The Washington Post is out with a list of the “40 dishes Washingtonians shouldn’t live without in 2013,” and apparently the region can live without most food in Arlington.
Of the 40 restaurants and dishes, the Margherita DOC pizza at Pupatella (5104 Wilson Blvd) was the only Arlington original to make the list.
Also on the list was the Kufta sandwich at Astor Mediterranean, a D.C. restaurant that has a satellite location in Arlington at 2300 N. Pershing Drive.
Alexandria and Falls Church each tallied two restaurants on the list, which was compiled partially via suggestions from Twitter using the “#40Eats” hashtag. The vast majority of the list featured restaurants in the District.
Adam’s Corner, a hookah lounge and bar at 2319 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, closed its doors over this past weekend.
It’s unclear why the local watering hole, which also served as a Red Sox and Patriots bar, closed. One business owner on the block said Adam’s Corner was evicted, though that could not be independently confirmed. The interior of the restaurant appeared to be largely empty this afternoon.
The building in which Adam’s Corner was located is set to be torn down to be replaced with a new 8-story office building, displacing the three remaining restaurants on the block: Listrani’s, Thai at Corner and Taste of Tunisia. The business owner said he does not anticipate moving out to make way for construction until next year. A construction timetable could also not be independently confirmed.
One tipster suggested that Adam’s Corner, which opened in 2010, lacked a core brand identity.
“I guess the Red Sox theme coupled with jazz and hookah didn’t pack them in,” the tipster said.
Earlier last month, before the closure, one customer lauded Adam’s Corner on its Facebook page, calling it “probably the only bar in Arlington that even knows how to chill the hell out and relax.”
The restaurant, at 2155 Crystal Square Arcade, was not visible from the outside; it was entirely inside the underground Crystal City Shops, and thus got most of its business from lunch-goers who work in the area. The closure comes as Crystal City faces higher office vacancies and fewer workers as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). As of January, almost 20 percent of Crystal City’s 12.5 million square feet of office space was vacant.
The McDonald’s space is expected to be used as art studio space as part of the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s new “Art Underground” initiative. The project, set to launch on March 16, is intended to transform “five blocks of Crystal City’s interior retail space into a vibrant arts and cultural destination with galleries, studios, interactive exhibits and activities, performance and classroom spaces, and a host of special events.”
The space will be run by the Arlington Artists Alliance and will be open to local artists who are looking for a space “to create, practice and showcase their talents.”
“We’re extremely excited to transform the underground in a way that we think is active and fresh, and really activates the retail space and gives people a reason to come to Crystal City,” said BID president Angela Fox.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Closed restaurants dominate the list of meals tax delinquencies in Arlington County. The latest list, from December, includes only 3 currently-open restaurants among the 23 that owe the county more than $10,000.
(Meals tax delinquencies are often accrued when restaurants collect a required tax on food from customers but then fail to pay the collected funds to Arlington County.)
The open restaurants on the list include Extra Virgin (4053 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington, which has been gradually paying off its debt. The restaurant now owes the country $38,402.12, down from $54,568.51 one year prior. Also on the list is Monuments Restaurant (2480 S. Glebe Road), a restaurant in the Comfort Inn hotel on Glebe Road near I-395. Monuments owes $27,722.09 according to the list, which is published by the county treasurer’s office. Village Bistro (1723 Wilson Blvd), located between Rosslyn and Courthouse, is listed as owing $19,614.13.
Among closed restaurants, the former Bebo Trattoria owes $173,716.28, up from $167,366.79 last year due to interest. Bebo owner Roberto Donna is currently the chef at Al Dente restaurant in D.C., and is planning to helm a second restaurant in the District soon. By court order, he is paying the county $500 per month.
The second-highest meals tax debt to the county is $121,126.93, which is owed by the former Eleventh Street Lounge in Clarendon.
Christopher J. Sadowski, Arlington’s Deputy Treasurer for Litigation, says the county is trying to collect its debts, even from the owners of closed restaurants. He said the Treasurer’s Office has an “increased focus on and aggressiveness in collecting delinquent meals taxes.”
