Willie's Carolina Barbecue opened in the early summer of 2012. It used to be located in New Kent County, but as a friend from there tells me, it moved here due to a dispute with local government. It has an extensive menu of various cuts of meat, sizes, portions, and sides. You place your order (whether to dine in or to take away) at the counter. They get the meat from the kitchen and they serve the sides from a hot box cafeteria style on paper plates in hard seats or booths and on tables without cloths. Barbecue restaurants in the American South are notorious for their informal serving style and restaurant format.
Favorite Dish: The barbecue is great, but it needs a little bit of sauce to take it all the way. Most barbecue restaurants of this kind have a limited menu of sides, but this was particularly extensive, without being expensive. Hush puppies make up one of three bread options together with a long sides list (which includes succotash, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, sweet potato casserole, new potatoes, etc.) This is great barbecue for the area. They also offer fresh squeezed lemon and limeade as well as fresh Hanover tomatoes when in season. With the addition of hush puppies, the rating moves up from 4 to 5.
From the outside, and even on the inside, Sapori seemed to me like a really classy restaurant. Like I always do, I test out restaurants like these at lunch time. If it's bad I'm not out much. The decor looked more Oriental than Latin or Italian. That is a curious combination that is not really congruent. The service was prompt and spot-on.
Favorite Dish: I really liked the complimentary bread and dipping sauce. The bread was so good, it actually didn't need the sauce. I ordered chicken arepas. Arepas are grilled cornmeal cakes onto which you can put almost any kind of food. If it was just chicken and maybe lettuce, tomato, and cotija cheese, that would be all right. It didn't say on the menu that there would be a creamy mayonnaisey sauce on it. So, I had the empanadas instead. I've had empanadas in Ecuador. They invented them in the Andes region, so I know how they are supposed to taste. The exterior was a crispy critter (evidently fried way too long) and the beef was drier than British humor. I am familiar with arepas and they don't usually come with a bizarre sauce and I know empanadas aren't supposed to be crunchy. I think Sapori loses the good flavours of the food they are trying to serve in an attempt to put it upmarket. Me, I like exotic food, but I like it unfooled around with. I'll order something else to get a better handle on this place, but it gets a substandard rating for right now.
I was surprised one evening to find Nacho Mama's gone from its Mechanicsville location. Instead of slinking off to La Casita, I tried this place without expecting too much given the track record with newer restaurants around here. With very few exceptions, Mexican restaurants in this area have been hit or miss. However, in a lot of ways, The Patron is BETTER than its predecessor. For one thing, Nacho Mama's had the vibe more of its flagship location in Carytown than, say, Cancún. The wait staff consisted of native Mexicans and the background music was Mexican.
Favorite Dish: I had the pork carnitas with rice, refried beans, and flour tortillas. They were good enough to give me pico de gallo on the side even though it wasn't included. Most noticeable of all, the portion sizes were big enough to make me consider reaching for the takeaway box. Nine times on ten, restaurant changes around here go from a Cadillac to mule. This time, it went from a Cadillac to a Rolls-Royce.
There have been several incarnations of Chinese buffets at this location across the 5 years since CVS moved cattywampus across the street. The previous one had to be the WORST Chinese buffet at which I have ever eaten. For example, they seem to let the food languish under the heated lights. The egg rolls were like logs. You almost need beaver teeth to chew through them. After a string of bad luck with Chinese buffets, you'd think the landlords would be on the lookout for a different type of restaurant. The food is prepared here at least by people who know what they're doing. I have never been to a really outstanding Chinese buffet, but at least this one's not bad. Restaurants occupying this slot don't tend to last long.
Zheng is the last Chinese restaurant...listed in the Mechanicsville phone directory. For a tenant at a shopping centre, they pay special attention to decor. It's tasteful, but not overdone. The waitress was friendly, helpful, and attentive. It's open 7 days a week: Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday 11am-10:30pm; Sunday 12 noon-10pm.
Favorite Dish: Being a new restaurant in town, I always try a standard feature on the menu. I started with a spring roll and that was good- served fresh from the fryer. The sweet and sour chicken, however, was breaded way too much. That really ruined it for me. Having said that, I'm willing to go back and see if they can do better with another offering.
The drug store lunch counter is getting to be as scarce as hen's teeth. Mechanicsville is blessed by two of them: Mechanicsville Drug Store and Westbury. It is on the Mechanicsville Turnpike Bypass at a shopping centre anchored by the flea market and Dollar General store. Some of these lunch counters only have seating at the counter, but there are tables and even booths. Also, the menu is more extensive than many of the remaining counters.
