Wkend in Old Town Alexandria: Top Picks?
Greetings! My girlfriend and I are leaving the husbands and kids at home this MLK weekend to venture up to Old Town Alexandra (so excited!). We've never been there and will be staying on King Street but willing to drive/Metro as well for meals. Looking forward to enjoying some good meals. Interested in hearing about your favorite breakfast places, coffee shops/cafes, locations for good ethnic foods and, overall, high quality meals. Price is not a huge deterrent, but we're not desiring to spend a lot for each meal, either. Thanks so much!!
There are tons of places within walking distance if you are staying King St. If by chance you are staying at Hotel Monaco on King, check out Jackson 20. They have some decent cocktails. Dinner is also good, but if you've never been to Old Town I might skip it this time.
Theres is good live music (Jazz) on Saturdy night at 219 (I think it's called the Basin Street Lounge) on King Street.
For dinner I would suggest Restaurant Eve as the best (but also the priciest, so might not meet your qualifications). I would also suggest The Majestic for dinner, which is not quite as pricey. Vermillion is also good for dinner and has a nice bar area (good Cosmos and good bar food as well).
The Chart House is an overpriced tourist seafood restaurant, but the bar area is nice in the evening, with comfortable chairs and good drinks. It is right on the water and offers good views.
I would also suggest a tour of the Torpedo Factory -- local artists in a huge building on the waterfont. Also check out the Silver Parrot on King Street for some nice jewelry.
There are tons of places for decent lunches: O'Connells, Hanks Oyster Bar (highly recommend), Union Street Public House.
There are several bistro type places that are open for breakfast: La Madeline, Bread and Chocolate. I have never eaten breakfast here but have gotten pastries from both and they were good.
I second the Vermillion suggestion. Terrific food for a sit down dinner and/or a great bar atmosphere (often with live music). My husband took me for my bday in December and we spent a good bit of time in the bar after dinner. Coming from a female's perspective, I loved the decor. If I were a local I'd be a regular.
Welcome! Old Town Alexandria is a wonderful place for a weekend visit! One note of caution: there are TONS of restaurants within walking distance, but IMHO, many of them are overpriced and exist primarily for tourists. Here's a very brief summary of good eats in Old Town:
Restaurant Eve - award winning restaurant, excellent food, but expensive
Farrah Olivia - innovative menu, slightly less expensive that RE
Majestic Cafe (owned by same folks as RE; great for brunch)
Momo Sushi (Japanese)
100 King (okay tapas)
Hank's Oyster Bar (seafood)
A La Lucia (neighborhood Italian)
Fontaine Caffe & Creperie (yummy crepes)
Vermilion (another great brunch place)
Le Pain Quotidien (great bread!)
Vaso's (homestyle Greek food)
Quattro Formaggio (decent pizza, close to the King St metro stop)
Cupcakes: Lavender Moon Cupcakery - their passionfruit cupcake rocks. Choco w/peanut butter frosting is also pretty good - they are right across from Fontaine Creperie. In a pinch, I also sometimes get Bittersweet's carrot cupcake.
Speakeasy: PX Lounge - this is a must, esp. for a girl's night out; the mixologist there is incredible! Written up in many, many foodie magazines
Fish and Chips: Eamonn's - cheap eats, owned by same folks as RE
Beer: Rustico - over 300 different types of beer to choose from; they also have a beer tasting menu
You don't have to break the bank at Eve if you eat at the bar. You just need to get there early.
If you fancy a properly prepared cocktail, PX is the place to go. Well worth the wait, and if you can't get in, you could do a lot worse than settle for fish and chips and a Guinness downstairs at Eammon's Dublin Chipper.
The beer selection at Rustico is probably the best in the area; their food, however, leaves much to be desired. Best bets are the burgers, properly twice-fried frenchfries, and pizzas. My experience has been that the entrees are more miss than hit.
Momo Sushi is also excellent. Tiny, but pretty much what you'd find in down any Tokyo alley, and the staff are great people.
On the bargain end, Hard Times Cafe makes a mean footlong chili dog.
I second Hank's Oyster Bar on King Street. One of my favorites. Fresh oysters (many from Virginia) are great with a glass of Muscadet. They also make an excellent cobb salad with grilled shrimp and calamari. The lobster roll is fabulous but at $23 a bit of spurge.
I love Bistrot Lafayette on the upper end of King Street. Their mussels and fries are the best. They have started a steak special on Mondays, I believe.
My new favorite is Caffe La Fontaine on South Royal just as you turn off of King Street. Their savory crepes are good but I often get the sandwich of the day or the duck pate and have the lemon drop crepe (sweet crepe filled with lemon cream) for dessert.
For a quick lunch or dinner, there is a relatively new falafel place on King Street, just at the intersection with Washington Street. SandVeg I think it's called. They make all the sandwiches fresh and have a nice vegetable bar as accompaniments.
For my money, the most enjoyable experience in Old Town is Nana's Sunday Dinner at Majestic Cafe (same people as Eve, Eammon's, and PX). It is only $78 for 4 people and it is served family style. Try it out! You may want to get reservations quickly, though, because of the influx of visitors this weekend.
This is the menu for January so if you like what you see, it is great!
‘New Year’s Roast’
Red Wine Pot Roast
Radicchio Salad with Pears, Balsamic, Pecans & Cheese, Roasted Root Vegetables, Creamy Polenta, Red Wine Sauce
Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie
Obviously, because of inauguration, you may want to double check places to see if they can accommodate you. Its going to be a little nuts I think.
Everybody has made great Old Town suggestions, I'd add Bastille (French) and A La Lucia (Italian) to the list in old town.
Not too far away in Del Ray, the Cheesetique has a nice light wine bar lunch/dinner. Other good places in Del Ray are Bombay Curry Company, Dairy Godmother (great frozen custard), Del Merei Grille. Evening Star cafe and Taqueria el Poblano, I've heard good things about but I've never been.
Just a smidge further in Crystal city, Kabob Palace (Pakistani), Bebo Tratorria, and Jaleo are good. Though I went to Bebo recently, and they have fallen off a bit, or maybe it was a bad night. Anyway.... good luck!!!!
Thanks so much for all of your detailed and thoughtful recommendations! Our curiosity is peaked, and we are ready to eat, eat, EAT! (We might just have to add an extra meal or two a day just so we can try out more places!!) :-p Please continue to send your recs / insights and we will report back upon our return...