In many ways, a stroll around Point Richmond is a stroll back through history—only with fun shopping and great food. The village was the original town of Richmond, and a rip-roaring one it once was too, when the railroads and then the oil workers arrived. Many of the 19th to early 20th-century buildings still exist, many still in use, adding to the period charm.
A leisurely afternoon spent here, or a leisurely evening if visitors would like to take in live music or a play, will be its own relaxing reward. Note that the best day for a visit is Saturday, when all the stores are open. Point Richmond is festive during the holidays; merchants’ websites often announce special events. Santa has been known to put in appearances, and, one never knows, maybe folks will encounter the Ghost of Point Richmond Past…
No Chain Stores Here
Whether people are shopping for themselves, for unique gifts or both, Point Richmond’s local merchants exude the village’s artsy-but-playful vibe. Shoppers can start on W. Richmond Ave. with the rather amazing Guillermina Asian Art & Antiques. Although arts, crafts and furniture can be found from many places in Asia, owner Guillermina LaFever specializes in pieces from Japan. Her vintage jewelry collection alone is worth a visit. An incredible amount of beautiful things congregate here. The store is open weekends, and by appointment. 101 W. Richmond Ave. 510.237.0036, guillermina.com
Across the street is the fun-and-funky Mom & Pop Art Shop, carrying local arts and crafts, antique and vintage bits, games, jewelry, hand printed pillows, cards… In the words of co-owner/artist Kelly Nicolaisen, it’s an “art general store.” They also carry art supplies. Hint: ideal stocking-stuffer destination. Their site features special December event updates. 24 W. Richmond Ave. 510.730.1154, mompopartshop.com
One block down is Outback in the Temple of Venus, a shrine to designer Boho chic. Owner Devi Jacobs offers lines such as Citron and Johnny Was at greatly discounted prices, alongside her own, American-made line of items like the “Prayer Protection” tunic, and “elevated sweats” made from bamboo. Hats, scarves, socks and “healing things,” like the popular “People Putty” salve, add to the grooviness. On Saturdays, the “Clothing Library,” where vintage and consignment items can be “lent,” is open. 139 W. Richmond Ave. 510.237.1199.
If folks called in advance to make an appointment, they can tack back to cross-street Park Place to find DeWitt Art and Custom Framing, where Pam DeWitt proudly shows paintings from her father, Jim DeWitt, an internationally known maritime artist. A former sailmaker and sailboat racer, the now-92-year-old’s work, in oils, gouache and watercolor, is “meticulously accurate,” says his daughter, besides joyously capturing the thrill of sailing. 125 Park Place. 510.236.1401, dewittgalleryandframing.com
A Somewhat Scandalous Past
Down the street and to the left, visitors can meander to the Point Richmond History Museum, a tiny period building, the oldest commercial structure in Richmond, rescued from razing and moved to its current location in 1990. There they may well find font of local history (and history hike leader) Karen Buchanan, who knows all the village’s secrets. Interested parties can arrange with her in advance to take a tour and hear the tales. The museum is only open Thursday and Saturday, 11am-2pm. 139 1/2 W. Washington Ave. 510.412.2202, pointrichmondhistory.org. Karen Buchanan is at 415.710.4480.
Grab a Bite, a Pint or a Latte
Back on Park Place, one can partake in a beverage, a snack and possibly live music at hangout Kaleidoscope Coffee. How about sourdough toast with hummus, artichoke hearts and cilantro? 109 Park Place Ave. 510.260.0848, kaleidoscopecoffee.com
Lunch options also include salad-and-sandwich haven Little Louie’s. Those who are hungry can perhaps order their Reuben, with homemade corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on rye. Tip: Yummy desserts abound here. On Saturday, open 7:30am-2pm. 49 Washington Ave. 510.260.0848, littlelouies.com
Diners order at the counter, then sit down at Mexican favorite Masa, famed for its homemade tamales, including a dessert strawberry tamale. Personal experience notes that the burritos are also delicious.199 Park Place. 510.778.1463, masatamalesandtacos.com
At the corner of W. Richmond and Railroad avenues stands the only rugby pub folks may ever eat in, the Up & Under Rugby Pub and Grill. Pub goers can dig into Pub Mac & Cheese, an “Outside Center” burger or fish & chips, washed down with a local brew, or, taking a tip from Joe Montana, a Guinness. 2 W. Richmond Ave. 510.778.1313, theupandunder.com
A blast to the more recent—and tasty—past can be found at the Great American Hamburger & Pie Co. This diner, kitty-korner across the railroad tracks from the Up & Under, is unpretentious and wonderful in its old-fashioned way. Pies are homemade, and they have milkshakes! Only open Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm. 35 E. Richmond Ave. 510.233.2223, gahamburger.com
Where to Love the Nightlife
Say visitors are unwilling to head home when the sun goes down. While not Las Vegas, Point Richmond does offer weekend entertainment options.
Long-closed for seismic retrofitting, beloved local theater, the Masquers Playhouse, has reopened. The 66-year-old, 89-seat community theater is offering Amelie, The Musical at 8pm, Dec. 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10. 105 Park Place. 510.232.4031, masquers.org
Newly reopened as Baltic Kiss, the historic site now houses the newest venture from Black Star Pirate BBQ’s Tony Carracci. Featuring Cajun and Creole food, and a full bar, it also has live music several nights a week, and stays open later than virtually anything (OK, anything) in Point Richmond. The Zydeco Flames perform there on Saturday, Dec. 17. 135 Park Place. baltickiss.com
Resource: The community website, pointrichmond.com, can provide a helpful overview, but is not updated frequently. (For example, the restaurant at the Hotel Mac has been closed for some time.) But it’s an excellent resource for photos and background information about the village.