Favorite Dish: I had chicken tenders with a double order of fries with barbecue sauce on the side. The chicken was good, but the fries need to be seasoned a little more.
Aptly named the Riverbound Cafe, it is located on Route 360 East (the main thoroughfare between Richmond and various river holiday spots) at Creighton Crossing Shopping Centre, just east of downtown Mechanicsville, Virginia. The hours are: Monday to Saturday (7am-9pm); Sunday (8am-2pm). The restaurant has a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere with prompt and attentive service.
Favorite Dish: Riverbound Cafe offers all manner of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and American-style entrees. Other than their breakfast menu, they really don't offer anything much I like. Making the best of it, I always order from the breakfast menu. I prefer the western omelet (onions, peppers, ham, and cheese). All omelets come with either breakfast potatoes (read: home fries) or grits and your choice of bread. Also, I like their Caribbean salad with jerk chicken. It is just the right combination of sweet and heat.
I first heard of the opening of Marty's Grill on facebook when friends who lived in that area became fans of it. Before I committed myself to becoming a fan, I had to taste the food. In late March, 2010, I finally got around to try this place that had only been open a couple months. Even though it was a tenant at the new Rutland Commons Shopping Centre at the intersection of Atlee Road and Chamberlayne Avenue (Route 301), it had the feel of a friendly neighbourhood eatery. Despite the economy at the time, there was a fair to middling crowd there even on a Monday night. The wait staff was prompt and friendly. The place also has a biting sense of humour as exemplified by the third photo.
Favorite Dish: I had the grilled chicken curry, which seemed sophisticated for a neighbourhood eatery in Mechanicsville, Virginia. It came with a steamed vegetable medley that included broccoli, baby carrots, and yellow squash and a choice between soup and salad (I had the salad). I'm not keen on vegetable medleys (at any place) because they need so much help to even taste adequate. The salad was good except they were stingy on the tomatoes (they probably had to be given that winter weather hit much of the American tomato crop that year). The chicken was tender, the portions were more than adequate, and the curry sauce was good, but there was so much over it it overpowered the rice and was well on the way to overpowering the chicken too. If you look at the second picture, you'll barely be able to make out the chicken underneath all that sauce. It almost looks unsightly on the plate. Don't get me wrong, the sauce tasted good, but there was way too much of it in this dish. I would be willing to go back here again, but I think I might order something different next time.
This is a small new restaurant at the shopping centre across the parking lot from the Kroger next to Blockbuster Video where Coffee, Fudge and Nuts used to be. It is run by a couple (the husband is an American and the wife is Iranian). Of course they offer gyros, but they also have shwarma, hummus, tabouli, dolmades, pita crisps, and baklava for dessert. I'm glad we have something besides fast food or meat-and-potatoes American restaurants in Mechanicsville. As small as the restaurant is, they offer dine in and takeaway.
Favorite Dish: The first time I went, I had the gyro sandwich and dolmades. Because this is a family-owned place, they custom make each gyro. As many well know, I'm not keen on tzatziki (that Greek yogurt sauce) or any white sauce. They gladly left it off even though many think tzatziki is an essential ingredient. The dolmades were as good as those served at the Greek Festival at the Orthodox Church.
Arizona Joe's is a fairly new establishment in the area taking over for Dublin's Irish Pub. It is at the Mechanicsville Shopping Centre at the intersection of the Mechanicsville Turnpike bypass and Shady Grove Road next to the Dollar General Store. Unlike its predecessor, its atmosphere and menu does not keep to its name. It seems to me Arizona Joe's is first and foremost a bar, dart room, and pool hall and the food seems to be something of an afterthought. I personally had a fair to middling experience here, but my Mama wasn't keen on it at all.
Favorite Dish: I had the flat iron steak with fries and baked beans. It was cooked to order (extra medium). The beans were a little dry and not as sweet as I'm used to. However, the fries were great and plentiful. I noticed the dinner menu was limited, to say the least, with exactly 4 selections. There was a wider range of appetisers and hamburgers, but the entree menu needs to offer more. Furthermore, it would have been nice if there were more of a Southwestern theme to the existing selections which the name implies. My mama's bad experience began with her margarita. It was mostly ice cubes and maybe a thimbleful of tequila. And they charged her $6 for the pittance. The fish she ordered was substandard in that the coating between the fried breading and the meat was gooey. Normally, I rate on my own experiences, but I can't ignore such an egregious difference as this. Because we were the only ones there to eat at the time, maybe there will be a better incarnation in this location fairly soon.
