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Del Ray, Alexandria neighborhood destinations

We just had dinner at Del Ray Cafe this evening. They're still working out some kinks in their service, wine list, and general presentation, but I think Del Ray Cafe is going to be one of the crown jewels of Mount Vernon Avenue.

I happen to disagree with ChewFun about Los Tios ... in fact, I think it's the best Tex-Mex place in the D.C. area, and I'll put my Austin, Texas heritage up against his to argue the case. Los Tios isn't perfect -- and it does have a lot of Salvadoreno dishes on the menu -- but the friendly, prompt service, the pitch-perfect presentation on dishes like ceviche', fajitas, and enchiladas, and best of all the cold-from-tap beer and huge margaritas make it a great dining destination. It's no surprise that Los Tios has gone from a tiny place with 4 tables to Del Ray's biggest restaurant with what, 80 tables? These guys are doing things right!

I agree once again with ChewFun that Osteria 1909 is not as good as its sister La Strada -- and agree that La Strada is great. Those who haven't tried La Strada really should -- it's Italian comfort food at its best.

Need recommendation for Old Town Alexandria

If you want a Sunday dinner where price is NOT a major consideration, the tasting room at Restaurant Eve is a fantastic experience. I concur with the other posts that the Lickety Split lunch, also at Restaurant Eve, is the best reasonably priced gourmet lunch you can find. Eve also has a fantastic wine cellar with great selections and a very professional sommelier.

If that doesn't work, you might try Evening Star, in the nearby Del Ray neighborhood. The food is not as heart-stoppingly delicious, but it's very good, and the wine list -- drawn from their Planet Wine retail shop next door -- is outstanding.

If you really want a good Mexican place for brunch / lunch, take a cab a mile or so north to Los Tios Mexican restaurant in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. You won't find better Mexican food, or better margaritas, anywhere in the D.C. area.

DC, Old Town Alexandria, Falls Church or Kingstown (for a group)

There are a couple of other places NEAR Old Town that we like as reasonably-priced alternatives. Ramparts, up at the intersection of King Street, Braddock Road, and Seminary Road, has really upgraded their furnishings, menu offerings, service, and wine list in the last 12 months or so. It's a little bit off the beaten path but would be a comfortable place for a group of 8 - 10 and has reasonable prices. Monroe's, at the intersection of Monroe and Commonweath about 1/2 mile north of the King Street metro, is an Italian - American place with a lot of class and dignity that might suit you. Finally, Southside 815, a southern-cooking mecca, is just south of Old Town at 815 South Washington Street. They've got great service, an appealing menu, and they host lots of family events of the kind you're having. Good luck!!

Staying in Vienna, visiting DC, where to get healthy cheap eats?

Amma's Indian Vegetarian on Maple Street (i.e., Virginia Route 123) in downtown Vienna is exceptionally good, really healthy, and CHEAP. I promise you'll like it!

Ray’s to the Third

I'm crazy about Ray's to the Third. They have great service, a very limited but excellent wine list, and (a few) very delicious entrees, including the Hell Chicken (juicy, flavorful, eye-watering) and several great steak dishes. Pay attention as you're looking for the place -- there are no marquee signs or printed awnings, just a couple of nondescript red awnings with no lettering. If you find it, you'll be happy -- it's delicious, with generous portions, perfectly-cooked entrees, and VERY reasonable prices. Eat steak here for $30 / person or eat it at Morton's for $100 / person -- your choice.

Chicken and Waffles in DC

Marvin's on 14th just past U Street has GREAT chicken and waffles. Enjoy!

Del Ray, Alexandria neighborhood destinations

Okay ... so Del Ray has arguably the D.C. area's best Mexican food at Los Tios restaurant; a couple of the area's best New American places, including Evening Star; Barack Obama's favorite frozen custard joint at Dairy Godmother; a good-to-great Italian eatery at La Strada; and the best little fromagerie, wine bar, and restaurant on Mount Vernon Avenue with Cheesetique. Draw in excellent places on the fringes of Del Ray like Pizzaiola on Fern up at Fern Street; Monroe's at the intersection of Monroe Street and Commonwealth Avenue; and Chez Andree, a very intimate French place tucked in to a small strip mall on East Glebe, the newly opened Grape + Bean wine and gourmet shop on Commonwealth, and you've got a destination-class feastival right before our eyes. Comments, anybody?

