Pescados: Smack Your Grandma
I've got three words for Pescados China Street: "Smack Your Grandma" (Google it.) and as any good southerner knows - that's a mighty high compliment.
At various food blogger functions I often hear lamentations about the lack of truly innovative restaurants in Richmond - ones that do something different from the pack. Pescados is the answer to those lamentations. The focus is on seafood (think Turks and Caicos Conch Fritters) but they also offer vegetarian dishes and meats like lamb shank depending on the night.
If I had to compare it to anything in Richmond, it's be a funky version of Coast, if Coast were to take a long Caribbean vacation.
This place is so good that I took the Wife there for lunch today and am taking clients and legislators there this evening. Twice in one day and I'd do lunch there tomorrow too.
For starters - The Wife and I have three criteria (generally) for judging restaurants, and it's our belief that to warrant a return trip a restaurant must have two of the three.
1) Great Food 2) Great Service 3) Great Atmosphere. Any combination of two of the three should warrant a return trip, and make up for the third that wasn't up to par.
1) Pescados has incredible food. 2) Attentive, informative but not in your face or pushy service. 3) The atmosphere has a retro almost diner feel, but with funky drawings on the wall - small and quaint.
I had eaten at Pescados last week with a co-worker and absolutely loved the place. It was Wednesday and at Pescados that means 1/2 price wine night. The bartender/waiter informed us that all of there fish is flown in daily, and has only been out of the water for about 24 hours when it's on your plate.
Fast forward to today and The Wife and my sporadic last minute lunch date.
She was a little unsure of the location (it's in Oregon Hill - a couple of blocks up Pine Street from Mamma Zu's) but having been to Mamma Zu's she knew what treasures lied waiting in this up-and-coming secret foodie enclave.
On the corner of China and Pine Streets, Pescados welcomes you with a chalk board outside a red building. You step into the dining restaurant and booths line the two walls, with two top tables in the middle, a small bar is at the back, in front of the kitchen.
The Wife and I started with the Arepas - braised pork over a potato pancake. Wow - this is called a "small plate" but could easily have been a lunch entree. Three arepas, piled high with braised pork and a red onion mango relish, and some sort of green sauce (that I half-seriously told The Wife I would like to get by the bucket-full).
For Lunch, I ordered the Cubano Dip, their take on a cuban. As much as it pains me to say this - Pescados beats Kuba Kuba in the Cuban sandwich. The bread makes all the difference. The secretly addictive addition that makes this sandwich is the pickled red onion. Yum.
The Wife ordered the tacos - chicken - spicy. They were great - although the outer shell was a little charred for my tastes. These came with a side of black beans that tasted as if they had been simmered in coconut milk - delicious.
After all that, we were both stuffed, but being a sucker for weird and different food (and upon hearing it was a house specialty) we split the Avacado Tart for dessert.
I know what you're thinking - Avocado? In a dessert? To this I will only say YES! The tart is a key lime pie-esque, with a crust that tastes literally like butter (keep telling yourself avocado is a good fat therefore it's a healthy option.) The avocado gives only the slightest of tastes to the tart, but loads of creamy texture. Heavenly.
The prices are reasonable - especially the wine prices. Do yourself a favor and go here on your next night out. You won't be disappointed.