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Valentine’s Day cookies from Village Sweet bakery in Arlington (file photo)

Arlington has plenty of dimly lit, romantic restaurants and charming, cozy local spots suitable for a date night.

Whether you’re hoping to share a bowl of noodles “Lady and the Tramp”-style, split a slice (or whole pie) with a partner, or would rather skip straight to dessert, these local spots have you and your loved one covered for Valentine’s Day next week.

Don’t want to venture out on Feb. 14? Stay in with take-home treats from your favorite local spots suitable for solo diners, a duo or even with a group of friends.

1. Village Sweet

5872 Washington Blvd, Westover

We’re starting with dessert on our romance roundup. Begin your Valentine’s Day with the sweet smell of croissants, cookies and other Valentine’s Day treats at Village Sweet Bakery.

The bakery’s holiday offerings are available now and include a royal wedding layer cake, “brown sug’ah” cupcakes with spiced graham buttercream, strawberry and black velvet swirl loaf and chocolate snacking cake with Irish coffee buttercream. Place your order ahead of time or stop by and peruse all of Village Sweet’s offerings.

Surreal is opening in Crystal City in the fall (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

2. Surreal

2117 Crystal Drive, Crystal City

Step into a garden-like oasis for a dinner experience suitable for both singles and couples at Surreal, a gourmet diner that opened late last year in Crystal City. Surreal is offering a three-course Valentine’s Day menu for single diners starting at 7 p.m. in the private dining room. For couples, Surreal is open for both lunch (12-2 p.m.) and dinner (4-10 p.m.) with creative favorites like chocolate lava cake service and the crispy tuna poke pillow.

Reservations can be made on Surreal’s website.

Interior of WHINO in Ballston (Photo courtesy of Timothy Yantz/WHINO)

3. WHINO

4238 Wilson Blvd., Second Floor, Ballston

Step into the colorful and carefully-curated WHINO, a restaurant, bar and art gallery where you and your valentine can peruse art and the menu. This year, WHINO is offering a special Valentine’s Day dinner menu on Wednesday, Feb. 14 from 5-10 p.m. The menu has not yet been made available, but WHINO’s current menu can be found on its website.

Reservations can be made online.

Some dishes on the menu at Padaek (courtesy Noh Leftovers)

4. Padaek

2391 S. Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge

Elevate your dinner experience with a five-course chef’s tasting menu this Valentine’s Day at Padaek, which opened last fall in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center.

Inspired by Chef Seng Luangrath’s 35-year marriage, the menu of Southeast Asian dishes include goong nahm paa (Argentine red shrimp with chili garlic and lime sauce), pak naam (flash-fried sweet potato leaves with tamarind sauce), gaeng som (chicken consommé, Chilean sea bass, pickled lime, roasted cherry tomatoes and smoked hot pepper), and kanom soat sai (steamed sticky rice cake stuffed with caramelized shredded coconut and coconut cream).

The dinner is $89 per person. Reservations are required and can be made on Padaek’s website.

Ambar in Clarendon

5. Ambar

2901 Wilson Blvd., Clarendon

Looking to share new experience this Valentine’s Day? Ambar is offering a Valentine’s Day feast of traditional dishes from the Balkan Peninsula, prepared with a modern twist. The dinner features small plates including spreads, charcuterie, soups and salads, seafood, dessert and more to share.

The Valentine’s Day menu is $94.99 per person (tax and gratuity not included) at Ambar Clarendon. Pre-selected cocktails are priced at $0.99 per drink and featured beverages include an Ambar Old Fashioned, mango lemonade, margarita, kiwi smash, red punch sangria and a variety of wine and beer. Ambar’s Valentine’s Day menu will be available exclusively on Wednesday, Feb. 14, from 4-11 p.m.

There is a 2-hour time limit for all parties. Reservations can be made on Ambar’s website.

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Chip City Cookies has opened its doors in Clarendon.

According to the general manager, the grand opening Friday was successful with folks waiting in the snow to take a peek at the new sweets shop.

“We had a line out the door on Friday while it was snowing,” she said. “It was crazy.”

