ABBIE Award Winners Announced

by ARLnow.com November 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm 9,573 97 Comments

The 2011 winners of the Arlington’s Best Business Awards (ABBIES) were announced at this afternoon’s County Board meeting.

Out of the several dozen nominated local businesses and organizations, the following won in their respective categories after voting by the public:

  • Best “Bargain” Restaurant: Lost Dog Cafe
  • Best Boutique: ShoeFly
  • Best Brunch: Carlyle
  • Best Place to Care for Your Pet: Dogma Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique
  • Best Community-Based Nonproft: Arlington Food Assistance Center
  • Best Customer Service: Circa
  • Best Place to Dance the Night Away: Clarendon Ballroom
  • Best Dessert: Heidelberg Pastry Shop
  • Best Family-Friendly Restaurant: Lost Dog Cafe
  • Best Happy Hour: Whitlow’s on Wilson
  • Best Late Night Spot: Bob & Edith’s Diner
  • Best Place to Learn Something New: Arlington Public Library
  • Best Neighborhood Bar: Ireland’s Four Courts
  • Best New Business: District Taco
  • Best Performing Arts Organization: Signature Theater

Out of the 15 categories, 10 had the same winner as last year.

  • Josh S

    How do you get nominated, again?

    • Line5

      Online voting

      • oops

        I read that as “online vomiting” which sounds like a good thing to do at Clarendon Ballroom

        • Arlingtonian

          And is probably done there very often

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    Heidelberg is all show and no dough (Saturday Wurst Cart excepted). Their desserts and pastries look great but are average. Randolph Bakery, on the other hand, is outstanding.

    • Hattie McDaniel

      I couldn’t agree more. Heidelberg is like Ben’s Chili Bowl…everybody says they like it just because everyone else says so.

    • PCity

      I’m tempted to try this Randolph bakery, but their italian pastries look limited…and their cannolis are filled with “REGATTA cheese.” (http://www.pastriesbyrandolph.com/italian-pastries.htm) Um…

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        I’d overlook that if I were you. Certainly if you get one of their cakes you will not be disappointed. Haven’t had their cannolis, but I’d be willing to give them a shot!

      • KalashniKEV

        What better to serve afloat at my “Boats and Hoes” party?

        • Finehoe

          Can I come?

      • shirley

        heidelberg is all smoke and no content.
        Another great Arlington institution because there are only a few bakeries in Arlington. they are good at serving American shlock-baked goods. It wouldn’t survive a day in any other place.
        Person is right — everybody says it is good because that is “what you are supposed to do”
        when in fact it sucks.
        Randolphs is the best. I’ve emptied out my ashtry looking for money to go in there — my favs are the almond croissants (always sell out, hint) and they cakes are excellent.
        Oh yeah, the staff actually cares too.
        Oh yea, the owners actually care too.

    • Jessie

      Ditto. Heidelberg was such a disappointment.

    • Jerry

      I agree with Randolph.

    • Fred

      Another “vote” for Randolph. We had a very small wedding and got one of their specialty cakes (Truffle – absurdly fantastic). The people that were there still talk about the cake years later.

    • yep uhuh

      Randolph’s is really great, but so is Heidelberg.

      You just have to go for the right things at the right place – Randolph’s is best for the Frenchified cream-filled puff pastries, and Heidelberg is better for strudels and big chewy pretzels, breads and cookies. And wurst, yum.

      We’re lucky to have both – most areas don’t have anything as good as either.

    • charles

      Agree. Randolph is better.

  • shirley

    how about favorite county board member? (we can’t choose among the five at any one time)
    favorite staff member?

    • disenchanted

      Paul Ferguson.

  • yequalsy

    The link for last year’s winners just circles back to today’s article.

    • Line5

      That’s the joke!

      • disenchanted

        lol! good one. save the results link for next year too. It’s too boring and difficult to make it look like these results are not hand picked by the same fools who are hand picked by the same fools.

    • That’s odd, sorry about that. Fixing it now.

  • Chris M.

