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Falls Church/Merrifield late night

The Ba Le Friends Bakery is open 24 hours a day and offers some of the best Vietnamese Banh Mi in the Washington area. It's located at 2822 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA, which is near the intersection of Lee Highway and Graham Road and which is only about a two (2) minute drive from the intersection of Gallows Road and Lee Highway in Merrifield. It's not at all fancy, but it's probably one of your better choices if you're looking for food at 1:00 a.m. in the morning.

Super Pollo in Ballston - CLOSED

Yesterday, I ate at the Super Pollo at 5011 Wilson Blvd in Arlington (very near the intersection of Wilson & George Mason). It's less than a mile from the closed Super Pollo in Ballston, and the food was just as good.

To my taste, Super Pollo is better El Pollo Rico. Not only is Super Pollo's chicken somewhat better than El Pollo Rico's, but also Super Pollo offers a much better assortment of side dishes than does El Pollo Rico.

Second Week of Restaurant Week?

Answering my own question, here is a list that was posted previously:

Il Mulino
Nage Bistro
Ici Urban Bistro
701 Restaurant
Art and Soul
Cafe Atlantico
Cedar Restaurant
Co Co. Sala
Darlington House
Grillfish DC
The Heights
Juniper Restaurant
Logan Tavern
Mie n Yu
PS 7's
SEI Restaurant

Second Week of Restaurant Week?

Which restaurants, if any, are extending their Restaurant Week specials for an extra week? In the past, there have usually been at least a few.

701 for Restaurant Week

I just had a disappointing Restaurant Week lunch at 701. On the minus side: the braised short rib sandwich had more "special sauce" on it than a Big Mac; the toffee "brownie" (which was actually a very dense dessert bar, rather than a brownie) was sickly sweet; and the calamari salad was over-slathered with dressing. On the plus side: the service was impeccable.

Best Milkshakes in DC

In my opinion, Elevation Burger shakes are superior to those at Potbelly and Big Buns. It may have something to do with the quality of ice cream that Elevation Burger uses and with the ratio of ice cream to milk. (I haven't tried the shakes a Ray's or Good Stuff.)

That said, Potbelly shakes aren't bad. And my memory is that they are somewhat cheaper than Elevation Burger shakes -- which might make them a better value.

Best Milkshakes in DC

I second Elevation Burger. My personal favorite there is a mix of coffee ice cream, malt, chocolate syrup, and fresh banana.

Pho in NoVA

You're right about Cafe Trung Nguyen being non-vegetarian. I went there for the first time in a long time and found that it had changed. It's no longer vegetarian.

What's the Best Restaurant near National Harbor?

Restaurant Eve is, by far, your best choice if "price is not a huge consideration."

Unless there is traffic congestion on the bridge over the Potomac River, the taxi ride between National Harbor and Restaurant Eve will take only about 10 minutes.

There is also a water taxi service running between National Harbor and Old Town. For example, a water taxi to Old Town departs National Harbor at 6:30 p.m. each night. You might want to consider taking the water taxi from National Harbor to Old Town (in order to avoid rush hour traffic on the bridge and to add a little adventure to the trip), and taking an ordinary (non-water) taxi home.

Pho in NoVA

I don't know much about food I haven't eaten. For example, I've stayed away fresh durian and from Vietnamese dishes that use a type of very fatty pork pâté, and, as a consequence, I can't tell you much about them.

As to authenticity, I get the distinct impression that most of the Vietnamese food served in Eden Center is authentic.

If it's something different you want, you might want to try the vegetarian food at Cafe Trung Nguyen, a hole-in-the-wall take-out place in Eden Center. When I took a trip to Vietnam a number of years ago, one of my favorite restaurants was the Tin Nghia Vegetarian Restaurant (located near the Ben Thanh Market in central Saigon). In Vietnam, vegetarian cuisine is eaten for religious reasons by certain Buddhists. Although Cafe Trung Nguyen is not as good as the Tin Nghia Vegetarian Restaurant, it's the only Vietnamese vegetarian place I know of in the Washington area.

