Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Richmond

By Chet Garner 12.1.23

Richmond is a suburb of the enormous Houston metroplex, but it’s got a deep history, some of which even predates Houston itself. The city was founded by some of the first Spanish settlers (the Old Three Hundred, as they’re called) who received land grants from Stephen F. Austin. The result was a community on the banks of the Brazos River, which flows right through the heart of Richmond.

Today, Richmond is the county seat of Fort Bend County, the most diverse county in the state. Tons of different cultures blend here, making Richmond an awesome city for history buffs and foodies alike.

How Ranching Made Richmond Rich

Let’s start with a little bit of Richmond’s history. I could take you back to 1837 when the town was incorporated, but the best way to learn about Richmond’s past is to visit the Fort Bend Museum. The exhibits illustrate the whole story of how the Old Three Hundred got here, how they built the city, and how it rose in affluence and industrial prominence through cotton and ranching trades. The Fort Bend Museum also has a great installation on the famous Jaybird-Woodpecker War, plus some of the historic homes that visitors can tour for a glimpse into Richmond’s heyday.

Ranching was integral to Richmond’s affluence, so another blast from the past is a huge, 200-year-old, fully operational ranch called the George Ranch Historical Park. There are structures there that date back to the 1800s, plus some that were built in the 1900s — it’s neat to see how the George family lived and evolved over the generations.

The history is cool and all, but the ranchers at George Ranch are still working hard today. Some real-life cowboys put on ranching demonstrations, lasso shows, and cook up some delicious frontier food. You can get a full chuck wagon dinner if you’re there at the right time. It’s an awesome spot to go and be totally immersed in Texas’ history.

Richmond: Rich in Alligators

Richmond is located right where the coastal plains turn into the coastal swamps, and right outside of town is Brazos Bend State Park, one of my favorite state parks in all of Texas. The park is in the marshlands, but I love it because, on a sunny day, there are way, way, way more alligators than people there. I’m not just talking about little baby alligators. I’m talking big ones, some up to 12 feet long, who just plop down in the middle of your hiking trail. The landscape gives you a rare and fantastic opportunity to see gators up close. There have not been any documented alligator fatalities in Brazos Bend State Park since it was established in the ’80s — alligators don’t like people. They’re just giant lizards.

That said, I can understand if you’re hesitant to go hiking with gators. So, if you still want to experience Brazos Bend State Park, go at night and visit the George Observatory. Check out the night skies through the giant telescope during one of their stargazing parties. On a clear night, it’s amazing how many bright stars you can see so close to a big city like Houston.

Richmond’s Diverse Food Scene

Earlier, I mentioned that Fort Bend County is the most diverse county in the entire state. And, of course, with great diversity comes great food.

First, you’ve gotta try Larry’s Original Mexican Restaurant. Larry’s is one of the pioneers of Tex-Mex and one of the state’s oldest, legit Tex-Mex institutions. The joint feels like a step back into the olden days of South Texas, with paintings of matadors on the wall and antique chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. But true Texan foodies know that what makes Tex-Mex Tex-Mex is the presence of chili con carne — chili with meat in it that’s added on top of everything. It’s greasy, gooey, cheesy perfection, and Larry’s does it better than anyone.

One of my other favorite spots is Tastea Vietnamese Grill, which is located in Rosenberg, Richmond’s sister city. You have to start with a big bowl of pho, which is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup made with broth and meat, but delicious aromatics like cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts make pho so good. Tastea makes it perfectly — add thinly shaved beef, brisket, or even soft beef tendon. It’s divine. You’ve also got to try Tastea’s fries, which is the ultimate Vietnamese-American mashup: It’s a big plate of French fries smothered in cheese, onion, and cilantro that’s topped with kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage), fried egg, and spicy pork. It will blow your mind.

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