Eat, Play, Learn 

Part of a VCU education is knowing where to dine off-campus.

click to enlarge Sprout serves hoppin’ john and other comfort dishes made with local foods by local rockers. Stay late for the music. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Sprout serves hoppin’ john and other comfort dishes made with local foods by local rockers. Stay late for the music.

Attention new Virginia Commonwealth University students: Welcome to Richmond.

By now you’ve probably had a few run-ins with the homeless, spent a late night at Sahara hookah lounge and learned about that weird echo when you clap in the middle of the Compass Points. After Shafer Dining Hall has lost its thrill and you’ve spent all of your RamBucks, get to know some of these nearby establishments:

821 Café: Marrying vegetarian dishes with peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches, 821 satisfies the college hipster and the prep, and anyone wanting a good, greasy burger. Breakfast is a strong point.
825 W. Cary St.
Weekdays 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Weekends 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Cous Cous: The best way to eat at this atmospheric restaurant is to go the meze route. A round of kekfa, gambas and arancini are date-night worthy, especially when washed down with any of this restaurant’s signature cocktails (or, if you’re underage, a specialty drink).
900 W. Franklin St.
Weekdays 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m.

Edo’s Squid: This well-loved, minimalistic Italian restaurant is the best option when you don’t have to foot the bill — like when your parents are in town. Reservations are advisable, as is the seafood.
411 N. Harrison St.
Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday 5:30-10 p.m.

Food carts: Near campus, four snack carts take up residence each semester. At the Compass Points are the fancy sandwiches of Olio’s cart, the folded fun of Nate’s Taco truck and the simplicity of Captain Slappy’s Hot Dog Emporium. Mobile Munchies (aka the hippy cart), on Main between Harrison and Cherry, serves wraps, including the grilled chicken excursion for $4.50; the bohemian set-up has been a campus fixture for 16 years. Hours vary; usually weekday afternoons.

Ipanema Café: The campus king of vegan and vegetarian cuisine, Ipanema features a delicious changing chalkboard menu and $2 drafts on Monday nights. The gouda sandwich and fettuccine entree will please even the most carnivorous student’s palate.
917 W. Grace St.
Weekdays 11 a.m.- 2 a.m.
Weekends 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m.

Mama’s Kitchen: Serving excellent Korean food for dine-in and take-out, Mama’s Kitchen’s beef bulgogi combo with numerous sides is not to be missed.
946 W. Grace St.
Daily 5-9 p.m.

Mojo’s Philadeli: Known for pizzas and cheese steaks, Mojo’s is a good choice for a larger crowd. Pay special attention to the budget burgers, most in the $3 to $4 range.
733 W. Cary St.
Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m.-midnight (kitchen)
Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-1 a.m. (kitchen)

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant: Serving Ethiopian the traditional way, Nile’s fare arrives on injera flat bread and without eating utensils. The menu is fully gluten-free. Large portions lend well to group dining, and the mixture of spices and the chance to eat kitfo with your hands makes Nile a memorable night out.
309 N. Laurel St.
Lunch: Tuesday-Sunday, Noon-3 p.m.
Dinner and bar nightly 5:30-10 p.m.

Sally Bell’s Kitchen: A Richmond institution, this little powerhouse has been churning out boxed lunches from its unassuming West Grace Street headquarters since 1924. The Smithfield ham rolls and upside-down cupcakes are scrumptiously Southern. You’re very Richmond if you ask for the string.
708 W. Grace St.
Weekdays 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Sprout: A local-foods restaurant and bar and music venue at night, this year-old eatery has distinguished itself for affordability and quality. The hoppin’ john bowl, especially accompanied by the grass-fed beef, is flavorful and fresh.
1 N. Morris St.
Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.- late night

Stuffy’s: The Famous, Lumberjack and Great Garden subs are prime reasons this deli has attracted a regular base of VCU employees since it opened in 1975.
411 N. Harrison St.
Weekdays 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The Village Café: This quintessential college hangout has a large menu of standard diner fare — it’s not clear why food television’s Guy Fieri likes the pizza — and all-day breakfast. With its cast of grizzled patrons at the bar, and its storied reputation as a countercultural oasis, it’s difficult to imagine a VCU without the Village.
1001 W. Grace St.
Daily 8:30 p.m.-2 a.m.


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