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What Will Replace the Pike’s La Cabana Restaurant?

by ARLnow.com October 5, 2010 at 3:54 pm 3,596 64 Comments

Several months ago, La Cabana restaurant, on Walter Reed Drive next to the Arlington Drafthouse, boarded up its colorfully-decorated windows and locked the doors.

Since then, despite the increasing foot traffic in the area and the continuing revitalization of Columbia Pike, leasing agents have struggled to find any restaurants that want to move in and fix the place up.

Bizarrely, public records show that a company applied for a liquor license at this address in July. But leasing agent Ray Leverty said the space is vacant and still up for lease.

The area is ripe for another food and drink option. What would you like to see open up here?

  • YTK


  • Shippey

    With all the burger love coming to Clarendon, how about one over on the Pike??? A new Rays is probably pie in the sky, but maybe the Latin-friendly Rogue States…

  • Lou


    • Neighbor

      Please no. That would be too perfect and my waistline can’t handle the deliciousness.

  • Frenchy B

    I’d like to see the Cowboy Cafe (or something similar) back in the ’04.

  • Jay

    El Pollo Rico!

  • Christine

    I’d love a cafe in the neighborhood.

  • G. Clifford Prout

    Trolly ticket sales office?

    • South Arlington

      GREAT KNEE SLAPPER G. CLIFFORD PROUT!!!!!! You really showed them with your biting humor! I especially liked your clearly intentional and ironic misspelling of trolley. Very meta of you. The county board will take notice!

      • G Clifford Prout

        After my 2nd half R/E taxes I couldn’t afford to buy vowel.

        • Neighbor

          Sounds like you could use a government handout for your vowel addiction.

  • Clarendude


    Make it happen and I will move to ’04

  • South Arlington

    I’m with FrenchyB, a return of Cowboy Cafe would be fantastic. I would actually also love to see some type of fast casual place, maybe a Nando’s Peri-Peri or a Rogue States type burger place except with beer also.

  • Chris

    I only hope that whatever takes its place won’t serve as a de facto DC-Miami tour bus station as La Cabana did. For those who have tried to park behind the restaurant to pop in to Matuba/Maruko or other joints, you know what I am talking about.

    • Katie

      yea, that was odd.

  • Jason

    South Arlington needs a Chipotle. A Faccia Luna Pizzaria would also be great on Columbia Pike or in Shirlington.

    • Katie

      No, not with Lost Dog across the street, and more fast-foodish pizza places nearby.

  • Bringmetheyuppies

    How about a really excellent deli? OY I would kill for a good corned beef sandwich. I would also vote very heavily for a starbucks. No more hispanic oriented places. Keep it euro centric, plenty of spice on the pike we need some american restaurants. ( before you flame I mean flavorful meals for those of us who don’t like pepper)

    • Katie

      I agree with the deli idea–or sandwiches at least. If there was a place open for breakfast (good breakfast), they’d make a killing. There is nothing around like that–Rappahannock (sp)isn’t making hot food. How about a 2nd Earl’s?

      I’d also love a bookstore cafe, a community-friendly spot to wander to in the evenings that isn’t a bar.

      • Arlingtonian

        Hey, that sounds awesome! Count my vote for a bookstore cafe!

    • HP2000

      I’ll settle for a Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop… yum!

  • Arlingtonian

    Anti-chain snob here. Let’s see a local business or small local chain rather than another Starbucks or Chipotle, please. Besides, there’s a coffee and sandwich shop right down the street that’s way better than Starbucks.

    • Yellow Submarine

      We need a bagel shop! Or a great pastry shop! Or a shoe shop!

  • I don’t know what it is with that space. For as long as I have lived here (more than 15 years) no restaurant has made it in that location. I’d like to see a really good coffee house. Not Starbucks. Something with bagels, pastries, some food, free wifi and nice ambiance. Someplace to really hang out in the neighborhood.

    • HP2000

      They Chinses place in there was fine and was there a long time. The lady who owned it was a real character. But then she took an extended trip back home and the place went downhill so fast… not sure if she ever came back, but the last time I got food from there is was SCARY.

  • Donna

    Agreed with Arlingtonian – Rappahannock Coffee already does the trick. I’d like to see something fresh, like a Sweetgreen, or a really good bakery.

  • Steve

    I want a Roy Rogers! Oh wait…I dont live downthere anymore. Nevermind!

    • Lou

      There are a few Roy’s still in the area. And I hear Gino’s is franchising again.

  • Chris Slatt

    I’d love to see an Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt place – we don’t have anything like that in the area! Barring that, a Deli or some other cheap but good food place.

    • Jack

      we have the weird baskin-robbins inside the gas station.

