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by Ethan Rothstein — April 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm 2,048 0

District Taco, the Mexican restaurant that started as a taco cart in Rosslyn five years ago, is coming back to the neighborhood.

Owner Osiris Hoil said he signed a lease today to occupy 3,000 square feet at 1500 Wilson Blvd, in a storefront across Clarendon Blvd from Starbucks. It will be a welcome sight to District Taco’s fans in the neighborhood, who haven’t been able to partake of all-day breakfast burritos and other favorites since the cart closed last year.

“Oh man, I’m super excited for this,” Hoil told ARLnow.com over the phone this morning, hours after finalizing the paperwork. “We have a lot of customers in Rosslyn that love us, and I’m excited to go back with them.”

The space will be District Taco’s seventh location, and he’s planning to sign leases for three more by the end of the year, including another one somewhere in Arlington. Hoil’s original brick-and-mortar store is still going strong at 5723 Lee Highway, he said, and the customer service and atmosphere there is what he tries to replicate at all of his shops.

“The Arlington location is the original, and that one works very well,” he said. “We are a young company, we’re very excited, and we have a lot of energy.”

The buildout of his locations usually takes about five months, Hoil said, putting the Rosslyn store’s opening on track for mid-September this year.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm 2,362 0

Another new pizza place in Rosslyn opened to the public yesterday.

Spinfire Pizza, at 1501 Wilson Blvd, is in the middle of a soft opening, training staff and preparing its 90-second, custom-made pizzas starting at 11:00 a.m. every day. It joins its neighbor just a few blocks away, Wiseguy NY Pizza, as new businesses opening this month serving the Italian staple.

The restaurant offers personal pizzas with up to four toppings for $8.99, and toppings range from pizza staples like pepperoni and mushrooms to Sriracha sausage, candied pecans and dried cranberries. It also make calzones, which, like the pizzas, are baked for 90 seconds in Spinfire’s custom, rotating oven.

The restaurant is owned by Paisano’s owner Fouad Qreitem and Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garçon. The co-owners will be in Rosslyn on April 30, when Spinfire holds its grand opening celebration.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 2, 2015 at 3:30 pm 2,476 0

Rosslyn’s only pizza-by-the-slice restaurant is now open, but only for lunch for the next few weeks.

Wiseguy NY Pizza opened quietly for lunch yesterday at 1735 N. Lynn Street, but by noon today there was a line out the door as owner Tony Errol’s sought after slices were being offered for half-off.

“We’ll get better,” a sweaty Errol told ARLnow.com as he and his new staff were deluged with customers. “We’re still training.”

Errol didn’t tell anyone he’d opened, hoping that crowds would be light to break in his new restaurant. That backfired, as Rosslyn’s pizza-starved lunch crowd learned of Wiseguy’s arrival. The pizza place will open for full hours and service on April 20, Errol said.

For now, Wiseguy is only offering slices of pizza, garlic knots and Junior’s Cheesecake, which is shipped from the legendary bakery in New York.

Wiseguy is not the only pizza restaurant to open its doors to the Rosslyn crowds this month. Spinfire Pizza, at 1501 Wilson Blvd, is planning to launch “early to mid-April.”

Spinfire — co-owned by Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon and Paisano’s Pizza owner Fouad Qreitem — promises to make its personalized, single-size pizzas in 90 seconds.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 2, 2015 at 10:00 am 4,002 0

Courthaus Social logo from Facebook

(Updated on 4/10/15) Velocity 5 in Courthouse has been closed for weeks, but this month it will be reborn as Courthaus Social.

The “American beer garden” concept at the sports bar space at 2300 Clarendon Blvd has been in the works for years, but owners Fito Garcia and Nema Sayadian are completing the final buildout now, preparing to open by the end of April.

“Courthaus Social is the perfect spot for a happy hour, a pit stop en route to the city or a final destination to spend an entire evening,” Garcia said in a press release. “Our beer garden is dedicated to remaining an establishment that delivers unforgettable experiences to every guest. Whether you live in Arlington or are here for a few days… Grab a boot and sip, savor, and share in the spirit of beer and great food.”

Velocity 5 in CourthouseThe opening has been pushed back from its original April 13 date, but the owners hope that by the end of the month Courthaus Social will be ready to go, serving two-liter boots and steins of 30 beers on tap, with long benches for social seating.

Sayadian told ARLnow.com that the interior will look wildly different from the Velocity 5 the area has come to know.

“It’s night and day, a 180-degree difference,” he said.

Garcia said the beer garden will have “life-size games” and will be community-focused, focusing on Virginia breweries and “humanely raised, free range” meats. It will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily.

Photo (top) via Facebook

by Ethan Rothstein — March 31, 2015 at 4:45 pm 1,165 0

Rolls By U in the Colonial Village Shopping Center Rolls By U in the Colonial Village Shopping Center

A new sushi restaurant appears to be moving in to the Colonial Village Shopping Center, next to the IceBerry frozen yogurt shop, at 1713 Wilson Blvd.

Rolls By U has put construction paper in the windows and simple signs on the door, with the business’ name, plus “where u create,” typed out on its logo.

The restaurant’s Twitter account has tweeted just twice, but its bio says “coming to Arlington this spring” and its second tweet includes the hashtag “#createyourown,” implying a do-it-yourself sushi concept.

When Rolls By U, does open, it figures to have some competition, with Kona Grill and Sushi coming in across the street and Cafe Asia and Kanpai serving sushi just a few blocks down Wilson Blvd.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 30, 2015 at 3:30 pm 5,680 0

(Updated at 7:00 p.m.) The Curious Grape, the wine bar and shop in Shirlington, closed Saturday night, but a new restaurant will be taking its place shortly.

Coming in to the location on 2900 S. Quincy Street will be Osteria da Nino Cucina Italiana & Bar, an Italian restaurant that plans to start its soft opening on Thursday, its owners told ARLnow.com today.

The restaurant is being launched by a pair of couples and helmed by Italian chef Nino Pino, who has worked at a number of restaurants in Northern Virginia, including Palio Ristorante in Leesburg. Crews will be working around the clock until Thursday night, when Osteria da Nino hopes to get in a few practice runs before a planned Easter brunch on Sunday.

The turnaround might catch some by surprise — many restaurant openings take more than a year in Arlington. Even more so because The Curious Grape had been a Village at Shirlington staple for more than a decade.

“As most people know, running a restaurant is really a 24/7 commitment,” Curious Grape owner Suzanne McGrath said in an email. “Actively managing the restaurant has also diverted my efforts away from wine education, which is really my career focus. We have so appreciated all the support of our loyal customers and the wonderful people who enjoyed The Curious Grape.”

Osteria is looking for waitstaff, bussers and kitchen staff to join the team immediately, and is asking those interested to apply in person.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm 4,118 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

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