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Posts Tagged ‘Dining’

Don’t get too excited Richmonders, I’m not talking about pet dogs, just hot dogs.  I’m almost embarrassed to say I didn’t know this place existed until about a month ago when I was dragged there for lunch with some co-workers.  Hot dogs for lunch?  My mind strayed to a recent episode of “How Its Made” but I’m adventurous so I tagged along.  We went to the original location in Shockoe (there is now one in the Fan as well).  Its located at 1316 East Cary Street, not too far from the Tobacco Company.  I was expecting hotdogs, ketchup, buns, and paper trays — boy was I surprised.

These are not your average backyard hotdogs.  The menu takes you on a trip through American culture with the Chicago Dog (mustard, onions, relish, pickle, tomato slices, peppers, poppy seed bun), Coney Island Dog (chili, mustard, onions, cheese), Boston Dog (sauerkraut, bacon, relish), Carolina Dog (Pork bbq and cole slaw), Miami Dog (homemade salsa, cheddar cheese), and Santa Fe Dog (homemade salsa, cheese, jalapenos, guacamole, and tortilla chips).  Don’t worry, there is more, but I didn’t want to torture your taste buds.  The corn dog nuggets (what I ordered) were fantastic and should definitely be considered when you look at the menu.  In summary, be prepared for a few strange looks if you order a plain hot dog!

There are also sandwiches, burgers, chicken, etc for the more cautious diner, but whatever you do, don’t pass on the french fries and/or onion rings.  You will definitely be missing out. If meat isn’t your thing, don’t stop reading yet, there are vegetarian and vegan options available on the menu as well.  Oh, and of course, what is a hot dog without beer?  There is a full bar at both locations.

If you stick with the hot dogs, prices are about $4 with a couple extra dollars for fries or rings.  Servings are large so the prices aren’t bad.  This place is casual, affordable, family friendly, and has a great atmosphere.   But remember, you are at a hot dog  joint.  This is not 4-star dining.  Sports and news are playing on the TV and loud music is playing.  The kitchen is open and they cook the food right in front of you.  At lunch time (when I arrived) it is crowded, loud, and the lines can be out onto the sidewalk.  But take that as evidence of the great experience inside.  I’ve read my fair share of reviews that complain about the service, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I arrived at the height of the lunch rush with 10 other people, no reservation, and a 30 minute time limit.  After they realized we weren’t joking, they had us seated, fed, paid, and back out the door in 30 minutes flat.  I was impressed.

They open daily at 11am and close at midnight.  On weekends (Fri-Sat) they are open until 3am, perfect for a late night snack and beer at the bar.  The Shockoe location has already taken off and has expanded into the basement space with extra seating, a small game room, and sports bar.  The Fan location is located at 1309 W. Main St, close to the Monroe Park campus.  It has live music, game room, outdoor patio, and full bar.  I wish I could give you a link to their website, but I was shocked to find out they didn’t have one.  To be as popular as they are, with no Internet presence?  It’s almost unheard of and just goes to show how good the food and experience are.  Don’t be scared off by stories about bad service.  Some of the best places in Richmond (Mama Zu’s, Kuba Kuba, Carytown Burgers and Fries) have been known to suffer from service issues, but the food is still great.  Don’t confuse this place with the Jefferson and you’ll be fine.  Go hungry!

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As promised, here is another delicious food festival to finish off the weekend.  Sunday, June 6 is the 3rd annual Broad Appetit food festival.  This isn’t vendors selling out of a food cart.  Over 50 of Richmond’s best restaurants come to serve up $3 samples of their signature dishes.  You can expect to see well-known restaurants like Juleps, Bacchus, Cous Cous, Bookbinders, Kitchen 64, Kuba Kuba, Positive Vibe Cafe, Q Barbeque, Sine, and more.  You can get the full list here.  Dishes will be judged for To Die For Main Dish, To Diet For Dessert, Ambience Award, Healthy Plate Award, and People’s Choice.  Tip:  Bring cash, usually none of the vendors accept credit.  Local chefs will also be providing cooking demonstrations at various locations. 

In addition to restaurants, you will also find plenty of local vendors.  Keep an eye out for the ice cream vendors and the cupcake shops!  There will also be some business vendors (festival sponsors), but the majority will be bakeries, ice cream, wineries, and other local food related businesses.   Local farms and specialty food providers will be there with their home-grown produce, meats, cheeses, herbs, and artisan breads.  Finally, you can take advantage of some of Virginia’s finest wineries and breweries to wash it all down.   Tip:  Bring some sort of bag to hold all the food and other items you might purchase.   