  • Ron Carlee

    How about a museum for old County Managers. The list is growing quickly.

  • Ron Carlee

    BTW/ I am not the real Ron Carlee. So I wouldn’t qualify to be in the museum, but the real Ron would. Sincerely, Not Ron

  • Black Flag

    I agree with Arlingtonian, more local local business or small local chain. Please, no more starbucks or chipotle. We already have enough in the area.

    Go check out

    El Charrito
    2710 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201-1939

    • Brandon C

      El Charito’s the bomb. It’s the only place left that can feed 2 people a giant meal for under $10.

  • Brandon C

    The comments here are both wholly depressing and hilarious. If people want Starbucks, Chipotle and other purveyors of genericness to our humble Pike-town, I swear, I will burn those motherf**kers to a cinder, just like Starbucks burns their coffee. Why can’t we just have *gasp* a new cheap Peruvian chicken joint that serves the cravings of modest-income folks… WHICH IS WHAT THE F**KING PIKE WAS FULL OF UNTIL YOU GODDAMN YUPPIES SHOWED UP! WHAT? WAS CLARENDON FULL??? SOUTH ARLINGTON NOT HAVE ENOUGH BROWN FLIP FLOPS?

    • Carol F

      I agree with the comments above (minus the profanity) that the Pike doesn’t need any more chain eateries. We have enough of those in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor if that’s your craving. Let’s support a local business–how about a branch of the Italian Store? Or a great NY-style deli, as suggested above? Another local coffee shop to give Rappahannock some competition and a reason to polish up its act? Think outside the box. The Pike is unique; let’s keep it that way.

    • Marteste

      Excellent idea. I think putting a peruvian chicken place at a location where a peruvian chicken just failed is great business sense. Brandon C. – you don’t get a vote since you would rather let local restaurants fail and then burn new places. Good luck with all of that.

      • Brandon C

        Someone needs a lesson in sarcasm.

        But if you really want to talk about “failed businesses,” we don’t know why La Cabana closed – unless you know something we don’t. It might be that they didn’t promote their business enough through print and local media or some kind of personal reason – it was a family-run place after all.

        What I find detestable is your implied statement that if a local business fails, then anything like it is unsustainable unless it’s a chain. There’s so many factors you are failing to acknowledge when it comes to running a business. Go to Del Ray and explain to me how all the independent shops & restaurants sustain themselves. I’ll wait.

    • Neighbor

      Columbia Pike has the lowest end chains (Papa Johns, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, even 7-11), so I wouldn’t mind seeing some higher end chain establishments move in the neighborhood. And, a local non-chain establishment isn’t always better either. There are a number of reasons why people love eating at Chipotle including quality of ingredients and consistency of product. Maybe we should just call a truce and let the building go vacant? At least letting the building go vacant would save the county some fire department and justice system dollars when this whack job is arrested for arson.

      • HP2000

        Speaking of higher end… how is that wine place doing?

        • Neighbor

          I’m not really sure. I hope it’s doing well though. I’ve seen some decent sized crowds in there on Mondays.

        • Chris Slatt

          Middling – some days there is a good crowd, other days it is dead.

  • South Arlington

    Can someone just convince Brooklyn Bagel to open a South Arlington location here?

    • Neighbor

      Now that is a great idea! Although, someone needs to convince them to improve their coffee – pretty poor, in my opinion.

  • Not Ron Carlee

    Brooklyn Bagel – now there is a great idea. Pike Bagels, or Bagels on the Pike… or Bagels, papusa, and empenada joint. Now we are talking.

  • Black Flag

    yeah, for under $10 dollars, two people can eat good. Pupusas, tacos, yuca, and the veggie burritos, good food. All home Salvadorian food.


    • South Arlington

      The owner is actually from central Mexico, explaining why his tacos and torta are so tasty.

  • jorge

    There’s a macdonald arou the corner, there’s a new pickey bar across the street catering to the yuppies formerly from Kansas. Adding a chipotle or starbucks? There’s a starbucks down the street. The reason cabanas failed is because management was terrible. Pike is unique, keep it ythat way another cheesecake factory will brimg more morons, I can feel the residential idiocy when I drive by eventide off route 7.

    • South Arlington

      a.) Eventide isn’t on Route 7 or even close to it.
      b.) “residential idiocy” makes no sense.
      c.) I haven’t found P. Brennan’s to be very “pickey”, in fact, I think they’d be happy to welcome in anyone they could find judging from their empty tables and grossly overestimated square footage.
      d.) Not that I want one put in, but the nearest Starbucks is in Pentagon City or between Clarendon and Courthouse.
      e.) Being realistic, La Cabana is about 1000-1500 sq ft at most. Pretty sure a behemoth like Cheesecake Factory that will draw in Fairfax County yahoos enjoying a big night on the town isn’t being put into the La Cabana site.