    I like lost dog, but I would not call them a bargain restaurant

    • Arlingtonian

      I was wondering about that myself. Great food and service, but nope, not a bargain restaurant.

      • Southeast Jerome

        Yeah – I used to love Lost Dog but I am a little over it. Its filled with children that are loud and smelly. I think its better to get the food from there to go or to go later at night.

        • Skeptical

          I’ve never been able to get past the door of Lost Dog because the sound of all the children screaming beats me back, and now the Thai place next door, which I used to love, feels like they have to compete so they tolerate the same behavior. I haven’t wanted to go back since I had to reprimand a kid for running constantly in and out between the legs of waiters carrying hot food (her parents weren’t willing to do anything).. Can’t someone promote a “family-unfriendly” restaurant for next year’s awards?

          • Brandon C

            The L.A. Bar would win most family-unfriendly every year. It’s a stacked contest!

          • CW

            I love how in Arlington, “family friendly” means “You don’t have to discipline your kids”.

    • Aaron

      Lost Dog is certainly an excellent value at happy hour, which is the only time I ever dine there. They could charge Pete’s prices the rest of the time and they’d still be a bargain to me.

    • Jerry

      I second that. Try Linda’s Kitchen on Lee Hwy in Garden City area for “real french frys” from unfrozen potatoes, not something in a bag from some distributor somewhere. Scrambled eggs that start as real eggs, not poured from a pitcher, and hambergers with fried buns. Also good milk shakes. Taste is good, and food is cheap. No alcohol, so good for kids, but not a dress up place.

      • Arlingtonian

        Well you’ve got me convinced now that my mouth is watering all over my keyboard. I’m going to check that one out pronto.

      • Food E

        Where is Garden City?

        • The A-R-L rules!

          Linda’s is on Lee hwy east of George Mason drive…roughly across the street from Dominion Lighting.

        • BethM

          The dive-y little stretch of Lee Highway between George Mason Drive and Edison Street (Dominion Electric). It also includes the neighborhood north of it, but the odd assortment of shops are what most people call Garden City.

    • Vicente Fox

      Uncle Julio’s is supposed to be a bargain restaurant as well. I guess some people have more money than sense.

    • cat

      The last time I was at Lost Dog, the staff appeared to be high and almost forgot to serve us our food. Have not been back since.

      • Lou

        Pretty much has always been their MO. When I used to hang out at Luna the Lost Dog staff would come down after their shifts to drink, since I don’t think Ross let them drink at their own bar. After a while we’d head out to the field behind the building and smoke. If there was a band playing, they would sometimes join too between sets. Good times.

  • The ABBIES Are Rigged

    ShoeFly is a horrible store. The service is rude and inattentive and they never have any sizes in stock. How they beat out Current and Covet is beyond me.

    • Mike Oksmal

      Covet is awesome. Sabrina got robbed!

    • Not a boring dresser

      Agreed on Shoe Fly but Current is SO VANILLA in their styles.

    • Tabby

      Could not agree more!

      The sneering, good God, the sneering.

  • ArlingtonChick

    I’ve had nothing but bad service at Circa. So I’m trying to figure out how they won too. Odd.

    • OX4

      I agree 100%. We got so tired of waiting on our waitress that we had to estimate the bill and leave cash. I’ve never been back.

    • Maria

      I’ve never eaten dinner, but I’ve always had good bar service. Very nice guys.

  • Okay, I admit, I am biased but biased or not Covet is the best boutique hands down. (No offense to ShoeFly.)

    • SomeGuy

      “No offense to ShoeFly.” You might want to throw in an “Imma let you finish” and something about how Beyonce should have won.

      • The A-R-L rules!


        I’m glad to see District Taco and AFAC get acknowledged, though!

    • dk

      What is this Covet of which you speak?

  • Bargain hunter

    El Charrito has to be the best bargain restaurant around. No offense to Lost Dog, which has great food and a nice menu.

    • Brandon C

      Agreed. Fresh food and you can stuff two people for less than $10.

