Weekly Food Notes: Publix, Changes at Strawberry Street Café and More. 

click to enlarge Cider Week Virginia, Nov. 10-19.

Cider Week Virginia, Nov. 10-19.

Get ready, hungry readers. There's been a lot going on lately in the Richmond food scene. Here are a few of the highlights.

The friendly, customer service-oriented takeover of our hearts and pantries continues. Publix, the new, shiny grocery chain on the block, opened two more locations last week, one at the Colonial Square Shopping Center in Colonial Heights and another at Harbour Pointe Shopping Center in Chesterfield. publix.com.

Growing up in the Fan, I've been going to Strawberry Street Cafe for as long as I can remember. One memorable summer, the bartender gave me and my friends french fry "refills" when we stopped in during hot afternoons. Hopefully, what we lacked in cash, we made up for in entertainment. And now, the 41-year-old restaurant has made some big changes. You'll find a lighter, brighter interior with modern booths and lighting, plus a gradually evolving menu. The salad-bar bathtub? Don't worry — that classic isn't going anywhere. strawberrystcafe.com.

I've written about chef Malcolm Mitchell a couple of times, and honestly, I never know what to expect from the serial restaurateur. However, Richmond BizSense reports that he opened a new spot under the radar in the old Shockoe Valley Pizza and Bar space at 423 N. 18th St. Mitchell is calling the restaurant Lower 48 and says that it features rustic regional American cooking. He and his two partners are already planning to expand to other locations. facebook.com/lower48rva.

The Style offices are in Manchester, and as I was driving home the other day, I noticed that Cafe Zata has opened another spot at Bainbridge and Seventh streets. It's an unassuming building that once housed Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co. and Confluence Coffee Co. Although windows aren't plentiful, the big garage door is wide open, and the space is airy and light. Food is limited, but I have high hopes that soon Manchester will be treated to the kind of sandwiches to which South Siders have become accustomed on Forest Hill Avenue. cafezata.com.

Luscious, silky, smoky barbecue — who doesn't love it? Maybe Short Pump denizens. Q Barbeque has closed the doors of its outpost at the Corner at Short Pump, reports RVAHub. Owner and barbecue god Tuffy Stone still has three other locations going strong, and along with his team, Cool Smoke, continues to win barbecue competition after competition, including the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. qbarbeque.com.

In case you missed it: It's finally arrived. Galley market and coffee shop has unlocked its doors and the beverages are flowing in the old Mandarin Palace spot in Stratford Hills Shopping Center. The kitchen and storage section is connected to Manny Mendez, Chris DiLauro and Johnny Giavos' Galley Kitchen next door, although it's a separate spot from the restaurant. You'll find eat-in and take-away meals, as well as coffee drinks, grocery items, wine and beer. galleykitchen.info.

The King of Pops wants to tutor you in frosty goodness. Pop-making classes are ongoing through Nov. 15 and are limited to 20 people. You'll learn how come up with those special flavors the King is known for and then take home a dozen of the pops you made. Of course, there will be sampling and while you're waiting for your pops to freeze, Studio Two Three will be on hand to guide you through screen printing. facebook.com/kingofpopsrva.

Things to do

It's the time of year to get your apple on. Cider Week Virginia launches on Friday, Nov. 10, with a plethora of events around the state. Here in Richmond, there's something planned each and every day. The big celebration takes place Saturday, Nov. 11, starting at 11 a.m., at the 17th Street Farmers Market. Eleven cideries will be on hand for the fifth Richmond Cider Celebration, along with music, workshops, demonstrations and plenty of food. Tickets cost $5. Because of construction at the market, the event will be held a block away at 1615 E. Broad St. You can find a complete list of Richmond's Cider Week festivities at ciderweekva.com.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., Max's Positive Vibe Café is throwing the Souper Bowl IV. Restaurants competing for the title of best soup include Stella's, Joe's Inn and Spoonbread Bistro. positivevibe.com.

Also on Saturday, from 7 to 10 p.m., Center of the Universe Brewing Co. and Southern Railway Taphouse are planning a Bathrobe Bash & Concert in honor of the cult classic, "The Big Lebowski." Dig deep to find your inner Dude and throw on a bathrobe so that you can sip on COTU's El Duderino White Russian Stout while listening to the Royal We, which will play the soundtrack to the film throughout the night. cotubrewing.com.


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