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by Ethan Rothstein — March 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm 4,079 0

3400 Columbia Pike, the potential location of a Chipotle  3400 Columbia Pike, the potential location of a Chipotle

A Chipotle Mexican Grill could be coming to the ground floor of an apartment building on Columbia Pike.

A construction permit has been filed with Arlington County to build out a Chipotle restaurant in the new Pike 3400 building, at the corner of the Pike and S. Glebe Road. The building is being developed by the Penrose Group and managed by Kettler.

The permit is in the early stages — the first application was submitted on Friday — and does not necessarily mean Chipotle has signed a lease. Spring Mill Bread Co. was in talks to come to Pershing Drive in January when the property owner filed for construction permits on the business’ behalf, and RA Sushi in Clarendon is in the same situation.

The location would be Chipotle’s sixth in Arlington, with locations already in Rosslyn, Ballston, Crystal City, the Pentagon City mall and along Lee Highway.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by Ethan Rothstein — March 19, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,741 0

Sushi will soon be available just steps from the Ballston Metro station.

A new restaurant called Sushi 2Go is moving into the space next to Italian bakery Tivoli Gourmet, in the Metro plaza at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street.

Previously in the space was Primo Fresh Deli, which served smoothies and sandwiches. According to Yelp reviews of Primo Fresh, the space is very small. Said one reviewer, “Depending on the speed of your gait, you could probably cross the whole damn place by the time you say ‘One Mississippi.’”

Any indication as to what the place will serve — outside of, presumably, grab-and-go Sushi — was not evident from the outside, nor was any notices for building or an opening date.

Hat tip to @HeatherMCarroll

by Ethan Rothstein — March 17, 2015 at 4:45 pm 3,963 0

A new, fast-casual, healthy restaurant in Clarendon has opened its doors at 1028 N. Garfield Street.

Bowl’d marries the quick, customizable serving style popularized by Chipotle with healthy, gluten-free options.

Customers can choose a base of brown or white rice, quinoa or greens, and build their own bowls with ingredients like baby kale, broccoli, garbanzo beans, carrots, mushrooms, red bell peppers and cabbage, along with chicken, grass-fed steak or tofu. Each bowl has at least two servings of vegetables in it, owner Allen Reed told ARLnow.com.

Bowl’d also offers pre-made bowls like the Mediterranean, Reed’s favorite: brown rice, garbanzo beans, broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms and baby kale, with sun-dried tomato olive sauce and feta cheese, for $7.75. Reed said he likes it because “it’s a bit different… it’s a bold-flavored sauce like most of our options, but different from our Asian and Southwest-inspired bowls.”

The restaurant opened to the public on Friday and will hold a grand opening on Saturday, March 21. It opens at 10:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. on weekends, and closes at 9:00 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it closes at 8:00 p.m. Customers who come in during the grand opening get “a sweet treat” to go with their bowl.

“Some people who showed up on the first day have come back the next day and the next day,” Reed said. “This is a place that can be part of a person’s routine, because we’re trying to make it easier to eat better.”

All of the items are made in-house, Reed said, including the all-fruit smoothies that are sweetened with apple juice, pineapple juice or stevia, not frozen yogurt or ice cream. He’s particularly fond of the “whole kitchen sink” smoothie, made of berries, mango, baby kale, flaxseed, and rice protein powder.

“It’s a great grab-and-go portable meal,” Reed said.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm 21,475 0

The sign for Chingon Pollo in Buckingam Chingon Pollo in Buckingham

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) To passersby who don’t speak Spanish, signs for a new restaurant called “Chingon Pollo” on N. Glebe Road in Buckingham wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.

Anyone who speaks the language, however, sees a name that could be construed, at best, as cheeky and, at worst, as profane.

Chingon” is a Spanish slang term that is often used as a compliment, but it’s a conjugation of the verb “chingar,” which in Mexico roughly translates to the English profanity that begins with “F.” ARLnow.com asked a Spanish speaker how she would interpret the name “Chingon Pollo.”

“Chingar is to f-ck and -on means real big ‘ol, so literally ‘real big ol f-cker’ but figuratively like ‘big f-cking’ something,” she said, declining to be identified. The whole name could mean “like a f-ckload of chicken, or possibly really hardcore badass chicken, but more literally a f-ckload.”

“That is crazy, I can’t believe they can name it that,” she added. The name can also be translated more innocently as “damn good chicken.”

