Very Richmond #10: Strawberry Street Cafe


Strawberry Street Cafe in Richmond's Fan District

I love local institutions, and since 1976, Strawberry Street Cafe in the Fan District has established itself as an unique and treasured place to eat in Richmond. Most anyone can find something they like about the food, the atmosphere, the decor, the diner crowd — it is a comfortable place and does our city proud. Very Richmond.

The famous bathtub salad bar at Strawberry Street CafeThe standard American-fare food is consistently excellent and affordable.  I love the mix of people you’ll find on any given night in the place. Date-night 20-somethings, art students, high-class, Fan District walk-ups, kids out on prom night and I can take my kids. I bring out-of-towners there with regularity and they are always impressed and delighted.

Everyone knows about the bathtub salad bar. It’s cute, odd and you can’t miss it when you enter the restaurant. It has been a part of a Jeopardy! answer. The key to the tub is, the food in it is always good, fresh, well-prepared and affordable.

Around the restaurant, the stained glass features and ironwork on the ceilings and support beams stand out and the long mirror behind the bar is impressive. 

Framed chalk drawings on the walls of The famous bathtub salad bar at Strawberry Street CafeThe chalk artwork framed on the walls is my favorite. There are many that look like they should be preserved forever, or at least offered for bidding before they are whipped clean.

I’ve also had a few chats over the years with co-owner and head chef Ron Joseph. The guy has always been so friendly and accessible, even when I’ve seen him slaving away at some hot outdoor event at Brown’s Island. 

Strawberry Street Cafe has a special place in my heart.  So special that my wife Trish and I dined there the night I proposed to her.

Phil and Trish Riggan at Strawberry Street CafeThe last week of August is anniversary time for Trish and me and we go there to reflect and remind ourselves that Richmond brought us together. We got to sit in our special booth — the one the far right corner in the back under the chalk frame.

I arranged to propose the Sunday after Thanksgiving, 1998.  Our favorite restaurant for dates had always been Strawberry Street Café. I arranged for a special table to be reserved for us and had a friend pick up the flowers. 

I had the right girl, the ring, the proposal spot, the restaurant and flowers – I just needed the guts and luck to pull off the surprise! It worked, and we’ve been happily married since August 28, 1999.

I’ve been to the restaurant more than 50 times and tried most everything on the menu at least once. Chicken Pot Pie is a big favorite — so much so that we’ve been known to go next door to the grocery store and take another home with us.

Wait, a local restaurant that also has its own grocery store? That’s reason enough to consider it Very Richmond.

Strawberry Street Café is located at 421 North Strawberry Street: www.strawberrystreetcafe.com

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