Pho in NoVA

I think you'll find that the best pho is found at restaurants that specialize only in pho.

If it's banh mi you want, I recommend Ba Le Bakery in Falls Church. As to other types of Vietnamese food, that depends on what you want.

Bale Friends Bakery
2822 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA

Pho in NoVA

My wife (who is Vietnamese) and I like the pho at Pho 75 in Falls Church (near Loemans Plaza).

We do not, however, like the pho at the Pho 75 in Rosslyn. The two Pho 75 locations have the same name, but not the same pho. Although our home (in the Ballston area) is much closer to the Rosslyn location than the Falls Church location, we always travel to the Falls Church location for our pho.

Pho 75
3103 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA 22042

Baltimore Restaurant Week Lunch?

I have just learned that Baltimore Restaurant Week will be from January 23 to February 1. Although I live in Arlington (VA), I'll be in Baltimore during the day on January 28. I'd like to take advantage of Restaurant Week and have lunch while I'm there. Which of the following restaurants is likely to offer me the best Restaurant Week lunch?

Black Olive (Fells Point)
Brasserie Tatin (Downtown)
Capital Grille (Downtown)
Ciao Bella (Little Italy)
Da Mimmo Finest Italian Cuisine (Little Italy)
Della Notte (Little Italy)
GERMANO'S Trattoria (Little Italy)
La Tasca (Inner Harbor)
La Tavola (Little Italy)
Lucy's Irish Pub & Restaurant (Downtown)
M & S Grill (Inner Harbor)
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood (Downtown)
Petit Louis Bistro (Downtown)
Rusty Scupper (Inner Harbor)
The Spice Company (Downtown)
Tir Na Nog (Inner Harbor)

Eden Center crawl suggestions

Banh xeo (Vietnamese crepe) or cha ca (sizzling catfish) at Hai Duong. Mango bubble drink at Thanh Son Tofu.

Banh Mi???

My favorite is Ba Le Bakery in Falls Church. (I believe that it's affiliated with the aforementioned Ba Le in Rockville.)

Bale Friends Bakery
2822 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA

Best Chocolates?

Neuhaus, the internationally-respected Belgian chocolatier, has a shop in Union Station, a short distance from the Union Station stop of the Red Line. The offerings there include chocolate truffles freshly airlifted from Belgium. Not exactly from a "local artisan," but still very, very good -- and also very, very expensive

Neuhaus Chocolate
50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC

Cold noodles in D.C. area

Naeng myon, a North Korean dish consisting of cold noodles in cold broth, is available at many (if not most) local Korean restaurants, including Woo Lae Oak in Tyson's Corner.

Woo Lae Oak
8240 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182

Big Buns Ballston

I live in Ballston, and go to Big Buns regularly. I like it for the pleasant outside courtyard dining and the reasonably-priced beer -- all located within a short walk of my house. For example, last Friday night, my wife and I had a good time sitting in the courtyard, eating Big Buns burgers, and drinking Yuengling beer (which was going for only $2 per bottle that night).

But, if Big Buns were not in my neighborhood, I’m not sure whether I’d go there. At least a couple of times, the buns there have been stale, which is a transgression that not even McDonald’s would commit. Although the burgers there are usually acceptable (when the buns aren't stale), they fall far short of those at the better burger joints in town. (My favorite burgers are those from Sweetwater Tavern.) Finally, the milkshakes at Big Buns are not very good at all, and certainly don’t hold a candle to those at Elevation Burger.

I'd recommend Big Buns only for those who live or work in Ballston. (On the other hand, if Big Buns were to bring back the $3-per-bottle Anchor Steam beer that it used to offer, I'd be willing to give it a more positive recommendation.)