A sign in the window says Chingon Pollo is “opening soon.” The restaurant is located at 237 N. Glebe Road, in the former Tandoor restaurant space. In 2013 Tandoor relocated to Ballston Common Mall.

Hat tip to Desiree Lomer-Clarke

by Ethan Rothstein — March 13, 2015 at 11:30 am 4,908 0

Clarendon’s newest watering hole will be open to the public this weekend, serving tacos, Tecate and plenty of tequila.

Don Tito will open to the public in the former Eventide space at 3165 Wilson Blvd this Sunday starting at 5:00 p.m. It will be considered a “soft opening” as the staff “works the kinks out,” co-owner Scott Parker said as he gave ARLnow.com a tour of the space yesterday.

The three-story restaurant, including two large indoor bars and a roof deck with views of Washington, D.C. and Ballston, is owned by the same group that owns A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston.

We’re absolutely over-the-moon thrilled to open,” Parker said. “We hope that Don Tito brings a place where people of all ages can enjoy great Mexican-American fusion [cuisine] by my partner Mike, while at the same time being somewhere people can love to have a few drinks.”

Drinks will not be in short supply, with more than 60 types of tequila and a margarita list that includes “The Don,” a $59 concoction of Don Julio 1942 tequila, housemade sour mix, orange juice and Grand Marnier Cuvée de Centenaire, which comes in a take-home Don Tito glass. There are 14 beers on tap at $6 each, save for the $5 Miller Lite.

The restaurant offers 14 different tacos, including a surf and turf, a tuna with avocado and a Chinese five-spice pork taco. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Parker plans to make tacos half-price.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 12, 2015 at 3:00 pm 6,233 0

A Chinese restaurateur with a cult following will open his first restaurant in Arlington in two days.

Oriental Gourmet in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center just closed this month, but chef Peter Chang‘s team is full steam ahead in trying to transform the space into Peter Chang Arlington, set for a soft opening at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Chang got his start in the U.S. cooking at the Chinese Embassy before serving his speciality, Szechuan cuisine, at little-known China Star on Main Street in the city of Fairfax. He moved around Northern Virginia to a restaurant in Alexandria and back to Fairfax, before moving to Georgia, picking up devoted followings in each area.

Chang’s followers are so devoted, and his nomadic tendencies so consistent, that a lengthy New Yorker magazine profile was devoted to them — despite Chang having never opened a restaurant north of the Mason Dixon line.

Recently, he’s started opening up Peter Chang restaurants in areas of Virginia farther south, starting with Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg and Fredericksburg. Chang’s daughter, Lydia, said “Everyone is excited” for her father’s return to his Northern Virginia roots.

“We’re here to provide amazing, authentic Chinese cuisine,” Lydia Chang told ARLnow.com in the under-renovation restaurant space this morning. “Peter loves Northern Virginia and he knows there are a lot of people who appreciate authentic Chinese cuisine. He’s just here to do it right.”

Doing it right means a sit-down Chinese restaurant serving more than 100 menu items, including many of the dishes that have grown Chang’s following: dry-fried eggplant, duck in stone pot and pan-fried steamed pork belly. Lydia Chang said, if he wanted, her father “can create hundreds of different menu items.”

Restaurant openings, especially in Arlington, are notoriously fraught with long delays, often being pushed back months, even years. Some may be taken aback at how quickly Chang plans to open — just a week or two after the closing of Oriental Gourmet —  but blazing his own path is nothing new for the mercurial chef.

“It’s not anybody else who wants to do this, it’s Peter’s decision,” Lydia Chang said. Pushing back the opening “is not our style. We’ve been talking about Northern Virginia for years. He’s always wanted to come back.”

The soft opening and early weeks will determine Peter Chang Arlington’s hours, Chang said. The restaurant is planning a grand opening Wednesday, March 18.

by ARLnow.com — March 12, 2015 at 10:30 am 8,434 0

Bob and Edith’s Diner, the iconic 24-hour eatery on Columbia Pike, is expanding with two new locations, including one in Crystal City that’s expected to open later this month.

Bob and Edith’s has taken over the space vacated by the former Cesar’s Diner, at 539 23rd Street S., after the end of February. Owner Greg Bolton says he hopes to open a new 24-hour Bob and Edith’s location there, serving the same diner fare as the Pike location, by March 25.

