Dining Out

Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Great Eats at Good Prices – January Restaurant Week Is Back!

By the Gastronomes We are pretty sure the majority of our local readers are familiar with the ins and outs of a “Restaurant Week” since we have several of them during the year in the DMV and it appears that Alexandria is starting off with the first one of the New Year starting on the 20th and running through the 29th! In actuality, it is 10 days (including 2 weekends) of over 70 eateries in Alexandria offering great eats at good prices. The number of participating restaurants has grown exponentially over the years and they are as varied as the cuisine they serve. There is something for every palate. Restaurant Week showcases the inventiveness of local chefs throughout the city. In addition to the popular Old Town section, eateries located throughout neighborhoods in Del Ray, Carlyle, Eisenhower and the West End will offer a $25, $35 or $45 prix fixe dinner for one. Special menus will be available for in-person dining at participating restaurants with many having heated outdoor dining options. We have highlighted offerings from some of our favorite participating restaurants in this writing and encourage you all to try them out. We are looking forward to experiencing some “new to us” establishments during this promotion as well. We tend to get stuck in a continual loop of our favorites but it is always good to step outside of the box. Guests can browse a list of participating restaurants on AlexandriaRestaurantWeek.com. Stay tuned for a digital flip-book of menus at participating restaurants that will be available on the Restaurant Week site early this month. Bastille Brasserie & Bar $45 Dinner for One Person Bastille is an award winning brasserie and wine bar, offering guests a contemporary spin on French cuisine, in a sophisticated yet comfortable atmosphere. Chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux’s creations are sparked by the…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Michael’s on King – The New Kid on the Block….Sorta!

By the Gastronomes Location, Location, Location! As King Street in Old Town continues to evolve, our friend Michael Strutton and his wife Kelsey recently relocated his Italian restaurant, Michael’s Little Italy from the 300 block of South Washington Street to 703 King Street (formerly Magnolia’s on King) and rebranded it Michael’s on King. Having a spot on King Street on a block with 8 other eateries is a great place to be. You can’t put a monetary value on having significant foot traffic when you are in the restaurant or retail business. I first met Michael in 2017 when he opened his first restaurant on South Washington Street. He already had a successful business in Nashville but came to Old Town to be near his Mom. He also always wanted his own restaurant and now had the opportunity to take the plunge. Sometimes it is nice to understand the thinking of someone when planning how to turn their dreams into reality. The following paragraph is Michael’s thoughts taken from his website: Passion for our Culture – My grandparents came to New York City from Sicily at a time when Fiorello La Guardia held mayoral office, Lucky Luciano was beginning a prison term, and the world was just starting to hear the music of Frank Sinatra. While many Italians were reaching great heights, the average Southern Italian immigrants lived modestly, kept to their own neighborhoods, and raised families built upon whichever traditions from the old country could be maintained in the U.S. Most family settings revolved around food…and while not all of the same ingredients were available to them, my family and so many others proudly built a new culture: The Italian-American Culture. Somewhere in-between European and American personalities, we found this new definition of who we are…a charm that erupts…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Pizza by the Slice – Worth the Hype?

By The Gastronomes We took a little bit different tack for this month’s Dining Out column and visited the – apparently long awaited – recently opened pizza joints offering said slices here in Old Town Alexandria. The fact that there are now seven places – these locations don’t include the eateries that serve Italian cuisine in general – that specialize in pizza in Old Town (between City Dock and the King Street metro within a block off either side of King) amazes us but I guess the slice hype is real.  We both follow the local Alexandria Dining, Curbside, Inside and More Facebook page and the number of posts about pizza by the slice amazes us both. Now, don’t think that we haven’t had our fair share of pizza by the slice in our combined 144 years (we are old), because we have. Neither of us, however, ever considered it anything more than that and never dreamed it would be the rage in Old Town in 2022. Something else that never donned on either of us is the fact that pizza by the slice evidently has to be New York style. Who made up that rule? We pretty much like all styles as long as the ingredients are fresh and the sauce tasty. Definite upside is no need to commit to a whole pie and if you want to eat it on the run, you can. Handover by the Slice and Andy’s Pizza both opened to the public within a day or two of each other in mid-October. When we visited on a Saturday afternoon and subsequently evening (Andy’s doesn’t open until 5 pm) there wasn’t a shortage of customers at either place. In the big picture, they are pretty much serving the same thing and in our experience there…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Meet Us at Harry’s Place – The Light Horse Restaurant and Bar

