Every bodega sells beer, but the revamped Cleveland Market in the Museum District also has a highly driven beer curator. Jen Buckley, who moved here from California to run the market, stocks a big selection of India pale ales, porters, pilsners, stouts and others, defining a niche with no 40s and no giant breweries. “My beer collection is my baby,” she says, reeling off the labels of the moment. She’s liking the Duchesse de Bourgogne sour beer but can’t resist Founders, she says — “the best porter of my life.” Buckley adds new brews and wines every week and says she pays particular attention to customer requests. The market at 801 N. Cleveland St. reopened in November after a five-month hiatus. Now, with its local-bread sandwiches and deli sides, a coffee bar and pastries, the red awning signals a recharged mission to know and serve the changing neighborhood. Food carts, the Franklin Inn, a larger Black Hand Coffee, and the upcoming Deco restaurant are solidifying the base, with the established Banditos, Café Diem and Caliente holding strong. Cleveland Market is open daily, 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m. 213-0505. theclevelandmarket.vzwebsites.com.
Hot nutz: Now that they have a wine and beer permit in hand, owners at the long-running Dairy Bar at 1602 Roseneath Ave. plan to stay open some evenings. Billy Webb says tentative goals are to be ready in April for baseball season and a “tailgate at the Dairy Bar” promotion to tie in with Flying Squirrels action in Scott’s Addition. The Dairy Bar is known for its Southern breakfast, milkshakes and loyal regulars. 355-1937. Dairybarrestaurant.com.
Out of service: Cameron Seafood at 2311 W. Broad St. has disconnected its phone.
He isn't superstitious, but Ted Santarella doesn't want to jinx a new downtown project by talking about it too soon. Still, he can't resist giving a few details because the new place is getting closer every day, and it will double his restaurant empire.
In the former J.P. Crowder's ham and deli building at 305 Brook Road, Santarella is finalizing plans to open Tarrantino's, nicknamed Tino's, a two-level bistro with plein-air dining and a view. It's across Broad Street from Tarrant's Café, which Santarella opened nearly six years ago. "We're feeding 2,800 people a week and turning away 100 on weekends," he says of that business, noting a diverse clientele as varied as students to power brokers, which has allowed him to expand three times.
At Tino's, fresh seafood, buckets of rotisserie and fried chicken, barbecued meats and a big vegan selection will give him a chance to try out dishes that won't fit on the Tarrant's menu. Affordability will be a factor, portions might be slightly smaller, and the appeal of a balcony and outdoor dining will give some oomph to the vintage location.
Frank Brunetto, general manager at Tarrant's, will take that role in the new place when it's expected to open late this summer. "I feel very fortunate to be part of this community," the newly married Santarella says of downtown Richmond. "There's just so much potential here." tarrantscaferva.com.
Friday night carts: Now that Rooster Cart has found a weekday home base in the Museum District, a destination cart pod is set to debut next weekend. Joining the vegan Rooster cart will be other mobile food businesses, Luke Mindell says, such as Pizza Tonight, RVA Vegan Cupcakes, and Boka Takos, for an informal confab on Friday nights in the 2900 block of Patterson Avenue.
More brisket: New location of award-winning Q Barbeque, daily 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 1070 Virginia Center Parkway. 261-7227. qbarbeque.com
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Peter Chang: Famous chef, Sichuan cuisine, expansive menu of traditional Chinese and specialties. ABC license pending. Lunch and dinner daily. 11424 W. Broad St. 364-5168.
Burger Bach: New Zealand burgers, mussels, wine and beer in stylish renovation of former Ellwood's Coffee. Dinner nightly from 4. 10 S. Thompson St.
Blow Toad: Pizza, sandwiches and craft beer from 4 p.m., Sunday brunch. 2907 W. Cary St., 355-8623.
Camden's Dogtown Market: Sandwiches, meat, seafood and vegetarian entrees, brunch, pantry items, wine and beer in Manchester cafe by chef Andy Howell. Lunch weekdays, dinner nightly, Saturday brunch. 745-6488. 201 W. Seventh St.
S@mple: Tech-inspired cafe with Wi-Fi, international small plates, changing specials. Lunch Monday to Saturday, dinner nightly, bar. 1 N. Morris St. 248-9157. samplerichmond.com.
Score one for Short Pump. The city’s first fast-casual Indian food counter is up and running in West Broad Village, and it’s an appealing option for a no-frills, well-spiced meal. Kebab & Biryani looks like a typical American franchise, with spare decoration save some umber-colored wall paint and a few photographs of India. Food comes to the table cooked to order; customers fetch their own plates, drinks and utensils, often working through their meals accompanied by tablets and smart phones. The cafe’s steady walk-in traffic seems to indicate the food is a worthy and convenient distraction.
Kebabs, mostly less than $8, are marinated and grilled in the tandoor oven. Entrees ($9-$10) are a value at lunch, served in combos with a basket of butter naan straight from the oven and a generous appetizer and small dessert. Chicken tikka masala, lamb curry and malai kofta are popular. Snacks include frankies (paneer, chicken or lamb wraps) for $5-$6, dosas and samosas. Desserts, lassi drinks and party trays show the concept’s versatility.