The Sports Page has the look and feel of a neighbourhood sport bar. The TVs are more ubiquitous in that there are small sets at every booth. The service is fast and friendly.
Favorite Dish: I had the chicken tenders plain with mustard sauce (you can have them Buffalo style with blue cheese sauce) which came with fries. The chicken, the sauce, and the fries were pretty good. Normally, I rate restaurants solely based on my own experience. However, the cooks undercooked my friend's hamburger and it could have got him sick. It was much more undercooked than ground beef should be. In fact, it looked as if it was waved over the heat.
Parkway Restaurant is a combination American and German restaurant. As of April, 2009, it was the only German restaurant in the Richmond area. It is located at the Cold Harbor Shopping Centre at the corner of Cold Harbor Road and Stonewall Parkway. The atmosphere is that of a cozy American restaurant, but there is quite a variety of German things on the menu. One bothersome thing was that in order to get to the no smoking section, you had to pass through the smoking section. Also, the seats were hard and uncomfortable: there were no booths. The service was as slow as molasses; it took a good while for the waitress to even take our order. Once she did, it took 50 minutes for us to be served. I could have understood that if the restaurant were full up. There was a group of 12 in the next room, but others around us (some who arrived later than we did) got their food first. We must have gotten lost in the shuffle. The waitress was so apologetic and gave us a free dessert to take home. To Parkway's credit, they tried to rectify their mistake.
Favorite Dish: Although this is the only restaurant with German food on the menu in the Richmond area, the chicken livers were on special that evening. The two sides I ordered were fries and collard greens. The chicken livers were fried perfectly, but they got the onions a little too crisp. However, the fries, the greens, and the homemade rolls were served hot and the portions were abundant.
Giovanni's is an Italian restaurant at the Hanover Commons Shopping Centre at the corner of Chamberlayne Road (Route 301) and Shady Grove Road. The restaurant is divided into two parts: a traditional dining room and a pickup lobby for takeaway pizzas. They don't go overboard, like some Italian restaurants do, on the decor. The service is friendly and attentive, but not in your face.
Favorite Dish: I had the penne pasta and meat sauce and the chicken parmagiana. In both cases, the pasta was perfectly cooked, but the sauce was a little sweet and it drowned out the flavour of the pasta. The Greek salad is a ripoff because 90% of it is iceberg lettuce with only a little bit of the good stuff. Sadly, the feta cheese cannot be counted as the good stuff...bloody awful! The garlic bread, however, is first rate. The good news is Giovanni's is the best restaurant at Hanover Commons. The bad news is its competitor happens to be Don Pedro 2, which happens to be the worst Mexican restaurant in the metro area.
The Cold Harbor restaurant is where the Hanover County Republican committee sometimes meets. One reason is that they are happy to accomodate our numbers which could be huge depending on the speaker, but mostly, their breakfast is VERY good. The hostess and wait staff display the kind of hospitality for which the South is noted.
Favorite Dish: Some folks are keen on salt herring because they know how to cook it properly and they are consistent. I never acquired a taste for salty fish at breakfast, actually. So, I went with the buffet. The selection was standard breakfast fare for the Southern United States: eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, and biscuits. It's not anything really to write home about, but it gets you going in the morning.
Carter's Pigpen Bar-b-Que opened in the autumn of 2008. My first go of this new place was when they were open less than a couple of weeks. We got there about 45 minutes before closing time, but the ran out of nearly all of their side dishes (except for beans and corn muffin). They were fixing to run out of pork when we placed our order. I guess when a restaurant is new, it's hard for them to gauge how much food to make each day. Business is apparently good because they had to turn away prospective customers before posted closing time. It is in an old house in old town Mechanicsville near the intersection of Cold Harbor Road and Mechanicsville Turnpike. Even though it has been converted into a restaurant, the lobby where you place your order and the small dining area (in two separate rooms) are a reminder that this was once a home. If the seats are all filled they will gladly do takeaway.
Favorite Dish: I had the Carter's combo which consists of vinegar based eastern barbecue on a bun with baked beans and corn muffins. The barbecue and beans were really good, but the portions were smaller than usual because they had to stretch the last bit of pork.