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 • Food & Drink  • TasteBudz Plus — February 22, 2018

TasteBudz Plus — February 22, 2018

According to Dictionary.com, “Fantasticate” is the word of the day. I like that word. The nice thing is, however, that I don’t have to fantasticate to make four new restaurants that have just opened around town sound fantastic. I just tell it like it is.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Well the city’s first First Watch restaurant opened this past Monday at 1403 W. Huguenot Road. I had an opportunity to check the place out on Saturday as they were doing a friends and family soft opening. Christina, our server, told us that we were her very first customers. You’d have thought she’d been doing this all of her young life. Actually, she has had restaurant experience previously, but First Watch is quite unique, serving delightfully delicious dishes with an emphasis on healthy. Their Kale Tonic is very good, even if you, like me, are not a big fan of kale. Christina suggested that I try the Huevos Rancheros Tostadas. They’re described on the menu as Two crispy corn tostadas topped with fresh smashed avocado, two sunny-side up, cage-free eggs, chorizo, salsa verde, chive crema, Feta and fresh cilantro. Served with chipotle black bean slaw. It was an excellent recommendation.

I think you’ll find First Watch to be a refreshing change of pace. Check their menu and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. Oh, one more thing, the powers that be at First Watch recently went through a rigorous process to bring their customers the very best coffee. They’ve recently begun serving their Project Sunrise brew and it is superb. You can check out the fascinating video here.

LALO GOES DOWNTOWN: You already know how much I love Lalo’s Cocina at 2617 W.

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Broad Street. The food is authentic. The bar is fantstico. And the service is mucho friendly. I threw a bit of my Spanish in there. I hope you were able keep up. Anyway, Lalo and his brother Victor have just opened a new Cocina downtown. This one they’re calling Chicano’s Cocina Bar & Grill and it’s smack dab in Downtown Richmond at 523 E. Main. The menu is virtually the same. The bar is not as big as Lalo’s, but they’re still serving some of the best Margarita’s in town. By the way, today (February 22) is National Margarita Day. And in celebration of this big, salt-rimmed day, both Lalo’s and Chicano’s will be serving their classic Margarita for just $4.99 all day long. If you live, work or do anything else Downtown, check out the new place. It’s a beautiful little spot for lunch or dinner. And Lalo’s own homemade chorizo is amazing. BTW, this picture of Lalo is a couple of years old. He has evidently gone on what must have been a Chunk to Hunk diet. With his new beard, he kind of looks like a movie star, now.

MID-TOWN MEXICAN: Where’s Mid-town, you may be wondering. Well, based on what some real estate developers are saying, it’s out along Staples Mill Road. I have only recently come to realize that I’ve been living in Mid-town for most of my life. I like it. It’s kind of in the middle of everything. I digress. There is a new Mexican restaurant that just opened out my way and it is truly excellent. Terraza Restaurant at 6115 Staples Mill Road is a beautiful new place with beautiful new people and delicious food. I guess the people aren’t new, but new to me. The restaurant is owned by the Benitez family, who have owned the Arco Iris Latino Markets in the Richmond area for about 17 years. Yolibeth Benitez serves as the GM in her parent’s new restaurant as well as for the markets, too. And, from my recent dining experiences, she knows what she’s doing. One of my favorite dishes is the fried plantains. While the restaurant’s chef specializes in foods from Mexico’s Jalisco region, the Benitez family hails from El Salvador and a few dishes on the menu, including the plantains are Salvadoran. The plantains, at just $3, make for a wonderful alternative to the chips, which are quite good, themselves. I’d say the salsa is among the best I’ve ever had. Another dish that I am crazy about is their chile relenos. It’s not only huge, but you can get one for $2.75.

Terraza will be holding their official grand opening this Saturday (2/24) from noon to 3. Yolibeth tells me that there’ll e a bounce town (weather permitting) and face painting. And lots of delicious Mexican cuisine.

Yolibeth says that while the restaurant offers a full bar, their intent is to make the place truly family friendly. I’ve been with my family, including my three grandkids and they love the place and the food, although Conan (who is one) drops too many of the plantains on the floor. Some guests look at you like you’re crazy when you try to eat anything that’s sitting beneath a high chair.

A LOT TO LOVE:  Sarabeth Hagen, owner of SB’s Lakeside Love Shack at 6935 Lakeside Avenue loves what she does. She loves the restaurant business. She loves having her own restaurant. She puts a lot of love into every dish.  And, from all appearances, residents of Lakeside are loving her back…her and her delicious breakfasts and lunches. The items on the menu, which have been named based on lyrics to the B-52’s pop song, include Glitter On the Mattress  (sausage and bacon gravy blanketing a mattress of Texas toast, Bang Bang on the Door Benny (preached eggs and Virginia ham over a grilled croissant and Knock a Lil’ Louder Sugar Buns.  I like Sarabeth’s style, her love and her food.

HIGH FIVES: Congratulations to the Inn at Little Washington. They made history this week when the Forbes Travel Guide awarded the restaurant Five Stars for the 29th consecutive year. Actually, the Inn got two Five Star Awards, one for the restaurant and one for the hotel.

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“We’re thrilled and honored to receive this coveted distinction and very proud of our dedicated and hard-working team who have once again made this achievement possible. It is especially gratifying to receive this accolade on the year of our 40th Anniversary. ” said Chef/Proprietor Patrick O’Connell.

The Inn’s 40th anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year. To learn more about the upcoming celebrations, click here.

FRUGAL FOODIE: I enjoyed an excellent steak dinner on Monday at Baker’s Crust. Every Monday, they do a steak and smashed cauliflower dinner for $7. A portion of the proceeds goes to a local charity. The steak was very good and the bargain even better.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC:

On the Plus side, here’s this week’s lineup of some of our favorites

Thursday (2/22)

Boathouse at Sunday Park:   Colin and Carolyn are a beautiful couple who make beautiful music together.  Don’t miss ’em.

Friday (2/23)

AW Shucks – 6 p.m.  One of my faves – Wayne Ruotolo

JJ’s Grille – 8 p.m. Pat Russell Band

O’Toole’s – 8 p.m. Yep, you guessed it – The Taters.  

Saturday (2/24)

Wine Loft –  8 p.m. – Live jazz with Triple Crossing Jazz

That should keep you going. If you want to promote your live music or share any restaurant news, email us at TasteBudz@RichmondNavigator.com

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