The Clarendon location at 2700 Clarendon Blvd is the cookie business’s first foray into Virginia, though Chip City is in the midst of a big expansion effort overall in the D.C. area and across the country.

Known for its large, gooey 5.5-ounce cookies, Chip City has a rotating weekly menu of 40 different flavors, including the classics, chocolate chip and triple chocolate, and more inventive flavors, from cannoli to horchata.

There are two dairy-free options: chocolate chip and a rotating flavor.

There’s no shortage of cookies in Arlington. Captain Cookie and the Milkman opened a location in Courthouse earlier this year while Crumbl Cookies is planning to open this spring at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. There’s also delivery-only local cookie purveyor MOLTN.

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Sign for new Crumbl Cookies store in Pentagon City (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Crumbl Cookies has its sights set on opening another location in Pentagon City, but the scent of freshly baked cookies might not fill the air for another year.

The new Pentagon City cookie outpost will be located on the ground floor of the 11-story, 253-unit Milton building at 1446 S. Grant Street — the second apartment tower in the multi-phase Pentagon Centre shopping center redevelopment.

Currently, a “Coming Soon” sign adorns the storefront window.

“The Pentagon City store is currently still in the early stages of construction,” Beth Baty, a Crumbl spokeswoman, told ARLnow. “It is tentatively set to open sometime in December 2024 or January 2025, although that is subject to change depending on construction times and supply chain.”

This expansion comes on the heels of another Crumbl Cookies set to open in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, along Langston Blvd, later this year.

Crumbl, known for its elaborate designs and flavors, such as confetti milkshake and blueberry muffin, initially planned to open the Lee Harrison location this past fall. Baty confirmed the opening was rescheduled for this February or March.

Crumbl will join at least three other businesses at the base of the Milton building: Yunnan by Potomac Noodle House, Sparkle and Pop Nails and First National Bank.

That leaves space for two fast-casual restaurants and one full-service restaurant, according to a leasing map.

Hat tip to @CartChaos22202

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As Christmas draws near, local bakeries are whipping up festive desserts to celebrate the holiday season.

Bayou Bakery at 1515 N. Courthouse Road is offering holiday-themed desserts until Christmas Eve. Its holiday menu features items like peppermint bark and the Creole Kringle cake, featuring Chef David Guas’ Creole take on a cream cheese filling and topped with a praline glaze and roasted pecans.

The New Orleans-themed eatery — well-known for its Mardi Gras desserts — also has seasonal pies, including roasted sweet potato and bourbon chocolate pecan pies, available. Those looking for something savory can pick from “ready-to-geaux” dishes, including blackened turkey mini-meatballs, buttermilk biscuits and cornbread muffins.

Bayou is encouraging customers to place orders at least 48 hours in advance. The deadline for holiday orders is next Monday, Dec. 18, with pick-up available next week starting Wednesday Dec. 20 through Christmas Eve.

Bayou Bakery isn’t the only spot for holiday pies in Arlington. Acme Pie Company in Penrose and Livin’ The Pie Life in Glebewood also have a range of specialty holiday pies and desserts.

Located at 2803 Columbia Pike, Acme is taking pre-orders for its apple, mince, pecan chocolate maple, pumpkin with candied ginger and sour cherry pies. Orders can be picked up beginning next Friday, Dec. 22 until Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as stated on their website.

Livin’ The Pie Life at 2166 N. Glebe Road has closed online orders, though pies — including a peppermint chocolate mousse option — can still be purchased in-store starting tomorrow (Wednesday) until Saturday, Dec. 16. Orders pick up again next Wednesday through Saturday, Dec. 20-23, while supplies last.

The ‘Pie Life’ weekly menu varies, but common items include Rice Krispy bars, ginger molasses cookies, pecan pie and a strawberry lemon bakewell tart.

Photos (1) and (2) via Bayou Bakery/Facebook

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(Updated on 12/4/23) Chip City appears to be on track to open its first Arlington location in Clarendon as early as next month.

The New York City-based cookie shop announced earlier this year it planned to open two new locations in the county: at The Crossing Clarendon, at 2700 Clarendon Blvd, and the Village at Shirlington, at 4014 Campbell Avenue.

