Dining Out, Wining & Dining

The Warehouse – Cajun Hospitality in the Heart of Old Town

By The Gastronomes

This month we ventured to one of the oldest restaurants in Old Town Alexandria and one of the ones that put Old Town on the restaurant map back in 1969. This iconic restaurant has not only earned its fame from the delicious food but also of the caricatures of local Alexandrians that adorn the walls. Although the restaurant is located in the 200 block of King Street and not in the 100 block which has been turned into a pedestrian mall and has allowed for in the street dining, owner and General Manager Hossein Pishdad took it upon himself to rent the curbside from the city and has built a dining platform along the curb on his own dime. It is the only restaurant in the 200 block that has curbside dining.

In colonial times Alexandria was a formidable seaport town along the Potomac River and most of the buildings along King Street were warehouses associated with the commerce of Alexandria and the east coast of America. The Warehouse Restaurant has maintained that legacy by retaining the name. The restaurant opened in 1969 when the many warehouses were converted to shops and eateries. Back then there was a bar upstairs called the Quarterdeck and was popular with the locals like myself. A local guy named John Nugent was our bartender back then, today John owns Nugent Design Build LLC located in Deale, Maryland. Another successful businessman who got his start tending bar in Old Town Alexandria.

Through the years of changes, the upstairs bar is no longer there but they do have a bar downstairs as you enter. It is a well-stocked and comfortable bar perfect for an afternoon cocktail or a drink before dinner. Co-owner and Executive Chef Sert Ruamthong has worked at the Warehouse for over 30 years. Sert has expanded his French-Asian background to include American Creole and Cajun dishes which are the back bone of the Warehouse menu. Sert selects locally grown products that are available in the area and often features local Soft Shell Crabs, fresh Louisiana Crawfish, Chesapeake Bay Rockfish, Oysters and Shad Roe.

Although the menu at the Warehouse has a distinctive Louisiana feel, they are also well known for their steaks and seafood. On our recent visit we opted for the outdoor dining and took a seat along the sidewalk. Although it has been a hot summer, this day was 84 degrees with a light breeze…perfect. As we settled in behind our white tablecloth adorned table, we were promptly greeted by glasses of water and a drink order.

As is our habit, vodka gimlets were our pre-meal cocktail of choice. Not only were they made perfectly, the method of serving them was impressive. They serve them half poured and top them off at the table, leaving you a small carafe with the extra. This makes for a very substantial drink.

Cocktails were accompanied with some of the best bread we have tasted in quite a while – it ISN’T sourdough and is accompanied by whipped butter. It’s hard not to eat all of it before your meal arrives. Speaking of which, I ordered the Jambalaya off of the regular menu on this visit. As I mentioned before I have been going to this restaurant since 1969 so I am pretty familiar with this menu and the Jambalaya is one of my favorites. A sizable portion for lunch, this dish is packed with chicken, Andouille sausage and tender shrimp. The dish was seasoned to my liking which is not so heavy on the spices. It was very flavorful without making me reach for my glass of water. The Pinot Grigio wine we ordered was crisp and a very nice compliment to the dish. The Warehouse is noted for their great wine list.

Ms. Gastronome ordered the Lobster Cobb Salad from the daily specials menu. It is a flavorful combination of the usual suspects in a Cobb Salad – bacon, blue cheese, hard-boiled egg, etc. – tossed with a creamy house dressing and a hefty portion of lobster mixed in. Unlike any she has had before, it was served in a tomato-basil flour tortilla “bowl”. This was definitely and added bonus.

Between the bread – yes we ate it all – and our entrée’s we were pretty full but…how do you pass up Key Lime Cheesecake? You don’t. It was as tasty as the photo accompanying this write-up looks and it really complimented the double espresso….

We would be remiss if we didn’t comment on the suburb service provided at the Warehouse. Their wait staff is some of the best around, and, in fact, we have known some of them for the last 25 years from their service in others restaurants over the years.

Treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the Warehouse next time you are in Old Town. And…if you happen to be in the area on a Saturday or Sunday morning, the brunch here is superb.

The Warehouse

214 King Street

Old Town Alexandria



5.00 avg. rating (96% score) - 1 vote