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Apr 3, 2009 02:44 PM

Dining in Arlington (Ballston)

Hubby and I will be staying at Weston Arlington Gateway and are looking for some places in the area for breakfast and possibly dinner. I've looked over the board and only saw a few posts about Pinzimini which is in the hotel. We'd like some reasonable breakfast spot/s and are looking for a nice place for dinner for our anniversary. I have several places on my list that I found through the board posts but haven't seen much about restaurants in the Arlington area. Any hidden gems? Some of the places we're considering while in the area are:
Georgia Brown's
Blue Duck Tavern
Granville Moore's
Founding Farmers
Tallulah and Eatbar

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  1. your list is solid. as for arlington dining, there's a restaurant called willow in ballston that everyone just raves about, i've never been there but i'm sure it's worth checking out. a fast casual but reallly yummy option in ballston is vapiano for pizza, pasta and salads. the ordering system is a little strange but the food is soooo good. in clarendon liberty tavern is great. definitely go to granville moore's from your list. consider adding proof to it, if you're wine drinkers. for hidden gems, if you're big fans of korean food, there's lots of incredible korean restaurants a short drive from arlington in annandale.

    6 Replies
    1. re: littlew1ng

      Willow is a bit hit and miss in my opinion on the food, but great service and a nice atmosphere if you want a bit higher end. (Highest end in Ballston.)

      In addition to Korean, there is excellent Ethiopian (Meaza) nearby. They have live Ethiopian bands on weekend nights and dancing. (It is also smoke free which is nice.)

      As well as some of the best vietnamese I have found nationwide. Present is excellent family style vietnamese they are a little nicer than the cafeteria style pho shops and they have great service. Also, a lot of traditional Vietnamese dishes as well if you are in to that kind of thing.

      I forgot a couple. Excellent chinese (szechuan I think, someone will definately correct me as it is a board favorite). It is called Hong Kong Palace. They have a traditional/authentic menu (in english!).

      Lastly, for now, another board fav is Thai Square for excellent and authentic Thai food.
      If you are interested in bun/pho there are dozens nearby as well.

      1. re: sekelmaan

        Sekelman, have you been to Thai Square lately? Have they recovered from last years slump in quality? TS used to be my favorite Thai spot, but 2008 wasn't a good year for them. Allen was talking Beck, Georgia Brown, Hook so maybe Bangkok 54 might be a closer fit to what he is looking for. Not sure, and I hope Thai Square is now better than my last few visits turned out.
        I don't do upscale as often, so my suggestions should be taken as what they are, attempts to pick the best hole in the wall type places, but I would go with the tacos and tortas at Taqueria el Caminante Charito on Washington Blvd, or the lamb chops and chole at Ravi Kabob, either location on Glebe, or the half chicken at El Pollo Rico on Old Lee, (El Pollo Rico is good too, but the spice rub is just a bit on the funky side for me), or the Steak & Cheese at Marios, sans sweet pickles. For trendy, noisy, decent, fun sushi, Cafe Asia has a nice happy hour for nigiri and beer! For a tasty lunch, Pho 75 has a pretty good bowl of Vietnamese beef soup in a very basic setting, and the coffee is pretty basic and good as well, though their location on Graham Rd may be slightly better. For persian, Kabob Bazaar on Clarendon is good.

        1. re: Ziv

          Actually, I haven't been to TS in a quite some time. Maybe a year.

          Good suggestions though. At Taqueria el Caminante I would say the goat tacos are their best. The other meat tends to be hit or miss, missing more often.

          Another excellent kabob house is Ravi Kabob, which is very close to Ballston. Also, in Ballston if you want peruvian chicken I would recommend Super Pollo which I prefer to any of the other rotisserie places in the area due to the actual wood they use, consistency is better and has much better sides.

          Lastly, we forgot Ray's the Steaks in Clarendon. Close to Ballston and the area's best steak house by far (even though it is prettier now). Or for the more casual Ray's Hell Burgers for an excellent $7 hamburger with artisan cheese or not.

          1. re: Ziv

            I still think TS is great IMHO. In the last 6 months I have found their takeout and eat in a notch above Bangkok 54. Dungarats in Falls Church has climbed back up the Thai ladder so to speak I've heard in NOVA.

