I knew when I came to Richmond that I’d finally be able to find food without meat in it that was more than just a salad that was typically topped with breaded chicken anyway.
The type of place I had imagined eating at was Fresca on Addison, a little vegan-friendly café with everything that your regular herbivore could ask for.
Right on the corner of Addison and Cary, this place has a little bit of quiet outdoor seating and a distinct purple-painted interior that seems a little haphazardly thrown together.
All of their menu items are listed on a chalkboard on the wall, from their sandwiches and vegan pizzas to their tacos and appetizers.
When you walk in, you’re immediately the workers who were all smiles when I visited. If it weren’t for the trendy music and friendly staffers, the place would be pretty droll. Their brick pizza oven looks slightly out of place pressed up against the wall, and despite the store being pretty well established it looks as if it were out together a few weeks ago. The main lighting came from the large windows, but I sort of felt like I was sitting in a cafeteria.
That might be part of the charm of the place, however, as little vegan snacks, hot sauces, and six packs of craft sodas filled the shelves that sat in front of the counter on which the food was prepared. It seemed like it was having a minor identity crisis between being a café and a vegan convenience store.
I went ahead and grabbed one of the fancy root beers out of the refrigerator in the dining area and went to order my food. Immediately, their taco selection caught my eye. You can mix and match any three of their tacos for $9.50, so I thought I’d try three separate ones.
However, being a curry fiend, I ordered two of their curry vegetable tacos and one of their avocado ones.
I didn’t have to wait very long for my food, which was brought out by the smiling owner on a very plain, plastic white plate. She reached behind me and grabbed some napkins and silverware to set my table with, which was awkward but at the same time kind of sweet.
The curry taco was honestly kind of a let down. Since it was basically a bunch of steamed vegetables cooked with curry, it didn’t have an incredible texture. I think what they were trying to do was use the diced carrots for something other than mush, but they were actually undercooked, and added an unwanted crunch. Not only that, but they were much closer to room temperature than I would’ve liked. The flavor wasn’t bad, but definitely wasn’t the in-your-face aroma that I expect out of a good curry.. There was a spicy mayonnaise sauce they’d drizzled on top that I couldn’t really make out the flavor of, but I think it added some creaminess to the texture that made up for the carrots a little bit.
I was addicted within the first bite of the avocado taco, though. It’s two exceptionally fresh slices avocados, bursting with flavor, lying on a pile of red cabbage and pickled red onions. The saltiness of the pickled onions contrasted the almost sweet avocado, while the cabbage provided a satisfying crispness. I can’t stress enough how fresh the avocado was, and I’d never had it with something salty enough to bring out the real flavors of the fruit.
All of these were served on organic flour tortillas but in the end, a tortilla tastes just like a tortilla.
The root beer was surprisingly complementary to the tacos, and was a worthy two dollars extra. After tip, I ended up paying about thirteen dollars for my meal. While I know that what I got served was a healthy portion of food, I could’ve easily eaten more. I walked away feeling like I’d ordered the wrong thing. I saw someone else in there eating one of Fresca’s lentil burgers, and I could see that delicious avocado on there. It probably would’ve been more filling, and when I do return I’ll have to give it a try.
Not only that, they have a huge portion of their menu dedicated to their fire-oven-baked pizzas. Gluten-free crust for those who need it, vegan mozzarella, and tons of toppings. I’ll probably have to try their Greek salad pizza that comes topped with pepperoncini, olives, feta and mozzarella cheese, and red onions. Sure, they’re personal pizzas that also cost a whopping $9.50, but for vegans who miss the taste of the classic Italian pie, it’s probably heavenly.
It certainly isn’t a far ride from the Monroe Park Campus, and I’d recommend to anyone, vegetarian or not, that’s looking for a light, healthy meal. I would not recommend it, however, to somebody who wants a lot of food without spending a lot of cash.