Moving to Pentagon City-a summary, please

I've eaten at Kabob Palace for years now, and for me it's one of the two or three best kabob places in the D.C. area. Yes, the lamb chops are a little greasy and gristly -- but the lamb kabobs, the chapli kabob, and the kubideh kabob, not to mention the chicken, are all stellar, as are the chickpeas, the rice, and the bread. Kabob Palace is not a fancy place, but it's got great flavors. I rank it up there with Ravi Kabob over on Glebe Road (but not as highly as Rose Restaurant out in Vienna). Closer to Crystal City, I also HIGHLY recommend The Afghan Restaurant on Route 1 South (Jeff Davis Hwy, just south of the Potomac Yards shopping center , i.e., the Target / Best Buy / Barnes and Noble big-block shops). Afghan Restaurant also serves beer, and has fantastic lamb chop and boneless chicken thigh kabobs.

Any good German food?

As a big fan of German food and biergartene, we were really disappointed in the quality of the food (the beer is great and the atmosphere, especially out back in the garden, is GREAT). We ate there several times between their opening and last fall and gave up on the food after a half-dozen meals. I've heard they've improved the cooking substantially, so we'll give it another try now that the weather's warmed up.

Any good German food?

German Gourmet used to be on 29 in downtown Falls Church, but has re-located to Columbia Pike at Bailey's Crossroads (which I guess is Annandale, but could just as easily be Alexandria or Falls Church). They have loads of great sausage, lots of good German wine, and a bewildering assortment of sauce mixes, flavorings, candy, and other Germania. Highly recommended for Deutschophiles!

Any good German food?

For a real, authentic German gasthaus feel, I like Cafe Mozart. I was stationed in Germany with the Army back in the early 80s, and for me, Cafe Mozart is a blast from the past. They have good beer, a GREAT sausage platter, various delicious schnitzels, excellent potato salad, very authentic desserts, friendly service, and on occasion good accordion-and-yodeling folk music. Cafe Berlin is a pale likeness of a German place -- the food is nowhere NEAR authentic. Another good German place -- but more of a bistro-cafe-coffee-and-dessert kind of place -- is Cafe Leopold, just off of M Street in Georgetown. Whereas Cafe Mozart is a blast from the past, Leopold is very sleek, very Euro, very contemporary -- and the clientele reflects that. So ... it all depends on what you're looking for.

Market Price of a Bushell of Crabs

I heard a report on the radio that the Bay's crab population is higher than it's been in fifteen years. Prices this summer, especially for small-to-medium (younger) crabs, are expected to drop accordingly. Yippee!

Moving to Herndon

It'll be interesting to see what you think .... please post your thoughts after the meal (if you're still conscious).

Moving to Herndon

Nobody has yet mentioned Zeffirelli, in the old downtown area of Herndon. It's a superb Italian place in a charmingly restored old building. Zeffirelli has superior service, an excellent wine selection, and a veal chop that you really won't believe. Zeffirelli is not inexpensive, but as a fine dining option (for, say, a birthday celebration) it's a wonderful place.

Saturday lunch, starting from National Geographic Museum

If your son likes burgers, Shake Shack is an okay option ... there are still lines out the door for a Saturday lunch. You might want to try BGR at 1514 Connecticut NW (a couple of blocks west of the museum) or Black and Orange at 1300 Connecticut NW ... both of those have EXCELLENT burgers that in my opinion are better than Shake Shack's. Eastern Market is always a blast for a walking lunch (just stroll from vendor to vendor and sample the many delicious options), but if you're pressed for time it'll be difficult to get there and back in time for your other events. If you're thinking of the Chinatown area, your son might also enjoy a couple of barbecue options there. One is a quick-and-easy joint called Capitol Q (707 H St NW) and the other is a much bigger, more elaborate place called Hill Country BBQ (410 7th St NW). Both of those should fit your needs (i.e., sort of cheap, kind of authentic, accessible for a picky 11 yo). Have fun!

Best Chicken Fried Steak?

I believe I've discovered the perfect chicken-fried steak at Southside 815 restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. I first had CFS when it had it in Copperas Cove, Texas, cooked by the mom of a high school friend. She mercilessly pounded the chuck steak by hand with an aluminum mallet, dipped it in batter, and set it into a cast-iron skillet to fry in smokin'-hot vegetable oil. Southside's CFS is exactly the same -- real chuck steak, hand-tenderized, nicely battered, perfectly cooked, and served with "a mess o' gravy", peppery and hot, spooned across the top. I get my CFS with Southside's excellent cole slaw instead of the usual green beans and usually find that the steak and cold slaw fill me up so I can't possibly eat the mashed potatoes that come along as a side. If you've got a Southerner's love of chicken fried, you're going to love Southside 815! Oh, and the service is amazingly quick and always friendly.

Southside 815
815 S Washington St, Alexandria, VA 22314