Richmond Food News: Week of March 14-18, 2022

Masa and Mezcal 

What do Mexico City, Virginia Tech and local restaurant group Big Kitchen Hospitality have in common? They’re all part of the story of the soon-to-debut restaurant concept Conejo. Opening next week in the Westhampton Commons development at Patterson and Libbie, the new eatery promises a mezcal-heavy cocktail list, tortillas made from heirloom corn milled in-house and dishes devised by seasoned chef, cookbook author and Mexico City native Danny Mena. (Richmond magazine) 

Protect and Serve

Briny bivalves, the Chesapeake Bay and the bond among fellow chefs hold a special place in the hearts of Alewife Chef de Cuisine Bobo Catoe Jr. and owner Lee Gregory. This month, the Church Hill seafood shrine kicks off a tribute to all three with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The seven-part dinner series runs until December and will feature visiting chefs from across Virginia and Washington, D.C., including Inn at Little Washington alum Devin Rose, now of Adrift in the Northern Neck, and former Saison owner Adam Hall of The Feed Store in Maidens. Best part: Proceeds benefit the VCU Rice Rivers Center. (Richmond magazine)

Same, but Different

After gaining their coffee chops at one of the region’s longtime roasters, a team of former Lamplighter Coffee Roasters employees has launched a new employee-owned caffeinated collective, Afterglow Coffee Cooperative. Having taken over Lamplighter’s bean sourcing, roasting operations and wholesale clients, Afterglow also hosts pop-ups and farmers market pickups at its Scott’s Addition cafe space. (Richmond magazine)


With year six successfully in the books, Richmond Black Restaurant Experience may be over, but mark those calendars for the organizers’ next event, the Heart & Soul Brew Fest, taking place this summer. (Richmond magazine)

Keep your eyes peeled for a traveling pizza oven popping up at area breweries and farmers markets. D.C.-based Timber Pizza Co. — the same owners of bagel shop Call Your Mother deli — has RVA in its sights. (Richmond magazine)

Snack time, commence! Take a look at our roundup of spots serving everything from foldable Lebanese flatbread to churros and coffee to satisfy those between-meal cravings. (Richmond magazine)

Sandwich pop-ups are having another moment. This Saturday, March 19, Vasen Brewing will host a sando party mashup featuring Hamfish, a pop-up specializing in barbecue and seafood rolls, and Tyler’s Meat Cart, from pork purveyor Tyler Trainum of Autumn Olive Farms. From 1 p.m. to sellout, swing by for everything from an Arby’s-inspired roast beef and cheddar to a smoked lobster roll.

One single sandwich, two days of pop-ups. On March 25 and 26, Longoven chef Pablo Corrales will be serving up the mighty El Mestrami, a stunner of a sammy lined with smoked pastrami, Salvadoran cortido, Gruyere, manchego, avocado and aji panca mayo, all aboard a garlic knot from Carytown’s Montana Gold Bread Co. Preorders are open now.

Spoonbread Bistro announced it has bid farewell to its Fan location at 2526 Floyd Ave., closed since the onset of the pandemic, while its Lauderdale Drive outpost, Spoonbread Bistro Deux, remains open. (Richmond BizSense)

A waterfront escape in Varina that established itself as a prime place to retreat for sunsets, live tunes and the occasional celebrity spotting is being forced to apply for new special permits from the county. As part of the process, a community meeting has been scheduled for April 4 at 6 p.m. at The Lilly Pad. (Richmond BizSense)

Originally posting menus on Instagram stories every Thursday and gaining a serious ’za following, Secret Squares is graduating to the next cheesy chapter. Helmed by Phish fan Willoughby Obenchain, the homegrown pop-up will no longer require a quick DM and trip to Willoughby’s house to secure a square pie. Instead, patrons can now pick up their Detroit-style pizza from Early Bird Biscuit Company’s North Side storefront. (Style Weekly)

Next stop on the East Coast tour for the traveling, bubble gum pink-colored Hello Kitty Cafe on wheels: Short Pump Town Center. On March 19, the van stocked with everything from treats to swag will be parked from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (News release)

The LX Group, the team behind Switch, Nama, Belle, Kabana Rooftop, and Sonora Cantina & Rooftop, are hitting refresh on a handful of their ventures. Look for Sonora to transition to Juan’s Cantina and Rooftop, a new chef to lead the kitchen at Nama, Belle to gain a new concept and Kabana to receive a makeover. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Here to make an appearance in everything from mules to margaritas is Belle Isle Moonshine’s latest bottle drop, Yuzu Ginger, a tingly, citrusy infusion from the Manchester distillery. (News release)

Following a temporary closure for the season, longstanding food cart Christopher’s RunAway Gourmay — known for a mean tarragon chicken salad — is set to make a return to its familiar downtown corner on March 28.

RVA Love

Shout-out to the coffee pioneers at Blanchard’s Coffee Roasting Co., who have seamlessly transitioned from a strictly bean-focused company to a multilocation cafe operation; their Broad Street outpost took the crown for best coffee shop in the state from Food & Wine.

The list of the country’s top culinary contenders narrowed even further earlier this week with the announcement of this year’s James Beard Award finalists. Cheers to Peter Chang, always bringing the hot, hot Sichuan heat, for his Outstanding Chef nomination. (Eater)

Upcoming Events

  • Mayor Meats Pop-up, Final Gravity Brewing Co. (March 17): Classic bangers and mash with braised cabbage, plus dessert, aka Irish Gobs, from Fat Rabbit bakery
  • Star Chefs Restaurant Week Pop-upCelladora Wines (March 17): A four-course menu from the culinary team behind Oro
  • St. Paddy’s Day Celebration on the Farm, Hanover Vegetable Farm (March 19): An all-day, green-tinged gathering with live bands and Irish fare
  • Farmers’ Market-to-Table Dinner, The Underground Kitchen (March 19, 26): A six-course menu packed with produce from area growers
  • Spring Moon Market, Stone Brewing (March 19): Sip a beer and shop local artists during the daylong market.
  • Safe Space Market Spring Fest, Three Lakes Park (March 20): An outdoor market with over 40 vendors and an appearance from Kudzu ramen
  • The Olive Tree, Publix Aprons Cooking School (March 22): Experience the oval fruit in its many forms during this hands-on class.
  • Isley Beer Dinner, Tarrant’s West (March 24): A multicourse meal paired with brews from Isley; a portion of proceeds will benefit the Richmond Alzheimer’s Association.