A variety of local musical performances will provide the atmosphere.  Two performance stages will be located between Jefferson and Adams Street on the east side of Broad.  Music will include jazz, blues, swing, and more all day.  This event is definitely kid friendly and there will even be an interactive kids area to keep the little ones happy while you enjoy all that food.  Unlike many of the other big festivals, this one is not pet-friendly so no parading dogs and other animals during this festival. 

Admission to all this delectable goodness is free, and sample dishes are only $3/dish.  The festival runs from 11am-5pm and stretches down the 100-300 blocks of Broad Street (from Monroe to Adams).  Tip:  There is a lot of walking and it is going to be very hot.  Wear comfortable shoes and plenty of sunscreen.  Parking will be free on the side streets, but bring a few bucks in case you give up looking or just want to take it easy and park in a lot.  They usually run from $2-$4.  Tip:  Restaurant vendors can and do run out of food so get there early!   

I almost forgot the best part, all proceeds go to benefit Meals on Wheels and the Central Virginia Food Bank.  Delicious food with no guilt.  It doesn’t get better than that.

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I don’t know about you, but I think the only thing that makes a great event better, is when it is held to support an awesome organization.  VibeFest 2010 meets the bill.  VibeFest has been held for the past six years to benefit Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe and the Positive Vibe Foundation.  Positive Vibe Foundation, founded in 2002, prepares people with cognitive or physical disabilities for paid employment in the food service industry.  They accomplish this mission by training and employing people with disabilities at Max’s Positive Vibe Café.  Over 350 people have successfully completed the training program and some of the graduates will be working at VibeFest this year.

Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe is located in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center off Forest Hill Ave.  It is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-9:30 (8:30 on Sundays).  The menu is eclectic ranging from spinach feta lasagna to crab cakes, fish tacos, and buffalo meat loaf.  Their salads and vegetables are grown local.  There is also an extensive vegetarian menu.  The Sunday brunch is especially popular with dishes ranging from strawberry waffles to eggs Benedict.  There is also a full bar and wines available. 

VibeFest is the foundation’s yearly fundraiser and is held right at the cafe.  This year there will be many of Richmond’s favorite bands performing on two stages.  Here is the proposed schedule:

12:00 The Chiggers
12:20 John Leedes & Friends
12:50 Leetah & the Boogie Men
1:10 The Hullabaloos
1:30 Offering
2:00 Thank You and Color Guard
2:30 Goodfellas
3:00 Page Wilson with Reckless Abandon
3:30 Cashmere Jungle Lords
4:00 Against Grace
4:30 Susan Greenbaum
5:00 The Taters
5:30 Marna & Macy
6:00 The Janet Martin Band

In addition to awesome live music, some of Richmond’s best chefs will be there preparing some of the more popular dishes on the Positive Vibe menu. There will also be kid’s activities so this is definitely a family-friendly event.  Most of the food and sample plates will be less than $5 and beer and wine will be sold as well.  This event is a fundraiser, so there is no free admission here.  Admission is $15 donation or 2 for $25.  Children under 12 are free.  The event runs from 12-6pm on Sunday, May 16th.  Go out and have fun while supporting a great cause.

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There is a new event in town:  The Shockoe Wide Open.  This Friday (and every second Friday) you can enjoy an art and food walk through Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip.  These walks will feature the area’s local art, local food & wines, antiques, locally crafted jewelry, and local music.  In other words, there is a little something for everyone. 

First the food.  Some of the best Shockoe restaurants will be opening their doors for this event:  Tobacco Company (of course), Kobe, Sine’ (incredible food and atmosphere), Havana 59, Lulu’s (fantastic food, sister to Millies), Sheba Ethiopian, and more.  The various restaurants will offer small plates and “cocktail artistry” (not sure what that means, but my mouth is watering already!)  created just for the walk.

You can find live music at City Dogs and The Urban Farmhouse.  More venues are signing up every day so check the website for updates.  There will also be a DJ and dancing at the Tobacco Co from 5-8pm. 

