Fall Weekends 2009: Easy Street

A leisurely stroll along a street in Richmond offers interesting shops, stylish dining, and an old-fashioned movie house

By: Ellen Ryan

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Fun? Hip? Not words generally associated with Richmond, the Cradle of the Confederacy. But Carytown, the one-mile retail-and-restaurant row tucked into a corner of I-195 called the Downtown Expressway, is an enjoyable stroll. Here are some highlights. There’s even an old-is-new-again mansion nearby for a relaxing end to your day.

Stop and Shop

Alchemy Eco Boutique, 3125 W. Cary St.; 804-358-0781. This small shop features “green” clothing made of organic cotton, bamboo, and soy fabric plus accessories, baby items, and locally crafted jewelry.

World of Mirth, 3005 W. Cary St.; 804-353-8991. For kids, there are play houses, lunch boxes, bike horns, huge stuffed critters, safe dartboards, and puzzles. Adults giggle over a Marie Antoinette action figure (yes, its head flies off), a Hostess Twinkie cookbook, lava lamps, and buttons with such sayings as “I’m saving myself for my second marriage.”

Mongrel, 2924 W. Cary St.; 804-342-1272. It’s won lots of awards for best gift shop in Richmond. The pretty, airy store offers cards and wrapping for its glassware, books, funky lamps, candles, and strange and snarky gag gifts.

Bygones Vintage Clothing, 2916 W. Cary St.; 804-353-1919. Want spats, garters, platform heels, fedoras? This is the bee’s knees. Also flasks, parasols, tiaras, and jewelry of every kind.

Wine, Food, and Fun

Mezzanine, 3433 W. Cary St.; 804-353-2186. Inventive menu, organic local ingredients, stylish atmosphere. Try the fried green tomatoes with crab and red-onion vinaigrette.

Amici Ristorante, 3343 W. Cary St.; 804-353-4700. The two amici (friends) in this restaurant’s name present their native Northern Italian cuisine, which has been praised by Bon Appétit, Southern Living, and the New York Times.

For the Love of Chocolate, 3136 W. Cary St.; 804-359-5645. Everything from Godiva to cordial cups, brownies to Harry Potter frogs—plus European imports, maple-sugar leaves, and sweets you loved as a kid: spumoni malt balls, Teaberry gum, Bit-o-Honey, candy cigarettes, button strips, spiral lollipops, and more.

River City Cellars, 2931 W. Cary St.; 804-355-1375. Wine and gourmet foods, including local breads. Wine and beer tastings every Friday from 5 to 7.

Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St.; 804-353-9911. Built in 1928, this magnificent space plays second-run films for $1.99. Best of all, as the signs out front say, films are preceded by “Bob Gulledge at the mighty Wurlitzer every Saturday night, the best entertainment value in town!”

Where to Stay

A five-minute drive north, the year-old Maury Place at Monument (3101 W. Franklin St.; 804-353-2717; mauryplace.com; $155 to $275) is a sumptuous four-room B&B just off stately Monument Avenue. Guests are treated to off-street parking, a Virginia-wine hour, fresh local foods at breakfast, and rooms with a balcony view, fireplace, or heated bathroom floor.