In a land of plentiful Mexican and Asian restaurants, Aky’s Café stands out as a premier spot for Mediterranean food in Richmond. The café’s menu is packed with the breads, sauces and vegetables that come standard with any Mediterranean place, but what really makes it stand out are the quality of the dishes and the charismatic owner.
During any given lunch hour, Aky, the owner of Aky’s Café, can be seen bustling about the one-room café. Sticking toothpicks in baking breads to feel for consistency or checking up on customers — almost all of whom she’ll call “sweetie” or “love” — Aky is a ball of energy. It’s clear that the food and business of Aky’s is her passion.
At the café’s busiest, it’s not unusual to see Aky talking to one customer and preparing a dish for another while she scans the room to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible. The owner handles this with a sense of calm and confidence. The only sign that the work might be a little too consuming is often an inadvertent splash of flour on her cheek from preparing breads.
The work comes naturally to Aky, who loves to talk with customers. However, she didn’t find this reviewer an especially welcome guest. “I know what I’m doing with my restaurant,” Aky said. “I have good food here and good customers and I don’t need your review.” Right when I wasn’t sure if I cared for the charismatic owner anymore, she added on a “Thank you so much anyway, love. Have a good day, love.” before promptly getting back to work.
Don’t let this interaction deter you from visiting the café, however. The food speaks for itself, and at Aky’s the proof is in hummus. The hummus is creamy with a good amount of texture. The chickpea spread is a hearty and well-seasoned companion to any salad or sandwich from the café. A critique would be that the pita I received with my hummus was a little cold and floppy and had a hard time grabbing much of the delicious spread.
The authenticity and worth of Aky’s is readily apparent in such staples as hummus. Another delicious example of this is the falafel sandwich. The fried chickpea sandwich comes wrapped in pita and packed with tomatoes, lettuce, and a generous amount of nutty tahini sauce. An insider tip is to make sure you grab a few extra napkins before you sit down to eat. It’ll help save you from the risk of drowning in the liberally-applied tahini.
All dripping aide, Aky’s falafel sandwich — or any dish from the café — is easily the best Mediterranean dish you can find in the city. If you pair that with a side of lentil soup, you have yourself a well-rounded meal that serves as a perfect piece of the Mediterranean right in Richmond. If you’re looking to shake up the habit of going for that burrito or dish of General Tso’s Chicken — check out Aky’s Café. Your taste buds will thank you.
201 Tewksbury Avenue, Richmond
Monday - Friday: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
View their Yelp page here.