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by Ethan Rothstein — November 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,182 0

The location of the former El Encanto Grocery Store, soon reopening as a Mexican restaurantEl Encanto Grocery Store, which has doubled as a Colombian restaurant, closed three days ago but is planning to reopen.

Going in its place at 85 N. Glebe Road, according to workers at the storefront this afternoon, will be a Mexican and Salvadorian restaurant. A sign hanging where the El Encanto sign used to be says “Jarochita #2 Mexican Grill, Panadería & Carnecería Coming Soon.”

The new shop will still have a grocery store and is not changing ownership, the workers said. They could not provide an estimate as to when the storefront would reopen.

Hat tip @TheMadameMeow

by Ethan Rothstein — November 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,867 0

4000 Wilson Blvd, the future home of Pepita, Kapnos Taverna and Yona (photo via Google Maps)Another restaurant owned by Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, but this one will be focused on ramen noodles and Japanese food.

The restaurant will be called Yona, and unlike the under-construction Kapnos Taverna and Pepita, Isabella won’t be found anywhere near the kitchen. Instead, Jonah Kim — formerly the executive chef at PABU Izakaya, now closed, in Baltimore — will bring his take on the traditional noodle dish to Ballston, with a planned opening in spring 2015.

“The restaurant is going to focus around ramen,” Kim told ARLnow.com today. “It’s like Asian comfort food. Noodles and broth, it’s the Asian spaghetti and meatballs. The perception of ramen is like the cheap college kid, that’s what you’re surviving on, but ramen is such a huge tradition in Japan.”

Jonah Kim (photo by Greg Powers)During the lunch hour — which Kim expects to be busy, based on the number of offices in the surrounding area — the menu will feature quick dishes and takeout. In the evening, the 1,500-square-foot space will become more of a sitdown restaurant. Kim said the number of ramen dishes on the menu will shrink and there will be more small plates available.

The restaurant will also have a full bar, with sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey, along with cusotm cocktails, Kim said.

While ramen has become a trendy restaurant specialty in New York, the District and even border jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, when it opens, Yona is believed to be the first ramen-focused restaurant in Arlington. Kim says Ballston is the perfect spot for it.

“I think the dining scene is definitely growing with everything else,” Kim said. “We’re about offering more choices to the neighborhood. I think the demographic there works for this kind of concept as well. I think that whole area is dying for more food, more dining options.”

Isabella is now highly invested in the area, and in a press release he said that Yona will be another component of bringing Ballston to the forefront of the restaurant scene in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“The Ballston food scene is growing as fast as its business district,” he said in the release. “By the time we’re done, Ballston will be the next dining destination for Northern Virginia and D.C.”

Photo (top) via Google Maps. Photo (bottom) by Greg Powers.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 19, 2014 at 11:00 am 2,328 0

Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is now open to the public in its newest Arlington location, on N. Irving Street in Clarendon.

According to the shop’s employees, yesterday was its first day in business. The store is the chain’s fourth in Arlington: it also owns storefronts in Rosslyn, Crystal City and Ballston.

The shop is on the ground floor of the new Beacon at Clarendon building, down the block from LeoNora Gourmet Bakery. There is no word yet on if the block smells like baking bread all day.

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,720 0

Stag at Arlington National Cemetery (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Japanese Noodle Bar Coming to Ballston — Yona, a new Japanese noodle bar and Korean-inspired small plates restaurant, is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. It will be the third restaurant from restaurateur Mike Isabella in the building. Isabella’s Kapnos Tavern is expected to open there next month and his Pepita cantina is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washington Post]

Leonsis Praises Ballston — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a big fan of Ballston, where the Capitals have their Kettler Capitals Iceplex practice facility. In a blog post responding to reports about the Wizards looking for a practice facility in either D.C. or Arlington, Leonsis wrote that “we feel fortunate that [the Capitals] ended up in the welcoming community of Ballston.” [Ted's Take]