Here are some of the art events as well:

  • Cafe Gutenberg will host a Community Art Show featuring local artists (including “Life’s Journey” by Jenny Nunez) 
  • Eric Schindler Gallery will host “Complete Fiction” new paintings by Tim Harriss
  • The Urban Farmhouse will feature prized art by local high school seniors
  • The Gallery at Frame Nation will host an opening reception for Brett Busang’s show “Scenes from the River.”  The art will be framed in reclaimed wood from tobacco row which for a history freak like me, is very awesome

    "Complete Fiction" by Tim Harriss

  • Dora’s Brazillian Grill will feature paintings by Walter Ribiero
  • Historic 17th Street Marketplace will have many local artists
  • C’est La Vin & Wine Gallery will host an Art & Wine extravaganza featuring art by Dan Sheets
  • Dransfield Jewelers will feature art by the owner, Don Dransfield (an advocate for everything that is Shockoe and a frequent visitor to this page!)
  • Virginia Hair Salon & Spa will feature “Preview to Strawberry Hill 2010,” art by Gigi Brothers

The art events are listed here in no particular order, looking at the walking map may help you pick the best route.  The event suggests you start at Tobacco Company and end at the Eric Schindler Gallery.  Also, more artists are still being added so be sure to check the webpage for updates as well. 

"Scenes from the River" by Brett Busang

If walking on cobblestones is too much, or you have enjoyed too much cocktail artistry, or you just get plain tired, the To the Bottom and Back Bus will provide a transportation loop that covers all the events and safely take you to your next destination. The bus will run between Ellwood Thompson’s in Carytown (parking) and The Market at Tobacco Row at no cost, stopping anywhere along the route for a pick-up or drop-off.  To get the bus to stop, just flag them down by flashing the peace sign with your fingers (no, I’m not kidding).  There will also be low cost parking available at Main St. Station.   

The event runs Friday, May 14th from 5-9pm and , wait for it, is completely free!  Kids are welcome, although there are no kid-specific events at this time.  No word on whether the event is animal-friendly, but I’m guessing no unless you want to keep tying up the poor dog outside of every venue.  The next art walk is already well into the planning stages and will be on June 11th. 

I, for one, am very excited about all these new events coming to Richmond.  I thought I was going to have trouble coming up with 365 things to do, but now I am having trouble finding the time to cover the oldies but goodies, the mainstays of our awesome city!  Maybe there is another 365 on the horizon?  For now, I’ll just focus on Day 56.  Thanks everyone for your support in reading this blog!

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I have to admit, I was a little stuck today.  There isn’t much going on around town and I really wanted to cover something I knew.  Then I thought about Kuba Kuba.  This is hands down, one of the best restaurants in Richmond and definitely a favorite in my family. It is often compared to the other Cuban restaurant in town, Havana 59, but my experience there didn’t even compare.  Kuba Kuba was founded by a Cuban immigrant, Manny Mendez and features Cuban food in a little cafe set up like an authentic Latin Bodega, all the way down to the latin music and latin goods for sale lining the walls. 

  

Kuba Kuba is located in an old pharmacy/coffee shop on the corner of Park and Lombardy in the Fan.  This is the perfect location to take in some Fan atmosphere before or after you eat.  Lombardy Park (featured before on this blog) is directly across the street and is a great place to wear out the kids so they behave at lunch!  The restaurant is not big so don’t go with a huge party, and don’t expect a booth unless you have at least 3 people.  Most importantly, don’t go if you are in a hurry.  You will wait for a table at peak times and service can be slow.  Oh, and parking is street parking in the Fan, enough said.  So why go there?  Two words, THE FOOD!!!! 

The atmosphere is fun and authentic, but the food is incredible!  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and brunch on the weekends.  I’m not alone in thinking this, Kuba Kuba was even featured in the New York Times in 2009.  The menu includes authentic dishes like Empanadillas, Paella, Huevos Rancheros, and of course, the Cuban sandwich.  There is also plenty of beer and wine available too.  You can finish with authentic Cuban coffee and their delicious tres leche cakes.  Everyone has their favorite dish (mine is just plain rice and beans with cornbread), but rarely do you find a dish that no one likes.  The prices are reasonable too.  The brunch is especially popular so be prepared to wait if you head there for breakfast on the weekend.  Don’t worry though, its worth the wait! 

