Surprisingly international cuisine, Richmond
Richmond is most well-known for its monuments to Confederate heroes, being the national capital of the Confederacy, its park-like Capitol Square, the architecture of many old buildings, and its sense of history. Because it is a quintessentially Southern city, it is widely assumed to be provincial in terms of its cuisine. That is, many outsiders often think most restaurants offer only meat-and-potatoes American cuisine, plus a smattering of Italian, Chinese, and Mexican restaurants. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Besides the examples listed below, Richmond offers Indian, Salvadorian, Middle Eastern, Dominican, Jamaican, and I'm sure other cuisines yet to discover.
You would probably not expect a large Greek community in a middling sized city like Richmond. However, there is enough of one to support an ornate Greek Orthodox Church, the Sts. Helen and Constantine church at the corner of Malvern and Grove Avenue. The first weekend of June since 1977, this church hosts a Greek festival which celebrates every aspect of Greek culture. There are also a half dozen or so Greek restaurants in the Richmond area including Crazy Greek, Zorba's, and Athens Tavern.
How about Filipino?
There is even a small but active Filipino community here. There is a restaurant in Richmond's West End called Manila Manila. Their menu offers a wide range of authentic Filipino food. I always go for the lumpia (Filipino-style egg rolls) for an appetiser and pancit (a nourishing rice noodle dish with several vegetables and a choice of meat). They offer a clear noodle soup with chicken and noodles about the same consistency as the rice noodles for the pancit.
en español, em português
Fondest memory: How about Brazilian?
You know a city has gone international when they get a Brazilian restaurant. One is a rodizio in the West End called Ipanema Grill. That is, wait staff comes by with a cut of meat on a skewer and it is your option to accept or decline that particular cut of meat. Included in that all-you-can eat price is a salad and vegetable bar with such exotic vegetables as hearts of palm. Also, you can make your own feijoada with rice and black beans, with couve (collard greens) and an orange slice on the side.
Havana 59, a more upmarket Cuban restaurant, isn't the only game in town for that cuisine. Actually, in the months following the flood caused by Hurricane Gaston, Kuba Kuba was the only Cuban restaurant in town. One night, after the restaurant of first choice had to close early, Kuba Kuba was off my radar screen and that of my friend. However, we are glad we discovered it. It takes on the air of a Cuban diner with Latin American music playing and the aroma coming out of the kitchen. The food is great and the portions are more than generous and the service is great. They also sell Cuban coffee and other things.
Finger Lickin' Good Ethiopian food
Richmond even offers an Ethiopian restaurant. It is Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Cafe near the corner of Broad and Laurel Streets. It is genuine in terms of sight (indoor and outdoor decor), sound (African music in the background), smell (the aroma of unique spices coming from the kitchen), and taste (the food is rather spicy, but not overpowering). There is an added cultural bonus. They encourage customers to eat with their fingers. You scoop up whatever is on your plate by breaking of pieces of injera bread (a sourdough bread with a crepe consistency). They have it on the side so you can scoop up your meat, vegetables, or seafood and the plate is lined with that bread so you can fold it up and eat every last bit of food remaining.