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May 2, 2014 05:44 AM

Arlington local institution

Hi everyone!

I will be visiting Arlington VA in the summer. My family and I love all of the comfort foods. Where should we go for the best local food? We want to go to the places that have been around for decades and whose names are known by the locals. Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, fried chicken, etc.


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  1. Arlington's not really a "local" spot. Not sure how familiar you are with the area, but it's pretty much just another urban section of DC that happens to be across the Potomac so it's in Virginia. (Over)populated by young singles and people with kids in the last decade (count me among that group). DC "proper" is right outside your door, depending on where you are it's even walkable -- so don't limit yourself to eating in only Arlington.

    The closest you might get to institutions and comfort food are some good ethnic spots and a couple of old greasy spoon diners that are still hanging on, but not remarkable IMO. Otherwise it's a land of trendy-ish restaurants and happy hours for the most part. There are good pizza and burger options, but they're newer places as far as I know.

    With that disclaimer, the one place that comes to mind is the Quarterdeck up by Ft. Myer. Old-school crab house that's quite popular in the summers. You will need reservations for about any evening you want to go -- and you'll have to call to make one. No open table.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rachelcp

      There are different types of local places. Some of the old school, traditional ones are just not good. Back from when Arlington looked more like West Virginia. You half expected to see people chasing their dinner in the yard.

      Some of these places still exist (Jay's Saloon, The Broiler, Whitlows, Arlington Diner, Linda's, LA Bar and Grill, Rhodeside, Bob & Edith's), but you wouldn't want to eat there. Some are in South Arlington, an area that the PP seems to be unfamilair with. The one exception for me is a guilty pleasure: the cheeseburger sub at Mario's on Wilson Blvd. (it's not even on the menu anymore, you just ask) and a pizza square topped with bbq or sausage patty. Pretty disgusting stuff, but maybe right up your alley. Seating on outdoor picnic tables or standing at a counter.

      Rays to the Third is a newer place that makes Hellburgers, cheesesteaks, fried chicken, and some killer 'adult' shakes, but it looks completely new. High marks for the food all around. There is counter service to the right, table service to the left.

      If it's convenient for you, there is also a new location for Ben's Chili Bowl, the iconic DC landmark. Go for a half-smoke with everything. Cheap delicious fun.

      I like the mini-burgers and the chili at Backyard BBQ (not very old), but I don't like the bbq. For a bbq pork sandwich, go to Rocklands. Also get their bbq pork egg roll.

      My favorite burger in the area is BGR which is a fast spreading local chain, cooked-to-order.

      Then there is the cuisine from all around the world. Taqueria El Charrito Caminante has great tacos de cabrito and papusas, Next door is Sibarita for Bolivian food. There is Gahrer Khabar for Bengali, Pupatella for Neapolitan pizzas, Lyon Hall for Alsatian, Thai Square, Little Saigon, the dongbei menu at Hunan Gate, Peruvian rotisserie chicken at El Pollo Rico, Sichuan Hotpot at Ma La Tang, Middle Eastern food at Astor, Korean fried chicken at Bon Chon, and the list goes on.

      If you haven't had Korean fried chicken, this is a MUST. I order it with the soy garlic flavor, not the spicy version.

      Then there are some traditional places that are right over the 'border' of Arlington into Falls Church, VA. Flavors is known for their fried chicken, but I am not that fond of the other offerings.

      1. re: Steve

        steve, is backyard bbq still there?

        by the way, cowboy café (lee hwy, north arlington) has a decent bbq sandwich! check it out.

        1. re: alkapal

          I drove by recently, but it was late at night long after closing hours. Still looked like it was in business.

          1. re: Steve

            yes, i see their website is still up -- and on FB. i thought that the sign was gone from the corner "shopping center menu" signage on corner. i'm usually driving, so didn't get a good look.

            by the way, fwiw, i saw a catering truck for "bootheel bbq" yesterday -- and they do whole pig bbq. i'll post this on that thread, too (asking about companies who did this). wish the guy had had a sample! ;-).

    2. Ledo Pizza (I know others will advocate for Mario's, now named "Marino's", but it's carryout and it's awful).

      2 Replies
      1. re: wayne keyser

        i would not send a stray dog to mario's.

        1. re: wayne keyser

          "Marino's" is not Mario's. Anyhow, the steak and cheese is where it's at. Pizza is okay only when it's right out of the oven.

        2. Weenie Beenie for the Chili Half-smoke.
          Quarterdeck for Blue Crabs, preferably outside.
          Linda's or Bob & Edith's for a greasy spoon breakfast.
          Mario's for Lefty's Special. And, yes, that is Lefty serving you, so know what you are ordering and get out of everyones way after you order. Hold the pickles. And, no, a steak and cheese isn't the same as a cheese steak.
          Ray's HellBurger is new but great and reasonable.
          5 Guys is a chain but it started here in Arlington.
          Arlington really does ethnic better than old Virginia. Think Vietnamese or Thai, 7 Corners and Columbia Pike, respectively. Pho 75 on Wilson is pretty good too.
          Arlington doesn't do pizza or fried chicken very well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ziv

            ah, right, forgot about quarterdeck. the must stop for crabs!!!

          2. You like pizza? Go to Pupatella on Wilson Blvd. Has not been around for decades, but you'll be hard-pressed to find better pizza in the DC area. It's beloved. Very family friendly.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bob W

              I will give them a try. I haven't liked the pizza I have tried in Arlington so I quit looking for it. Although I have to admit that the Antipasto Personal Pizza at Pietanza on Harrison isn't bad. It just isn't great.

              1. re: Ziv

                Try one of the arancini and the homemade meatballs too!

                1. re: Bob W

                  I really liked the Arancini! It was crispy on the outside and chewy and rich on the inside. Didn't like the pizza as much but it was fairly good. I will have to try the appetizer sampler next time. It has two types of arancini and one or two other things I can't remember, hopefully the meatballs are one of them.

                  1. re: Ziv

                    Their panzarotti - the 'mashed potato' version of the arancini- are excellent as well. I'm not sure what kind of pizza you had, but the burrata is my favorite.

                    1. re: Steve

                      I had the diavola, three of my favorite ingredients, mozarella, basil and salami are in it. But the fat/grease from the salami ponded on it a bit deeper than I like.
                      I normally don't like Napolitan margarheta type pizzas or white pizza either, but I think those might be the way to go at Pupatella.
                      They know what they are doing, I think I just ordered poorly. I think the fritura sampler (?) had four types of appetizers, two types of arancini and two other things. And their beer special was half price drafts and the Tartan was pretty good, too.

            2. The Broiler. 55 years and counting. Steak & cheese. The pizza's kinda Ledo's style, if that's how you roll.


              Bob & Edith's. Good diner grub.