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I apologize for disappearing yesterday.  We had some technical issues and some 6 yr old issues, but its all good for you because now you are getting 2 posts for the price of one.  This is a busy weekend in Richmond so I’ve got a lot to post about.  Today, I thought I would stick with an old favorite (and no, it’s not just because I’m trying to eat healthy and I’m starving!)  — Carytown Burgers and Fries.  CB&F is located right at the beginning (or end, depending on how you look at it) of Carytown, across from Ukrops (which is now Martins).  Its in the CVS parking lot (the old one, not the new one).  Ok, I get that this is confusing so let me just give you the address:  3500 1/2 W. Cary Street Richmond, VA 23221.  Its right near 195 and honestly, isn’t that what we all have navigation systems or iPhones for?  But I digress. 

Carytown Burgers and Fries can be summed up in one word, delicious.  It won Best Burger in Town from 2000-2005 in Richmond Magazine, Richmond.com, and Style Magazine.  It was also listed as one of the “50 Best Food Finds in Richmond” by Richmond Magazine.  There is definitely something for everyone here.  You can see the entire menu here.  Some of the burger highlights include the Blue Cheese Burger, Hawaiian Burger (Pineapple, jalapeno, Swiss & bacon), The Greek Geek (tzitziki sauce, Feta, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, and onion), and Pancho Villa (guacamole, salsa, and sour cream).  For the traditionalists, there are also the regular hamburger, cheeseburger, and a turkey burger. 

The menu goes much deeper than burgers and includes chicken, hot dogs, fries, chili, fish & chips, desserts, milkshakes, and even salads.  There is also a kids menu and a great Vegetarian menu.  The things that are legendary and you don’t want to miss include the Blue Cheese Burger, Cheese Fries, and the chili.  The burgers are big and cooked to order.  Nothing is pre-cooked so don’t go if you are in a hurry.  All burgers are served on a sesame seed bun with the works:
Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Mustard, Mayo and Pickles.

The service is, well, eclectic, and has reportedly gone down over the past couple of years.  I honestly haven’t noticed any difference.  Just keep your eye on the end-game, a delicious burger and fries.  The only inside seating is a small room upstairs.  Most of the seating is on the outside patio.  In the winter it is enclosed with space heaters. Its a great place to fuel up before you take on Carytown, or to wind down after a day of shopping.  Be sure to comment on what your favorite burger is!

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What would Spring and Summer in Richmond be like without drinks on the patio at the Boathouse after work.  I hope I never find out.  Tonight was my first trip of the season and how I missed it over the Winter!  For those of you that think it is a different country South of the River, and rarely make the trip, the Boathouse is a restaurant that is largely outdoors in the middle of Sunday Park on the Swift Creek Reservoir in Chesterfield County.  It is an awesome place to stop by after work for drinks, or have a family dinner, or do Sunday brunch.  The atmosphere is casual, laid back, and mostly family friendly.  There are 2 bars, inside and outside, and a gigantic patio for dining.  Don’t worry if you end up sitting inside, the doors open up so you can have the feel of dining out.   The view over the water is spectacular, especially at sunset.  Swift Creek Reservoir only allows electric boats so there is no noise or fumes to worry about. 

The dinner menu is mostly seafood and pizza, with steak and chicken offered as well.  Starting March 1st the crabmeat is brought in fresh all summer long.  All pizzas are cooked on the open fire wood stove.  There is also a fantastic wine list.  The novelty of being outside will usually tame the children, and if it doesn’t, just walk them over to feed the ducks by the water.

So if this hasn’t enticed all you die-hards out there to come South of the river, I’ve got great news.  The Boathouse has opened another location at Rocketts Landing on the top floor of the recently restored power plant building.  This building once supplied power for Richmond’s trolley cars.  The restoration won the golden hammer award from A.C.O.R.N. for best commercial renovation. The power plant’s industrial facade and smokestack were preserved. It’s collapsed top-floor roof and crumbling brick walls were replaced with tall windows and a butterfly roof and wrap-around staircase were constructed on the exterior.

 This location also has inside and outside dining.  I haven’t been there myself (yet) but have heard the views over the James and of the city skyline is fantastic.  This location has a reputation so far of being a little more upscale with a mostly professional crowd.    The atmosphere is definitely more upscale and the decor is more contemporary.  The menu is the same as at Sunday Park.   

Both locations also have a fantastic Sunday brunch, especially on Easter and Mother’s Day, but be sure to make reservations!  They both also have spaces for large meetings and special events.  The Boathouse in Sunday Park is a favorite for Richmond brides.  I would definitely recommend checking out both locations since they seem to be so different.  I know I can’t wait to try out the new location downtown.  If you have been there!  Leave a comment about your experience!

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