      • Chris G.

        great food? wow, you must really have low standards if you call Lost Dog “good food”. Maybe good dog food. For what you pay, you get mostly bread and cheese, no real quality subs. The fries suck, the kids are loud and disgusting. It’s like Chuckie Cheese, and thinking they have good pizza. I want to know where is Sauca on the list?
        That place is delicious and a great bargain.

        • Brandon C

          Someone needs to go back and read the thread. We were talking about El Charito.

          • Brandon C

            ergh, NM

    • Tabby

      Pedro and Vinny’s.

    • CW

      +1 to El Charrito, though to be fair, for all the times I’ve eaten there, I’ve never stopped by El Chilango and given it a shot.

  • OX4

    I also can’t figure out why Carlyle keeps winning best brunch year after year. Do people really love paying $17 for a brunch plate?

    • The A-R-L rules!

      I have been to Carlyle for brunch and it was ok. I would take a breakfast taco from District Taco over 99% of the brunch places in Arl. any day.

  • I was very pleased to see a prominantly placed Abbie at Virginia Hospital Center, one in the Outpatient Rehab. Dept., and another (seemingly bigger) version in the main lobby. So why aren’t they listed among the recipients? If there are more in and about VHC, kudos to these winners as well and thanks to all.
    Arlington is so fortunate to have a medical center of this caliber close by.
    And PS to comments re Arlington Public Library, it rocks and deserves many Abbies.

  • KalashniKEV

    This list… is just incorrect.

  • Sheila

    Carlyle’s food actually is quite good for a chain. I’ve been eating there since they opened. While the crabcake eggs benedict is excellent, there are many lunch/dinner dishes which really tilt the scales.

    • Lady Liberty

      But in which direction?

    • porkchop_milkshake

      Talk about damning with faint praise. It’s better than McDonald’s, sure. But I’d put it about middle-of-the-pack for comparably priced chains.

  • Don Ager

    lost dog’s pizzas are tasteless. Other than their good reputation with animal rescues I just don’t see it as very good.

    • porkchop_milkshake

      The pizzas are OK, but there are many in Arlington that are better. I really like the sandwiches and the beer selection, and the prices are good on both of those.

    • bringmetheyuppies

      I agree. Was so happy when they came to the pike as I used to love the other location. Maybe it was the atmosphere. They glammed this one up for mostly cheap parents who let their kids run wild. And the minimum on delivery means you either have to load up your pizza or order extra food so you don’t feel ripped off. On the bright side I am glad it is here so the rest of the new restaurants on the pike can serve mainly adults willing to spend a few bucks on a decent meal.

  • Coco

    I think Pie-tanza has it all over Lost Dog, any day. Their salads, and everything else for that matter, are wonderful and service is beyond good.

    • porkchop_milkshake

      I dunno… Pie-tanza has better salads. Lost Dog has slightly better pizza and much better sandwiches. And Lost Dog’s beer selection is excellent, while Pie-tanza’s is completely nonexistent. Lost Dog is also cheaper. Overall, I’d rate Lost Dog both a better bargain and a better meal.

  • porkchop_milkshake

    Carlyle for best brunch?? It’s not vomitous, but it isn’t very good and it’s very expensive. Better brunches I can name off the top of my head: Tallulah, O’Sullivan’s, Whitlow’s, Cowboy Cafe, Thirsty Bernie, Crystal City Sports Bar, Rustico. And that’s without thinking very hard about it at all.

    • PikeHoo

      Agreed. Liberty Tavern and Whitlows both have solid brunches that I thought would have given the Carlyle a run for their money. I’d rather make my own bacon and eggs and pocket the savings, but that’s just me.

      • OX4

        I would add Iota to the list. Awesome brunch and even awesomer coffee.

    • Tabby

      Arlington Rooftop has wonderful brunch food. Odd set up re: service though

  • Arlington22207

    I am shocked that ShoeFly won an Abbie- over COVET? Wow! Who voted? Covet is an great, independent and original boutique, whereas ShoeFly is, well, just so-so… With that result, the results seemed rigged.

