In the midst of Richmond’s emerging historic Depot District, Firehouse BBQ & Blues boasts a smoking backstory. Although this restaurant/music venue just opened in January 2012, the building dates back to 1860, with a dramatic arched stone doorway and facade hinting at the structure’s former life as the town’s oldest fire station. Brave souls who fought blazes using horse-drawn carriages once occupied this airy space adorned with startlingly lifelike Pamela Bliss murals depicting scenes of fire rescues. (The main dining room and stage area sit where the horse stalls used to be.) And while the lip-smacking, hickory-smoked barbecue is nothing fancy—the meats lightly brushed with a mild, sweet sauce—Firehouse’s brisket and messy-in-a-good-way barbecue nachos that drip with cheese, pulled pork, and baked beans hit the spot. The signature “Smokin’ Hog,” composed of pork, cheese, and onions atop a smoked sausage, delivers a little taste of everything on one bun, while homey sides and desserts (like cheesy potato casserole, cole slaw, and banana pudding) arrive in adorable miniature Mason jars. But the live music is the hot ticket here, Richmond being a bastion of jazz and blues history thanks to its Gennett Records heritage that dates back to the early 1900s. Today, regional bands and artists stop in for jam sessions several days a week. Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–midnight. 400 N. 8th St., Richmond, 765-488-0312, firehousebbqandblues.com
While in Richmond, check out ...
J&J Winery: A glass of J&J’s chocolate-raspberry wine (check yourselves, vinophiles) can easily stand in for dessert, and the outdoor deck makes a pretty perch, overlooking a scenic pond and a gazebo that sees a lot of weddings.The winery also shares space with Big Dawg Brewhaus microbrewing operations. 3415 National Rd. W, 765-965-9463, jjwinery.com
Little Sheba’s Restaurant and Zini’s Place: Sandwiches here go by cheeky call signs—“Stupid Idiot” isn’t an insult but a tasty sub stuffed with ham, turkey, roast beef, feta, and veggies with Italian dressing. 175 Fort Wayne Ave., 765-962-299, littleshebas.com
New Boswell Brewery and Tap Room: Tip your hat to namesake Ezra Boswell, Richmond’s first city clerk, with a pint of cream-style ale, malted cider, or wheat IPA at this new Depot District retreat. 410 N. 10th St., 765-488-2042, newboswell.com
Wesler Orchards & Farm Market: Detour off of I-70 to this family-owned orchard in nearby New Paris, Ohio, where you can sample fresh cider and stock up on local produce and baked goods. 9319 Wesler Rd., New Paris, Ohio, 937-437-8921, weslerorchards.com
Gennett Mansion Dinners: The painstakingly maintained historic home of Richmond music mogul Henry Gennett serves as a gorgeous backdrop for stylish Friday-night dinners nearly every week. With limited space for 40 or so diners per five-course event, reservations are a must. 1829 E. Main St., 765-935-0055, gennettmansion.com
Photos by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the October 2013 issue. See more Destination Dinner stories here.