A Visit to Carytown in Richmond, Virginia
I am a proud Richmonder, and I want to tell you about one of my favorite places in our fair city.
Carytown is located just east of downtown Richmond, Virginia nestled in an area just steps away from Richmond’s acclaimed “Fan” and Museum Districts. Carytown is our “bohemian” district. It is eclectic, loaded with a wide array of restaurants, grocery stores, locally-owned shops, boutiques, banks, and holistic shops and stores…enough to delight anyone’s taste for the unique.
I find Carytown is a happy place to visit, where the people mingle, enjoy wonderful food, and find interesting offerings from the merchants. First, let’s talk restaurants. Carytown offers restaurants galore with so many choices from all parts of the world, including American, French, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Thai, and Vegan/Vegetarian. Carytown is the place to tempt your pallet and delight your senses with the exotic and oh la la cuisine.
Speaking of oh la la, one of my very favorite spots is Can Can Brasserie. It’s such a great restaurant to enjoy both the delectable cuisine and the feel of a Paris bistro. Their menu is a French delight: From amazing soups to pastries and coffees and delicious entrees Can Can is a treat you will want to give to yourself. Visualize yourself in France without all the hassle of flying, airports, luggage, not to mention all the time you spend traveling across the pond. You don’t have to learn French either.
Many restaurants along Cary Street offer outside seating, and Can Can’s is one of the best seats in the house. People watching from their huge front window or bistro tables outside, enjoying a wonderful meal, and delighting in the outside breezes makes for an amazing day in Carytown.
The beauty of Carytown is that it is completely manageable and easy to navigate. You can walk anywhere: the shops and restaurants are mostly clustered together and the selection is vast. Parking is available although sometimes a bit challenging. The main thoroughfare—Cary Street—is one way, and you can park on either side. (If you are a skilled parallel parker!) There are also parking garages and street parking, clearly designated with signage, as well as parking along the more residential side streets. I generally park my car and walk; walking in Carytown is a delightful way for me to get exercise.
If you want to pamper yourself, Carytown has it: nail salons, hair salons, and spas to delight your senses and enhance your beauty. If you are looking for the eye candy of colorful and artistic architecture, a stroll through Carytown will delight you.
One of my very favorite stops, when I visit Carytown, is Elwood Thompson’s grocery store: If you are into healthy eating and holistic healing like I am, Elwood Thompson is the place to go. It has been around for 30 years, more recently grown by leaps and bounds, and is a neighborhood fixture for good reason. Elwood Thompson has turned into a quaint holistic grocery, deli, Smoothie, Holistic healing store with an additional cafe called The Beet, which serves beer and other appetite pleasers. They also offer classes in the evenings by holistic healers or those in the know about taking care of yourself. Elwood Thompson is a cornerstone of this community.
There are several small strip malls tucked away in Carytown. One is on Nansemond Street and houses The Fresh Market, Petco, Panera Bread, and Chipotle. Again, ample parking. The Fresh Market is what I call a “pretty store.” As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by the aroma of beautiful flowers and flowering plants. It is my go-to place for good affordable meat; they still have butchers who will help you. The bakery offerings are to die for!
Another small strip mall tucked in the north side of Cary Street is called Cary Court, and it houses the divine Can Can restaurant, as well some other favorite Richmond places. For the Love of Chocolate, as the name implies, stocks chocolate (and many other treats) from all over the country and all over the world. It is the candy store dreams are made of; You have to see it to believe it. A few doors down is a fun clothing store called Lou Lou’s which has a great selection of up to date clothes, wraps, purses, sweaters, and accessories. I have found some great buys there, nice additions to my wardrobe that have gotten a lot of compliments!
Across the street is Kilwins, the ice cream, candy and fudge store. I am told the turtles and peanut butter fudge are divine. The first time I was in a Kilwins was in Sarasota, Florida, you will find them in other places fortunately, especially in vacation spots. And for more sweets…Rocket Fizz is another candy store that offers candy and bottled sodas not normally sold in your conventional grocery store. Rocket Fizz is like stepping back in time to the candy stores of your childhood
Just a bit further on down Cary Street is the very cool Ten Thousand Villages, where you will find handmade treasures from around the world. It’s a great place to see what fair trade crafts are being created in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. The treasures you can find are unique, and could be great conversation pieces in your home.
If you find yourself in Richmond and are looking for unique pieces to adorn your home, something great to eat, or eclectic clothes to wear–or if you just want to wander and window shop–Carytown should be at the top of your list. Be mindful of your time, because Carytown will put you into a time warp, and you may forget to return.