The Clarendon location is currently undergoing renovations and an electrician was on-site installing hardware when ARLnow stopped by last week to take a peek.

While an exact opening date has still yet to be confirmed, Theodore Gailas, the company’s co-founder and chief brand officer, told ARLnow that the Clarendon location is likely to open between “late October” and “early November.” Gailas noted Shirlington location is still slated for “early January.”

“That is of course you know, assuming no surprises,” he said.

Known for its large, gooey 5.5-ounce cookies, Chip City has a rotating weekly menu of 40 different flavors, including the classics, chocolate chip and triple chocolate, and more unique flavors, from cannoli to horchata.

If the Clarendon location opens this fall, as projected, patrons may get to squeeze in a seasonal pumpkin spice latte cookie.

The weekly cookie rotation at Chip City (via Instagram)

Chip City’s move into Arlington is part of a 40-store expansion in the D.C. area and across the country. This includes a Bethesda location Gailas also says could open in “early October.”

But Chip City will have some competition as cookie stores continue to gain popularity locally.

Captain Cookie and the Milkman opened in Courthouse earlier this year. Crumbl Cookies has plans to open this fall at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. And delivery-only local cookie purveyor MOLTN Cookies also operates a ghost kitchen in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.

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A Panera Bread appears to be moving into the old Cosi location in Ballston, according to online permit records.

The permit, filed with Arlington County, describes the work as “interior alterations for new tenant fitout for restaurant Panera Bread.”

The restaurant will take up 3,426 square feet of space at the former Cosi outpost at the base of an office building at 4250 N. Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station.

A call and an email to Panera Bread were not returned before deadline.

Despite multiple locations within close proximity in D.C., Arlington is home to only one Panera outpost, in Rosslyn. Others ring around the county in Falls Church, Bailey’s Crossroads and Alexandria.

Cosi, the fast-casual restaurant chain built on flatbread sandwiches, closed up shop in Ballston in December 2019. Its locations in Crystal City and Virginia Square followed suit in early January of 2020.

The closures occured as the company filed for bankruptcy protection. A Rosslyn location continued operating as the sole D.C. area outpost on this side of the Potomac River until closing in early 2021.

Hat tip to Leslie K.

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(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Fans of the New York-based bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr can now enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at its offshoot in Crystal City.

The restaurant at 1550 Crystal Drive broadened its menu offerings this past Thursday — two years after opening with a more limited menu of pastries, baked goods and coffee drinks.

The Crystal City outpost was initially supposed to serve breakfast through dinner, though those plans were derailed by Covid, co-owner Michael Reginbogin told ARLnow.

Since the bakery opened a year into the pandemic, when most workers were still remote, he and his partners chose to stick to baked goods — including donuts some say are New York City’s best and Oprah-endorsed pastries.

“We scaled the menu to a bakery only because the guests just would not have been there enough to enjoy them,” Reginbogin said.

Thankfully, he said, the café survived Covid and, with the expansion, can cash in on the return to in-person work and the recent opening of the first phase of its Arlington HQ2.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

Mah-Ze-Dahr, rechristened Mah-Ze-Dahr Café, now serves bread pudding french toast, salads, sandwiches, quiches, steak frites and more, all day long.

Reginbogin said Mah-Ze-Dahr Café had a successful (re)opening day last week.

“Everything has been going well. We have already sold out of a few items. The demand is definitely there,” Reginbogin said. “The all-day flexibility of the new menu seems to be hitting a homerun with locals and office workers returning to the area.”

No changes to the space were necessary beyond hiring more staff to serve more customers, Reginbogin said.

Across the river in D.C., Mah-Ze-Dahr has a bakery and a bistro called Bistro Du Jour, according to its website.

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(Updated at 1/2/24) The new Crumbl Cookies coming to Lee Harrison Shopping Center hopes to be fully baked by Spring 2024.

The franchised cookie bakery is moving into the former Starbucks space at 2441 N. Harrison Street, next to the Wild Birds Unlimited store. The coffee shop closed in 2019.

The cookie shop is scheduled to open sometime between February and March of this year, Crumbl’s PR team told ARLnow.