The neighborhood has two well-regarded Indian restaurants, Anokha Cuisine of India and Lehja India Delicious, both decorated in upscale modern fashion. Add in the often-extravagant Indian weddings frequently held at the nearby Hilton and other hotels, and Short Pump feels flush with Indian cuisine in fast and fancy versions. Kebab & Biryani, 2452 Old Brick Road. 658-3174. Kebabandbiryani.com.
Big start for BlowToad: Now open in Carytown, Jimmy Sneed’s newest restaurant is getting a surge of interest in its brunch with bubble bread, coal-fired pizza and craft beer selections, as well as its enterprising specials and famously out-front chef. Open daily except Mondays. 2907 W. Cary St. 355-8623.
Byram’s out, Tower Fish House in: After a disappointing recharge of Byram’s, the longtime Broad Street lobster house, owners Jeff and Corina Kelso introduced a re-branded restaurant in the same location last week. Tower Fish House takes a more casual approach with lower prices for seafood, meats and daily specials. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Saturday. 3215 W. Broad St. 355-9193. Towerfishhouse.com.
Rooster Cart: Early raves from followers of this vegetarian food truck from siblings Jen and Luke Mindell talk about tofu as if it’s nectar from heaven. The Kickstarter-campaign-funded cart caters to vegans and others with a changing list of baguettes, snacks, sweets and a locally famous version of banh mi. It’s usually seen at 2906 Patterson Ave. near Bandito’s in the neighborhood that some still know as the Devil’s Triangle. 802-324-3183.
Burger Bach: New Zealand beef comes to 10 S. Thompson St. at this new eatery from Michael Ripp, formerly of Havana ’59. The casual gastro-pub replaces the original Ellwood Thompson’s coffeehouse, and will focus on meats and mussels, beer and wine. Open nightly for dinner, beer and wine.
Out of order: Recent closings include Great Seasons Restaurant in Midlothian’s Shoppes at Bellgrade. Da Lat at 9125 W. Broad St. has changed owners and names. It’s now Pho Boston, serving a similar Vietnamese menu. 762-9330.
If new signs of night life downtown are any indication, optimism is on the rebound for local owners. Among them is the ambitious and focused Holy Yang (pronounced Holly), whose 18-month-old restaurant, Made in Asia, stands apart from others in Chesterfield County. Its sophisticated take on décor and cuisine, coupled with sharp marketing, has earned a strong following. Now Yang turns her energy toward a downtown project, A2, in the former Hunan Café at 1112 E. Main St.
A2 will be "another dimension of Asian food," Yang says — a lounge with a futuristic interior design that focuses on earth-friendly practices and upscale comfort for young professionals looking for a place to network and hang out. The 80-seat space is expected to open this spring, "and we want to make a positive impact on the city," Yang says. "This is going to be very cool."
In the same way that Camden, the mystery-breed dog, is a friendly mascot, the retooled Camden's Dogtown Market at 201 W. Seventh St. is a food business mongrel. Chef Andy Howell has turned the short-lived Ejay Rin noodle bar into a catch-all affair that's whetting the appetites of those who've known and loved his cuisine at Café Rustica, Avenue 805 and Zeus Gallery Café.
At the front door, instead of the Asian minimalist décor, stands an antique Wincroft wood cook stove. It's emblematic of the way Howell is running the place, fully hands-on and making nearly everything from scratch. That means smoking the bacon and pastrami, baking the hamburger buns and desserts, slicing the fries and brining the pickles. "I haven't gotten as far as making the ketchup yet," Howell says, "but it could happen." Diners can pick up a few pantry items, including things as varied as candy bars and wine, from market shelves that divide the somewhat more homespun space.
Camden's menus are written with Howell's usual humor: Nonconventional yard bird and greens, hummus a few bars, cultured Popeye spinach, thigh fry, new roasty swine and a dozen other dishes that change with the seasons. "If I'm known in this town for anything, it's that I haven't worked for Jimmy Sneed, Michelle Williams or Tuffy Stone," Howell says of more high-visibility owners here. He's also known for pricing food affordably: The lasagna for the people night on Mondays offers a choice of meat, seafood or vegetable casserole with salad, bread and dessert for $15. Other nights, entrees are $9-$18; brunch is mostly less than $10. Open Monday through Saturday for lunch, brunch and dinner. 745-6488.
Coming to Scott's Addition: A new business from Rick Lyons, former operator of Bandito's, Star-Lite and Republic, is about to open at 1213 Summit Ave., a block north of Broad St. The tiny, white and red building that was Sue's Country Kitchen for 25 years is now Lunch, a weekday breakfast and lunch spot. Lyons says that eventually he'll add dinner hours to the 25-seat cafe, while continuing his Northern Star Catering and Event Planning business. Lunch will serve panini, salads, desserts and boxed meals. With so much local competition, "you can't serve bad food in Richmond," Lyons says, and this is his chance to make a small place in "an awesome neighborhood with a lot of walk-in traffic" something personal. 353-0111. Eatlunchrva.com.
How romantic: Every restaurant worth its salt is running a Valentine's promotion most of next week. And although the love fest is widely known as amateur night by cynics, it's also an opportunity to show the local independents that their distinct character sets them apart from all those chains. As always be sure to check out our searchable guide to Richmond's restaurants.