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Del Ray, Alexandria neighborhood destinations

RogInVA May 8, 2012 08:23 PM

Okay ... so Del Ray has arguably the D.C. area's best Mexican food at Los Tios restaurant; a couple of the area's best New American places, including Evening Star; Barack Obama's favorite frozen custard joint at Dairy Godmother; a good-to-great Italian eatery at La Strada; and the best little fromagerie, wine bar, and restaurant on Mount Vernon Avenue with Cheesetique. Draw in excellent places on the fringes of Del Ray like Pizzaiola on Fern up at Fern Street; Monroe's at the intersection of Monroe Street and Commonwealth Avenue; and Chez Andree, a very intimate French place tucked in to a small strip mall on East Glebe, the newly opened Grape + Bean wine and gourmet shop on Commonwealth, and you've got a destination-class feastival right before our eyes. Comments, anybody?

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  1. c
    ChewFun RE: RogInVA May 9, 2012 05:55 AM

    There is a new restaurant that should be very good, Del Ray Cafe. It will be a French restaurant. Los Tios is fine, but it is in no way the best Mexican restaurant in the area. Del Ray Pizzeria is atrocious. They don't even make their own crusts (despite their claims otherwise). Their salads are pretty good though. The Osteria is not as good as its sister restaurant, La Strade, which is great.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChewFun
      RogInVA RE: ChewFun May 11, 2012 07:35 PM

      We just had dinner at Del Ray Cafe this evening. They're still working out some kinks in their service, wine list, and general presentation, but I think Del Ray Cafe is going to be one of the crown jewels of Mount Vernon Avenue.

      I happen to disagree with ChewFun about Los Tios ... in fact, I think it's the best Tex-Mex place in the D.C. area, and I'll put my Austin, Texas heritage up against his to argue the case. Los Tios isn't perfect -- and it does have a lot of Salvadoreno dishes on the menu -- but the friendly, prompt service, the pitch-perfect presentation on dishes like ceviche', fajitas, and enchiladas, and best of all the cold-from-tap beer and huge margaritas make it a great dining destination. It's no surprise that Los Tios has gone from a tiny place with 4 tables to Del Ray's biggest restaurant with what, 80 tables? These guys are doing things right!

      I agree once again with ChewFun that Osteria 1909 is not as good as its sister La Strada -- and agree that La Strada is great. Those who haven't tried La Strada really should -- it's Italian comfort food at its best.

      1. re: RogInVA
        ChewFun RE: RogInVA May 14, 2012 07:04 PM

        Glad you like Del Ray Cafe. I'm looking forward to trying it. As an Angeleno, I prefer the Mexican places far down route one. I like Los Tios well enough and the service is great but it's not as good as El Charrito Caminante.

        1. re: ChewFun
          mselin RE: ChewFun Nov 4, 2012 09:09 AM

          i really disagree with all the hype about El Charrito Caminante. I've found some of the pupusa food trucks, like pupuseria diana, to be much better. A great place is all the way down in woodbridge: La Roca (http://larocapupuseria.com/menu.html). I'd say it's worth the trip.

    2. ktmoomau RE: RogInVA May 10, 2012 10:58 AM

      Don't forget Happy Tart Bakery with great Gluten Free Items.

      1. chowser RE: RogInVA May 10, 2012 01:54 PM

        I love that area. There's also that little chocolate shop. The last time I was there (it's been a few months at least), I thought there was a barbecue place that was opening up. Has it opened? Has anyone been?

        2 Replies
        1. re: chowser
          eguder RE: chowser May 11, 2012 05:36 AM

          The barbeque place, Pork Barrel, is open and is delicious. Highly recommended. I was also pretty happy with the draft options.

          1. re: eguder
            chowser RE: eguder May 11, 2012 01:09 PM

            Good to know--thanks.

        2. DanielK RE: RogInVA May 10, 2012 07:19 PM

          OK, I'll play.

          Los Tios isn't Mexican - it's Salvadorean, and only a mediocre Salvadorean place as well. Evening Star is a shadow of it's former self now that Chef Artley is at Orso.

          But I'll definitely give you Cheesetique - I drive down from Potomac for their tastings regularly. I've given up dining in Del Ray before or after the events, because I haven't found any place worth staying for in the area.

          5 Replies
          1. re: DanielK
            Steve RE: DanielK May 11, 2012 05:41 AM

            I agree about Los Tios being unremarkable, and most of the other spots are just nothing to get excited about. But it is a charming area that I enjoy going to, and I like the Door County sundae topped with sour cherries at Dairy Godmother.

            1. re: Steve
              ChewFun RE: Steve May 11, 2012 06:04 AM

              Having tasted the samples at the new Del ray Cafe, I think it's going to be really good once it gets open.

              Saw the review of Del Ray Pizzeria. The salad I had was really great, bu tthe pizza was a joke. The chef says that most of their suppliers are small time - that's if you count by supplier. Still, a big Sysco Systems truck shows up on their door step nearly every day according to my wife, who sees it drive past and park.

            2. re: DanielK
              chowser RE: DanielK May 11, 2012 01:11 PM

              I love Cheesetique, not just for the cheese. And, the strawberry rhubarb crisp w/ vanilla custard from Dairy Godmother can't be beat when it's warm.

              1. re: chowser
                SarahFoodie RE: chowser May 14, 2012 01:27 PM

                I agree with chowser. We're going to Taste of Arlington this weekend to check out other places. Thanks RogInVA, we loved La Strata we agree 100%. And Cheesetique!

                1. re: chowser
                  Chocolatechipkt RE: chowser May 18, 2012 07:55 PM

                  I love Cheesetique too!

              2. m
                mscoffee1 RE: RogInVA May 14, 2012 01:51 PM

                Has anyone been to "Let's Meat On The Avenue?" It is near Cheesetique. I was passing there today and it looked interesting, but was closed.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mscoffee1
                  alkapal RE: mscoffee1 May 14, 2012 05:32 PM

                  let's meat is a good butcher. excellent house-made sausages.

                  1. re: alkapal
                    mscoffee1 RE: alkapal May 15, 2012 06:12 AM

                    Thanks,I'll try it next time I am there, but you sound a little reserved.

                    1. re: mscoffee1
                      alkapal RE: mscoffee1 May 15, 2012 06:41 AM

                      not at all. go there.

                2. njfoodies RE: RogInVA Jul 15, 2012 11:13 AM

                  Living in Old Town, this area is really starting to grow on me. I visit Cheesetique often, and have hit Evening Star as well.

                  Thanks for the other tips and suggestions. I will have to check them out. I had no idea there was a custard option in the area, so being a midwesterner, I am going to have to seek this one out. Cheers! -mJ

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: njfoodies
                    ktmoomau RE: njfoodies Nov 5, 2012 11:13 AM

                    Apparently Evening Star Cafe just got a new chef.

                    1. re: ktmoomau
                      Murphen RE: ktmoomau Nov 18, 2012 05:11 PM

                      Any update on this? From my understanding, Evening Star hasn't been the same since Chef Artley left for Pizzeria Orso

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