Big Buns Gourmet Grill
4401 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA

Sweetwater Tavern
3066 Gate House Plz, Falls Church, VA 22042

Elevation Burger
442 S Washington St, Falls Church, VA

Japanese Food in NoVa/DC

The buffet at Todai includes both udon and okonomiyaki, in addition to a large number of other Japanese dishes.

Todai Fairfax
11750L Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, VA

Best Places in DC/Arlington for a Poor College Student!

In my opinion, the best food bargains in Northern Virginia are the Vietnamese restaurants that specialize exclusively in pho [Hanoi noodle soup] and the Vietnamese bakeries that specialize in banh mi [Vietnamese baguette sandwiches]. Even in the Vietnamese community, there is no agreement on where to get the best pho and banh mi. My personal favorite for pho is the Pho 75 location in Falls Church, and my personal favorite for banh mi is the Bale Friends Bakery location in Falls Church. (I don't recommend, however, the Pho 75 location on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington.)

Pho 75
3103 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA 22042

Bale Friends Bakery
2822 Graham Rd, Falls Church, VA

Anchor Steam Beer

Ted's Montana Grill (in Ballston) also has it on tap.

Ted's Montana Grill
4300 Wilson Blvd Ste 130, Arlington, VA 22203

701 for RW

On Monday, I had a Restaurant Week lunch at the 701 Restaurant.

My main piece of advice is to skip the "chocolate cake with fruit compote and vanilla ice cream." My cake was dry to the point of being stale, and the melon spoon of ice cream and the teaspoon of fruit compote didn't add much.

I also ordered the shrimp salad and the glazed pork belly. Neither was as bad as the dessert, but neither excited me very much.

My office is near the Penn Quarter, so I have been to 701 many times over the past ten years. I used to enjoy Restaurant Week lunches there very much, but in recent years the quality of its Restaurant Week lunches has declined.

701 Pa Ave Restaurant
701 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Really really good french bread?

I can testify that the baguettes at Pastries by Randolph are excellent.

Pastries By Randolph
4500 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA


Also, in honor of Restaurant Week, Corduroy will be open for lunch on Saturday, January 19. (It's usually open only for dinner on Saturdays.)

Cheapest edible sushi in the area?

I hereby retract my recommendation of Costco sushi. This afternoon, I had some Costco sushi at an office party. The sushi was inedible -- nothing like the sushi sold by Costco in previous years.

looking for good loose leaf tea in NOVA

I get my loose leaf tea from Super H Market, which offers a wide choice of Japanese and Chinese brands of loose-leaf tea -- all sold in in prepackaged plastic, rather than in bulk. My favorite tea is the genmai-cha (brown rice tea) from Maeda-en, a Japanese company.

Super H Market
10780 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA

Search for a good hot chocolate

Les Halles offers a very fancy "chocolate chaud" made from Valrhona chocolate, egg yolks, cream, sugar, and butter. It's served in a silver pot with "mini-brownies" on the side, and costs $5.75.

Les Halles
1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW # 100, Washington, DC

Bubble Tea

My favorite is the mango bubble tea at Thanh Son Tofu in Eden Center. The bubble tea there has a thick "smoothy" consistency. Unfortunately, this place is so popular that you'll probably have to wait a long time to be served.

Wherever you go for bubble tea, go to a place that serves a lot of it. I've found that only at such places can you be sure that the tapioca bubbles are fresh. (As tapioca bubbles go stale, they become tough.)

Thanh Son Tofu
6793A Wilson Blvd, Falls Church, VA

Bread Bakery in Alexandria or Arlington?

I agree that Great Harvest is an exceptionally good bakery. It's also very generous in giving out free samples, which makes it a great place for a first-time customer.

Cheapest edible sushi in the area?

The sushi platters at Costco can be surprisingly cheap. I don't know what they cost now. Nor can I remember what I paid for them in the past. But I do remember that, when I purchased them for office parties, everyone was amazed at both the price and the taste-and-quality-given-the-price.

Costco Wholesale: Pentagon City
1200 S Fern St, Arlington, VA