            Must go to the Rays (the steaks, hell burger) restaurants on the Orange line corridor there. Guajillo (mexican), Liberty Tavern (american), Delhi Club (Indian), Minh's (Vietnamese) are also worth visits besides the ones already mentioned. I think Pollo Rico peruvian chicken is the best, but you know how these these things go. Every spot has its fans when it comes to peruvian chicken.

            Off the metro as someone has mentioned please go to Eden Center. It is the finest example of Vietnamese on the east coast. Really. Go.

            1. re: Ziv

              Arghh! I meant to say that my favorite rotisserie chicken place is Crisp & Juicy on Old Lee, as Chaofun says, everyones version of rotisserie beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and El Pollo Rico and Super Pollo both spin a great bird. I third your praise for Rays Hellburger, unfortunately I am on a low cholesterol diet for the next 6 months, so no Rays in my near future. Good news about Thai Square, I will have to go back and try crispy squid, or maybe the duck, even on their bad days they were still pretty good.
              But for an anniversary dinner, the new Rays the Steaks? I think that would be my call for quality food, if not, completely, for ambiance.

              1. re: Ziv

                agreed, new RTS, is frankly awesome. Great value too. Hope TS doesn't let you down this time Ziv.

        2. Tallulah, Eat Bar, Sette Bello, Clarendon and Eventide would be nice for dinner. Not extremely fancy, but good.

          There isn't a ton open for breakfast in the area. Uncle Julio's has brunch. Nearby in Arlington if you have a car Cassatt's Cafe is a good breakfast everyday I believe, we go on the weekends. Tallulah has brunch too. Harry Browns has a pretty good brunch so does Boulevard Woodgrill.

          Ray's the steaks is great.

          I am not a fan of Vapiano, there is better in the area. The pizza made at the pupatella food cart during the day is better, and Sette Bello is much better for pasta.

          1. i like rio grande right there in ballston for tex-mex. we like their shrimp dishes, especially. i love the guadalajara platter with shrimp and beef fajitas (better quality meat than the straight "fajitas" order, for some reason).

            for breakfast, head north on glebe road to lee hwy, and look to your right for metro 29 diner. they have good breakfasts, and i like the eggs benedict made instead with fresh spinach -- and crispy fries (not wimpy "home fries"). their spinach pie special is delicious, and it comes with a greek salad. their specialty pastry desserts are good for late night, after-theatre coffee, too.

            for a true "greasy spoon diner", turn left on lee hwy from glebe, and look for linda's cafe on your left -- past mcdonald's.

            for nice pastries, turn left or right on lee hwy....
            right, find pastries by randolph
            left, find the heidelberg bakery

            see this thread from may '08. it has lots of suggestions regarding a very nearby neighborhood of arlington, "cherrydale."

            plenty of threads on this board about eden center. here is a little blog with some info:

            1. so you're staying in arlington but your list has restaurants that are mostly in the DC area? Im confused. Arlington and the surrounding suburbs have much more interesting dining options than DC. Prices are cheaper and ethnic eats are much, much better. I would eat your fancy anniversary dinner in DC and not bother looking for a high-end place in the arlington area. For everyday casual dining that wont kill your wallet I'd look into these restaurants, some already mentioned and some not .....ravi kabob, minhs, huong viet, hong kong palace, super pollo (you MUST get peruvian chicken if you come to this area), rabieng (a short drive into neighboring falls church), bangkok 54, ray's hell burger (a must-visit for any burger lover...the best burger i've ever had).

              breakfast in the arlington area isnt easy to come by. the croissants at Cafe Parisien in Arlington are pretty money. I dont care for metro 29. On the weekends i would suggest going to a bolivian place for a saltena (a savory-sweet meat pie sort of like an empanada) at around 10-11 am for a different sort of breakfast. there are a ton of saltena places in the area...i like the ones at Pike Pizza on columbia pike and Tutto Bene's are alright.

              as for your list... I would say that all the restaurants on there are pretty well received on the whole except for Founding Farmers, which gets mixed reviews. The one time i had their food i was underwhelmed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: CoconutMilk

                Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions. Our trip is to see the DC Mall area, WH, museums, etc. We are staying in Ballston due to getting a family/friends rate at the Weston. We are driving from PA so will have our car. Looking forward to being in the area and we don't want to break the bank every night so appreciate the tips!