Wakefield Wins First Playoff Game — The Wakefield Warriors football squad celebrated its first-ever playoff victory on Friday. Wakefield will next face undefeated Tuscarora in the second round of the 5A North Region playoffs. Washington-Lee and Yorktown both lost their first-round playoff games. [InsideNova]

‘State of Affairs’ Producer Lives in Arlington — Rodney Faraon, a father of three whose 14 years as a CIA analyst helped inspire the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” is an Arlington resident. Faraon serves as an executive producer on the show, which premiered last night. [Washingtonian, WNEW]

Plane Complaints Explained? — Over the past couple of years, numerous Arlington residents have made occasional complaints about hearing what sounded like a single-engine plane flying overhead for an extended period of time. At the time, there was no ready explanation for who or what might be flying around Arlington. However, some now think those planes might have been flying for a recently-revealed Justice Department cell phone spying program.

Soccer Tourney For At-Risk Kids — A 9th annual soccer tournament for at-risk kids was held in Arlington on Sunday. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — November 17, 2014 at 11:55 pm 7,669 0

"Don Tito" logo and partners“Tacos, tequila and beer” — that’s the quick pitch for the new bar that will be taking the place of Eventide restaurant in Clarendon.

Don Tito is likely to open in the 10,000 square foot space at 3165 Wilson Blvd by early March, according to Scott Parker, one of the establishment’s five partners. Construction is expected to start as soon as next week.

The restaurant will feature “flex Mex” cuisine — Mexican dishes plus traditional American fare with a “Mexican twist” — but the emphasis will be more on the aforementioned beer and tequila. A bar will be added to what is now a dining area on the second floor, and a second bar will be added to the center of the rooftop.

The partners in Don Tito are Parker, Nick Cordero and Mike Cordero — the owners of the popular but oft-maligned A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston — plus newcomers Ryan DeMagistris and Jason Fisher. All five are Arlington residents, Parker said.

The Cordero crew is on a roll since closing the financially-sound but stagnant Caribbean Breeze and reopening as A-Town in 2012. In addition to purchasing Eventide — for a sum just shy of $1 million, sources say – the company has also secured a 6,000 square foot space in Rosslyn for a bar/restaurant that’s expected to open in the fall of 2015, Parker tells ARLnow.com.

Parker declined to reveal additional information about the future Rosslyn watering hole, including its exact location.

The Eventide purchase will give its owners two big advantages, according to those with knowledge of the transaction. For one, the sublease offers five years of well below-market rent. For another, it offers a prime location in a Clarendon business district that’s well established as a nightlife spot — as opposed to A-Town’s location, where condo-owning neighbors have railed against late night noise.

Don Tito will remain open until 2:00 a.m. seven nights per week, according to Parker.

Parker said the partners were able to buy Eventide despite stiff competition from other restaurant owners, both local and national. The concept for Don Tito has been in the works for some time now, he said, and 3165 Wilson Blvd was judged the ideal place for it to open. In 2013, a Northern Virginia Magazine article about the opening of another Cordero restaurant, Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, described a planned Arlington venture that was then dubbed “Tacos and Beer.”

The owners of Eventide spent a reported $3 million constructing the restaurant, which opened in 2008. Parker said changes are necessary to “liven up the space and give it a little spark,” including renovations to the second floor which is “looking a bit too much like a monastery or something.”

Parker said he thinks Don Tito will compare favorably to what he described as an overabundance of American-style bars and restaurants in Clarendon. As for more direct competition, like nearby Mexicali Blues and Fuego Cocina, Parker said he and his partners are not too worried.

“Fuego is an incredible venue and we’ve been there many times,” he said. “Fuego is a great Mexican restaurant, [Don Tito] will be a great Mexican bar.”

by Ethan Rothstein — November 6, 2014 at 11:30 am 1,983 0

Citizen Burger Bar's location at 1051 N. Highland Street Citizen Burger Bar's location at 1051 N. Highland Street

Citizen Burger Bar, a sit-down, farm-sourced burger restaurant, hopes to open at 1051 N. Highland Street in Clarendon around the new year.

