What the paleo diet looks like in Charlottesville and other local restaurant news

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Brazos Tacos now offers a paleo menu featuring “ta-cups”: taco fillings served in cups instead of tortillas. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto Brazos Tacos now offers a paleo menu featuring “ta-cups”: taco fillings served in cups instead of tortillas. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

What does the paleo diet look like in Charlottesville?

Hold the bread, extra veggies. Low-carb diets have weaved in and out of the health realm for years, and restaurants have long embraced the bunless burgers and lettuce-wrap sandwiches. But now there’s the lifestyle that not only prohibits grains and refined sugar but also dairy, legumes, potatoes, all processed foods and anything that early humans wouldn’t have been able to scrounge up through hunting and gathering—the paleo diet. It’s popular among the health and fitness community, and at least two local restaurants are making an effort to include paleo-friendly items on their menus.

“I know many people who try and eat paleo but find it difficult to do eating out,” says Brazos Tacos owner Peter Griesar. “It seems we are moving into a trend where nutrition is more personal than it had been, and that means it makes sense to give everybody the options they need.”

The paleo menu at Brazos features “ta-cups,” which are exactly what they sound like: taco fillings served in paper or ceramic cups instead of tortillas. A list of more than 20 ta-cups includes the MeatWad (brisket, chicken and bacon with avocado, honey-jefe and salsa roja), breakfast options with meat and eggs and build-your-own. There’s also a chicken soup, spinach salad and list of juices and “cheater beers” on the menu.

Brazos wasn’t the first in town to add a permanent paleo option. Citizen Burger Bar offers a pile of romaine, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, avocado and blueberries topped with a Timbercreek beef patty, a dish that was affectionately named “Dar’s Salad,” after MADabolic co-owner and longtime paleo follower Dar Malecki.

According to Solidarity CrossFit owners Michael Towne and Becky Tippett, the reason paleo has gained popularity is pretty simple: It works.

“It’s a harsh but very straightforward prescription, and it fits with what people already think is healthy,” Tippett says. “It reduces the things that can cause health problems like processed foods, alcohol, sugar, all those things that are really easy to over-eat.”

When Tippett was a strict paleo diet follower, she says she would often order something that comes on a sandwich but ask for it on a salad instead.

“A lot of it is just about being proactive to find stuff you can eat,” she says. “Most of the time places have either an interesting salad or some pieces that can be cobbled together to create something pretty satisfying.”

Other restaurants that Tippett and Towne recommend for local paleo followers include Chipotle, Zoës Kitchen, Roots Natural Kitchen, Al Carbon Chicken and kabob restaurants such as Afghan Kabob Palace and Sticks Kebob Shop.

What’s in a name?

About a year and a half after Yoshihiro Tauchi opened Kokoro Sushi Japanese Restaurant in York Place on the Downtown Mall, he received a letter from attorneys more than 1,500 miles away. The letter informed him that a restaurant chain in Colorado had trademarked the name “Kokoro,” and threatened legal action if Tauchi didn’t change the name of his restaurant.

Tauchi decided to change the name rather than fight it, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

“It’s like the word love,” Tauchi says of the word kokoro. “Everyone is able to use the word love and interpret the word love in different ways. That is the same as the word kokoro in Japanese. Kokoro means love, happiness or many other things.”

The new name Tauchi settled on is Mican, which means orange in Japanese. His hometown of Matsuyama, Ehime, in Japan is known for its oranges, he says, and the smell of oranges brings him back to his childhood.

“I wanted to give back to my community and my family in Japan and name the restaurant after something that symbolizes them,” he says. “Matsuyama, Ehime, may  be a couple thousand miles away, but it still remains in my heart and soul and I hope to bring that to my restaurant.”

This isn’t the first time a Charlottesville company has encountered trademark troubles. In November 2014 Poe’s Public House on the Corner changed its name to Eddy’s Tavern due to a threatened lawsuit from a restaurant in South Carolina. Belmont restaurant Tavola was threatened (and ultimately left alone) by Francis Ford Coppola, who had trademarked the term “a tavola,” and kombucha maker Barefoot Bucha is battling Barefoot Wine owner Gallo over the company’s attempt to trademark its name.

Underground underway

If you didn’t make it onto the guest list for the first Underground Kitchen event in Charlottesville, now’s your chance.

The next iteration of the exclusive supper club will take place at 7pm Monday, January 25, and, according to the press release, the idea is to celebrate “the life and work of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.”

The location will be a surprise until days before the event, and don’t expect to hear a peep about the chef or menu until you’re through the door with the evening’s first drink in your hand.

For more information visit theunderground kitchen.org/upcoming-events.

I scream, you scream

Let’s be honest—it’s never too cold for ice cream. Or gelato. And Splendora’s is here to remind everybody of just that during the winter months.

Last week the Downtown Mall favorite announced its plan to serve all-you-can-eat gelato every Wednesday during the months of January and February. That’s no misprint. All you can eat—for $10. So if you can never decide between pistachio, espresso and raspberry, now you don’t have to. As long as it’s Wednesday.

Now, there are rules, of course—you can’t just go in and request a vat of scoops to take home with you. You must consume one scoop at a time, and there can be no new customers after 8:30pm.

For more information, check out Splendora’s Facebook page.