Amid all the hoopla over new restaurants opening — and we're guilty as charged — there are plenty of satisfying stalwarts that don't buckle under the competitive pressure. With salutations to all of the longstanding leaders of Richmond's culinary scene, here are some particular favorites:
Bistro Bobette manages to be an occasion-worthy spot and a cozy neighborhood bistro with rib-sticking French comfort food. The key ingredient is Parisian chef Francis Devilliers, a charming addition to the dining room when he has a moment to escape the kitchen and mingle. Much can be read into his dedicated crowd of regulars, many of whom live nearby and prefer to eat at the bar where service is less formal and conversations are communal. 1209 E. Cary St. — K.N.
The Roosevelt: Two years in a row James Beard nominations have gone to chef Lee Gregory, and he still produces amazing food that hasn't lost its edge. 623 N. 25th St. — M.F.
Anything Ed Vasaio: We say it every year and it remains true. Dependable, delicious and daring, Mamma 'Zu, Edo's Squid, Dinamo and 8 1/2 have the luster and the clientele they started with, and add celebrity diners all the time. — R.M.
Dive bars: Chiocca's, Poe's Pub, Hill Cafe, Robin Inn, the Camel, Patrick Henry Pub, Bamboo Cafe — places that kill it year after year with loyal locals and better-than-average pub grub. It takes a majorly consistent following to continue in a volatile industry. These guys deserve applause. — R.M.
Acacia never goes out of style. Trends come and go, but chef Dale Reitzer's food still dazzles locals and out-of-towners, with exemplary service from a well-oiled machine of a staff. Acacia is as reliably impressive as the herons that return to nest along the James every spring, and just as satisfying to behold. 2601 W. Cary St. — K.N.
Lemaire remains one of Richmond's finest and most consistent establishments because chef Walter Bundy is a perfectionist who stretches expectations and delivers the goods. He's the best ambassador for a very-Richmond taste experience. And his venison is a must. 101 W. Franklin St. at the Jefferson Hotel. — D.B.