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Nov 1, 2013 12:33 PM

Lunch and Dinner Options near Westin Hotel in Alexandria, VA

Going with hubby to a weekend CE meeting later this month in Alexandria, VA. Staying two nights at the Westin. Won't really have a car - the car will be valet parked. Need two lunch and dinner options (not overly expensive) within walking distance of the Westin. What's not to be missed in the Alexandria Old Town area?? Looking more for ethnic foods - Middle Eastern, Indian, Vietnamese, and fresh local seafood. Vermilion, The Majestic & The Grille are a little too pricey even tho their menus look fantastic. Not really interested in pizza or Italian since it is widespread here in NE Ohio. Planning to visit Balducci's & LaFromagerie. From reading several threads on Chowhound, my preliminary list is:

Red Rocks
Nando's Periperi
Hank's Oyster Bar
Hard Times Cafe
Pita House

Anyone have any other suggestions for fun places not to be missed?? Thanks!

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  1. Hard Times Cafe - definitely stick with the chili; avoid other items, this local chain has gone downhill.

    At Nando's go for the quarter dark at the spiciest level, mushy peas, and fries with perinnaise sauce.

    1. Old town is not really a hotbed of good ethnic food. It's yuppie and tourist-focused. Eating on the cheap is not eating well there mostly.
      I would not go to hard times; it's just not that great, average foodservice bar food. I eat lunch there because it's convenient to my office, but I would be displeased with it for anything other than a quick $8 meal. Seriously, they raised their lunch special prices $1 and it made me reconsider going for a while.
      Hanks is fine. Not memorable, but much better than the places right at the waterfront. Eamonns is good fish and chips, but that's all there is.
      Meh on Layla. I don't care for zikrayet.
      Society fair is a nice market shop and wine bar w/food.
      BGR has some darn tasty burgers.
      Columbia Firehouse and brabo tasting room/butcher block are worth a visit. They might be a smidge cheaper than majestic (which is worth the cost IMHO...I'd rather skip lunch and eat one good dinner there or at Bastille, which is my favorite spot).
      You're right next to the metro, go ride out of old town and you can get better options.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rachelcp

        Anyone not from this area should visit BGR if they are in mind to try a burger. The regular burger is fantastic, and the cubano version is over-the-top. Super delicious, but it is too much food and quite daunting to eat.

        Red Rocks as listed above is a quality neapolitan pizza.

        Restaurant Eve, one of the DC area's finest, has a 'lickety-split' lunch that is cheap and a great meal. If they take reservations, do that for sure, it's in high demand. about $13. You may want to do this lunch more than once, and I believe the menu changes constantly.

        I think between Nando's, BGR, Red Rocks and the lickety-split lunch at Eve, you can craft a very good week of eating.

        1. re: Steve

          Eve's lunch is great, but they only serve it Monday thru Friday. I'm also partial to PX (the cocktail lounge run by EGFG, upstairs from Eamonn's) if you like well-crafted drinks, both traditional and unusual. They have a small food menu too. If you arrive early (6-6:30 pm) you usually don't need a reservation and can sit at the bar, which I prefer to having a table.

      2. Old Town is pretty touristy with some "meh" food but OTOH there are people who live there (me!) and there are some decent local places.

        Check out Grape and Bean for small plates and a glass of wine.

        This is a cute local place. Food is good, not always great:

        If you aren't already jaded by Whole Foods, you could consider their immense food bar which my visitors find enjoyable. WF is very close to the Westin.

        If you're an early riser, go to the farmers market at Market Square on Saturday morning: It is a fun scene and you can buy pastries, apples, flowers, etc. If the weather is nice, there are plenty of places with outdoor breakfasting along King Street.

        You can certainly walk from the Carlyle area where Westin is, but you might consider getting a bike from Capital Bikeshare ( and riding down Prince Street, along the river, etc. There are bike share stations where you can drop off the bike and there is a free shuttle up and down King Street.

        Honestly, for bargain, tasty asian, mexican, central american, etc. you need to go beyond Old Town. But you can still have a great time exploring the local area.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tcamp

          Wow! Great suggestions! Thank you!!! Loved the fact that GrapeandBean had a chesapeake crab salad on their menu. (...had some wonderful crab cakes/crabs on Maryland's eastern shore last year that leave me yearning for more.) Loved the idea of the Farmer's Market and the idea of renting a bike - it is my very favorite way of eating my way around & exploring the area. Can't wait to visit Old Town & hope for good weather for biking & walking.