  • Bobin

    I agree, Randolph’s is far, far better than Heidelberg.

  • David

    How does Lost Dog win “Best Family-Friendly Restaurant” when it doesn’t have a kids menu? Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite for being nominated!?!?

    • Sam

      Really? Come on. Your kid can’t eat a piece of pizza or a sandwich? French fries? Milkshakes?

      Does every restaurant really need to have chicken fingers and mac and cheese in a special section of a menu in the event mom and dad can’t make their kids eat what is put in front of them? Or share part of their food if the kid won’t eat much?

      • Chris G.

        agreed, the whole menu @ Lost Dog is a kids menu. Just ask for half an order or bring in an even number of rugrats.

  • Steve

    What about best local news website? ARL would sweep the awards!

    • Thank you!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I second it! ARLnow is excellent!

  • Brandon C

    Clarendon Ballroom is the best time for dancing the night away, if by “night” you mean “ability to consent to being finger-banged behind the fire exit” and by “away” you mean “wake up with a strange rash and a “I *heart* Tucker Max” tattoo” on your ass.

    • Chris G.

      jeez Brandon, are speaking from experience?

  • Chris G.

    Clarendon Ballroom…. best place to get your ass kicked for being a drunken toolbag fist pumping in brown flip flops

  • Bruce

    I’m sorry, but AFAC for best nonprofit? Really?

    Here’s the deal: a community nonprofit is supposed to serve the COMMUNITY. The people who can actually afford to live in the community, who pay taxes and who will remain regardless of the existence of any particular community nonprofit, government handout, etc.

    Now, if AFAC didn’t exist, would their “clientele” remain in the community? I think not. They’d wind up in PW County or in Southeast or something. And that would hurt the community…how, exactly? In other words, if you UN-build it, they WON’T come.

    On the other hand, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington serves people who actually LIVE in Arlington. Who spend money in Arlington. Who add to the aesthetic in Arlington. I can’t tell you how helpful they have been when I have asked about adoption policies, or when my partner and I have had run-ins with joggers over our dogs, or what have you. For AWLA to lose out on the nonprofit ABBIE to a group that COSTS the County in so many ways is, well, kind of sad. I’m sure NovaSteve, Kalashni-KEV, and so many others agree with me. Too bad the ABBIEs are based on votes from the same minions who cause the contamination of our County Board. Oh well…

  • Always Right

    Interesting results!

  • Frivolous

    Rustico has the best happy hour by far

    • CW

      Can you remind me what their happy hour is since for some reason the Commonwealth of Virginia does not believe that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is inapplicable to American business owners wishing to tell other Americans of their happy hour specials? Thanks. (I’m being serious btw…)

      • CW


  • ThirstyVA

    If we’re talking real pizza, Pupatella has Lost Dog beat any day of the week, except for Sunday and Monday when Pupatella is closed. Lost Dog does have a great beer selection, but so does the K-1 Beer and Wine down the street.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Truer words have never been spoken. Pupatella rocks. I just wish it were bigger, with more seating!

      • CW

        And open at times when individuals might wish to dine there.

        • JamesE

          and more than 3 parking spaces

          • Maria

            and lets you order less than a whole pizza.

          • Quoth the Raven

            That’s a function of the Neapolitan style, so that’s probably not something they can change. Buying out the halal butcher next door and expanding – that is something they can do!

    • Chris G.

      +1 on Pupatella. Italian Store is pretty good, Pete’s is OK, and Fireworks is really good. Lost Dog, no thanks.

  • The Gov..

    Best Neighborhood Bar: Ireland’s Four Courts…. REALLY?!?

    Did Arlnow get a free happy hour outta this? Cmon, been living in Arlington for 15 years and can think of 7-8 better neighborhood bars. I’m partial but Carpool is best neighborhood bar around, show me another bar with more local regulars…

    • To be clear, we don’t run the ABBIE awards, we’re just reporting on who won.

  • Ned Scharpf

    I eat their donuts EVERY Sunday at church, and they are awesome.


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