“Same menu, everything’s the same,” said Bolton. The new Crystal City location will have 20 booths, while the original has 17.

Bolton said he’s been eyeing the location — which is within easy walking distance of huge office and apartment buildings, not to mention hundreds of hotel rooms – for 10-12 years, but it only recently “dropped in my lap.”

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “This place is a gold mine.”

Bolton and colleagues have been busy thoroughly cleaning the interior and preparing to install new equipment, including new grills, refrigerators and a new counter. Much of the diner, including its blue booths and its gleaming metal exterior, will remain. Bolton said he’s also planning on taking advantage of the outdoor seating area in front of the diner, when the weather allows.

The Crystal City location is the first of two new locations Bolton is planning to open this spring, after years of running Bob and Edith’s as just one single diner. Another location, in the former Tommy Thai restaurant at Springfield Plaza in Springfield — “next to the Christian store,” Bolton noted — is expected to open as soon as April.

Bolton said he’s expanding “more for my kids than myself.” The Pike diner was first opened by Bolton’s parents, Robert and Edith, in 1969. It’s remained a family affair ever since, with Bolton, his wife Victoria and more recently his two children, Tammy and Chris, helping to run the restaurant alongside a couple of close family friends.

“I can go to the Gulf and [water] ski and play golf all day long, you don’t have to tell me twice,” Bolton said. “But I want to set them on another level.”

There was a second Bob and Edith’s location for a while, situated on Columbia Pike a mile and a half west of the original, but it closed in 2007. Bolton explained that it ultimately just wasn’t a good fit.

“It was just too big, it was really more of a restaurant, I felt, not a diner,” he told ARLnow.com. “I just sold it, put a few dollars in the bank, and moved on.”

The former restaurant is now slated to be torn down and replaced with a four story condo building.

As for whether Bob and Edith’s might take advantage of the Crystal City nightlife and start serving beer, Bolton didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“No liquor, just a real diner,” he said. “I don’t want the responsibility, to be honest with you. There’s enough responsibility just running a business 24 hours.”

Bolton said he’s perfectly content to let other bar owners on 23rd Street serve the booze.

“They get them drunk and I’ll sober them up,” he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm 2,569 0

RA Sushi roll (photo via Facebook)RA Sushi, a Japanese restaurant chain owned by Benihana, appears on its way to move into 3001 Washington Blvd in Clarendon.

The location would be RA Sushi’s first in Virginia. The chain’s closest restaurant, in Baltimore, has a seven-page menu and offers hand rolls for $5.50 and specialty rolls from $8.50 to its king crab roll for $17. It also sells sake and sake bombs, as well as a list of cocktails, beer and wine.

The restaurant is hoping to add an outdoor cafe along Washington Blvd, but county staff have deferred their recommendation due to concerns about the width of the sidewalk.

RA Sushi would be yet another new business in the large new office building, following Citizen Burger Bar, Cherry Blow Dry Bar and Pure Barre. A Peets Coffee & Tea is under construction at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Highland Street

We’re told that the chain has yet to sign a lease, but talks have been going on for some time.

Photo via Facebook

by Ethan Rothstein — March 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm 1,221 0

House of Mandi goes into the former Sultana Grill space in BluemontSultana Grill, the Moroccan restaurant in Bluemont that closed, then reopened, then closed for good last year, could soon be replaced.

Sultana’s sign is gone, and in its place is a sign for “House of Mandi Middle Eastern Grill.” The phone number has been removed from the windows, which are covered in paper.

When Sultana first closed its storefront at 5515 Wilson Blvd, next door to Arlington Pharmacy, some suspected it was due to a lack of any alcohol being served, including beer and wine. When it reopened, the new management dismissed that as the reason. According to our tipster, it closed for good a few months ago.

It’s unclear when House of Mandi will open. It does not have an active application with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

Hat tip to Daniel Manchester

by Ethan Rothstein — March 10, 2015 at 11:40 am 4,075 0

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The wait to try the winner of last year’s Ballston Restaurant Challenge is over: SER, the traditional Spanish restaurant, is open for business.

Serving dishes from every region of Spain, chef and co-owner Josu Zubikarai doesn’t shy away from the idea that only “foodies” might try certain items from his menu, like the Txipirones — squid in its ink, tentacles and all.

