Richmond has a few vegetarian restaurants and one 100% vegan restaurant. But almost all restaurants offer at least one vegan option and there is another vegan restaurant opening soon. There is also a Meetup by the Vegetarian Society of Richmond + RVA Vegans. They organise at least one potluck a month. During our time in Richmond we visited a couple of restaurants and food trucks that I would like to introduce to you.
An authentic Ethiopian restaurant that offers meat but also many vegetarian and vegan options. The most fundamental component is Injera. A sourdough-risen flatbread with a slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour (100% gluten-free). Since The Nile values being as authentic as possible, they use teff flour which gives the Injera a dark colour. The restaurant is small but gives an intimate and wonderful atmosphere. The staff is extremely welcoming and the service is excellent. Be prepared to eat with your hands and have a unique social and culinary experience, as the food is often consolidated on one large platter to share. For an appetizer we had the Vegan Duo. Gomen (Fresh collard greens, slow-cooked with onions, garlic and ginger) and Misir Wat (Red lentils cooked with flavorful mildly spicy berbere-based seasoning) rolled in toasted injera (7.50 USD).
For an entree we shared the Vegetarian Combo with choice of five entrees (14 USD). All Entrees are served with Injera and tomato salad. We were served: Aterkik Alicha (Yellow split peas cooked in mildly flavored sauce with turmeric, garlic and ginger seasoning), Fasolia (String beans with carrots, cooked with mild caramelized onions, seasoned with onions, garlic and ginger), Dinich Wat (Potato stew slow cooked in a mild berbere and tomato sauce), Atkilt (Green cabbage cooked seasonally-specific for ultimate nutritional benefits, with turmeric, garlic & ginger), and Shiro (Seasoned pea flour blend cooked into a thick, delicious, pasty sauce; moderately spicy). We liked all of them but favorite were Shiro and Atkilt. The food is very flavourful, nourishing, and filling. We finished with a strong traditional Ethiopian coffee flavoured with cardamom.
Another Ethiopian restaurant in Richmond in a large and open space. There are meat, vegetarian, and vegan choices. Our waitress was very attentive, friendly, and made great suggestions. As previously stated, Ethiopian food is eaten with your hands using a unique bread called Injera. Their Injera is not 100% gluten-free. Addis uses another flour besides the teff flour. As an appetizer we had a Sambusa. A fried, crispy pastry shell stuffed with spiced lentils (6 USD). It came along with a tasty salad with tomatoes, onions, and a perfect amount of apple cider vinegar. The Sambusa would have been even better if it would have had some sauce to make it less dry.
Our entree was a shared plate of Injera with all six vegetarian sides (18 USD). We were informed that all vegetarian sides are vegan. We had Tikel Gomen (Garden fresh cabbage), Denech Alicha Wot (Idaho Potatoes, carrots, and zucchini in a very special seasoning), Misir Wot (Spiced red lentils cooked in a red pepper Bebere sauce), Yeabesha Gomen (collard greens steamed with onion), Yekik Alicha (Mild yellow split peas seasoned with chopped onions and pressed garlic), and Fasolia (Crisp string beans and crunchy carrots). Additionally, we had Addi’s shiro wot. A thick, flavourful sauce with onions and pea flour simmered with bebere. Very tasty. And a side plate of Injera. The portions are very generous. At the end of the meal we were given a warm and moist cloth to clean off our hands. We finished our meal with a cup of coffee from a Jebena. A traditional Ethiopian clay coffee pot. Great experience.
Phoenix Garden Vegetarian Restaurant (100% vegan)
Phoenix Garden is a Vietnamese restaurant. Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed. An unpleasant smell approached us as we entered. Luckily our noses adapted. More decorations and lighting would give Phoenix a better dining atmosphere. We had Pho. Fresh vegetables cooked with herbs and spices in a broth with rice noodle, vegan beef, tofu, mushrooms, onion, and cilantro (12 USD). We also ordered Happy Family. Vegan shrimp, beef, and chicken with sautéed fresh vegetables and Lo Mein noodle in a ginger sauce (15 USD). The food was good but had added sugar and a lot of unhealthy oil. Normally, this is okay but the menu exclaimed the foods as being healthy. Vegan does not always mean healthy. Using dates as a sweetener and less oil would be healthier and make this place one of my favourites.