Boo’s Brown Bag: What VCU Might Need


Words and Photos by Sam Isaacs

I’ve always felt that there needs to be more small “to go” based restaurants in the VCU area. Boo’s Brown Bag, which opened Jan. 14, provides that service. However, if this place is going to hold its own, the food has got to be just as good or better than the handful of places just blocks away.

Located at 1201 W. Main Street (the former location of Carlyle’s Cafe) Boo’s offers a diverse menu of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options. The place is tiny, and really gears itself towards grab-and-go and delivery.

I went in for lunch on opening day and was immediately confused by the interior. The green walls and pair of mannequin legs hanging from the ceiling were memorable, but I did not really get a grasp on the setting they were going for.

Business was slow, possibly due to the absolutely miserable weather outside, so we got good service. Our waiter did a good job explaining the specials and introducing the menu.

I ordered the Cubano sandwich (roasted pork, provolone, pickles and house sauce) and my friend ordered the Brown Bag Special (grilled cheese, a cup of tomato soup, a can of soda and chips).

Off the bat, I was a little irritated that the only water offered was bottled. I hate paying for water. They had a small selection of various sodas and juices as well as coffee from Rostov’s.

The wait for our food was short and I was very curious to see how the food was going to stack up against Crossroads and Rev it Up, both located just a few blocks away.

My sandwich was tasty. The pork was seasoned well, and the sauce added a nice touch. The Cubano came on white bread but would have been much better with a thicker type of bread because it felt flimsy. A place with so many sandwiches on the menu should have more options than just white, wheat, gluten free and rye breads. The french fries were really delicious and made the meal the perfect size for lunch.

My friend really enjoyed her grilled cheese, but had some problems with the soup. It came to the table as cold as the rainy day outside. The flavor was nice, but it killed the grilled cheese/tomato soup dipping combo with a hot sandwich going into cold soup.
The food was fairly priced and came to the table fast and perfectly portioned. This is the third restaurant I have seen in this location, so there are clearly some problems with the spot. If they can tighten up their menu and provide quick, consistent dishes, Boo’s could break that trend and hold its own in a competitive restaurant scene.

Boo’s Brown Bag is open from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 6a.m.-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sundays. Deliveries are done for free by Quickness RVA.

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