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Alexandria/DC foodie spots

I know that this has all been answered in other threads but wanted to get the most up-to-date scoop on the food scene.

First vacation in three years and want to eat for five days straight.
I will be in Alexandria for a couple of days to visit a friend who is vegetarian. He has taken me to cool places in the past and does know the city well but I want more foodie recommendations.

I love the Ethiopian food that I can't get down South. Any and all recommendations for non-touristy unique restaurants, food shops, street food, etc. is appreciated.

One three/four star/diamond dinner.
Late night post-bar-hop food.

Thank you all in advance!

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  1. Save up your money and appetite for a dinner at Eve's tasting room. They will do a remarkable job working with your friend's vegetarian needs if you speak with them when making your reservation and communicate his needs clearly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      I have read good things about Eve's here on CH. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Also, to those who reply, if you have any suggestions for the drive from Charleston SC to DC please share those too.


    2. Where will you be staying in Alexandria? Will you be driving or taking metro?
      I also wanted to mention about Eve...it is in Old Town, don't know if you're familiar. If you find yourself there during the day, I'd highly recommend doing the "Lickety Split" lunch in the bar/loung area. Any 2 items for $13.50. It's offered on weekdays.
      Does your friend eat fish? From the same chef/owner of Eve, there is Eammon's a Dublin Chipper nearby. Authentic fish and chips in a casual, place you order and wait for pick up place with tables and stools. The fish is crisp and the chips are fresh and thick. They'll even fry a burger or a snickers bar for you! The sauces are awesome and come with your order, but you also have ketchup and of course malt vinegar.
      Rustico in North Old Town has a terrific beer selection and good food at the bar area and restaurant.
      Also in the area is A la Lucia for Italian. You can eat in the bar/loung, or in the restaurant also.
      For a drink and app with a TERRIFIC view, I'd recommend sitting outside at Indigo Landing off the George Washington Parkway, just south of Reagan airport. I'm reluctant to recommend it for a full meal, as it offers low country cooking and I would think you get that hailing from SC.

      8 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        We will be driving. No, my friend doesn't eat fish but as long as they have good deserts he is o.k. He is the only vegetarian I know who stopped eating meat so he could eat more candy!

        So far this is what I have come up with from recent posts:

        A La Lucia
        Royal Street Thai
        Restaurant Eve

        I just emailed Eve about their chef's tasting menu. The lunch special or "Bistro" menu at night looks like it may be the way to go though. Do you have any thoughts on the above listed restaurants. I don't mind traveling and if it happens to be close to other interesting stuff all the better.

        Thanks monavano!

        1. re: CharlestonChow

          To your Alexandria list (Eve, Rustico, A La Lucia, Eammon's), I would also add the Pita House, probably for lunch. It's on Cameron a few blocs from the water - delicious Lebanese food, esp. schwarma and sujok.

          1. re: CharlestonChow

            For ethiopian I would vote dukem. I would also strongly recommend Corduroy as worth a visit. Dino is quite good, but i would look into their menu before you go. I remember some complaints from vegetarians about not having enough options, but I went last weekend and will say from a non-vegetarian POV, the food is excellent and the service is great too. And if you happen to be wandering around U Street around lunch time or late night, I would strongly recommend a visit to Ben's Chili Bowl.

            1. re: xtina

              Right now Dino has 17 vegetarian dishes on the menu out of 39 offerings.

              1. re: xtina

                I just gave Dino's website a look and wow, lots of vegetarian options!

                1. re: monavano

                  my sources are clearly mistaken! i'll be sure to pass along the info...

              2. re: CharlestonChow

                Corduroy-Chef Tom Powers is amazing. Terrific bar menu from which I'd suspect you both could make a meal from easily. The appetizers/small plates really shine. They are VERY nice there and I'd feel free to call ahead regarding the vegetarian offerings if you decide to dine there. Or, see if they can come up with something off menu.
                Dino- has fixed price menus and special wine discounts. Terrific owner, Dean Gold, who cares deeply about the food he offers.
                Nearby is Palena which has a more formal room, and a cafe. The burgers at the cafe are known to be the best around.
                Speaking of burgers, try the mini burgers and matchstick fries at Matchbox.
                Very different? I have a good one. How about Latino Dim Sum Brunch at Cafe Atlantico.
                Jose Andreas also has Jaleo (DC and Arlington) for tapas, and Mini Bar for molecular gastronomy. Oyamel is putting out good food too.
                Etete: modern and streamlined decor vs. Meskerem being more traditional. Both are highly regarded.
                When in DC? get a half smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl. It's iconic.

              3. re: monavano

                So all the above posts have recommended some good places. I love the Pita House, would be a great lunch spot, Eve is wonderful I love going there, I haven't been to Komi but it is on the top of my must go list because I have heard great things. Corduroy was the spot of choice for my law firm before we moved they loved it and would eat there several days in a row. I love Palena in Cleaveland Park. Central is very good just ate there last night, but I don't know if they are a good vegetarian choice as I am a meat all the way type of girl. Jaleo is good (excellent white sangria), but I prefer his other restaurant Zaytinya at Gallery Place/Chinatown, although Jaleo in Crystal City would be closer to you in Alexandria. Le Paradou is french, downtown and has a really good lunch deal if you are in that area.

