For most Richmonders, Goochland is known as the large, mostly rural county west of Henrico with a sleepy atmosphere and slightly odd name. But as development in Short Pump reaches its maximum westward growth, Goochland is about to find itself in the spotlight.
Change has already arrived, with a nearly 5 percent population increase in the last decade to more than 22,000 residents as well as an increase in the number of business establishments, from 539 in 2005 to 644 in 2015.
High-profile projects are in the works, including a Hardywood West Creek location slated to open this spring as well as a high-tech $25 million golf driving range at the intersection of Interstate 64 and Route 288.
Additionally, a Henrico County hotel operator recently purchased 10 acres near the intersection of Broad Street and Manakin roads, with plans for a development that would include a hotel and fast-food, retail and office spaces.
But for all the excitement over the Goochland of tomorrow, anyone who has spent time in the county knows that the Goochland of today already has a great deal to offer. Beyond more widely known spots, such as Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Midnight Brewery and Portico restaurant, are hidden rustic gems frequented by locals. Beat the rush and discover them before everyone else does.
Lola’s Farmhouse Bistro — 1840 Manakin Road; (804) 784-2000, lolasfarmhousebistro.com
It would be easy to drive past Lola’s and assume it’s just another bucolic farmhouse on the long stretch of Manakin Road between Broad Street Road and Patterson Avenue. But pull into the drive, and you’ll find a restaurant full of charm, quirks and perfectly executed comfort food. There are swans in the backyard, a parrot (the restaurant’s namesake) inside, and cats that lie in the sun on the expansive front patio. Try the quiche of the day or gooey grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for lunch, or stop in for a glass of wine, one of the enormous pasta entrées and a decadent homemade dessert for dinner.
Satterwhite’s — 116 Broad Street Road; (804) 784-1994
This small no-frills restaurant is about as old-school Virginia as it gets. The coffee is cheap and plentiful. The breakfast and lunch menus feature standard crowd-pleasers, such as omelets, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, BLTs, open-faced sandwiches, and mountains of fries and onion rings. But the true charm of Satterwhite’s lies in its old-fashioned country offerings, such as cream chip beef, salt herring and scrapple, that stand out in the modern breakfast landscape of kale smoothies and chia bowls.
Wise Choice Convenience Store — 1751 Ashland Road; (804) 749-3335
There’s a reason the parking lot of this nondescript gas station at the Rockville-Manakin exit off I-64 is nearly always full at lunchtime, and it has nothing to do with the price of its gas. Inside you’ll find some tremendously good comfort food that bears zero resemblance to the standard gas station fare of stale nachos and day-old hot dogs. Check out its famous fried chicken and jumbo chicken tenders. You also can’t go wrong with heaping sides of potato wedges, mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese. Or, if you want the full Goochland country experience, go for the bologna burger or fried chicken livers.
Kindred Spirit Brewing — 12830 West Creek Parkway; (804) 708-0309, kindredspiritbrewing.com
Tucked away in an office park, this brewery makes up for its lack of ambience with some tasty craft brews. There is an extensive and rotating selection on draft, everything from IPAs, saisons, lagers and stouts to more creative selections, such as the Cinnamon Chocolate Stout or Strawberry Milkshake fruit beer. As a bonus, fresh popped popcorn is usually available along with a selection of board games in the large and cheery tasting room. Check out the schedule on Kindred’s website for food trucks and live music.
Goochland wine country
You’d be forgiven for not realizing that Goochland has a wine country. However, that may be about to change, as multiple vineyards and tasting rooms are open in the region with more on the horizon. Start your Goochland wine experience with Elk Island Winery (5759 River Road W., elkislandwinery.com), with its rural 5-acre vineyard set among rolling hills near the James River. From there, head to nearby family-owned Byrd Cellars (5847 River Road W., byrdcellars.com), where you’ll likely find either the owners, winemaker or vineyard manager in the tasting room to help you navigate the 17 different wines available. Finally, head northeast to Grayhaven Winery (4675 E. Grey Fox Circle, grayhavenwinery.com), where you can try “Old World”-style wines in the charming tasting room and meet three generations of the winemaking family behind the scenes.
Courthouse Creek Cider — 1581 Maidens Road; (804) 543-3157, courthousecreek.com
If you want a break from the crowds and traffic of the city, head to family-owned Courthouse Creek Cider for some fresh air and the sight of acres of maturing apple trees. On cold days, you can mingle in the cozy, wood-accented tasting room, and in warmer weather, head outside to the large gravel patio nestled alongside the orchard. The ciders are complex and creative, with unexpected flavors, such as pineapple and hops.
Live Music at Sunset Grill — 1601 Hockett Road; (804) 784-4500, sunsetgrillgoochland.com
At Goochland’s own version of Cheers, where everybody is a regular, the drinks are large and frosty, and the food is dependable and comforting. There are daily food specials, such as $6 burgers on Monday nights, and you’ll find live music acts on the heated patio on Friday and Saturday evenings. A daily happy hour runs from 2:30 to 7 p.m.
Manakin Market — 68 Broad Street Road; (804) 314-9141, www.rvagriculture.org
On Saturday mornings, from May to October, check out this small but lively farmers market near the intersection of Broad Street and Manakin roads. There’s a great selection of fruits, veggies, meat and eggs from Goochland’s many small farms, as well as wine tastings, fresh-baked empanadas, baked goods, artisan crafts, rotating food trucks and even live music.
Tuckahoe Plantation — 12601 River Road; (804) 774-1614, tuckahoeplantation.com
Monticello and the University of Virginia typically get all the Thomas Jefferson glory, but the site of his boyhood home is just 30 minutes away from downtown Richmond, right in the heart of Goochland. The scenic grounds and lovingly maintained garden are open daily for self-guided tours. Guided tours of the historic main house and cabins can be arranged by appointment in advance.