ICF: Best Food of this Year’s Intercultural Festival

By Charlie Couch

The many cultures of Richmond let out a tremendous roar together Saturday during the World Beat Intercultural Festival.

Quickly becoming one of Richmond’s largest events, the ICF is the larger-than-life embodiment of the community’s theme of diversity. Ask any local what to expect at the festival and the will respond: a petting zoo, all kinds of cultural music and dancing, and delicious foods from around the globe.

The ICF staff goes to great lengths to petition these restaurant vendors to join the festivities, said ICF Assistant Director Saqib Khan. I set out on Saturday to sample the most intriguing stands. However, choosing from such a variety proved difficult with a limited stomach capacity.

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

The first stand to catch my eye was Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant I had walked by countless times on the way to Broad Street. Since I had never tried Ethiopian food the ICF seemed like a perfect opportunity to experiment.

The Nile Kitfo Special had a nice, sweet burn to it. The chef seasoned the chopped beef with jalapenos, onions, garlic and mitmita – a finely ground cayenne pepper blend.

Some other entrees worth mentioning include Yedoro Tibs – a spicy chicken and onion dish; Yebeg Alicha – lamb cooked in a curry-like sauce; and Vegetarian Kitfo – a vegan dish made with collard greens.

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant is located at 309 N. Laurel St., a block away from campus. Entrees generally range from to . For more information and menu, check out http://nilerichmond.com.

Ginger Thai Taste

Ginger Thai Taste is a restaurant I have had the luxury of visiting before, so I was excited to see their stand at the ICF. Resisting the Chicken Pad Thai was impossible.

Like most Thai restaurants, Ginger Thai Taste lets you select how spicy the dish is. I usually stick with ‘medium’ because that translates to ‘pretty-darn-hot’. This spice-scale goes all the way to ‘Thai-Hot’ for hardcore heat veterans.

Two other entrees are the Pad Priow Wan Perfect – made with mushrooms, onions, green onions, red bell peppers and cucumbers; and the Spicy Drunken Noodles – rice noodles stir-fried with tomatoes, basil and chiles. Any dish at Ginger Thai can be made with meat, seafood or tofu.

Ginger Thai Taste is located at 3145 W. Cary St. in Cary Town. Prices range between and . For more information and menu check out www.gingerthaitaste.com.

The Grapevine

The Grapevine was the only restaurant stand at the ICF that I did not recognize. Lucky for me, The Grapevine’s sign said they specialize in Greek and Italian food.

I saw the Lamb Gyro on the menu and I was sold. The gyro was amazing to say the least. Thinly, sliced lamb lied across a lettuce and sour cream covered piece of pita bread, enough said.

After the festival, I did some research in order to find out more about this wonderful restaurant. It turns out, there is an interesting story behind the family-owned restaurant.

The Grapevine is owned by Richmond locals the Traks. It has been open since 1994, but this was not the first restaurant affiliated with the Trak family.

The Grapevine’s legacy begins with entrepreneur Michael Trak, according to www.richmondgrapevine.com. Working at dozens of restaurants over the years, Trak moved to the U.S. in 1971 and his wife, Mary, followed a year later.

The Traks essentially raised their children in the kitchen. Mitchell and Marianne Trak helped their parents’ finally open their own restaurant, The Grapevine, on Nov. 12, 1994.

Success soared for the Traks as the family business became popular. The Richmond Metro Guide named The Grapevine number one family-owned and -operated restaurant in Richmond in 1995. Since then, the Traks have opened The Grapevine II and III, in Granville Square Shopping Center and Downtown Short Pump, respectively.

The Grapevine is located at 11055 Three Chopt Road. For more information, check out www.richmondgrapevine.com.


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