Usually when I travel or road trip, food is top of mind for me. What better way to learn about a new city than through their food and eats? A trip up north to Washington, DC gave me a chance to check out the Richmond (RVA) food scene on the drive up. Some online research turns up Perly’s, a modern Jewish delicatessen and I am so glad I stopped in for lunch. They are so good, in so many ways. Here’s what to expect when you visit, and I highly recommend you do if you’re driving through the area!
If you’re driving on I-95, Perly’s is an easy 5 minute stop off the interstate. Wind your way through downtown Richmond (capital of Virginia) and you’ll soon find yourself in front of their weathered storefront. Parking is not too bad around here, I found free 2-hour parking within a block or so. Upfront, I find a queue of people milling about, Perly’s has just re-opened after a short holiday break and I’m guessing people have missed it. It’s a crowd of locals with maybe a smattering of tourists, a good sign. Given how popular Perly’s is, expect a short wait but as a single diner I was able to get in quickly for a counter seat. Inside you’ll find a retro but modern space: wood booths, old portraits on the wall, green wallpaper, and metal-stamped ceilings feel a bit throw-back but Perly’s has only been around since 2014!
A plastic, laminated menu is dropped in front of me. There are the usual smattering of breakfast and lunch offerings that delis are known for: bagels, knishes, latkes, cabbage rolls and more. The specialty sandwiches at Perly’s is where the action is at and they are cleverly named in theme with a Jewish deli: The Jewbano (play on Cubano), Shapiro Schnitzel and Goy Vey are some examples. I start off with the Jewish eggrolls and go with the Perly’s patty melt for my main. Perly’s also offers up Boylan sodas on tap along with a small selection of draft beers, cool! My Jewish eggrolls show up and they are nicely browned, served with a small side salad and two fruit sauces. The eggrolls are well-stuffed with corned beef and sauerkraut, yum! Served with a side of bright honey-mustard and a peach-like compote, makes for a great treat. The patty melt is an amazing sandwich. A lean, grilled burger topped with pastrami, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on marble rye works together perfectly. It’s a delicious but messy sandwich that’s well assembled. The side of lightly coated fries are perfectly crispy with a fluffy potato interior. Perly’s gets it right with all the small details, a great sign for a restaurant.
While the restaurant was pretty durn busy, service was awesome. It’s a professional crew here, used to large crowds and they checked in with me frequently. All in all I was super impressed with Perly’s and it exceeded my expectations. Not only is the food great but with prices in the $8 to $18 range along with the excellent portion size, Perly’s is also a good deal. And as much as I’m not a fan of leftovers, I devoured my Perly’s leftovers later that evening in my hotel room. So congrats Richmond on this wonderful gem of a restaurant! Perly’s melds an old-school deli menu with modern taste and service making for an awesome dining experience. I’ll be back as soon as I can to try more off that plastic, laminated menu!