The restaurant announced in a press release that it expects to open “in about two months,” with a full bar and a large, open space with an open kitchen. The restaurant’s first branch opened in Charlottesville in 2012, and the Clarendon location will be its second.

“The idea is to broaden people’s horizons when it comes to simple, ‘classic American’ fare,” said owner Anderson McClure, an Alexandria native. “We want to serve great food and drinks, and do it in a way that might also change people’s perception and standards.”

The restaurant, according to a press release, will source its grass-fed beef, eggs, cheese and produce from farms in Virginia “each run with ethical, sustainable, free-range priorities.” All of the waitstaff will be trained to explain the origins of the menu and bar items. The restaurant says it will partner with “neighborhood bakers” for the bread used in its burger buns.

As far as the bar, customers can expect a rotating tap list and more than 100 bottles of beer, plus “cutting-edge craft cocktails and an upstanding wine list showcasing many Virginia wineries.”

There will also be flatscreen TVs throughout the bar.

The Charlottesville location was named the “best burger” and “best place to watch the game” in the 2014 edition of C-Ville Weekly, a Charlottesville magazine.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 29, 2014 at 3:45 pm 2,532 0

Lucky Pot, the Chinese and Thai restaurant in the new 1919 Clarendon Blvd building, is now open for business.

Lucky Pot opened last Thursday with its storefront on the Wilson Blvd side of the building, across the street from the Colonial Village condominiums. It’s owner Zhong Lin’s first restaurant after working in Chinese restaurants for more than 20 years, he said.

“I always liked to cook,” Lin said with a smile. “My friends were always very happy to come over to eat.”

In the first week of business, he’s sent out 12,000 menus to try to draw attention to his business, the second to open in the building, after a nail salon a few doors down.

The restaurant delivers and encourages online ordering (with a $15 minimum and $1 delivery charge). Lin said the Thai dishes, like Pad Thai and curry shrimp, are the most popular things on the menu, but he doesn’t have a specialty. “Everything’s good,” he said.

Lucky Pot opens at 11:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday and closes at 10:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2014 at 11:40 am 2,142 0

(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Bistro 360 quietly opened its doors two weeks ago for a soft opening, but word already has spread quickly.

Customers have trickled in to check out the new restaurant at 1800 Wilson Blvd, in the former Cafe Assorti space, while staff work to get operations running smoothly. The grand opening will be next Wednesday, November 5.

Long time Arlingtonian Art Hauptman owns the new restaurant, as well as Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe on Lee Highway. He noted the Bistro 360 space combines three different settings: a gourmet market, a bistro for more elegant dining and a wine bar for casual drinks and snacks.

“We’re trying to build on the success of Cassatt’s, but in a different format,” Hauptman said. “We want to bring some of the best items from many of the world’s cuisines to Arlington, just as we brought the idea of a New Zealand style cafe 12 years ago. One of the basic ideas is that travel affects food and we want to show that as well.”

Art’s brother, Bob Hauptman, said the diverse menu emphasizes Art’s world travel and includes something for everyone, at a good value.

“We like to say we’re ‘world’s fare at your door.’ You have stuff from around the world right here,” Bob said. “We know it’s different and we think it will work.”

French-born chef Jacques Imperato is an Arlington resident and helped develop the seasonal menus.  The bistro menu includes items like Asian glazed duck, tuna tempura, Turkish pide and a lemongrass pork chop. The wine bar serves nibbles like tomato and cheese croquettes, bay scallops ceviche and Georgian cheese bread with egg. Cheese and charcuterie are available in both the bistro and wine bar, as well as the market. The market also will sell some of Bistro 360′s freshly baked breads and small dishes that can be taken home.

