In Richmond, when you ask for a great breakfast recommendation, before the B in brunch has even escaped your lips, locals typically blurt out, “Millie’s!” But if you’ve ever driven by the tiny eatery on a Sunday morning (or *gasp* actually tried to eat there), you know that the long wait times can really put a damper on your brunch enthusiasm. Some Millie’s apologists will try to convince you that enjoying a mimosa on the curb is part of the experience, but not me. There are plenty of other great brunches to try in Richmond, if you’re willing to move out from under Millie’s shadow.
My favorite new brunch spot is Heritage, on Main and Vine in the former Sixburner locale. It has a bit more of an upscale take on brunch, with enough Southern charm to keep out of the stuffy category. Everything on the menu sounds delicious, and our meals were perfectly cooked. The chicken and waffles with hot honey are a must-try, and I’m also told that adding pimento cheese to the Eggs Benny could change your life. Service was surprisingly quick, considering the place was packed about 15 minutes after they opened (make reservations!) And our waiter was not only friendly, he was also refreshingly knowledgeable about the ingredients, like their “real” Nutella. (Apparently, Heritage knows someone who knows someone who has the hook-up for Nutella from Italy, which has a discernably better flavor than the kind you get in the US.) If you’re like me, you will undoubtedly be interested in the impressive list of brunch drinks, including one called the Corpse Reviver (with absinthe) — a pretty good wake-up call. We also sampled the dessert (because why not) and after just two bites of the chocolate “cube,” I guarantee I’ll be heading back to Heritage to check out their dinner offerings sometime soon.
If you’re looking for something different from your usual brunch fare, hit up The Black Sheep. You won’t find your typical eggs and bacon at this kitschy little place. Instead think eggs and trout, or crab, or catfish. The Green Eggs & Lamb dish was excellent, although the lamb sausage was a bit of an afterthought on the plate. My brunchmates also recommend the Bayou Breakfast (the catfish) and the South Anna Scramble (the trout). I’m not usually impressed by restaurant coffee, but I really enjoyed the medium roast. My one complaint is that the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, which is a big service no-no in my book, especially at a place so small.
Want something more in the diner direction? Kitchen 64 is your best bet. They do all of the classics impeccably, and they also shake it up a little with multiple versions of Eggs Benedict. And speaking of Eggs Benedict, if you’re willing to go downscale for good food, The Forest Restaurant in Forest Hill is not much to look at, but it has what some consider the best Benedict in town.
Honorable mention on my list has to go to Godfrey’s and its legendary drag brunch. Okay, so it’s not the place to take your mom on Mother’s Day (or IS it?), but the drinks are tasty, and copious enough that you won’t mind the food. And the entertainment factor really can’t be beat. (I would normally make a joke about breakfast sausage here, but I don’t want to get too fresh with you in my first article!)
So, these are my top choices for brunch across a few categories, but here’s the good news. Once I added the “don’t say Millie’s” caveat, I found that people mentioned all sorts of different options for brunch, like Kuba Kuba, Mezzanine, and Helen’s to name a few. Turns out Richmond has a multitude of promising brunch spots, including, but not limited to, Millie’s.
Sara Grunden Kuhs is an advertising copywriter in Richmond, VA. When she's not checking out the growing restaurant scene, she's trying new recipes at home and chronicling them for her food blog, The Dinner Club RVA, which she runs with another home cook. She has two rowdy German Shorthaired Pointers, a rowdy husband, and a deep love of braised meats.