Bilingual waiters and a good number of patrons have Carytown's new Viva Mexico buzzing above the oh-so-typical décor and music. And after months of our waiting for the place to open, lunch and dinner are now being served daily while owners wait for the liquor license to be approved.
The flautas are bursting with chicken, the booths are clearly recycled from somewhere else, and the servers are cheerful and efficient. But this is another in a growing list of Mexican eateries sprouting in every section of town good, filling, affordable, fast, predictable, but not that inspired.
If you've ever visited Oyamel in Arlington, you know that Mexican can be an adventurous cuisine, and that its décor can be sophisticated and original with nary a sombrero or velvet painting in sight. Still, it's good to have another eatery up and running in Carytown, and this one may compete with Nacho Mama's for customers, albeit without the outdoor dining and Americanized sass of the yellow umbrellas down the street.
Fans of the former Caffe di Pagliacci reminisced upon recently by Style restaurant critic Don Baker get a chance to sample the cuisine of that restaurant's owner, Bob DeCapri, this weekend in a special dinner at Positive Vibe Café. As part of the guest chef series, he'll present Pollo San Marino, chocolate ganache pie and the café's expansive menu. Seatings begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 6. The Web site www.positivevibecafe.com has details.
Also, NBC Nightly News visits the restaurant this week to videotape its training sessions for disabled future employees, airing later in May. This is the latest media-relations coup that café owner Garth Larcen has nurtured since the place opened; stories in the Wall Street Journal, "CBS Early Show," numerous trade publications and regional reports have touted the café and its potential to prompt similar programs worldwide, while offering fresh, seasonal cuisine prepared and served with smiles. Party on, Garth.
White Dog Café, whose namesake, Max, is an alumnus of the Richmond SPCA, celebrates its seventh anniversary this month by donating 10 percent of all food sales to that organization during National Pet Week, May 6-12 (closed Monday).
Goochland gets a new location for its second seasonal farmers' market, now on the grounds of Grace Episcopal Church at 2955 River Road West. Every Saturday through Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. until noon, buyers can find specialty micro-greens and heirloom vegetables from Manakintowne Specialty Growers, local produce from Trail's End Farm, cut flowers, bedding plants, free-range chicken, honey, eggs, grass-fed beef and fine crafts, including furniture created by Dover Nurseries' Ennion Williams from sustainable wood. The Goochland Farmers' Market is sponsored by the Center for Rural Culture.
Shockoe Bottom's 17th Street Farmers' Market opens this week with Thursday growers' and bakers' wares 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekly; on Saturdays, a bit more merchandise is in the mix, along with specialty produce and seasonal fare, same hours. Sundays, look for flea market collectibles and flowers, with the outdoor busking tradition (street musicians playing for money) encouraged. Now that the Bottom's drainage projects are complete, there's a sense of renewal among the market's planners, particularly as new farmers join longtime vendors for a season that runs through Oct 28. Details at www.17thstreetfarmersmarket.com.