The restaurant should add lunch and brunch soon, but right now will focus on dinner. There will be outdoor seating in the spring. Bob noted management also is interested in the possibility of delivery down the road — both for food and wine.

“Come in and give us a try,” Bob said. “Come and enjoy!”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm 2,968 0

Amsterdam Falafelshop, a fast, top-your-own-dish D.C. restaurant chain, is opening its newest location in Clarendon this afternoon.

The shop, in the former BGR: The Burger Joint space at 3024 Wilson Blvd, opens to the public at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, according to CEO Arianne Bennett, who was celebrating the new space with a friends-and-family lunch this afternoon. The location will be open until 3:00 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2:30 a.m Tuesdays and Wednesdays and midnight on Mondays.

The eatery has been in the works for months, and Bennett said her two D.C. locations — in Adams Morgan and on 14th Street NW — were fielding calls every day asking when her first Virginia shop would open.

“When we started doing tastings outside yesterday, there was a flock of people,” Bennett said. “People have been telling us they can’t wait until we open.”

The excitement is over a simple concept: a customer walks in and orders either a falafel sandwich in a regular or wheat pita, or a falafel bowl. They can then load up with toppings like hummus, cucumbers and onions, baba ghanoush, pickled beets and cabbage, cole slaw, imported pickles, pickled turnips and pickled cauliflower. A regular sandwich costs $6.55, a small costs $5.55, and both come with unlimited toppings. A bowl is charged by weight. The shop also serves Dutch-style fries and brownies.

“Our friends moved to Amsterdam years ago, and when we visited, there were falafel shops everywhere, like pizza places here,” Bennett said. “And everyone was topping for themselves, it wasn’t done for you. So we just wanted something like that.”

The walls are covered in paintings by G. Byron Peck, the lead artist for many wall murals in D.C. There are photographs on the walls and laminated onto the tables — Bennett said they are all vacation photos from her and her husband’s trips to Amsterdam.

The Clarendon shop is the first Amsterdam Falafelshop franchise owned by David Rosenstein, but he said he has a five-franchise deal and is looking more around the D.C. area for his next shops. He’s targeting Georgetown for his second franchise, but said he wasn’t sure about the locations for the other franchises.

“We’re going to take it one store at a time,” Rosenstein said. “We’re looking for the right combination of office, housing and nightlife, and in the right spot with the right people.”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm 3,614 0

The former owner of Kitty O’Shea’s in Courthouse is bringing a new Irish Pub to Arlington, this time along Columbia Pike.

Danny McFadden owned the Courthouse pub until it closed in 2011 and he moved it to Tenleytown after a dispute with the landlord, the Schupp Companies. He no longer owns the Kitty O’Shea’s in D.C., according to his business partner, Mike McMahon, and has thrown his energy into The Celtic House, the pub that is planning to replace Manee Thai at 2500 Columbia Pike.

McMahon, McFadden and a former chef at Ireland’s Four Courts are the three founding partners of the restaurant, McMahon told ARLnow.com today, and he said the pub should be open “within a few weeks.” A new bar is being built and the remaining work is “just cleanup and waiting for permits,” he said.

“We like the area,” McMahon said in his Irish brogue. “It’s upcoming and there are a lot of young people here.”

McMahon said between the three partners, they combine for more than 100 years of restaurant experience, almost entirely in Irish pub-style restaurants. He said the menu will be “very broad,” and feels there’s enough room for customers despite P. Brennan’s Irish Pub being just a few blocks away.

“We’re going for very traditional Irish food with some American dishes, too,” he said. “We want it to be welcoming for everyone, to bring their families, children, grandparents and the like.”

Hat tip to @EmmaK84

by Ethan Rothstein — October 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,233 0

Future Highline bar in Crystal City (photo courtesy Robert Mandle)The newest food and drink option coming to Crystal City, Highline, hopes to open by the end of the year.