“Clearly, older debts are harder to collect, and the likelihood that assets and responsible parties can be located decreases the longer a business has been closed,” Sadowski said. “The Treasurer, however, does not give up on or forget about any delinquent account (though we do allocate our resources and efforts as appropriate). As evidence of that, we are now receiving payments from some long-closed restaurants near the top of the list for the first time in years due to recent collection efforts by this Office.”
“Now, do I think that despite our very best efforts, some of those delinquent accounts and dollars will go uncollected?” he continued. “In reality and unfortunately, yes.”
Sadowski said the county is also proactively trying to prevent other restaurants from falling behind on their meals tax payments.
“We do not allow restaurants to fall behind, or at least not very far behind, in remitting their meals tax payments,” he said.
The delinquency list (above $10,000), after the jump.
Rabbit Closing — Just days after telling ARLnow.com he had reduced hours to lunch only, the owner of Rabbit Salad and Grill (3035 Clarendon Blvd) in Clarendon has apparently decided to completely call it quits. The restaurant will close on Friday to make way for Fat Shorty’s, a beer and sausage restaurant. The new restaurant is expected to open in early April. [Washingtonian]
Carlee Becomes Charlotte City Manager — Former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee has taken a new job as the city manager of Charlotte, NC. Carlee had worked for Arlington County for 29 years, but left in 2009 for a job with the International City/County Management Association. Carlee’s new salary is reported to be $290,000 per year, a 15 percent increase over his predecessor’s salary. [Charlotte Observer]
Chuck Todd to Give Marymount Commencement Address — Chuck Todd, Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, will give Marymount University’s commencement address this spring. He’ll speak at D.A.R. Constitution Hall on May 19, the same day the University will award Todd the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his career in journalism.
Concern Over Unlicensed Cabs — County Board members voiced concerns about reports of unlicensed taxis operating in Arlington. They asked county staff to investigate the issue and report back. The Board oversees the county’s taxi business by allotting a fixed number of operating certificates and regulating fares. [Sun Gazette]
Sun Gazette Office Moving — Today is moving day for The Sun Gazette. The paper’s office is being relocated from Springfield to 6704 Old McLean Road in McLean. The move is intended to put advertising and newsroom offices in the heart of the paper’s coverage territory, which stretches from Arlington west to Great Falls and then south to Vienna and Oakton. [Sun Gazette]
Rabbit first opened in the summer of 2011, offering salads, sandwiches and dinner plates. It was formerly open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week. It also experimented with late night food options for Clarendon bar-goers.
Rabbit is now open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“We have gone to a lunch-only schedule for the next few weeks during the cold winter days,” Gordon told ARLnow.com. “We will re-evaluate [our] schedule for Rabbit soon.”
Hat tip to @ChrisKinard
This is a column just begging to get picked apart. I could mention a Peruvian chicken place and start a war between the Super Pollo fanatics and Pollo Rico acolytes. Name a kebab joint and the Ravi rowdies will have at it with the Kabob Palace crazies. I came up with the idea for this column, then thought to myself: Maybe this is a bad idea.
What the hell. Anything that gets us all talking more about the places in the community we value is a good thing. And to beat the commentators to the punch: This is an absolutely biased list. Our bias.
The fact is we in the industry don’t go out to eat much. Between long hours, late nights and tight budgets, most servers, bartenders and cooks don’t have a lot of time or money for dining out. That said, there are a few spots in the county where you are almost guaranteed to run into the server who took care of you the night before. These places tend to be cheap, casual and almost always have a bar. At many the food is terrific; at others, the drinks are the draw.
What follows is a list of our crew’s favorites. Most are close to work, and there are no doubt many great places not mentioned. This is not supposed to be a comprehensive list, nor a list of the best spots; it’s just our list.
El Charrito Caminante Taqueria
First off, it’s closed on Tuesdays. I have no idea why Tuesday, but I guess they have to close sometime. The parking is tough and the service attentive but, um, brief, and there may be no better place that fits the descriptor “no frills,” but the tacos here are the best. It’s cheap, fast and authentic, and since it’s right on my way to work, I often stop to pick up a bag of tacos for the gang. Other than the namesake product, go for the Yucca con Chicharron–salty fried pork cubes with crispy yucca–and an orange soda. Oh, and bring cash.
Service with a smile? Don’t count on it. And if you really appreciate the sumptuous decor at Eventide, then drive right by this place. But the pho is incredible, the portions huge and the prices cheap. And if you have a double shift ahead, you can order a Vietnamese coffee which will have your heart surging out of your chest by the time you leave.
Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) is expanding. The Courthouse-area watering hole has closed temporarily as a result of the construction.
The restaurant is expanding about 35-40 feet — into an empty, adjacent space — and adding 20-25 seats as a result. The larger space will also allow Wilson Tavern to expand its food menu, according to owner Reese Gardner, who also owns The Mighty Pint and Irish Whiskey Public House in D.C.
Interior work is expected to wrap up tomorrow, and Gardner is hoping to reopen by 4:00 p.m., in time for the Clarendon/Courthouse Mardi Gras parade. Wilson Tavern is planning a Mardi Gras party tomorrow night, and a Valentine’s Day party on Thursday night.
When it first opened in 2011, replacing the former Kitty O’Shea’s, Wilson Tavern emphasized its chef-created food menu. Thanks in part to the small space and high overhead costs, the restaurant struggled to return a profit. Several months after it opened, Gardner bought Wilson Tavern from the original owner and in May 2012 relaunched it — without a chef — as a more alcohol-centric bar. Now, he says, the expansion is allowing him to invest more in food.
Wilson Tavern’s drink options will remain the same after the expansion. The bar has 10 beers on tap, including 5 Flying Dog drafts, and serves 16 ounce cocktails, which Gardner credits with helping him attract a younger, fun-loving demographic.
Photo courtesy @dylanbarlett
A fryer caught on fire around 3:45 Monday afternoon, according to fire radio traffic. Thanks to the restaurant’s hood system, the fire was contained and quickly extinguished once firefighters arrived on scene.
No injuries were reported.
The restaurant was temporarily closed pending a health inspection and any necessary repairs, we hear. No word yet on when it will reopen.
Last summer, a technician suffered burns at the restaurant while repairing its fryers.
(Updated at 8:55 p.m.) Rhodeside Grill (1836 Wilson Blvd), in the Courthouse/Rosslyn area, will be closed for much of the week for “major renovations to the upstairs bar area.”
The renovations will include an extension of the bar, a new beer cooler which will accommodate a larger selection of bottled and canned craft beers, an expanded “cocktail area,” a new tap handle display, and a refinished bar top, according to Jacob Hamblin, the restaurant’s social media manager.
Rhodeside closed last night at midnight, following the Super Bowl, and is expected to reopen on Thursday.
The changes suggest that the owners of the 16-year-old restaurant believe it will be around for some time to come. Eventually, however, Rhodeside is set to be demolished as part of a planned expansion of the next-door National Science Teachers Association office building. The development was first approved by the Arlington County Board in 2005, but a construction timetable has not yet been set.
In 2011, Rhodeside co-owner Wilson Whitney told ARLnow.com that he expects that Rhodeside will re-open in the new building once it is built.
“This has been arranged but [we] do not see it happening any time soon,” Whitney said.
Photos courtesy Rhodeside Grill
Are doughnuts the new cupcake?
I have to confess that writing that line has me shaking my head. If you think restaurant professionals understand every trend, think again. A lot of us have no idea where this stuff comes from (although the nexus for the most avant garde trends seems to be Brooklyn).
While Arlington is rarely the birthplace for the latest and greatest, we certainly seem to have a knack for embracing what is once it gets here.
Temples to the cupcake trend have popped up everywhere in the DC area, with multiple cupcakeries within blocks of each other, celebrity visits (Suri Cruise, no less), and even cupcake-based TV shows. Who saw that coming? Nobody, frankly.
So how long does the trend last? Forever? Another year? I thought cupcakes would come and go a couple years back, but I was clearly wrong. And who’s to say they won’t be here forever? After all, hamburgers were a fad at one point.
But a threat has arrived: America’s breakfast workhorse is on a tear. No longer the exclusive domain of Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme, doughnuts have been popping up on menus everywhere—and not just at breakfast. Two places that are set to make waves this year are GBD (Golden, Brown, Delicious) in Dupont and Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken near Metro Center. The former is the latest from local trendsetters Neighborhood Restaurant Group (of Tallula and Rustico fame) while the latter is the brainchild of two local boys, one of whom (Jeff Halpern) recently played for the Caps.
