Dining Out

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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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub – Erin Go Braugh

By The Gastronomes With March being the month to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish we were very disappointed to find out that the St. Patrick’s Day parade will not take place this year. So…in the spirit of the holiday we thought it pertinent to feature Murphy’s Grand Irish Pub in this space. Tom and Melinda Mooney wanted to open a pub celebrating their Irish heritage, and chose Old Town Alexandria for this traditional Irish pub and opened their doors at 713 King Street in 1978. For anyone who has been in Old Town for any length of time, if someone says, “Meet me at Murphy’s”, you know exactly what they mean. I have been going to Murphy’s since they opened. It has been the go to place for a good time and a good meal not to mention the perfectly poured Guinness for many patrons ever since. Fittingly, Murphy’s has one of the longest bars in Old Town to serve their many customers. As soon as you walk in the door you can feel the energy generated by the clientele. The dining area downstairs has two and four top tables with the option to put tables together for larger groups. In the middle of the dining area there is a huge fireplace that is a great feature on a cold winter day. The second floor has its own bar as well and more tables to accommodate private parties or their regular customers on very busy nights. As to be expected, the menu is chock full of hearty choices at a very reasonable price. Murphy’s offers thirteen appetizers including the standard chicken wings to Shrimp Killarney, Irish smoked salmon, Irish egg rolls and steamed shrimp. All appetizers are under $10.25. Their Irish Specialties and Entrees range from Beer…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

RT’s Restaurant – A slice of the Big Easy In Alexandria

By the Gastronomes With Mardi Gras falling in February and Fat Tuesday on March 1st, we decided it was time to feature one of Alexandria’s unique restaurants…RT’s Louisiana style restaurant – quoting their tagline – “Serving the best Creole and Cajun food outside of Louisiana”. Located in the Del Ray area of Alexandria, these folks have been providing unique dining experiences to the DC area for over 30 years. RT’s has a habit of being frequented by celebrities and politicians as well as famous musicians who perform nearby at the Birchmere. RT’s has always been noted for their authentic southern flavor and spectacular seafood and has been named one of the Top 50 Southern Restaurants in the Country chosen from Open Table’s list of over 27,000 restaurants by Forbes Magazine. This restaurant has been a fixture on Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top 100 Restaurants” list in the metropolitan area and is one of the highest rated seafood restaurants in the nationally acclaimed “Zagat Survey”. RT’s is a casual dining spot that also has a large bar for enjoying a fine cocktail at the end of the workday. The floor is laid out with booths for 4 in the bar area with an adjoining dining room. There is also a separate dining room for overflow or special parties. There is street parking and also lots of free parking across the street in the shopping center lot. The menu features many Creole and Cajun specialties including Jack Daniel’s Shrimp, Spicy She-Crab Soup, Cajun Veal Oscar and their popular Crawfish Etouffee. In addition to their extensive menu they also offer specials each day. Local Alexandrian’s Maria and George Christou purchased the restaurant from founder Ralph Davis two years ago. Not unfamiliar to the restaurant scene (Maria’s family owns a few other restaurants in Alexandria) Maria…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Sisters Thai – A North Old Town Gem!

By the Gastronomes Sisters Thai – A North Old Town Gem! If any of you are followers of the local “Alexandria Dining-Curbside, Inside & More” Facebook page you know that Sisters Thai is a popular recommendation for outstanding Thai cuisine in the area. It has lived up to its reputation every time we have dined with them. Full disclosure here – since the closing of Po Siam on Mount Vernon Avenue years ago, I haven’t found one Thai place that has lived up to its standards but Sisters is very, very close. Located in the North Alexandria section of our fair city, Sisters joins Oak Steakhouse, Woo Boi Chicken, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, and Hinata Sushi Bar & Grill in the 500 Block of Montgomery Street. The block is bordered on the other three sides by North St. Asaph, First Street and North Pitt and is home to The Gables Luxury Apartments, West Elm Home Furnishings, Row House Old Town and several other retailers and services including the best – in our humble opinion – ABC Store in the Old Town area. The décor in this eatery is very interesting and even a bit eclectic. I’ve never really understood the relevance of the theater marquis that is above the bar and a couple of the “murals” to Thailand but it is a very pleasant space. Also in the space is a separate dessert and coffee bar “room” designated as Magnolia’s. We have yet to sample any of the goods in this section of the restaurant but have put it on the list for a future visit. We don’t feel the need to reiterate what is in store for you on their extensive menu since you have it at your fingertips with your electronic communication devices, laptops and PC’s. The offerings…

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