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Dining with kids in Arlington

We're going to make a trip to Washington DC in May, and will be staying in Arlngton. We will have our 6 year old daughter with us. She is a really great eater, and we don't have to limit our dining experiences because of her. I'm looking for suggestions for reasonable restaurants in DC and Arlington. We try to avoid chain restaurants, and do love all ethnic restaurants.

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  1. Mother of a one-year-old here. You have a lot of options, but here is what I's do: Ray's Hell Burger in Rosslyn, Minh's in Clarendon for vietnamese, both in Arlington and easy to get to from metro stops. Both are reasonably priced. In DC, 2 Amy's for pizza near the Cathedral, Etete for ethiopian in a more funky part of town and Cafe du Parc for easygoing french near the white house. Also, Teaism on in Dupont and one in Penn Quarter, for lunch, breakfast or a snack. I have been to all of these places with children that are good eaters. You will not be out of place with your daughter at any of these, and will get an excellent meal as well. Have fun and report back!

    1. whitlow's on wilson (clarendon neighborhood) is very reasonable, and is child-friendly. mondays they have half-priced burgers (good burgers!) and specials during the week. http://www.whitlows.com/

      uncle julio's/rio grande cafe is tex-mex in arlington's "ballston" neighborhood. i love the guadalajara platter, with shrimp and fajitas. "Guadalajara
      Our signature grilled jumbo shrimp brochette; stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeños wrapped with bacon and your choice of chicken, beef or combination fajitas." (get the beef fajitas on this platter -- better than the stand-alone beef fajitas, for some reason). http://www.unclejulios.com/menu.html
      4301 N. Fairfax Dr.
      Arlington, VA 22203

      basic diner breakfast: linda's café on lee highway (rte. 29), west of glebe rd.
      diner open late, more expensive, but good quality food and desserts: metro 29 diner. located at lee hwy and glebe rd. great greek spinach pie special, nice steak brochettes, huge breakfast omelettes


      pizza: thin-crust wood fired pizzas at pie-tanza on harrison street (at lee hwy). http://www.pie-tanza.com/ good pastas, too. fresh vegetables, herbs, house-made fire-roasted tomato sauce.

      in the same shopping center, there is a quite decent and reasonably priced family-run thai place, ghin na ree. excellent som tum, and a great lunch deal on weekdays.

      cowboy cafe on lee hwy near glebe is good, too. http://www.yelp.com/biz/cowboy-cafe-a... sit in the dining room adjoining the bar. there may be smoking in the bar, but not a lot, and it is no problem in the dining room, imo. good specials. half-priced burgers on tuesdays. big weekend brunch crowd with kids. their shrimp and grits is quite good --really fresh shrimp, and in appetizers, too.

      1. Suggest Tap & Vine on Lee Hwy near Lexington. Family friendly, notwithstanding the lounge-like name, "Truffle fries" are like shoestring potatoes--the kind of novelty kids might appreciate. If Mom wants a beer, there's a selection of draft beers.

        I second the recommendation of Ghin Na Rhee--and it's next to a Baskin Robbins for dessert.

        1. I see a lot of little ones at Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. If you can get an outside seat at Uncle Julio's on a nice evening it is nice, I like the shrimp diablo (thanks alkapal) the fajitas are pretty good, and they have a decent chicken salad, the rest is take it or leave it. If you have a car Taqueria Poblano has great tacos and is VERY kid friendly. Sette Bello is also kid friendly, the food can be a little inconsistent, some things are excellent, some so-so. I like the penne salmon, pizza is pretty good, good salads and the risotto with lamb or veal shank. They also have a pasta with chicken and asparagus that is good. Also lots of kids at Harry's Tap Room for brunch.

          I would only go to Whitlows on Wilson during the day, maybe for brunch only it is kind of a glorified bar. I don't think the food is that stellar.

          They have food everyone will enjoy. I am not sure where in Arlington you are staying. If you are near Shirlington, the Carlyle Grand is very good. For lighter things Busboys and Poets has good sandwiches and salads.

          There are lots of threads on child friendly in DC so check those out for in DC places.

          1. You got a lot of good suggestions. Where exactly in Arlington are you staying? We have taken our 2 year old to Rio Grande and Pie Tanza without incident.

            1. I think Minh's would fit your parameters perfectly. It's very close to the Courthouse metro, which makes it convenient. Best vietnames I've had, I love the yam and shrimp appetizer, and get it every time without fail.

              Ray's Hell Burger is an awesome burger, but it's not a very relaxed dinning experience. It's pretty cramped in there and can be a bit stressful to get a table (strangely, one always seems to open up at the right moment, but in the meantime it's always a tight fit with the line for ordering and runners passing through). If it's a nice day I'd get it to go and have a seat outside near the playground behind the firestation on Wilson.

              I'd agree with ktmoomau and vote "no" for Whitlows, it's a bar and smells like one, even during the day. I personally like the Silver Dollar Cafe further up on Clarendon for breakfast (pretty close to the Clarendon metro stop). Would be fun for a 6 year old as they have mini-jukeboxes at the tables. And a great assortment of classic breakfast items, I personally love their eggs benedict and SO has enjoyed the French toast there.

