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What can't I miss in Arlington/Alexandria this Saturday?

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Heading to a show at the Birchmere on Saturday and while I used to live in Arlington and love it, I'm a bit stale on choices. Our usuals are Thai Square, B-54, Nam Viet. We could try to get into Ray's, but didn't know what other Hounds might recommend. Tallulahs? Is it really worth it? Something I might not know about at all?

Secondly, I know better seats are available at Birchmere if you eat there first, and I know the food isn't worth going for, but can someone confirm that we shouldn't go that route?

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  1. Tallula is a good choice for Arlington. But if you want to eat close to the Birchmere, try Evening Star Cafe (same owners as Tallula) down on Mt. Vernon Avenue or Del Merei Grille in the Calvert Apartments.

    1. For Del Ray, I think the best value is Bombay Curry Company in the Calvert apartments. Each curry has a distinctive flavor and fresh taste that strongly distinguises it from most other indian places in the DC area. It's also been cited here numerous times.

      1. Depends on what you're hungry for - but if you were thinking of Ray's, I'd say a better choice would be the Del Merie Grille in the Calvert Shopping Center. This is a great nieghborhood restaurant serving frsh steaks and seafood with a sourthern flair. With each entree you get two sides (choosing from a long list of choices) and a homemade sauce.

        The prices are incredibly reasonable. The atmosphere and service far exceed Ray's. You'll have a much better experience.

        And, you MUST start your meal with an order of Frickles. That would be the battered and fried dill pickles that are served with a tangy sauce on the side. YUM!

        1 Reply
        1. re: DC Gal

          To post back, we ended up going to Del Merie Grill. I was impressed to see the Bombay Curry Company next door, and a pho place that looked worth checking out - my waistline is glad I don't live in those apartments.

          We started with the frickles, even though we were wary. Those things are incredible! I can't believe I'm 34 and have never had them before.

          I ended up getting the bison hanger steak, with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and amazing grilled asparagus. I got the horseradish for the steak, but was torn and also got the blue cheese reduction (for 50 cents more) and ended up using that with the potatoes to fine effect. The waitress heard my dilemma btwn the two sauces and recced the horseradish - and all in all was super knowledgeable about the menu.

          My wife had a very good snapper that she was pleased with. A nice scotch for me and wine for her rounded it out for us before going to the show.

          The speed of the place fit us well, and we were sort of early (6pm) so it was nice and quiet for the most part, but not dead. I enjoyed seeing the crowd at that time, who I took for mainly regulars - and at a few points during the meal I could imagine myself in Miami circa 1964.

          Good rec - I'm glad I've been there.

        2. The food at the Birchmere is by far the best "venue" food I've ever had. I make the call based on the show. If it's an act I'm crazy about, I eat there and never have a disappointing evening. If you don't care if you're at the back of the hall (which isn't very big, so there are no terrible seats) then take advantage and grab a memorable dinner locally.

          If you do eat there, the pot pie is yummy.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Meg

            Just to offer an opposite view: I think the food at the Birchmere is both overpriced and not particularly good. "Best venue food" -- well, I guess that's possible, but that's a pretty low standard to exceed.

            To my eyes and tastebuds, it Birchmere's food items taste like King Street Blues reheated (and marked way up). Given how expensive everything at the Birchmere is (tickets, beer, souvenirs), we usually eat somewhere more affordable in advance of the show. I second the nomination of Bombay Curry House, and also throw in Nam Viet (which is now in Arlandria) and a nearby Mexican restaurant called something like Mi Tia's (it's on Mt. Vernon Avenue, just south of where Mt. Vernon & Commonwealth intersect, about 1/2 mile from the Birchmere).

            1. re: theoneontheleft

              I didn't mean to infer that that the Birchemere's food is great or cheap, but it's darn good with a cold beer after you've stood in line for a couple hours to ensure a front row seat! Can't beat the convenience.