  • Black Flag

    Yeah, Jorge is right about that, management was terrible. The food was good, but the service was not. But, for awhile they did have the place packed with Peruvian families. It was sad to see it go.

    Now, I go to La Granja De Oro for Peruvian food in Falls Church


  • Josh S

    I’d vote for a cafe. I’m a steady Rappahanock customer, but they are truly not living up to their potential. Whenever the inevitable Starbucks comes into the neighborhood, they’re going out of business fast. In the meantime, maybe someone else can figure out how to run a neighborhood cafe with better food and better coffee. Also, I don’t get the love for Bob & Edith’s. The food is decidedly mediocre and the decor / cleanliness is poor. Do we have a nice, homey cafe for good breakfast ANYWHERE in Arlington?

    No chains, please. Rather keep the money in the area.

    • Arlingtonian

      The food at Bob & Edith’s is just okay, although their home fries are bangin’. But I love the atmosphere.

  • Dale

    Rumor has it that Taqueria Poblano wants to put its 3rd location there but negotiations have dragged on for a while.

    • Chris Slatt

      If that comes to pass, I hope it is more like the Del Ray location and less like their underwhelming Lee-Harrison iteration.

  • BigSexy

    DR DREMOS!!!!!!!!!DREMOS!!!!!!

    • Brandon C

      For the love of God, yes. Right next to the Drafthouse would be the ultimate it awesomeness.

    • dpan

      Personally, I’d rather see Dremos in the Kayak Station location.

  • Neighbor

    I’m not a Starbucks fan, so no love there, but I agree with many of the ideas here: a bagel place, a diner-ish place (like Luna, perhaps), a dessert or ice cream place, a coffee house that is open in the evenings – where a person could linger with a cup and a book; a good deli. On a different note, has anyone heard if there’s any chance of bringing a hardware store back to the Pike? If the Pike is really going to have a neighborhood, don’t-need-to-drive feel, it would be awesome to not have to schlepp up to Cherrydale Hardware or Home Depot to get hardware stuff. Just my 2 cents.

  • Black Flag

    We used to have a hardware store for many years. Then the new condos were built and pushed out the hardware store on that block. Now, you can buy another pizza at LOST DOG CAFE.

  • dpan

    People, people, people…. This is where District Taco SHOULD have set its roots. Maybe that’s a new angle for CPRO and restaurant development on the pike: Hey all you awesome food trucks! Open your brick and mortar joint on the Pike!

  • the doctor

    Dremo’s looked at the kayak station (5 yrs ago) but there is not enough parking for restaurant use. Would anybody support a Dremo’s on the pike? It doesn’t seem like the “bustling nightlife” crowd has made it down to the pike yet.

    Big sexy, do we have mutual twin friends?

    • eee

      I vote for the video store space (Hollywood?) on the corner of Glebe and the Pike would be awesome for Dremo’s part II!!! Or what about the old furniture store space for rent a few doors down from Bob & Edith’s? There’s parking behind it.

  • spacechild

    While Brandon is getting a bit aggro here, I agree with him. Why would we want more crappy chains sucking the charm out of our neighborhood?

    All of you people clamoring for a Starbucks.. take a moment and realize that the cost of living in our neighborhood is already about to take a huge leap. New condo buildings, an increase in chain stores, and major plans for developing the neighborhood? Do you all realize how much our rent is about to go up?

    We have, and are quickly losing, a charming, affordable chunk of Arlington with wonderful small businesses like Abis, the LA bar, and La Cabana (the loss of which I grieve, as my wife and I have enjoyed many an affordable and tasty meal there).

    Starbucks is a soulless corporate entity. Yes, I sound like some dirty hippie, but still.. You may love their product, and that’s fine (I had Arby’s for dinner, for pete’s sake), but understand that developers will see a Starbucks in the neighborhood as a justification to charge $200 or more EXTRA per month in rent. Also, the Rappahannock will go under. No doubt. That is the Starbucks M.O. Move in, kill the competition, then close the extraneous Starbucks stores they saturated the area with. I would know, I’ve worked for them.

    No other major chain is any different. Let’s say a Quizno’s moves in. There goes Atilla’s, or that Pakistani joint that opened a few blocks up the Pike.

    Meanwhile, Penrose becomes the next “up and coming” neighborhood and we all get priced right the hell out of it. It becomes a lame clone of most of the rest of Arlington and I’ll see you guys in whatever part of NoVa we can still afford to live in.

  • Andrea

    The area needs a good bakery like Heidelberg bakery.


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