By The Gastronomes As with many months, we were getting way close to deadline and didn’t have any idea what restaurant we were going to highlight in this space. Ms. Gastronome decided she wanted a change of pace to do some brainstorming so she decided to hit Happy Hour at the Light Horse and I joined her. While we were sitting at the bar (it is beautiful by the way) contemplating who we should highlight in the October issue, the proverbial light went on. Why not feature where we were sitting? Although the Light Horse is relatively new to Old Town, three restaurants have previously occupied this space and I tended bar at one of those when I was in my late 40’s and I’m 75 now…it has been “you do the math” many years ago. Times have changed and so did the restaurant but the building at 715 King that is home to The Light Horse holds many fond memories for me. A bit of history….The Light Horse Restaurant and Bar has been here for over 13 years and was named after Henry “Harry Light Horse” Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee. The restaurant is a haven for the younger professional crowd, but as you can tell from the first paragraph, we made a visit to this popular watering hole and restaurant for a change of pace and we are a bit on the older side of the professional spectrum. The ground floor is home to the main dining area and a large bar, with several high tops with both booth and chair seating and a one piece winding table in the middle of the dining area. Not sure how to describe it. Check out the photo. There is still ample seating for a good sized crowd but…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

“Born In Ireland, Raised In Old Town!”

By the Gastronomes Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar is one of Old Town’s most beautiful restaurants. Most of the buildings in Old Town are old renovated seaport warehouses and OC’s is much the same but they took it to another level. In 2006, on St. Patrick’s Day, O’Connell’s opened the doors to the eager throng outside. Adorned inside with pieces from Irish Castles, Monastaries, Churches, an apothocary and other valuable furnishings from the Emerald Isle, O’Connell’s stands today as a classic renovation. The kitchen was not fully functional that first St. Patrick’s day so management brought in pre-made sub sandwiches for their guests. The next day the kitchen was running smoothly and O’Connell’s has been serving up authentic Irish fare along with many American favorites for 16 years. In their own words, “Born in Ireland, raised in Old Town, shipped 4,527 miles and 400 years young and called after Ireland’s great patriot Daniel O’Connell “The Liberator”. Come sink into our comfortable surroundings in our truly unique atmosphere. View our mesmerizing array of Irish historical antiques. Stroll through four ancient Irish Bars with blazing fires and enjoy warm friendly Irish staff and meet the lovely people of Old Town. On balconies, in snug corners, nooks and crannies, every corner has a story to tell. All this, while tasting the bold, exciting culinary delights that have emerged from modern Ireland.” We couldn’t agree more. On the night that we dined we chose to sit in one of the “Snugs”, a piece of Irish history. The Snugs have significance in Ireland’s and Alexandria, Virginia history. Recently renovated, these cozy spaces make O’Connell’s a special and unique place altogether. I have been going to O’Connell’s since it opened and this is the first time I sat in the elevated Snug and was I…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Union Street Public House – An Old Town Icon

By The Gastronomes With summer’s heat upon us we decided to take a different approach to dining out and write about a cool place for lunch and a good sandwich in particular. This led us to Union Street Public House on Union Street (imagine that!). Union Street (as we all call the restaurant) has a double claim in Old Town as one of the oldest restaurants and one of the newer (sorta). Let me explain. When I came to Old Town in 1977, where Union Street sits now – contrary to what many have published in the past – was an upscale, fine dining restaurant called Kings Landing, not a warehouse. It was said that Kings Landing was Frank Sinatra’s favorite restaurant when he came to town. The late 70’s and early 80’s were also bringing change to Old Town. The rather small restaurant with the nice front yard was torn down and Union Street maximized the space and built the restaurant out to the sidewalk. The new place had it all…a beautiful Tap Room, Whiskey Bar, a casual Oyster Bar on the ground floor with a large, beautiful dining room upstairs and a balcony looking down on Union Street. The building was designed by renowned Alexandria architect Bob Holland. It is truly a beautiful restaurant. The very first day Union Street opened there were lines to get in. Back then, there were lines at most all restaurants and bars because Old Town was so small and most of the action was within three blocks of the waterfront. From day one Union Street was known for their large selection of draught beer, fine whiskeys and great food. Locally sourced, their food was always very good and plentiful. Union Street was also home to some of the best bartenders in the…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Celebrate Bastille Day at Bastille!

