

It feels weird to be talking about a salad, but this salad does so many things right. Seriously. I don’t even like beets, particularly, and I’ve tried to recreate it at home at least three times. It’s all in the dressing — zippy, sweet and tangy. dinamorichmond.com. — R.M.

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