It’s taken about six months of construction and renovations, but O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3207 Washington Blvd) is ready to unveil its expansion.
The bar has taken over the space previously occupied by Fragrance World and Sam’s Corner. Owner Anselm Griffiths said there are still about two weeks worth of small projects to accomplish before the bar is considered finished.
Griffiths and his wife, the bar’s namesake Karen O’Sullivan, have owned the business for about seven years and have been interested in expansion nearly from the get go.
“I think we’ve had our eye on the little fragrance shop since we moved in,” Griffiths said. “When the space became available we were very happy to grab it up.”
The new space has been converted into a whiskey bar, with room for table seating. Bartenders will serve up more than 100 brands of whiskey, along with an expanded selection of tap beers.
“We definitely wanted to have a second bar to give us the ability to do private functions, which is something we’ve been turning away since we opened,” Griffiths said. “We think whiskey is sort of a great niche to get into, it’s definitely trending right now. I think a lot of the young people are getting back to more classic drinks.”
Much of the menu will stay the same for now, but there will be an effort to incorporate more of the whiskeys into sauces.
Despite the new bar, extra seating and additional restrooms, management wants customers to know O’Sullivan’s largely remains the same.
“We’re still keeping the character of O’Sullivan’s. It’s a family owned bar, that’s how it’s going to stay,” said General Manager Patrick Doody. “We will preserve the atmosphere that’s been really successful for us. That’s not going anywhere, we just have an extra room. What made us a really good local neighborhood Irish bar will stay the same.”
The exterior has been restored to how the building looked in the 1920s.
“Arlington County had a lot of say in the design of the exterior because the building was marked for historical preservation,” Griffiths said. “It was fun working with Arlington County on that. We spent a little more time and money, but it is really neat to restore the building.”
Tonight there will be a “soft opening” for invited guests, but the public will be able to get a peek at the changes on Thursday (January 31). An official grand opening celebration is being planned, and will feature a buffet and live band. An announcement on the date for that event is forthcoming, but it’s expected to be in about two weeks. Until then, the managers hope people come in to check out the upgrades.
“We’re looking forward to the new challenges of the new whiskey bar. We’re looking forward to more regulars, more people coming through the doors,” Doody said. “O’Sullivan’s is staying the same, it’s just getting a little bit bigger.”
This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.
Question: I know this is a bit outside the scope of real estate, but my husband and I just moved to Arlington from the west coast and are looking for some insider tips on places to eat. What restaurants should we try?
Though this doesn’t have much to do with real estate, it is a subject near and dear to my heart, so why not…
Pupatella is a great new addition to Arlington. Every town has to have a go-to pizza place and the competition has heated up in Arlington. What can I say, I love the authentic brick oven pizzas and the charm of this little spot. I recommend eating there so your pizza is straight out of the brick oven.
Mala Tang serves Chinese hot pot, which I recommend trying at least once. It’s the Chinese version of fondue. I usually order the spicy Mala broth (mild and vegetarian available). I recommend the lotus root, watercress, king mushrooms, fish balls and Mala beef. As for the sauce bar, try the Chinese BBQ sauce with cilantro and chili peppers. It’s a very different kind of dinner experience.
Ray’s The Steaks and Ray’s To The Third are worth a visit. Either one is sure to satisfy your carnivorous cravings, but Ray’s The Third includes a more casual menu. They aren’t fancy, but the food is better than any of the big name chains that come to mind. They are located along Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. Sorry, they don’t have a website.
El Chilango Truck is a food truck that sits on the north side of the Route 50 access road near Queen Street in Courthouse. If you can’t find it, ask anyone in the area and they should be able to point you in the right direction. It’s hard to find good Mexican food in Arlington, but El Chilango is legit.
The Italian Store has become a landmark in Arlington. So much so that you need to take a number when visiting, regardless of the time or day. But, it’s worth it. Start with any one of the sandwiches and I’m pretty sure you will be back for further exploration. My latest trick is buying their pre-made pizza dough to make my own pizza at home.
Crisp & Juicy is one I almost left off, but I have at least a dozen friends who would be upset if I did. You can smell the charbroiled chicken from a couple blocks away. The fried yuca is awesome. As is the chimichurri sauce.
