Raising the (Sports) Bar on Game-Day Grub

River City Magazine | September / October 2019

NFL season kicks off Thursday, September 5. Where will you be, my famished football-fan friend? If you’re not down for inhaling frozen pizza rolls and microwaved “cheeze product” dip on the couch in between plays, you’re in luck, because several of RVA’s sports bars have taken their food game to the next level.

When Garland Taylor opened the first Home Team Grill location (11351 Nuckols Road) in 2004, it was a transition from the elevated fare of a fine-dining establishment. Fortunately for Richmond foodie football fans, he carried that penchant for amazing cuisine into the sports bar arena. Home Team Grill in the Fan (1630 W. Main Street, Richmond) has your typical game-day nachos and chicken tenders, but they’re not your run-of-the-mill frozen and thawed appetizers. Their chicken tenders are hand-battered in buttermilk, and you can choose from their classic nachos with a side of chili, or their unique Veggie Nachos with an amazing mix of unexpected healthy toppings. If you’re looking for a healthier indulgence, check out their Tuna Bites – blackened ahi tuna served with Caribbean ranch and mango slaw. Feeling a little more festive? Try their hearty Carnitas Tacos – pulled pork on a corn tortilla topped with lime crema, arugula, red onion and tomato. Check out their website (hometeamgrill.com) for weeknight food specials, happy hour deals, and bucket specials.

Are you searching for that game-day spot “where everybody knows your name”? Get your Cheers vibe on at JJ’s Grille (10298 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen) – a restaurant / bar filled with regulars and tucked in close to I-295’s Staples Mill exit. Sports is one of the many options for entertainment offered by JJ’s, and they’re displayed prominently on 9 large TVs. They subscribe to MLB Extra Innings and NFL Sunday Ticket, so you don’t have to! My favorite munchie food is the Fried Zucchini Sticks. Share them with friends if you’re that kind (which I apparently am not, since I eat them all myself!). Look past the vast options on the Appetizer menu and check out the mouth-watering entrees, including Coho salmon served with lemon compound butter, JJ’s crab cake dinner, and a fried oyster platter. They also features weekly live music – check their schedule online.

Sportspage Bar and Grille is an obvious choice for rooting on your team, whether you are on the Southside (14245 Midlothian Turnpike), Mechanicsville (8319 Bell Creek Road), or Ashland (504 England Street). From daily food and weekday happy hour specials to a full service bar, the Sports page offers the perfect food and atmosphere in which to watch the game. Each location has food specials, but the restaurant group is known for its Angus hamburgers - and great service. Whether it is football, baseball, hickey, soccer, golf, NASCAR, or basketball, Sportspage has your sport covered. Try their signature jumbo wings with a choice of a whopping 15 different sauces, and served on a bed of tortilla chips with celery and dressing. Bonus: two of their locations accommodate large parties, so you can bring along ALL your noisy friends! Check out sportspagebarandgrille.com for a full menu.

Kickback Jack’s in the West End (9318 West Broad Street, Richmond) and Southside (10330 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond) is a lively option for Thursday Night Football and more. You’ll be quite literally surrounded by large-screen high-def televisions while you catch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and college games. Start out with one of my guilty favs – Fried Pickles. Or skip the guilt, and go with the Asian Chicken Salad – fresh lettuce and red cabbage loaded with red peppers, Mandarin oranges, sweet roasted pecans, rice noodles, sun-dried cranberries and grilled chicken served with Orange Ginger dressing – or substitute Teriyaki salmon. Or maybe get both –they’re sounding equally tempting to me!

Sports bars in Richmond have raised the bar on football food – check these out, and let us know which is your favorite! And for the love of all food that is decent, skip the box of pizza rolls on your next grocery store run…