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Help Me Choose Restaurant (Arlington area pref.)

My sister and brother-in-law are coming into town next weekend and we're looking for a place to go out to celebrate my wife's birthday on Saturday. We're all thity-somethings. Since we have a babysitter for a few hours we want to try and make the most of it. Looking for someplace where we can hang out and have a few drinks and then sit down for a nice dinner. Nothing too expensive (i.e. Colvin Run/Maestro, etc. are out), but we want someplace laid back that you can actually hear each other talk (i.e. Guajillo also out). We took them to Tallulah (good) and La Tasca (not so good) last time they were in the area, so we're hoping to find someplace different.

Preference is for Arlington/N.Va, but not competely adverse to going into DC. We're going to take them to Dino in DC on Sunday night. Thanks.

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  1. I like Harry's in Clarendon. Good food nd reasonable quiet. They take reservatins. My GF and I have always enjoyed it.

    PS: I think Dino is far too noisy every time I have been there. For reasonable priced Italian in Northern Virigina, consider A La Lucia in Old Town ALexandria. We ike it much better than Dino

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dakota Guy

      Thanks. We're primarily interested in Dino because of the 30% off wine special.

      1. re: jaydreb

        Go to Dino. If you need quieter ask to be seated upstairs. I've never had a meal that I considered to be good to very good at A La Lucia.

        You might also consider Sette Bello in Clarendon. For something a little on the nice side in Del Merei you can go to Del Merei Grill, very reasonable on price, food is quite good, and you can certainly have a drink or two there. It's a touch out of the way though being towards Alexandria.

    2. I would second the Harry's Tap Room recommendation and would also suggest Willow in Ballston or Restaurant Vero on Lee Hwy in the same strip of shops that includes the Bray & Scraff appliance store. We've been to Willow and found it to be quite good, although you will see mixed reviews on chowhound. We have not yet been to Vero, but our friends have and they liked it very much. For Vero, go to www.restaurantvero.com and for Willow go to www.willowva.com.

      The newer Afgan place in Baily's Crossroads -- Bamian (sp) is also very good and fits your requirements.

      Let us know where you end up going and how it was.


      3 Replies
      1. re: BRL

        I'd also recommend Harry's Tap Room. Quiet enough to talk, but enough atmosphere and food that's tasty.

        1. re: Callisto

          Appreciate the suggestions. We live in Ballston area and have been to Harry's several times and have never been impressed. But I agree that it generally fits what we're looking for.

          1. re: jaydreb

            I am also not a big fan of Harry's. The little happy hour bites are fine, but the rest of their food was just so-so.

      2. There is a Lebanese/Syrian restaurant called Layalina. If you like Middle Eastern food this is my new favorite gem in the area. It is on Wilson and you would never notice it unless you knew it was there but once you walk in, the atmosphere is charming, the service is warm and the food is delicious! http://www.layalinarestaurant.com/

        1. Costa Verde for Peruvian food and drinks. Make sure you ask for the cancha.

          1. My suggestion is Rustico in Alexandria. Just shoot down the GW Parkway and hang a right on Slaters Lane and you're there. There's a large bar/lounge area with an excellent selection of beers on tap, along with a few flat screen tvs. You can eat off the full menu there, or have dinner in the dining room.

            1. I don't recall if Rays the Steaks has a bar, but for a birthday dinner it would be fun.

              1 Reply
              1. How about BlackSalt in DC? It's 15 minutes, if that, from Ballston - just go over Chain Bridge to MacArthur Blvd. Relaxed atmosphere, great food - I've never had a bad meal there.

                1. I am also not a fan of Harry's. Go to Willow. I have been there half a dozen times for dinner and it has never disappointed. Not a huge menu, but it covers all the bases, and even the chicken entree is great. Also, unlike a lot of restaurants, the entrees here are actually better than the appetizers. They also have a separate small bar area.

                  1. Willow is good, nice setting, good food. But I'm also loving Bebo Trattoria these days - excellent pasta, free parking, funky atmosphere.

                    1. Sawatadee or costa verde.

                      1. Nam Viet. They have cocktails and delicious food.