Nicholas Barahona, Contributing Writer
Welcome to Nick’s Picks.
Join me, Nick Barahona, on our journey through the city of Richmond where I will review and showcase the different cuisines and restaurants in close proximity to campus, from the lens of a VCU student. To all new and returning Rams, I welcome you to an exciting time ahead filled with great deals and good eats.
We start off the semester with one of Richmond’s best brunch deals: El Pope’s $7 Salvadoran Brunch. Deviating from the typical tacos, pizza or burgers that can be found on almost every corner, this local gem offers a unique cultural experience and serves a heck of a Sunday brunch deal.
Less than a mile from Monroe Park, El Pope is open for brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Located on West Main Street, the restaurant serves authentic Salvadoran food, which is hard to come by in Richmond — in fact, it’s the only restaurant within a five mile radius of VCU where you can find Salvadoran food.
Being of Salvadoran descent myself, this is especially meaningful to me as the restaurant not only reminds me of my family and culture, but also introduces the community to our cuisine. Many dishes on the menu are almost exactly what my dad’s grandma would cook for me when I would visit her house. Just the smells alone when walking into the restaurant take me back.
Walking into the restaurant, you’ll see wooden tables, chairs and booths that are all surrounded by brick walling. El Pope is also not afraid of showing off their heritage and where they come from, with pictures and little souvenirs of Salvadoran culture hung on the walls, as well as a picture of the family that owns the restaurant.
El Pope offers an astounding 10 different brunch options that are each $7. Each plate includes dishes such as huevos rancheros, omelets, pupusas, elote, quesadillas, plantains and more.
My recommendation for the hungry college student is definitely the “El Salvador Tipico Brunch.” The meal comes with two eggs served however you like, a chorizo pork link, bollo bread — which is similar to garlic bread — fried plantains, crema fresca and refried beans. There’s no question that the quantity of food is generously served, but what really stands out is the quality of the food itself. The dishes are fresh and flavorful, as if my grandma is in the kitchen cooking.
For my quesadilla lovers, I recommend the Brunch Quesadilla. This option includes scrambled eggs, mozzarella cheese, bell peppers, onions and your choice of either chicken or steak. This plate has not only a great size that will surely fill you up, but also a rich flavor.
The deal also comes with complimentary chips and salsa to enjoy before your food comes out. The salsa has to be one of my favorites in Richmond — it is just chunky enough with a hint of heat that goes exceptionally well with the crisp tortilla chips.
Outside of the Sunday Brunch, El Pope is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The price of a meal may not be as low as Sunday brunch, but you can still find excellent flavors and deals. My favorite picks are the pupusas for $2.75, and tacos such as carnitas, shrimp, steak and pork for $3 each. El Pope also offers dinner entrees such as burritos, fajitas and fish, typically served with beans and rice.
El Pope gets a big thumbs up from me. With a deal this good, from the amount of food to the exquisite quality, this is an easy 5 out of 5 stars.
Welcome back Ram family and as always, eat up!
For all things food, feel free to check out @nxreview on Instagram and TikTok for many more recommendations and reviews around town.
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