Thursday, June 18, 2015

Richmond, VA Eats: Cha Cha's Cantina, The Black Sheep and Tarrant's Cafe

Almost two months back, Sachin and I went down to Richmond, Virginia for my friend, Zeenia's wedding.  A wedding where I, for the first time, hosted the reception! Well, co-hosted with a very close college friend of mine.  But, I'm jumping the gun.  I went to college in Richmond and several of my undergrad friends still live in the city or surrounding areas.  While I moved back up to D.C., I still have a spot in my heart for the city of Richmond.  The food, culture and the people are refreshing, warm and I just love it.  

As a Jersey boy in his own right, Sachin thought Richmond was "down south," but I'm not sure if I totally agree with that.  I guess I expect the people in an area to sound like their off the Andy Griffith Show to truly be categorized as "down south."  But, to each his own! However, you classify Richmond, it is a great city with amazing restaurants.  A lot of restaurateurs and chefs in D.C. and other east coast cities, found their stomping grounds in Richmond.  Because of the low rental costs, starting a restaurant in Richmond is conducive for newbies in the food industry who want to test out their recipes and restaurant's potential for success.  While there are those that stick around, others move on to bigger cities.  This can be both good and bad.  While it's great to see successes, we also don't want to lose our on our favorite Richmond restaurants packing up and moving elsewhere!  So, I guess all there is to do, is to enjoy them while we have them in Richmond.  
I took Sachin to three great restaurants: one college classic hang out, one new place I've wanted to try, and a great brunch spot I discovered post-undergrad on one of my many trips to Richmond. 

Cha Cha's Cantina (Rating: B) is an old school Richmond spot, and a main stay for college students in the area.  But, it isn't just your old boring Mexican food, this place offers delicious Tex-Mex at very reasonable prices.  I ordered the Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla, which was delicious.  It came with this shredded chicken that was doused in a delicious chipotle sauce. Sachin ordered the Southwest Shrimp Tacos which were served topped with a roasted corn and avocado relish, fresh mango, and an avocado vinaigrette.  The shrimp was delicious! I have to say Richmond always offers great seafood (must go to Croaker's Spot)! We sat outside at Cha Cha's since the weather was  unseasonably warm for mid-April, and we enjoyed a big pot of coffee because all the wedding festivities from the night before had us tired!

The Black Sheep (Rating: A-) is one of Yelp's top rated sandwich shops in Richmond, and I think all of the customer reviews lived up to my expectations.  The bread used for these sandwiches is absolutely delicious and soft, and the perfect amount of chewy.  I ordered the USS Wyoming (at the bottom of the picture) which is a grilled marinated tofu sandwich topped with pickled daikon radish and carrots, jalapenos,  and cucumber.  The bread is slathered with this delicious garlic chili eggplant mayonnaise - um, YES, how delicious does that sound?! I wish they bottled this stuff!  Sachin ordered the USS Roanoke (at the top of the picture) which was served on a a toasted french baguette smeared with a mixed fruit mostarda, with thin slices of turkey and provolone, topped with crispy prosciutto, arugula and peppadew peppers.  So good!  All in all The Black Sheep will be visited by me every time I'm down in Richmond - my favorite sandwich spot.  Loved it!  Too bad I didn't get to Carytown Burgers and Fries - this is probably home to my favorite burgers! 

Tarrant's Cafe  (Rating: A+) heard about from my old college roommate.  She mentioned having brunch here and recommended it prior to one of my visits to Richmond.  I went, and I loved it, and knew I had to take Sachin.  I've tried other places in Richmond for brunch such as LuLu's and Millie's Diner, which are both fantastic and offer some great "stick to your ribs" breakfast grub, but I have to say that Tarrant's has always been my favorite.  So, I told my old college roommate to meet Sachin and I there for brunch before we hit the road back to D.C.  She brought her husband and two kids, who all enjoyed this restaurant as much as she and I did.  

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures here.  The food was too amazing for me to pause, but I'll try to describe in detail.  Sachin ordered this Breakfast Pizza that was one of the specials for the day.  It was served with a cracked egg over the top, layers of bacon and delicious cheese all over.  It was awesome!  I ordered the Belgian Waffle which was topped with strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream and candied pecans.  Perfectly topped without tasting too sweet or filling.  Tarrant's is definitely a staple brunch place in Richmond.  The restaurant was full and I love the decor and southern feel you have when you enter the restaurant itself.  One to try out on any trip to Richmond. 

Well, I didn't even get into how the wedding itself was.  It was great.  So good to see old friends!  And, for the hosting duties, I think they went well, but I'll pass the mic on for the next friend's wedding!  

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