Arlington, VA

This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

In this Neighborhood Spotlight, Libby Bish of The Keri Shull Team takes us to True Food in Ballston Quarter.

True Food Kitchen combines conscious nutrition with delicious dining.

As General Manager Quinn Edgar says, “Eat better, feel better and celebrate a passion for better living.”

All kinds of diets are accommodated here: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free — even keto and paleo. At other restaurants, conversations about your dietary restrictions with servers can be a prolonged hassle, but True Food Kitchen makes it easy.

True Food takes care to get sustainably farmed ingredients from reputable sources. Naturally, the menu rotates with the seasons to serve whatever is abundant and fresh at that time of year. True Food’s summer menu is currently in effect, including delicious craft cocktails full of fruit flavors and organic wines and spirits.

Some of Quinn’s favorite dishes include:

  • Charred Cauliflower with harissa tahini sauce. Served with dill, pistachio and mint.
  • The Poke bowl with wild-caught albacore tuna, avocado and cucumber. The poke bowl’s ponzu sauce has quinoa rice, cucumbers, pickled ginger, a lot of great summer flavors
  • Tomato and watermelon salad with heirloom tomatoes with DNA from before 1950. This one’s also got the same delicious ponzu sauce as the poke bowl above.
  • Ancient grains bowl: Quinoa, sweet potatoes, onions, avocado. This one’s perfect if you’re dairy free.

True Food Kitchen also has a bar and house cocktails. 

Quinn recommends some of True Food Kitchen’s refreshing non-alcoholic beverages, which receive all the care and thought that mixologists usually devote to inventing cocktails:

  • Medicine Man with green tea, pomegranate, black cherry and honey.
  • Pomegranate Chia Limeade, a healthy twist on a summer classic. 
  • Lavender iced tea, with pea flower and lemon. 
  • Hangover Prescription, with pineapple, orange, honey and coconut water. 

If you want a meal that makes you feel better- not worse — stop by True Food Kitchen in Ballston Quarter.

Want to live in Ballston or other incredible Arlington neighborhoods, surrounded by great spots like this? Contact The Keri Shull Team at 703-952-7653 or [email protected] and we’ll help you find your next new home!

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A new trendy clothing and accessories store is now joining the ranks of businesses opening up in the Ballston Quarter mall.

Called Francesca’s, the new store opened today (Friday) and sells women’s apparel as well as shoes, hats, jewelry, and hair accessories.

Ballston is one of several D.C. area locations for the chain, which also has opened up shop in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, as well as in D.C, Tysons, Springfield, and Alexandria. Despite the local expansion, the company has also faced some recent struggles.

The new store occupies a 1,600 square foot space on the second story of the mall, across from another women’s clothing store, Gossip Boutique, and watch retailer Bering.

A PR rep told ARLnow that the store is offering a buy one, get one 60% off deal through Wednesday, August 21.

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For some diners, Ballston ends at Glebe Road, and a handful of restaurant owners at the western end of the neighborhood are feeling left out.

As numerous businesses have sprung up in the central part of Ballston, the western edge has suffered a series of high-profile closures.

The epicenter of the new restaurant openings is the newly-redeveloped Ballston Quarter mall and the ground floor of Ballston Exchange, just across Wilson Blvd from the mall — both in the central portion of the neighborhood, where several new residential and office buildings are also under construction.

“The gathering place is on the other side of Glebe Road,” said Brian McBride, one of the owners of Mussel Bar and Grille (800 N. Glebe Road). He listed off a number of places near his restaurant that have closed.

Cheesetique, which closed in June, is the most recent example. The storefront is still vacant, with lingering signs advertising long-gone desserts. Applebee’s and Il Forno along the same stretch of Glebe Road have both also closed over the last few years.

Manny Tangle, owner of Filipino restaurant Bistro 1521 (900 N. Glebe Road), said the improvements and changes taking place across Glebe Road have had no discernible effect on his businesses — for better or worse.

Restaurateurs along the west side of Glebe Road almost unanimously agreed that the biggest challenges for local businesses all stem from traffic issues. McBride and Tangle both agreed it can be difficult for visitors to find the right places to park. The parking for Mussel Bar and Grille, for instance, is only available by making a somewhat complex set of turns behind the building.

For Bistro 1521, the big frustration is being stuck between the “No U-Turn” signs at Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd, so if someone misses their turn to get to the restaurant, it’s several more blocks before they can turn around and make another pass.

Even at Good Company Doughnuts and Cafe (672 N. Glebe Road), which had a stronger than expected first few months, co-owner Kate Murphy said most of their customers came from the residential areas west of Glebe Road. The sparse number of crosswalks and perpetual construction meant the eatery didn’t see as much foot traffic from people visiting the Ballston Quarter area across the street, according to Murphy.