It was first reported in June 2022 that Crumbl was making its way to Arlington, joining a cadre of cookie shops across Northern Virginia owned by Paukstys and his team. That includes bakeries in Falls Church, Reston, and Vienna.

But this location stands out because several of the owners grew up within a few minutes walk of where the new Crumbl is going.

“We are primarily a women-owned company. My wife grew up in Arlington and her aunt’s house, who also is a [co-owner], lived just down the street,” Paukstys said.

The Arlington territory initially was claimed by a different franchisee, but Paukstys picked it up to be part of their group of stores in large part due to the local connection.

Crumbl Cookies is known for its elaborate designs and flavors. It has a rotating weekly menu of options like S’more, Buttermilk Pancake, Orange Creamsicle, and Snickerdoodle Cupcake.

The cookie menu in Arlington is expected to be the same as the other regional locations.

Paukstys says he is still looking to hire as the store ramps up to open in a few months. There is also a possibility, he said, of more bakeries opening in Arlington.

The Lee Harrison Shopping Center, in the Yorktown neighborhood, has seen some changes in recent months. A Loyal Companion store, which closed after the pet store chain filed for bankruptcy, has been converted to a Wag N’ Wash. A new Thai restaurant, meanwhile, opened in the former Ghin Na Ree Thai space, after the family that owned the eatery decided to retire.

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Bayou Bakery in Courthouse is once again going all out for Mardi Gras.

The New Orleans-themed eatery at 1515 N. Courthouse Road is hosting a Fat Tuesday “Bayou-Gras Mardi Pardi” starting at 6 p.m. tonight (Feb. 21)

The celebration will feature food, beverages, and live jazz from Louisiana native Nick Adde. There, of course, will be King Cake too.

Bayou Bakery opened in 2010 by David Gaus, a nationally-known chef who has appeared on a number of Food Network cooking competition shows over the years.

He’s also made a name for himself locally for his community work including the “Chefs Feeding Families” program, delivering meals to the National Guard after Jan. 6, and cooking for Ukrainian refugees.

Even during tough times, Bayou Bakery always makes a point to celebrate Mardi Gras. In 2021, the restaurant put together a take-home “Mardi Gras in a Box” so that folks could enjoy the holiday safely at home. (It proved popular and was still being offered for this year’s Mardi Gras.)

For close to two decades, there was an annual Clarendon Mardi Gras parade that always traveled past Bayou Bakery. But winter weather and other larger events led to it being changed or canceled a number of times. Finally, after another cancellation in 2019, it was confirmed that the parade was likely permanently on hold.

ARLnow has reached out to the Clarendon Alliance, the organization that had put on the parade, to confirm that the parade remains a no-go this year but has yet to hear back as of publication.

More details about tonight’s Bayou-Gras Mardi Pardi, below.

Revelry explodes on Fat Tuesday, hosted by Chef David Guas, born and bred in New Orleans, with a BAYOU-GRAS MARDI PARDI at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery [Arlington, VA] – featuring authentic dishes, famous drinks, and live, Jazzy music.

Fat Tuesday – February 21, 2023 – the day is festive with a Pardi at the DMV’s only Mardi Gras Headquarters, indulging in New Orleans signature eats and beverages. Open ALL DAY from 7AM to 5PM. Staff Break! Bayou Gras begins 6PM – 9PM for the annual celebration. A menu of Parade specials and LIVE MUSIC. Purchase Tickets upon entry, and with each Ticket you get Three Items within the corresponding category:

BOOZE [$22]

  • Hurricane
  • NOLA Swinger
  • Hurricane Daiquiri
  • King Cake Daiquiri

GRUB [$16]

  • Gumbo
  • Muffuletta
  • Veg-a-lotta [veggie muffuletta]
  • Shrimp Jambalaya
  • Red Beans & Rice [veggie will also be available]

BREW [$18]

  • Abita [Amber, Purple Haze, IPA]

SWEETS [ A la carte desserts]

  • Slice of King Cake
  • Traditional Pralines
  • Beignets
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The owner of the bakery Cake Baby is celebrating one year of opening at the Pentagon City mall — and being out of her parents’ house.