“Spain is less than half the size of Texas, but the variety of food is incredible,” Zubikarai said from his resturant at 1110 N. Glebe Road yesterday. He’ll cook up baby eels, octopus and barnacles. “I love barnacles and the baby eels are very good, but I know not everyone will order them.”

While some of the dishes suit the more adventurous, the chef who founded D.C.’s La Taberna del Alabardero 26 years ago is also happy to offer up Spanish crowd pleasers like six different kinds of paella, including seafood, duck and rabbit. He’s especially proud of his bacalao al pilpil, a traditional Spanish cod dish made in a salt and olive oil emulsion.

SER — which is both the Spanish word for  “to be,” and an acronym for “Simple. Easy. Real.” — is in the midst of a soft opening the next two days, offering 20 percent off all food. Thursday will be the restaurant’s grand opening. SER will only open for dinner, at 5:00 p.m., until Monday, March 16, when it will start serving lunch at 11:00 a.m.

Happy hour is every day from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the bar, which also features an extensive list of cocktails, three different sangria options and eight different sherries.

Customers will not only be able to enjoy Zubikarai’s traditional seafood options, but they can also order plates of Spanish charcuterie and a “cochinillo,” which is a roasted suckling pig and serves up to three people for $58. It’s safe to say there are not many restaurants in Arlington offering such dishes.

The bold menu is partly a representation of the special circumstance SER — which is co-owned by Javier Candon, whose wife, Christiana, is “the face” of the business — finds itself in. As the winner of the Restaurant Challenge, after the other finalist, D.C. chef Victor Albisu, dropped out, the restaurant was given a year of free rent and an interest-free, $250,000 loan. SER can afford to find a customer base without having to compromise with a more broadly appealing menu.

That’s music to Zubikarai’s ears, because he reminisces about the days back in Spain when restaurant critics wouldn’t write about an establishment until it had been open at least three years.

“In Spain, people love bullfighting and they say a restaurant is like a bull: it has to be 4 or 5 years old before it’s ready to fight,” he said. “With the year of free rent, we can hire more people, spend that money on training and have much more opportunity to find customers.”

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm 2,781 0

Matchbox (photo via Facebook)Matchbox, the popular D.C. pizza restaurant, is expected to open a new location in Pentagon City next spring.

The restaurant, noted for its wood-fired pizza and craft beer selection, will be located in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, in a yet-to-be-built two-level expansion near the mall’s current S. Hayes Street main entrance.

The new Matchbox will be a whopping 11,000 square feet, with outdoor seating along Hayes Street.

Also expected to open in the spring of 2016 is Sugar Factory, a “famed candy and sweets purveyor.”

Rendering of changes to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon CityThe Sugar Factory location will have both “retail features and an upscale dining area.” The dining area will serve “classic American fare and incredible sweet treats, including the King Kong Sundae, a dessert with a whopping 24 scoops of ice cream, two cupcakes, heaping of toppings, lollipops and sparklers.”

Matchbox is in the midst of an expansion and now has half a dozen locations in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and California. Sugar Factory has stores and restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando.

Fashion Centre owner Simon Property Group announced the new retail and restaurant additions this afternoon, along with several other store changes. The mall is currently undergoing a $70 million renovation project that includes the new S. Hayes Street storefronts.

The full press release, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm 4,823 0

Eventide Restaurant in Clarendon (file photo)(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Don Tito is expected to open next week in Clarendon.

The “tacos, tequila and beer” spot will be opening in the former Eventide space at 3165 Wilson Blvd. Scott Parker, one of five partners in the business, says Don Tito should officially open to the public on Sunday, March 15, with a “soft opening” starting perhaps as soon as Wednesday, March 11.

Interior work is still underway, but should be wrapping up before the soft opening. The establishment’s exterior sign is expected to arrive this coming Thursday.

Parker says Don Tito will be different than A-Town Bar and Grill, the popular but sometimes rowdy Ballston bar that’s owned by the same group.

“[Don Tito] will have more of a lounge feel to it,” Parker said. “It will be a good place to have a good time and drink but it won’t be as much of a party atmosphere.”

He added that Don Tito will have a bit more of an emphasis on food compared to A-Town.

Parker said retrofitting the former Eventide space went “as well as could be expected.” Patrons can expect a “cantina look” inside, with a lot of exposed brick, wood grain and two bars on the rooftop.

The roof will open when the weather allows, he said.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,977 0

The former Blanca’s Restaurant at 2900 Columbia Pike may be getting a makeover in an attempt to attract a new restaurant tenant.

