Ipanema Café

Location:

917 W Grace Street

Richmond, Virginia 23220

Website

Atmosphere:
I can only imagine what my face looked like as I had no choice but to step right into the middle of the lake-sized, ankle deep puddle that was located in the entrance of this place. As I attempted to shake out the water from my flats, I looked in to see a sight like I have never seen before. This place was like a little dungeon. Dimly lit, rope lights hanging, a long bar to drink at, and booths that looked like they could have been (or were at one point) confessional booths. 

This underground sight to be seen is located underneath a tattoo shop and was quite crowded! The strong scent of Incense hits you immediately as you check out the chalkboard menu on the wall of the entrance way. 
  
This menu is the only one in the place, so you have to remember what you want to order when you sit down. This sounds simple, since all the vegan items have a heart next to them, but I was so distracted by the funkiness of this place (check out the old phone and unicorn piñata below), that I had to get up and check the board out again. 

  
  
Food:

  

 After a very heated battle in my brain, I ordered the Eggplant and Kalamata “Sausages” for $5.00. These were slightly tangy, smoky, and perfectly crispy. The rosemary infused balsamic added sweetness and earthiness to this otherwise savory app, and the sautéed onions were the perfect addition to brighten the flavor up a little bit. I’ve never had anything quite like this dish before.

  
Next, I tried the fried artichoke for $5.00. They were fried until deeply golden brown and served with a zesty marinara sauce that did not skimp on garlic. The squeeze of lemon on these crispy yet soft artichokes, paired up with the show-stealing sauce, made this a flavorful treat.

  
Next up was the Grilled Focaccia bread (5.95). Light, chewy, and grilled, the bread was delicious and paired with a ramekin of a similar marinara sauce, but with a strong fennel flavor. What I thought was cool about this was that it was served with minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. I love garlic and would have garlic babies if I could, but just in case people don’t, this would nice to control how much of it they were eating. The red pepper added some heat, and rounded out an overall delicious side dish. 

  
Next, (Yes, I ate even more, don’t judge me!) was the Twin Oaks Tofu sandwich for $8.95. I didn’t originally order this, but after seeing it I had to try it. This baby featured a thick slab of tofu on a fresh white bun with hummus, roasted red peppers, onion, and spinach. The tofu had a strong grilled flavor, while the roasted red pepper and onions added texture and tang. The hummus was strong in garlic (Yay!) and vegan mayo added necessary moisture to the extremely flavorful and filling sandwich. I have nothing to note about the side salad or fries… But who cares? This was awesome. 

DIG IT or DITCH IT?

This place, by far, is the strangest place I have ever eaten. Built in the early 1800’s (according to the friendly waitress), this place is quirky, cute, and weird, all in a good way. Since it is strictly vegetarian/vegan, it’s nice being in a place where there’s no need to add disclaimers to your order ( the obligatory “I’m vegan, I don’t eat this, this, or this”). The food was just like the decor, unusual and awesome. Fresh ingredients, lots of creative menu items to choose from, reasonable prices, and friendly service makes me want to crawl into a corner of this little dungeon and stay there forever to eat. If you ever are in Richmond, don’t skip this place! You’ll love the food and most likely never forget it. I know I won’t! This is a definite DIG IT

Look they even have a little tea menu!

   

 

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