But it’s not all gloom and doom for these restaurants. Mary Marchetti, owner of Stageplate Bistro (900 N. Glebe Road), said the challenges of the west side of Glebe Road also come with some unique opportunities.

“Our side of Glebe Road tends to be more affordable to the independent restaurateur,” Marchetti said. “SER, us, Mussel, Bistro… would any of us have been able to afford Ballston Quarter? No, the rents are too high and we don’t have that kind of clout. So here we are, on our little independent strip of restaurants.”

If anything, Marchetti said the biggest challenge for the archipelago of independent restaurants is overcoming the reputation that west-of-Glebe is where eateries go to die.

“Ending that stigma will help drive businesses here,” Marchetti said. “The dining scene in Ballston has so much to offer. Ballston should be a dining mecca.”

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Arlington Public Library could create more pop-up libraries after receiving warm reviews and lots of visits at its Ballston experiment last month.

Officials said a total of 2,700 people stopped by the space inside the Ballston Quarter mall (4238 Wilson Blvd) while the pop-up was open over the course of the month, with some visiting more than once.

Patrons who visited the pop-up in July could check out and return books, and explore an interactive book nook with adjustable lights, sounds, and color.

Library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist didn’t have data on how many used the interactive space, but did give “overwhelmingly” positive feedback about the pop-up in general.

“Patrons were impressed with the new and diverse collection of titles we had available for checkout, made LOTS of suggestions for where else we should do a pop-up and were thrilled to be able to drop off their returns right in the mall,” he said.

The library also signed 80 Arlington residents up for library cards at the pop-up — a number Sundqvist said was high considering summer is the slow season and the little library was not open weekends.

He added that the mall provided the space for free. The library paid under $10,000 to fund equipment and staffing from its existing operating budget — not the collection budget which officials asked to increase after funding cuts last year.

This is the county’s second pop-up library after “Connection Crystal City” opened two years ago — and officials extended its opening through 2019. Sundqvist said comparing the two is difficult, however, because Connection is a full-service library while the Ballston pop-up was designed to generate awareness of the library and its various programs for newcomers in the area.

When asked if the Ballston experience has spurred future pop-ups, Sundqvist didn’t rule it out but that nothing is planned yet.

“The library will continue to experiment with low-cost pop-ups if given the right opportunity,” he said. “It’s a great way to engage the local community, reach new residents who might not be aware of what the library has to offer and to partner with local businesses and civic organizations. Our goal is to connect people with ideas and to create space for reading and culture.”

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Morning Notes

County Releases Statement on ART Crashes — “We are incredibly thankful that no one was seriously injured in these incidents, which the County and ART take very seriously. ART’s number one priority is the safety of our riders and others on the road.” [Arlington County]

More I-395 Nighttime Closures — “Motorists should expect significant lane closures on the general purpose lanes along I-395 North this weekend, August 9-11, from Duke Street (Exit 3) to past Pentagon City/Crystal City (Exit 8C) for bridge rehabilitation work along the I-395 corridor.” [Press Release]

Arlington Opening Local Recovery Center — “Arlington County is opening a Local Recovery Center (LRC) to assist residents and businesses affected by the July 8, 2019 flood. This is in conjunction with the governor’s announcement that low-interest federal loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to help homeowners, renters and businesses rebuild from storm damage.” [Arlington County]

Facts About Arlington Resident Chuck Todd — Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who lives in Arlington, shared some facts about himself in a new local magazine profile. Todd says he does not drink beer, prefers his coffee black, sleeps five hours “on a good night,” and thinks Lost Dog Cafe serves the best pizza in town. [Arlington Magazine]

Kudos for Quarter Market in Ballston — “The big top of dining options can generate a major case of FOMO, even when the meal in front of you satisfies all your conscious needs. This is particularly true at Quarter Market, where mall operators spent years seeking out and negotiating with a smartly curated collection of local chefs, restaurateurs and producers.” [Washington Post]

Escape Room Open in Clarendon — “Bond’s Escape Room has opened a second location at Market Common Clarendon… Located just above Sephora, it offers six escape room games with a wide variety of themes.” [Press Release]

Photo courtesy @clarendonalliance/Instagram

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Maizal is planning to open tomorrow (Thursday) with a free food giveaway.

The new restaurant serves South American street food, like arepas, yuca fries, plantains and street corn.

For its Aug. 1 grand opening in the Quarter Market food hall in Ballston Quarter mall, Maizal will be offering a free arepa and a side — with the purchase of a drink — from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and again from 5:30-8:30 p.m., according to a PR rep for the mall.

Employees could be seen preparing fresh ingredients in the restaurant’s open kitchen this morning, but a manager said it would not be serving customers today.

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Business review site Yelp is teaming up with Ballston Quarter mall (4238 Wilson Blvd) to host a social mixer called Yelp After Dark.

The free event is set to take place at the Quarter Market food hall next Friday, August 2 from 9-11 p.m.

