Consider the humble taco. Whether from a roadside cart, an upscale restaurant or a drive-thru window (come at me, bro), it's hard to go wrong with any variation of protein, veggies, cheese and heat inside a folded tortilla. Believed to have originated in 18th century Mexico, the taco has proven a divisive subject matter in 21st century Richmond. Corn or flour tortillas? Cilantro and onions on top, or the Americanized lettuce, cheddar and sour cream? Guac or sliced avocado? Where does the ever-debated topic of "authenticity" come in?
The team behind the newly-opened Annex is here to tell you that none of it is wrong. Tacos in Richmond continue to get more abundant and more creative, and luckily for us, there's room for all of them.
The Annex is a new spot in the Fan slinging tacos and tequila. Located at 1919 W. Main St., catty corner from Bacchus, it's the latest endeavor from the owners of District 5, the nearby restaurant and bar known for attracting the college crowds with its pub fare, buckets of Bud Light and nightclub atmosphere. The Annex is smaller, with a cozier, more neighborhood-like vibe. And according to Roland West, who opened the restaurant with partners with Hani Atallah and Gary Wenzel, that was intentional.
"I'm ecstatic. We're getting a positive response, but in a different way," West says, comparing the Annex to District 5. "It's more geared toward the food and dinner experience rather than a DJ and the bar."
West says he and the guys had lengthy discussions about creativity and authenticity, and where they wanted their tacos to land on that spectrum. Seems there's something for everybody, and West says they'll continue playing with the menu.
Build your own street tacos with barbacoa, chicken tinga or carnitas with your choice of toppings in either a flour or corn tortilla. Signature tacos include white fish with creamy slaw and avocado, carne asada with cojita cheese and avocado sauce or tequila-lime grilled shrimp with peppers and tomatillo-jalapeno ranch. You'll also find less traditional options, like the bahn mi taco with ground pork, pickled veggies, Thai basil and chili soy peanut sauce, and the fried eggplant topped with charred corn, goat cheese and cilantro.
If, for whatever reason, you're not in the mood for tacos, there's plenty more to choose from. Starters include an octopus tostada, chicken tinga taquitos and beef empanadas, plus a spring salad topped with fresh fruits and veggies if you're looking for something a little lighter. Chicken, steak and shrimp fajitas come with all the fixin's, and burritos served on 12-inch tortillas come with rice and corn salad.
Now let's talk about the bar. Frozen drink machines churn our four varieties frozen margarita: regular, strawberry, watermelon and Sour Patch Kids (which, yes, has candies floating in it), and all four flavors are also available on the rocks. Margaritas come in a standard 16-ounce glass or a giant fishbowl called 40 Ounces to Freedom. Dozens of tequila bottles line the shelves for mixing and sipping, and West says that number will soon hit 100.
"We can serve it any way you like it," West says. "Especially the higher-end stuff, you wouldn't see anyone drinking any other way but on the rocks or otherwise."
The Annex made its quiet debut on May 23, and the Tex-Mex joint is officially open for dinner seven days a week. West says the team is still determining "how the crowd's going to flow" each night, and to expect late-night specials on Tuesdays but probably not lunch any time soon.
1919 W. Main St.