Tomato Time!

Plus pickleball at Bangers and Dinks, bargain bevvies and more …


It’s FINALLY tomato season. And yes, we do judge you for eating them unseasonally. Would you just take a huge bite out of a corn stalk?

No. No, you wouldn’t.

Tomatoes the way nature intended

It’s Summer, Supper, Somm o’clock. That’s 20 dinners all over Virginia celebrating the tomato and Virginia wine. This year will be the third year of the brilliant series helmed by David and Barbara Hunsaker of the Hanover County farm, Village Garden. The Hunsakers are essentially the nation’s reigning king and queen of heirloom tomatoes. (Don’t believe me? Ask Garden and Gun or Southern Living. Or maybe you prefer Food & Wine?)

On just an acre of land outside of Richmond, the two grow over 300 heirloom varietals from fuzzy pink to big beautiful purple. The dinners kicked off at Shagbark on Monday and are all through the month of July and August culminating at Zoe’s in Virginia Beach.


Pickleball is taking over the world. Ten years ago, my dad had a black eye from diving into the kitchen for an errant half-volley. And I have no idea what that means.

Bangers and Dinks, the only indoor membership-based pickleball center in Richmond and the largest in Virginia will open its doors on July 1. The past couple of days they’ve been playing open with friends and family coming in to enjoy the eight new courts. Banger and Dinks has no age restrictions, no court reservations and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (this is when I like to get my pickleball on) with wine, beer and all the light food snacks you can handle while focusing on that flapjack.

Stanley's happy hour spread.
  • Stanley's happy hour spread.

Bargain Bevvies

We have to highlight some good happy hours for July. The heat is too much not to drink a few budget cold ones.

Unhappy Hour at Cobra Burger is full of house cut French fries and so many toppings. The Engorged Cobra Fry is a massive batch of fried potatoes, nacho cheese, pickles, onions, and Cobra Sauce. Together, with a Narragansett and a shot of Old Crow —- you’ll spend $12.12. No sense of humor here. None.

At Stanley’s, the new hoagie spot in the old Robin Inn, it’s Hoagie Fest every Tuesday through Saturday from 4-6 p.m. with $2 off any hoagie, steak or cutlet. Combine that with their new happy hour launching next Tuesday featuring margs, old-fashys and French 75s for $7, lagers for $5 and specials on wine and champagne and it looks like hoagies all around the horn.

Shiny new restaurants

If the name Kevin Sheffield sounds familiar to you, it should. Sheffield, who has been named “best bartender in Richmond” more than once, is opening his own spot with Joe Hadad and Jordan Noble, two restaurant veterans returning to the industry. Smoke & Barrel will be in the old Lady N’awlin’s Cajun Cafe space. “Feels like full circle,” according to Sheffield. The three started their careers together at Cha Cha’s; Noble and Hadad left for other things and Sheffield continued at Nawlin’s and New York Deli. “We will be serving a lot of items you can’t find anywhere else,” Sheffield says. Smoke & Barrel is shooting for an August opening.

Kevin Sheffield, part-owner of Smoke & Barrel kitchen and bar, was voted "best bartender in Richmond" in Style Weekly from 2016-2020.
  • Kevin Sheffield, part-owner of Smoke & Barrel kitchen and bar, was voted "best bartender in Richmond" in Style Weekly from 2016-2020.

Not a new restaurant per se, but a newish pop up. Freaks RVA will be popping into Celladora Wines on July 11 serving hot and fresh Sammies. The little pop-up that could makes their bread for their sandwiches and this upcoming menu features a roast pork with broccoli rabe and long hot peppers that makes me want to camp outside of the small space now.

Another taco invasion will be landing in the near West End next year: Taco Bamba, with locations in DC, Maryland, North Carolina and Tennessee, is opening its first Richmond spot at Willow Lawn. For those who have lamented the lack of breakfast tacos, you’re in luck. What is a super torta? Does it wear a cape? We'll know in 2024.

Breakfast taco from Taco Bamba. - GREG POWERS
  • Greg Powers
  • Breakfast taco from Taco Bamba.

Rams House softly opened Wednesday making Mike Lindsey and Lindsey Food Group officially the owners of almost every restaurant in Richmond. Stay tuned for when he opens his own food hall with all eight concepts. (JOKES. But is it really?)