I’m hoping there will be some commenters who are willing to share their favorites…
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The restaurant has been seeking a live entertainment permit since last spring. The permit, which would allow live music and dancing, has proven controversial with neighbors, who cited problems with noise, violence and public drunkenness at the location in the past. The Board twice deferred consideration of the permit last year, each time asking the owners of Pines of Italy to do more outreach to neighbors.
According to county staff, that outreach has still not occurred. While staff is recommending another deferral, the restaurant is apparently asking for the Board to vote on the permit once and for all.
From the county staff report:
The County Board considered this request at their April and September 2012 meetings, at which the County Board deferred consideration of the use permit due to concerns about Police issues and insufficient outreach to the community. The applicant was directed to establish communication with the community and to work with them on addressing their concerns. The applicant requested a deferral from the December 8, 2012 County Board meeting to the January 26, 2013 meeting with the intent that additional meetings would be scheduled to continue to work to a resolution on issues related to noise and crime impacts. Sufficient outreach has not been completed by the applicant. The intent of scheduling a meeting in December was to organize a representative meeting in which nearby residents and civic association members could discuss specific mitigation measures by which the applicant could implement to address ongoing issues. This meeting did not occur. The applicant does not agree to defer and wishes to be heard by the County Board in January. Staff is recommending that the County Board defer this request for two (2) months to allow sufficient time for the applicant to hold a meeting, which has not been scheduled as of the date of this report, with the Arlington Heights Civic Association to work through ongoing issues. Staff further recommends deferral to allow sufficient time to evaluate the applicant’s outreach and to ensure that issues have been addressed to the extent possible.
Hello ARLnow readers! I have been a fan of this site since its earliest days, and I am now proud to be a contributor. I am amazed at the dining public’s bottomless appetite for content about restaurants and food culture. As an operator, I think this is great, and the attention certainly contributes to every operator’s success. However, there does seem to be an occasional disconnect between the dining public and restaurant professionals. I hope to offer a bridge between the two by providing an insider’s perspective on trends and issues that pertain to our business. And since I am a local, and this is the most local of websites, it will have an Arlington twist.
To kick things off, I’ll take advantage of the New Year theme and start a discussion about one food trend that should be of great interest to many who live and work in Arlington. In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss other trends and give you a chance to get your burning restaurant questions answered in a live Q&A.
Food Trucks: I’ll Skip the Politics, Thanks
Ahhh, the food truck: bringing funky food to the cubicle masses in guerilla form. What an idea, albeit an old one in Arlington. Ever had a pupusa from the trucks that hover around our construction sites? Tasty. The concept has been around forever. Nonetheless, the convoys roaming the county now represent a huge trend, and it’s growing. The Post just ran a piece recalling that during the 2008 inaugural there was one food truck operating in DC. One. This year, there are over 100. Thirty of them will be there to feed the inaugural masses today. For our recent holiday party, in fact, we hired a couple of trucks to camp out in the alley behind Spider Kelly’s for our staff to enjoy, including Big Cheese (I recommend the “Thrilled Cheese”) and District Taco (the carnitas is a favorite).
But for the consumer, the question remains: How many trucks can the market reasonably sustain? Business Darwinism will cull the herd in 2013 for two reasons. First, just because it’s on a truck with a cool paint job doesn’t mean it’s great food. Sometimes it is, sometimes it ain’t. There are only so many spots they can park in, and the service window is short. The ones that don’t truly offer something special will fade out.
Second, sometimes people want to sit down at a table inside to eat, even at lunch. Even if they don’t, most eaters assume that by sacrificing the comfort of a chair and a plate, they’ll receive a commensurate decrease in price. However, price points on these trucks can rival or exceed the restaurants they’re parked in front of. This again raises the bar for the food inside the truck: If it’s not better, cheaper and more convenient, customers will seek a spot that is. Is it worth it to squat on a curb for your meal if what’s inside that foil wrapper is just mediocre?
You, the dining public, will decide their fate with your wallets. Will there be 100 trucks prowling at noon this time next year? I wouldn’t bet on it.
In 2013, will you be visiting food trucks as often, more often or less often than you did in 2012? Let us know in the comment section.
I look forward to hearing from all of you, and if you ever want to come by to share your thoughts with me in person, pull up a barstool at Spider Kelly’s or Eventide and let me have it. But please, buy a drink first.