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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't Knock it Til You Try it

Okay, so I'm a student, so I'm not in Richmond at the moment, but, believe me, I come back often :P. So my latest obsession is this new bakery. It's called Panaderia La Sabrosita (The Tasty Bakery) and it's over on Midlothian Turnpike toward the city beside Chicken Fiesta (another one of my faves - a post about this place is definitely soon to come), which is near Mattress King. The company has actually been around for a while, but exclusively as a wholesaler to Hispanic markets from Charlottesville to North Carolina. I found this out the hard way when I thought I'd avoid the middle man by visiting the address on the label to my favorite "yoyos" What I found was this itty bitty, barely visible, closet-of-a-kitchen that couldn't possibly have had enough space for me to enter, not to mention space for a register for paying. Alas, I had to go home sad that I had yet to learn the secret of getting to the best fresh "yoyos" (round, heavy cake-like sweet bread cut in half and re-bound with a thin layer of strawberry filling and coated with what is likely that same filling before being rolled in coconut) and "conchas" (round, semi-flat Mexican sweet bread that is only mildly sweet and lightly flavored with cinnamon, then coated with a thin cookie-like crust on top) Richmond has to offer.

Anyhow, one day I was driving down the turnpike only to find that there was a huge glass building with a sign that said opening soon and.... La Sabrosita! I nearly fainted!! So...being the obsessed fan of La Sabrosita that I am, I drove by there every time I could over the summer and every time I came home after that until finally, a few Saturdays ago, I strategically asked my boyfriend if he wanted to eat at Chicken Fiesta so that I could see if the neighboring business, La Sabrosita was open. It was!!! My stalker-like tendencies paid off. It was actually opening day! I could barely wait until after dinner to check it out!

So...I went in and I was like "yeeeaaa, this is it!" Unfortunately, there were no "yoyos" that night, but I did get the scoop on the baking schedule. Apparently they alternate every other day on what they bake. So instead, I took the sales lady's recommendations. She told me to try some Colombian bread with dulce de leche, so, although reluctantly because I wanted my "yoyos," I did. That thing was AMAZING! AMAZING! Very good! Slightly sweet round bread with coarse sugar on top and a thin filling of mildly sweet, buttery caramel. It was great because the bread was pretty light compared to other treats I've had and so was the caramel. Great job, ladies! So the sales person also told me they had some crazy-yummy sounding French bread stuffed with cheese, simply called "pan con queso" that pretty much disappeared off of the shelves. One day, I'll get there early enough to try it. So, today's recommendation...stop questioning whether or not you should try the new Latino spots in Richmond. Just go for it! Until I post again, here are some recommendations along that same vein:

Panaderia La Sabrosita - 7730 Midlothian Tnpke- big yellow sign - near Mattess King

Chicken Fiesta - 7748 Midlothian Turnpike - right beside La Sabrosita, how convenient? Guess you'll have to go there, to0 :P. I recommend the chicken and steak combo with rice and beans and ordering a side of fried yucca (yuca frita)

La Milpa - 6925 Hull Street Road
Bangin real Mexican food right after Chippenham Hull st exit going away from the city and toward 360 W shopping center. They have a blue sign and are on the left) (this is not no El Paso, Don Papa Grande, or Mexico Restaurant, so don't expect that crap when you get there). I recommend the Torta de Carne Asada. Don't bother with the empanadas there; I could beat those anyday, but everything else is very good!

Papa Ningo
Very good REAL Dominican food, not that crap you get at Quisqueya. Only problem here is that they totally rip you off. No self-respecting Dominican eats their meals without fried yucca (yuca frita), fried plantains (plAtanos), and rice and beans, so who do these "ladronazos" think they are charging a la carte for this stuff and saying "choose one?" Get over it, peeps! Just put it all together and make what you can make from it because that a la carte crap turned me off. Anyway, so they are overpriced for sure, if you don't get the buffet that most rant and rave about (myself not included). So, don't do the buffet, as tempted as you might be. The stuff you really see on every Dominican table is right on the menu. Try some "chicharron de pollo" on for size. Just like Mami Lourdes hooks it up for me, so it's the real deal.

La Palmera
Been a while since I've hit this one up, but the I had some chicken dish that involved "sofrito" in the name, the tipical Puerto Rican seasoning. So, you guessed it! It's the only PR spot in town. Anyhow, just look for something "pollo con sofrito" or something along those lines. It's really good. Chicken smothered in this semi-creamy, lite-colored, gravy-like sauce with garlic, sweet peppers, etc. Good stuff! I hear they have banging "mofongos" (fried green plantains with meat, pork skin called "chicharron" in the traditional style) and pasteles, but I hear the pasteles cost a pretty penny. Whatever though, I'm pretty sure it's one of few, if not the only place where you can buy good pasteles around here.

Nuevo Amanecer
6515 Jefferson Davis Hwy - near, but past Falling Creek Apartments going toward Bellwood area
Just a market? Nope! Fooled you. Market in the front, Salvadorean restaurant in the back. They've got some of the best "pupusas" (white corn tortilla stuffed with any combination of pork skin "chicharron," refried beans, and cheese. I recommend "pupusas revueltas" which combine all 3) in town. They really need to work on their "curtido" (pickled cabbage and carrots), but I prefer bad curtido to bad pupusas. I've yet to find both good in one place, but I haven't looked as hard as I could lately with all of the new places opening.

Dona Mercedes
Best horchata (Central American drink made from strained softened ground rice and water with sugar, cinnamon, and almond) I've had so far.

Tasty's Chicken & Bread
4140 Meadowdale Blvd - right off of Hopkins road, turning beside McDonalds. Inside Food Lion shopping center on left side of plaza and at the end. I'm really not sure what the aim of this name was...a wannabe "pollo a la brasa" (Peruvian-style charcoal chicken) or a failed attempt to attract black patronage, but the food is less than tasty in my opinion. However, the "conchas" are up there with the best of them. So are the other concha-like creations, like the "gusanos," "besitos," etc. BUT, I don't recommend their other pastries at all. Sorry guys...

Amigo del Hispano Market
In the same plaza as Tasty's, but on the main strip closer to CVS. Not a place for food but....on Saturdays you can get some goodies. Try their empanadas. I have no idea who makes them nor from what country the cooks are but they're very tasty and I would definitely consider myself an empanada connoisseur. They are beef and potato or chicken and potato most of the time and come with a tasty spicy "pico de gallo" (literally translate's as rooster's beak - the typical sauce that we Americans imitate with our "tomato salsa"). But yea, the owner's are Guatemalan, but I'm really not sure that the empanadas are or not.

Coming Soon:
Southeast Asian cuisine
Soul Food
American Gourmet

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