              Have fun!

              2 Replies
                1. re: kubasd

                  Yes! Thanks, for some reason I always want to throw the "dollar" in there, I make that mistake a lot.

              1. You don't say if you will have a car, but here are some places not to miss in Arlington:

                Cafe Assorti: A Kazkh bakery and restaurant. A new place that is very modern looking. Casual, though, and many interesting items on the menu including various stuffed breads and dumplings. Mild flavors, but very interesting and unique spicing.

                Taqueria El Charrito Caminante: a real -life Mexican taqueria with a few stools to eat at. Goat tacos, chorizo tacos are my top two choices, but they also offer papusas de loroco because of the huge Salvadoran population here.

                The best Salvadoran food is at a small carry-out called La Union Market. Veggie Enchilada is a revelation here, also good are the tamales and empanadas de platano. Ask for an ensalada to drink. They are sometimes out of it, but if you've never had one, it is fantastic. If they're out, go for the horchata.

                Costa Verde for Peruvian food. Casual. The fish here is especially great. Go for the mahi-mahi in a white onion sauce (chorellano) . Make sure to ask for a bowl of cancha for the table. it is fun to nibble on straight or to even sprinkle over your food. Excellent ceviche also.

                Thai Square in S. Arlington has a couple of unique appetizers that represent truly inspired Thai cuisine: one is Yum Pla Krob tile fish and the other is a lacy fried catfish creation called Yum Pla Dook Foo. In addition, they have a secret Thai-only menu (not in English) from which you can go ahead and ask for the sour curry (hot pot), and duck noodle soup. The waitress will help you. Both of these are great.

                Bordering Arlington, just West, is Falls Church City which is Ground Zero for Chowhounds. Hong Kong Palace for Sichuan Chinese, the Lebanese Butcher, El Pike for Bolivian, La Caraquena for Venezuelan arepas and tequenones. Eden Center is a Vietnamese shoppng Center with at least 23 Vietnamese restaurants plus cafes, bakeries, delis, and other stores all on a main parking plaza or hidden away in various interior corridors. An Amazing scene. Some of the smaller,more unique places to eat may close down at 8pm. Bay Lo (AKA Quan 7 Lo, very little English spoken, just point at the menu) and Hai Ky Mi Gia (noodle soup parlor, not a pho place!) are two of my favorites. The entire center is worth exploring and is a tourist attraction in its own right.

                With all of the above, I highly recommend you search this site for specific menu recs.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  Steve - I introduced a Lebanese friend to Leb Butcher. He liked it very much, but reported back to me a few weeks ago that there's another place in the building behind Leb Butcher's building. It seemed he favored this place more. I'm in the South for a bit longer (and then to MO), but I wondered if you had found it (or anyone else).

                  Oh, and for the original poster - also for Vietnamese try Nam Viet at the Clarendon stop (1/2 block North of the metro on Hudson ). Kid friendly and excellent food.

                  1. re: Steve

                    Where's La Union? And is Costa Verde the one in Clarendon?

                    1. re: sweth

                      Costa Verde is where Wilson, 10th and Kirkwood come together. There is a Jiffy Lube there, across from a Merit (?) gas station and across Wilson from Pio Pio.

                      La Union Market is on Old (?) Lee Hwy, a few blocks east of Pastries by Randolph (same street). There is also a La Union Restaurant on Wilson west of George Mason, same owners, but I don't think the food is as fresh.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I've liked the Veggie Enchilada at La Union for a few years now thanks to Steve, but don't think it would meet overly well for the OP.

                        One to add to the list, based on my own personal experience with a 2 and 4 yr old is Caribbean Grill in N. Arlington. Extremely good food, and you have to check out the pots on the stove when ordering.

                  2. re whitlow's, i disagree about it being a glorified bar. during summer, e.g., it is absolutely packed with families on monday evenings, having returned the day before from their beach weekends. we've been there plenty of times between 5-8 p.m., and it doesn't smell like a bar to us. (we don't go to bars, but i know what they smell like).

                    1. We are staying at the Residence Inn Pentagon City on Army Navy, near the Fashion Center. And yes, we will have our car with us.

                      Thank you for alll the helpful replies!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Meg Loves to Eat

                        In that case you'll be close to many Alexandria places as well. I think kids would like Vaso's Kitchen, on the north end of Old Town. Greek cuisine; the "Greek pizza" should be a hit with kids. I also like the lemon chicken soup. And the chicken entree.

                        Vaso's still has a neon sign for Dixie Pig, the barbecue restaurant that used to occupy the building. Others on this board have warned against getting the barbecue that the new owners offer, and that makes sense. Anyway, there's plenty to like without it.

                        1. re: Meg Loves to Eat

                          You will be in S. Arlington, so the Thai Square rec I gave you will be the most convenient. In the Crystal City area of S. Arlington, Jaleo is your best bet. Numerous recs if you do a search.

                        2. We like Dogfish Head Ale House in Falls Church. Good beer, surpirsingly family friendly, with some good basic American fare.