The bar is opening in the former Bailey’s Pub space at 2010 Crystal Drive. It’s owned by Bedrock Bars, which also owns the Continental in Rosslyn, CarPool in Ballston and Buffalo Billiards, RocketBar and Penn Social in the District, among others. Highline would be Bedrock’s 25th restaurant.

“The number one thing people want in their community is a place beyond work and home — what we call the ‘Third Space,’” said Geoffrey Dawson, one of the bar’s co-owners. “We want Highline to be a place where people can literally and figuratively get outside of their box either to hang with friends, collaborate with colleagues or meet new people.”

Highline will consist of 7,300 square feet of indoor floor space. It is being imagined as a “neighborhood meeting house,” with whiteboards and post-its for business lunches and coffee meetings, and the capability to shift to a happy hour, relaxed feel in the evenings.

The concept isn’t yet complete, however. Dawson and his co-owner, Peter Bayne, said they plan on hosting “pop-up happy hours” throughout Crystal City to solicit ideas for the bar from the community. Bayne calls it a “crowd-sourced social space.”

“Highline will be uniquely designed for and unique to Crystal City,” Bayne said in a press release. “We want to hear from the people who work and live in Crystal City — find out what they want our space to offer.”

Highline plans to offer a selection of craft beers and cocktails, but there’s no word yet on how many taps the bar will have or if it will have the games like shuffleboard and skeeball that have become Bedrock’s other D.C.-area offerings’ signatures.

File photo courtesy Robert Mandle

by Ethan Rothstein — September 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm 4,200 0

Beacon at Clarendon West constructionA late night healthy food option could be on its way to Clarendon.

Toss’d, a new salad business, is planning to open in the ground floor of the new Beacon at Clarendon West apartment building near the corner of Washington and Wilson Blvds. The company launched a Kickstarter page this week to raise $50,000 to help with the cost of building the restaurant’s interior.

“I’ve noticed that the fast food salad industry is sort of at its infancy stages of growing, so I thought it was a good chance to enter the market,” Jason James, one of the restaurant’s owners, told ARLnow.com today. “Something we’re really trying to do is not just bring in the healthy concept of a salad shop, but something farm fresh and GMO-free.”

James said he plans to keep Toss’d open until 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, to serve as a late night option for the bar crowds in Clarendon. The location is less than two blocks from Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Spider Kelly’s, Mad Rose Tavern and O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub, among other popular watering holes.

“In Clarendon, there are 22 bars that are open, and when all those let out at 2:00 a.m., there are two places that people can get food,” James said. “There’s Goody’s Pizza and Bronx Pizza, so we thought we could be a healthy alternative. We’ll change up the atmosphere and music for late night crowd, and give them something different.”

James said the $50,000 Kickstarter goal — the funding round closes Oct. 25 – is just part of the investment that will go into the restaurant; he also has secured bank loans and private investors. He also said he’s using Kickstarter as a way to market the business. Another marketing strategy he plans to use: during Toss’d’s grand opening weekend, he plans to give away salads to residents and office customers in the area for free.

“We just want to get our name out there,” James said. “That way people can be excited for a new alternative to fast food in the Clarendon area.”

Toss’d is still negotiating the lease with the building’s retail manager, Asadoorian Retail Solutions, but once the space is confirmed, James estimates a four-month buildout period.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — September 26, 2014 at 9:00 am 1,377 0

A woman and her dog at last week's Pups and Pilsners event in Crystal City (Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon)

Cherry Trees Planted at Library — As part of its Neighborhood Tree Planting Program, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japan-America Society of Washington planted three cherry trees in front of Arlington Central Library yesterday. The program “is an effort to celebrate and share the gift of cherry blossom trees throughout the DC-metro region… and helps create new National Cherry Blossom Festival traditions beyond the Tidal Basin,” festival organizers said in a statement. [Facebook]

Whole Foods Deli, Chicken Counter Stay Closed — The main grocery store and much of the prepared foods sections at the Clarendon Whole Foods (2700 Wilson Blvd) are open following Tuesday’s fire, but county officials say the market deli and chicken counter will stay closed until the health inspector approves its reopening.

