Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Café
The former home of the standout underground rock club Hole in the Wall and, briefly, Holy Chow has found a new calling. As the mural on the southward facing side now depicts:The Nile River flows through Egypt, but its glorious headwaters spring from Ethiopian soil. Stepping inside, one can hardly believe the totality of the transformation. Here's a unique and thoroughly upscale ethnic restaurant where the drunken and distorted once held sway. The food here is top-notch and reasonable. Many entrees are seasoned with berbere (a red chili herb powder) and paired with injera (a flat sourdough bread). A real treat for the adventurous, globe-trotting gourmand.
309 N. Laurel Street
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday-FridayDinner: 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday- Friday
Fan Café: Japanese Restaurant
This former home of various sub shops has finally become worthy of serious culinary interest. The interior has been remade into a comfortable collegiate hangout, complete with a tight little sushi bar at the back. Open nearly a year now, the establishment boasts serious Bento Box lunch specials at $6.95. Complete with miso soup, green salad, California or cucumber roll, and choice of gyoza or shumai, they're sure to satisfy. Weekend specials at $9.95 offer a wide variety of sushi rolls to mix and match. Fight the skepticism you may feel about a funky little sushi place on Grace everything here is fresh and delicious, a true diamond in the rough.
948 W. Grace St.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday Dinner: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m. - 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Star of India: Fine Indian Cuisine
An easily overlooked storefront right next to the Fan Café has been the home of Star of India for about four months now. Prepare for olfactory overload as you enter from the street. Besides the piquant aroma from the rustic buffet, you're likely to be bowled over by incense wafting about the small dining room. Though visually sparse and seemingly unchanged from its days as a lowbrow taqueria, the warmth of the food and the hosts almost makes up for the lack of décor. With special discounts for students, free delivery in the VCU area, and an extensive menu featuring authentic renditions of your favorite Indian fare from samosas to curries to vindaloo, this is sure to become a campus favorite.
946 W. Grace St.
Lunch Buffet: 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1 p.m.- 10 p.m. Saturday. Dinner: 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday