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Food & Drink

Go Eat at Abuelita’s on Midlothian

I’m not wise to the ways of restaurant reviewers but I hope you’ll take my word for it and give this fairly new restaurant a try.

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Richmond is lucky to have more than a few excellent restaurant reviewers. I’m not one of them. I do however eat out way more than I should. My dining out shows in my vast waistline and empty. So while not an expert in the writing of food I do have strong opinions and one of those opinions I’m dropping on you right now.

If you want to get a plate of authentic home-made Mexican food you need to get your stomach over to Abuelita’s. Abuelita’s is at 6400 Midlothian Turnpike, near my favorite taco spot Taqueria Panchito. You’re not going to find your typical Americanized taco, nacho fare instead owners Karina Benavides and Everardo Fonseca serve up Mexican stews called guisos. Don’t be put off by the fast-food chain looking building, this place is anything but chain style Mexican.

Every day they have a menu (usually posted daily on their FB page) for the different stews they’re serving up. The one below is from a few days ago so don’t head out there today expecting these items.

You have options of a small plate pick one of the items above  and one side (black beans, refried beans, rice) or a large plate pick two and a side. Regardless of large or small, you get made on site tortillas. Fresh tortillas are a completely different beast from what you’ll find any nearly every other Mexican restaurant in town. The owners and worker there are so nice and will happily answer questions and guide you through your first visit.

Un Plato de Huevos con Chorizo, Papas con Ejotes y Frijoles Fritos es más rico con una salsa de Tomatillo, queso y cebolla con habanero.
Photo from Abuelito’s Facebook.

I’ve tried about six different dishes and haven’t been disappointed in any. The meat is always tender and flavorful. Nothing I’ve sampled dips into the spicy category but fear not my heat-seekers there is a selection of 6-8  homemade salsas and pickled jalapenos if you need to kick it up a bit. All the salsas have their own distinctive flavor and all fall into the hot category with none going into the sweet Jesus what the hell is this hot lava I just put in my mouth category. Also before I forget, Sunday is tamale day and the tamales are great.

No ABC license but they do make a kick-ass aqua fresco, Jarrito’s, and the usual lineup of Coke products.

If you received your most recent Valpak there should be a coupon with 20% which will make an already reasonable meal cheap. We picked up a small, large, soda, and aqua fresco for right around $20. Bottom line if you want to try something different head over to Midlothian Turnpike and put some stew in your belly.

If like me you want more places serving up authentic, inexpensive, homemade dishes in Richmond you need to get out there and support these efforts.

Photo from Abuelito’s Facebook

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Community

3rd Street Diner Sold

The exact plans for the space are unknown at this time but it supposedly will be a new restaurant.

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The iconic corner cafe’s sale was announced yesterday.

Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is pleased to announce the sale of the former 3rd Street Diner property located at 218 East Main Street in the City of Richmond, Virginia.

Ya Hua Zheng & Jianwei Tang purchased the 3,928 square foot retail building from 3rd Street LLC for $550,000 and will operate as a new restaurant.

Reilly Marchant of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.

I’ll confess to having never set foot inside the diner but I’ll be bummed to see the neon go away if they go down that path.

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Business

New York Deli crowdfunding project to add Carytown’s first rooftop bar, outdoor movie theater, and event venue

The plans would see the one-story restaurant add a deck and dining options to their roof as well as a stage for events and a large projection screen upon which to show movies.

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One of Richmond’s oldest restaurants has announced a new Kickstarter campaign they hope will help them become Carytown’s first rooftop bar and movie theater, and one of the few event spaces in the neighborhood. New York Deli, located at 2920 W. Cary Street, announced the campaign yesterday.

The plans would see the one-story restaurant add a deck and dining options to their roof as well as a stage for events and a large projection screen upon which to show movies.

The campaign has already raised $17,000 as of this writing; owners hope to raise $145,000 to cover construction costs in addition to a $25,000 downpayment made to a local construction company handling the project.

New York Deli is offering a range of incentives to supporters ranging from a date night dinner for two package all the way up to a catered event and full event venue rental that’s being pitched to brides and grooms to be who may have had to change their wedding plans during the pandemic.

If all goes to plan, the space should open in July. You can learn more about the project here.

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Food & Drink

Belly Up to the Bar in a Safe Rule Filled Manner

Governor Northman updated one of his executive orders to now include bar seating as an option with caveats.

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The Governor updated the executive order that regulates businesses during these Covid times. The order that was updated is right here if you want to dive in. The important information for those missing the bar experience is, “patrons may be seated at the bar for service, provided a minimum of six feet is provided between parties.”

That doesn’t mean things are back to normal. Many of the restrictions remain.

  • No alcoholic beverage shall be sold, consumed, or possessed on premises between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room.
  • All private bookings are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
  • All parties must be separated by at least six feet, including in the bar area.
  • Employees must wear masks over their nose and mouth while working at their place of employment.
  • Patrons must wear masks over their nose and mouth, except while eating or drinking.

Although this seems to be a step in the right direction towards restaurant/bar profitability not everyone is jumping on the bar seating bandwagon.

Karri Piefer at Richmond.com talked with some restaurants and bars to get their takes and it’s a decided mix of those that will be opening those seats and those that won’t.

And EAT Restaurant Partners — the largest independently owned restaurant group in the Richmond area — said it’s hurrying to open the bars at all 15 of its local restaurants, however they can and by the end of Thursday.

“Where we can seat people at the bar safely, we’re going to seat them immediately,” said Chris Staples, director of marketing for the group.

In some cases, Staples said, the restaurant will push tables up against the bar to maximize seating. In others, to keep enough distance between the bar seats and existing tables, such as at Wong Gonzales in downtown Richmond — customers will find traditional bar seating — with 6 feet between parties.

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