Words and Photographs by Rebecca Frankel
Located in a mostly residential area in The Fan on W. Cary St., the Naked Onion is like a hidden gem. Though the building is small, it’s bright green sign makes it stand out.
It is a take-out only place run by Las Vegas chefs Lauren Jurk and Greg Comstock, who do all the cooking, serving and cleaning themselves. They pride themselves on making everything from scratch, except for the bread, which comes from local bakeries.
Their menu is full of delicious sandwiches including a Cuban, Roasted Turkey, Brie Grilled Cheese, Mozzarella and Tomato Poblano Jam and Chicken Salad.
They do not use deli meat; instead, acquire meat from a few different farms in Pennsylvania and Virginia and then cure, smoke, braise and roast the meat themselves.
I decided to order their most popular sandwich—the Grilled Pork Belly Banh Mi. They cure the belly for two days, braise it, and then grill and glaze it. There’s pickled carrot and daikon radish, fresh jalapeno, fresh cilantro, with roasted garlic aioli all on a baguette.
This is not an exaggeration—that was the best Banh Mi sandwich I have ever had. The pork belly was so flavorful and combated the very strong taste of the pickled veggies. The jalapeno added some heat without overpowering the other bold flavors.
Sandwiches come with a side salad or potato salad; I went with the potato salad. It was good, but not outstanding as it was a little watery and bland.
They also were offering Clam Chowder. The soups and other menu items alternate according to the season. They always have vegan and vegetarian options.
I can never resist dessert, so I finished up my lunch with a delectable Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Crème glaze.
It was everything I wanted in a bread pudding: warm, full of cinnamon flavor and with just the right amount of sweetness.
The two people who run The Naked Onion are super friendly, I found myself talking to them about school, food and living in Richmond. It may not be a sit-down restaurant, but it has an abundance of welcoming atmosphere. I have a feeling I’ll be trying another sammie some time soon.
The Naked Onion closes at 7:00pm, but Jurk and Comstock also own a food truck called Skewtopia, that you should keep an eye out for.