The aging, two-story structure sits on the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive, dwarfed by the adjacent Halstead apartment building. It has been vacant for years, despite the high-profile location across from the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse.

In recent years, the building has been toured a couple of times by potential tenants, including the owners of a popular north Arlington coffee shop and gathering spot, but the poor condition of the interior and other expensive challenges have been viewed as obstacles to opening in the space.

Now, we’re told, the siblings who own the building are planning to renovate in order to jump start the process of finding a tenant. Since December, Ramon and William Darcey have been applying for various building, electrical and other permits. So far, most of those permit applications have been rejected.

The permits detail ambitious plans to renovate the interior, expand the second floor, install an exterior staircase, set up a rooftop seating area near the rear of the building and remove landscaping in order to install ground-level outdoor seating. In September, the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board was briefed on the plans and offered design suggestions for keeping potentially historic elements of the Spanish Revival-style building in tact.

The building and property was assessed at $765,200 for 2015. Several “for lease” signs have already been placed outside the building and inside its windows.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 2, 2015 at 11:00 am 4,291 0

The future location of Park Lane Tavern on N. Irving Street in Clarendon The future location of Park Lane Tavern on N. Irving Street in Clarendon

A tavern serving European dishes, European beers with imported European furniture and European lighting fixtures plans to open in Clarendon this summer.

Park Lane Tavern has leased space at 1200 N. Irving Street, in the new Beacon at Clarendon apartment building. Owner Greg Knox said the third location of his restaurant — following openings in Hampton and Fredericksburg farther south — will be 5,000 square feet and unlike anything else in the neighborhood.

“I think it’s going to be pretty unique in that area,” Knox said. “There are a lot of quality places up there, but we’re going to stand out a little bit.”

All of the décor is imported from Europe and the menu items read like a tour through a culinary travel magazine — there’s fish and chips, Jagerschnitzel, salmon beurré blanc, bangers and mash, florentine stuffed mushrooms and pizza. Park Lane will serve a variety of European craft beer and have a “very extensive, high-end scotch and bourbon section.”

“We don’t call it a gastropub, but that’s what most people would identify it as,” Knox said.

Knox said Park Lane Tavern plans to open by August or September.

by ARLnow.com — February 26, 2015 at 11:15 am 2,481 0

"Grilling canceled today" (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Peter Chang Fast Casual Restaurant in Arlington — Chef Peter Chang, who has a large following in Northern Virginia, is in lease negotiations for the Oriental Gourmet space at 2503 N. Harrison Street. Chang hopes to open Peter Chang Wok, envisioned as a fast casual Chinese restaurant. Chang only plans to make “a few cosmetic changes” to Oriental Gourmet, which is still open, after taking over the lease. [Washington Post]

Cherrydale Plan Passes — Cherrydale has a new Neighborhood Conservation plan. The plan, approved by the County Board on Tuesday, calls for protecting trees, ensuring sidewalks are wide enough for strollers and those with disabilities, timely utility maintenance, more daycare opportunities and infrastructure for residents to age in place. [Arlington County]

Top County Staff Gets Raise — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday voted to give a 3.4 percent raise to the three county employees it’s permitted by law to hire directly: County Manager Barbara Donnellan, County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac and Clerk to the County Board Hope Halleck. The annual salary for Donnellan — who’s in charge of the county government and its more than 3,800 employees — will increase to $269,742. [InsideNova]

Abundance of Busted Pipes – This week Arlington County firefighters have responded to a steady stream of calls for busted water pipes in buildings around the county. “Please make sure you know where your water shut off is in case it happens to you,” the fire department tweeted. [Twitter]

Abingdon Street House Fire — Firefighters extinguished a small fire in the basement of a home on the 100 block of N. Abingdon Street on Wednesday morning. One person had to flee the home, reportedly while only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but no injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Court Ruling May Cost Arlington Millions — A ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court on a tax dispute in Arlington County may cost Arlington and other Virginia localities millions of dollars in lost business license tax revenue. The court ruled that companies with offices in multiple states may deduct certain out-of-state earnings from their license tax. [Washington Post]

GW Baseball Blanks Georgetown — In a chilly game at Arlington’s Barcroft Park that we previewed Wednesday, the George Washington University baseball team defeated Georgetown in a 3-0 shutout. [GW Sports]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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