County to Consider Privatizing Volunteer Agency — Changes may be coming to Volunteer Arlington, the county’s volunteer agency. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan is establishing a new advisory task force “to look into whether Arlington’s volunteer office is the right business model to meet community needs.” The task force will consider whether outsourcing Volunteer Arlington “would enhance volunteer activity in the community.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Exceeds Kickstarter Goal — SER, the winner of Ballston’s Restaurant Challenge, has exceeded its $15,000 Kickstarter goal. The Spanish comfort food restaurant, coming to 1110 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, has so far raised $17,145. It also received a $245,000 interest-free loan as the prize for winning the Restaurant Challenge. [Kickstarter]

Arlington GOP Blasts Olympic Bid — Arlington Republicans do not share Democratic officials’ enthusiasm for the regional bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. “It’s not a great idea,” said local GOP chairman Matt Wavro, citing costs and security concerns. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon

by Ethan Rothstein — September 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm 857 0

Ben's Chili Bowl opens in Reagan National AirportReagan National Airport is not done adding outposts of popular D.C. restaurants; El Centro, Cava Mezze Grill and Lebanese Taverna are among the eateries expected to open by next summer.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates DCA and Dulles International Airport, announced today that it would be opening five new restaurants, including Kapnos Taverna, a Greek restaurant also planning to open in Ballston, and Clarendon’s upscale sports bar, Bracket Room.

The five eateries will go with recently opened Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafood, Vineyard Vines, American Tap Room and Pinkberry, plus under construction Taylor Gourmet, &pizza and Grille District as part of MWAA’s efforts to spruce up the airport’s food options.

“From the beginning of the Concessions Redevelopment Program at Reagan and Dulles, the Airports Authority has been committed to enhancing the passenger experience at both Reagan and Dulles,” Steve Baker, MWAA’s vice president of business administration, said in a press release. “Whether passengers are looking to recharge themselves or their cell phones, we are providing bright, enticing opportunities with exceptional service for our customers’ shopping and dining pleasure.”

In addition to the new food options, MWAA is planning to overhaul three food courts, at Terminal B (gates 10-22), Terminal B/C (gates 23-34) and Terminal C (gates 35-45). Each food court will offer “grab and go snacks,” alcohol and express eating options, like Say Si Bon Gourmet Market, crêpe shop Magic Pan and Asian shop Wow Bao. The food courts will be similar, MWAA says, to the larger redevelopment that is underway at Terminal A.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — September 18, 2014 at 9:20 am 1,202 0

Helicopter over the Key Bridge

Metro Work This Weekend — Arlington’s Metro lines will be impacted by significant maintenance work this weekend. Riders on the Orange Line should expect trains to run every 24 minutes, while trains on the Blue Line will run every 20 minutes. The Yellow Line, meanwhile, will only run between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square. [WMATA]

Bracket Room Expanding to DCA — Bracket Room, the upscale sports bar in Clarendon that opened last summer, is expanding with locations in Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. “The two new restaurants will mirror the Arlington location’s upscale, stylish environment complete with infinity-edge televisions making it the ideal spot to grab a meal and watch a game while waiting for a flight,” according to a press release. No word on an opening date. [PRWeb]

Library Lit Ball Will Have 007 Theme — Library boosters Friends of the Arlington Public Library are planning a James Bond theme for the group’s second annual “Lit Up Ball” fundraiser. The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 at Artisphere and will benefit the library’s early literacy initiatives. Tickets are $30. [Friends of the Arlington Public Library]

Clarendon Apple Store Camper — Someone is already camping in front of the Clarendon Apple Store, in anticipation of tomorrow morning’s launch of the iPhone 6. [Twitter]

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