In December 2021, a new bakery specializing in elaborately adorned cakes and numerous kinds of cookies opened on the Metro level at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The corner space near is next to the recently shuttered Yong Kang Street and in the former home of Garrett Popcorn.

Cake Baby is owned by 26-year-old Jimia Mozie. Just over a year ago, she opened her first brick-and-mortar shop after realizing she had outgrown the kitchen of her parents.

“My client base was getting too big to keep working out of my parents’ house,” she told ARLnow. “Schools… would message me for big orders. That’s when I realized I couldn’t do it anymore from the house.”

Mozie — who’s originally from Montgomery County, Maryland — first started baking as a teenager, learning from her aunt who was the “pastry chef in our family.” She loved it so much that she made a pledge to herself that, in 10 years, she would open her own bakery. That’s exactly what she did after graduating in 2019 from the Culinary Institute of Virginia.

As a young Black female entrepreneur, Mozie knows others may be looking up to her.

“A lot of young people look up to me as an inspiration. I know a lot of young kids are lost, so I also bake and be a business owner because I want to inspire [them],” she said.

The Pentagon City mall location has its pros and cons, she said. The positives are that the bakery gets a good amount of large custom orders from the Pentagon. They also get walk-ins from those who pass the shop every day going to and from the Metro.

The negatives are that the bakery is a bit tucked back in a corner, Mozie said, so it can be easy to miss if you aren’t passing it every day. Plus, there remains the lingering feeling that the mall hasn’t fully recovered from the pandemic.

Mozie said she is currently committed to staying in Pentagon City but is also looking for a second location, likely closer to her parents’ house in Montgomery County, where it all started.

The best part of Mozie’s day is seeing people smile, laugh and be happy when eating her treats made from recipes that she created. The best praise is when clients say her treats are better than what their grandparents make.

“Cake Baby gives a lot of people those feelings,” she said. “We’re very homey.”

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Bakeshop in Clarendon (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington-based Bakeshop is opening up a third location just across the Key Bridge in Georgetown.

It was more than a decade ago, in the middle of Snowmageddon, when the bakery first started satisfying Arlington’s sweet tooth at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon. Since then, Bakeshop has expanded to Falls Church, weathered a pandemic, and, now, is once again growing.

Bakeshop is moving into 3210 Grace Street NW in D.C., just about a mile walk from Gateway Park in Rosslyn and only two and a half miles from their original Clarendon shop.

“Georgetown is a charming little slice of DC, it’s both historic, extremely active and has a good bakery scene,” owner Justin Stegall wrote in an email to ARLnow. “It’s going to be great opening up next to South Block — we’ve been neighbors for over 10 years in Arlington and it’s great to be neighbors in DC.”

The plan is to open by the end of the month (October) “as long as inspections etc. are done,” he notes.

The menu will be similar to that of the other locations, offering vegan treats, Vietnamese coffee, and ice cream “cookiewiches.”

In January 2020, Stegall told ARLnow that he had “no immediate plans to open more” shops but would “do it again if the moment feels right.”

Nearly two years later, the moment felt right despite being in the midst of challenging times.

“The last 18 months has been extremely challenging and has felt more like 5 years. The overall uncertainty about what tomorrow will be like and constantly trying to look out for ourselves and our customers,” Stegall writes. “My team has been brave and very professional throughout this whole ordeal and I’m really proud of them.

Stegall also says the shop is fortunate because it’s “in a business that suits take-out ordering and delivery.”

But there’s certainly something about in-person connections.

“We’ve really missed having our community in the shops for their morning routine of newspaper, pastry and coffee, parents bringing their kids in for a treat, and people just convening in general,” he writes. “That aspect of community has always been a big part of us and it has been sorely missed.”

Over the years, the Bakeshop has gotten attention beyond their treats and expansion. In 2012, the shop was featured on the Cooking Channel and, in 2016, there was a viral Facebook post from Stegall’s mom where she showed her love for her son.

When asked if the shop could expand even more so in the future, Stegall said that’s the plan, if all goes well.

“I hope we will expand further because it is very exciting and rewarding to join a new neighborhood and become part of that community,” he said.

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