As the name suggests, Tropical Soul keeps seafood on the menu with soul food in mind. Customers can expect to find interesting combinations like garlic crabs served with baked macaroni and bean pie. The most popular menu item, the owners say, is the life sandwich ($5). "Our chef (Ray Muhamed) has cooked it for years, and everyone follows him and his sandwich around," Chase says. It's served with tuna, turkey or in the vegetarian style, garnished with alfalfa sprouts, red onions, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots and a special secret dressing. Other popular dishes are the island fried chicken ($8), salmon cakes ($6.50) and the grilled shrimp kabob appetizer ($7).
Colorful, bright red walls envelop a mixed, casually dressed, downtown-worker crowd sitting in living-room decor. The restaurant features couches from the '40s and '50s, wide tables, paintings (check out the island girls, jazz legends, Egyptian art and abstracts), incense-burning vintage candles and a bar made of bamboo. Could be a perfect setting for live jazz on the weekends from the likes of Walter Bell, the Jason Gay Jazz Quartet or the Latin Jazz Cats. But whether it's live or not, Chase promises "jazz or another form of soul music" at her restaurant.
Maddox and Chase say they have high ambitions. They don't just want to make a big name for Tropical Soul here. "When people come to Richmond," Maddox says, "we want them to take the name back to Philly and D.C. and Maryland."
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