Attendees must have a Yelp profile with a current photo and their real name. A press release for the event said attendees should RSVP through the Yelp app and will receive a confirmation email before the event. But, this does not guarantee entry, since space is limited.

Quarter Market vendors including District Doughnut, Ice Cream Jubilee, Rice Crook and The Local Oyster will provide food.

Donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center will be accepted. A $10 cash donation is suggested for entry.

In 2015, Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told ARLnow he might not have made it as a tech titan if it wasn’t for bike rides to Ballston Quarter — then Ballston Common Mall — as a kid. Stoppelman grew up in Arlington, near Military Road, and attended Taylor Elementary in the 1980s before his family moved to Great Falls.

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District Doughnut is promoting its new location in Quarter Market — the Ballston Quarter mall’s new food hall — in the most popular way possible: free donuts.

The confectionary establishment is planning the donut party for tomorrow (Thursday) around 2 p.m. on the second level of the mall, across from Scout and Molly’s. The event is scheduled to last as long as there are still donuts to give out.

The eatery offers a range of donuts, from chocolate to various fruit flavors, though the website says the company does not offer gluten-free or vegan options.

District Doughnut is planning to open the Ballston Quarter location sometime within the next week, according to staff at another District Doughnut location.

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A new store selling handmade goods from small vendors is now open in Ballston Quarter.

Steadfast Supply opened last week in a 1,000 square-foot retail space, joining a cast of new eateries, cooking classes, a popup-library, and small shops inside the renovated mall.

The D.C.-based business aims to sells wares from a collection of small makers both local and from around the U.S. — everything from home goods to beauty supplies to pet accessories — thus supporting “creative entrepreneurship.”

“Our mission is to contribute to the advancement of the local community and to the creative growth of Washington, D.C. at large by introducing the creative force of emerging independent brands and designers into the D.C. market,” the store’s website said.

Steadfast started as a pop-up in 2016 before expanding to a 3,000 square-foot space in Navy Yard, according to a press release. The store announced plans to open its second location in Arlington last April.

Some of the goods currently in the new Ballston location include handmade leather bags made by the Atlanta-based company Neva Opet, T-shirts for kids made by YOUTHS, and jewelry from Vajzë. In addition to retail, the business is offering space for DIY workshops or other events on its website.

The store’s owner describes the business as something of an incubator for artisans and small producers.

“My goal with Steadfast Supply was to create a cool retail setting where talented creatives can grow their brands,” said owner Virginia Arrisueño in a statement. “As a designer myself, I know how tough and competitive the retail industry is, and I wanted provide a supportive space where brands can ask us questions about line sheets, packaging, etc., receive direct feedback and suggestions on how to improve their products.”

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Arlington Public Library has opened its new pop-up library in the Ballston Quarter mall.

The library partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to create the mini lending library, which opened earlier this month on the mall’s first floor, above the Quarter Market food hall. Located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the mall is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and on Fridays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., until Friday, August 2.

The Ballston pop-up features a reading nook called “Alterspace” where users can control lighting, sound effects and color. The technology behind it was developed by Harvard University’s metaLAB and is being shared outside Massachusetts for the first time.

Ballston Quarter’s website says the Alterspace reading nook is “the ideal environment for meditating, reading, collaborating, playing, or whatever activity brings you here!” The space also includes a mobile charging station for phones and tablets.

This is the library system’s second pop-up, following a successful experimental pop-up in Crystal City.

“Although the Ballston Quarter Pop-up Library is only a short walk from Central Library, we are encountering so many people who aren’t aware of the library and its resources,” said library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist.

“Meeting our community where they are — in the mall during their lunch breaks, after school, or during their evening commute — gives us an opportunity to connect new users with library materials, services, and resources, which they may not know are available to them,” he said.

At least one librarian will be on-site in the space during operating hours to help patrons with check outs and new library cards.

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A new outdoor concert series will kick off in Ballston later today.

Starting today (July 10) through the end of August, “Ballston Quarter Beats” will bring in a new band every Wednesday for a free concert at the outdoor Plaza at Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd). 

The events are being held from 5:30-8:30 p.m and attendees can expect happy-hour drink specials and food from Ballston Quarter eateries, including the Local Oyster, Ballston Service Station, and Copa Kitchen and Bar.

The series will kick off with Marvillous Beats, a Bronx-born artist who combines a mixture of jazz, classical, pop and hip-hop for a unique musical experience. Marvill Martin is an Arlington local but began his career in New York as a violinist.

This event is open to the public. No tickets are necessary. 

The summer artist lineup is listed below: 

  • July 10: Marvillous Beats
  • July 17: The Reflex
  • July 24: Pressing Strings
  • July 31: Jeremiah Miles
  • August 7: David Andrew Smith
  • August 14: Lucia Valentine 
  • August 21: Jonny Grave
  • August 28: Blue Dot Jazz Troupe
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