By the Gastronomes Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the National Day of France and celebrated on July 14 each year. The French National Day is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a major event of the French Revolution. In honor of Bastille Day we decided to revisit Bastille Restaurant in Alexandria for this month’s Dining Out article. Bastille is located at 606 N. Fayette Street in north Old Town. Although there are no views of the Potomac River, there is ample free street parking to help relieve that hassle. The restaurant has a comfortable bar and a bar dining area as well as two more dining rooms. On nice days there is a beautiful patio in the courtyard for al fresco dining. We picked a good evening to visit Bastille as they had just released their new summer menu. Unfortunately, that meant I couldn’t order their delicious beet salad but there are many new items to enjoy. I will just have to wait for fall to roll around for my beet fix. We are particularly fond of the Prix Fixe menus offered here. There are currently three 3-course Prix Fixe Menus available. The Bistro menu is $45 while the Brasserie is $57. They have recently added Le Menu Budgetaire that offers three select courses with a $29 price tag with a glass of house wine available for an additional $5. All are excellent values. The choices are numerous as you can see from the photo of the menu. All of the items on the fixed price menus and several other choices are available ala carte. For my dinner I ordered from the Brasserie menu. My first course was the French Onion Soup. The soup was served in a piping hot crock with…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Goin’ Out to the Gateway

By the Gastronomes Our choice of restaurant this month was more by accident than by design. It was deadline time for this issue and we had yet to settle on the subject matter for this column. We were spending the night in our friend’s gorgeous home on the Patuxent River near Broomes Island in Southern Maryland and decided to drive the few miles to “Gateway” for dinner and do some brainstorming for this column. After ordering our drinks and looking at the menu (all the while talking about Old Town eateries as possibilities) the light went on! Why not write about the place we were eating? Duh! Full disclosure: Over the years, we have driven by this place well over 250 times, literally, and stopped in for a cold beer once about 10-15 years ago. Last March, when I had my right knee replaced and was recuperating at the same house on the water, we needed somewhere close to get take out one evening. Gateway Seafood Restaurant & Lounge was the answer. Since then, we have stopped in when we can and it has never disappointed. The Gateway is really pretty unassuming in outside appearance until you stop to take a little closer look. In addition to full bar and restaurant service, the Gateway has a drive up liquor window and a substantial take out business. Can’t believe we’ve never picked up on the drive up window aspect after all these years! The interior is just what you would expect in a place in this corner of the world…dark wood, nice big bar, large flat screen for watching sports and a good bit of room for casual dining and lots of parking space. They don’t, however, have a dedicated outdoor dining area. There is a small deck in the back…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Coffee Anyone?

By the Gastronome We usually reserve this space in the May issue for a visit to a local Mexican establishment since one of us is crazy about Cinco de Mayo and the accompanying margaritas that the meals include. While we will most certainly be partaking in some fabulous chile verde and toasting more than a couple of margs on May 5th, we thought we would highlight the coffee (and tea) shops that abound in Old Town proper. Since Mother’s Day is also celebrated in May, our thought process was that your Mom might be more likely to want to be treated to some fresh brewed coffee and a pastry. We realize that there are probably well over 50 coffee shops in the local OTC distribution area alone there is no way we could highlight them all so…..let’s start off with our version of Old Town “proper”. We included those locally owned spots whose prime offering is coffee and are situated between the waterfront and the King Street Metro along King Street and the side streets as far as Prince Street to the south and Cameron Street to the north. Our count was 11 and I won’t be surprised if we missed some – they seem to be popping up all over the place. Our original plan was to sample some java and each of these joints but time and caffeine jitters didn’t allow for it. That being said, we thought we would delve into what has become “Coffee Culture” and why coffee based shops have become increasingly popular. According to the ever informative Wikipedia, “Coffee Culture is the set of traditions and social behaviors that surround the consumption of coffee, particularly as a social lubricant.[1] The term also refers to the cultural diffusion and adoption of coffee as a widely consumed stimulant. In the…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Landini Brothers Restaurant – Still Setting the Standard

By the Gastronomes With the arrival of spring and days getting warmer, our attention is more and more intrigued with al fresco dining. With all of the restrictions brought about by COVID, the pandemic had a cause and effect for our city that city officials could not pull off for many years…more al fresco dining options. In addition to establishing a pedestrian space in the 100 block of King Street, the city and merchant groups were able to get parking spaces as dedicated dining spaces throughout Alexandria and the rush was on. This month we decided to visit what we consider the anchor restaurant of Old Town. I have been a customer of Landini’s for about 40 years and I am not the only one. While many of the regulars are no longer with us, a good number are still around. My partner has been frequenting this place since she arrived in Old Town in 1992 and it remains one of our most favorite places for many reasons. Landini’s has been the “go-to” establishment for special occasions, business lunches and dinners, birthdays and just getting together with friends. The pandemic and all of its restraints put a strain on gatherings for over a year so it is good to be back on track again. On a personal note, this restaurant is also a very effective first date destination if you want to impress… We will get to the food shortly but first I have to mention the staff and the building itself. Over the past 40 years the bar at Landini’s has been akin to any boardroom in the city. Businessmen and women choose Landini’s as the place to meet and be seen. What makes the bar so special is the caliber of the bartenders year in and year out….

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