              4. For me, Etete is the only Ethiopian that really stands out. Plus has the best/biggest vegetarian platter, called the fastening food platter. Add the fish for a couple of bucks and get the derek tibs.

                Missing from your list is Jaleo, especially considering how GREAT the vegetarian selections are. I'm pretty sure the DC branch has the eggplant flan still on the menu, as where the Arlington site does not. But, who knows, maybe your friend doesn't like it....

                I guess Royal Street Thai is your friend's suggestion. Thai Square and Bangkok 54 are two outstanding Thai in Northern Virginia. Please do a search on this board for recommendations.

                I would stop in at 2 Amys for any idea of an italian fix. Exceptional margherita (super minimalist) and excellent small plates, like the suppli, polpete, rapini, plus daily specials.

                If you want to splurge, head on over to the lounge at Citronelle. Your friend can get the mushroom cigars and the eggplant gazpacho, and you can get the tuna napoleon and the soft shell crabs, if spending around $30 each is not too far out of line for eating the cooking of one of America's most famous chefs.

                Also, for a more special experience I would outright go to the new Brasserie Beck over Corduroy in the same neighborhood, unless you already have a Belgian Bra in your neck of the woods.

                1. Thank you all for your input so far. It looks like I have some more homework to do over the next few days.

                  It looks like we will be spending some time in Arlington as well (more so than Alexandria).
                  Any Arlington recommendations are most appreciated as well.

                  Thanks again!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CharlestonChow

                    Arlington: Willow, Sette Bello, Lebanese Taverna Market for lunch and grab an italian sub from the Italian Market.

                  2. For post bar food, just cause it looked like you didn't get much of that --

                    i'd suggest EatBar (attached to Tallula) in Clarendon, and, you know, if you get locked in there over night, you might as well try Tallula's tasty Sunday brunch!

                    1. Just got back from DC. There ended up being a 3 year old and two finicky girlfriends in tow so mealtime was always an exercise in diplomatic negotiation.

                      Jaleo was pretty much a chain restaurant in every way. Not that the food was bad, it was just not really that good. The sauce for the Patatas Bravas was really very good though. A really interesting Rabit Con Fit was served with mashed potatoes that I thought were instant at first but then decided that they had just been over whipped. The wine list left a lot to be desired.

                      In spite of the consensus that Etete was the best Ethiopian we ended up at Dukem and Meskerem. Meskerem, it turns out, I have eaten at before. It was awesome just like it was last time. Dukem was so much fun. We went on "entertainment time" night when there is singing and dancing and an Ethiopian band. I tried the beef tar tar at Dukem. It was HUGE and really finely ground rather than diced. It had a really good flavor but it was hard to get past the intense heat. I love spicy but this stuff was like napalm. They even served it with a side of cayenne pepper. In true Ethiopian restaurant style the waitress played hide-and-seek with us which would not have been so bad were I not sucking down watter like Lawrence of Arabia.

                      While in China Town I found the coolest restaurant on my friends recommendation. Burma serves really good Burmese (that's right) food. It is like the perfect Asian food hybrid. Very similar to Thai/Vietnamese/Cambodian with some Indian and Chinese influences. I would highly recomend their salads.
                      I also tried the noodle shop next door. Great noodles and dumplings.

                      2 Amy's was a really good restaurant. Everything was good if a little over done. I got a special pizza that had squash blossoms on it. I like squash blossom and the subtle flavor it can impart but when on a pizza with mushrooms and onions it gets lost. Plus the intense heat of the oven kills most of what a squash blossom has to offer. I also got a really wonderful fava bean puree on crostini. The broccolini salad was very good too.

                      Unfortunately, we were not able to make it to any of the top restaurants on my list because the travel companions were not diggin' on anything fancy. Obla di.

                      Thanks all!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: CharlestonChow

                        Thanks for the update. Sounds like you hit a lot of good spots none the less!

                        1. re: CharlestonChow

                          Which noodle shop next door to Burma? Chinatown Express (where they make the noodles in the window) or one of the Pho places?
                          Thanks for the info on Burma. Your post reminds me that I've been wanting to try that one for a while and it sounds right up our alley.

                          1. re: KWynn

                            Chinatown Express. I thought it was going to be hokey and touristy but it really was good. It looked like there were only about ten restaurants in Chinatown. If I had a couple more days I could have probably tried them all.
                            While at Burma there was a family visiting relatives who obviously lived in DC. They ordered lots of food family style. Their food looked wonderful and the guy who was orchestrating the ordering process appeared to know what he was talking about. Burma would be lots of fun with a group of four or more.

                          1. re: wayne keyser

                            Are you still looking for suggestions? One I didn't see on here and really enjoy is Evening Star in the Del Ray section, attached to Planet Wine. Good food in the midprice range, plus it has the funky Majestic Lounge in the back and the No. 9 Wine Bar upstairs, replete with chaise lounges. Another good place I didn't see mentioned yet is Indigo Landing along GW Parkway. They've redone the outside decking, so it's a beautiful place for hanging out over cocktails, and what wonderful cocktails they are. Definitely try their Low-Country Lemonade.

                          2. Right now, my 3/4 star/diamond dinner would be at Le Paradou - the nine course tasting menu. Actually, there is no menu -- the chef just cooks for you. I've done it twice this year, and both times it was two of the best meals of my life.