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The former spot of Nono’s Taqueria on Columbia Pike is set to become Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante next month (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A new taco spot is moving into the former Columbia Pike home of another recently-shuttered taco spot.

Last week, ARLnow reported that the Instagram-popular Nono’s Taqueria was closed and planning to open elsewhere. Now, only days later, the space between Panda Bowl and Family Kabob House is getting a new tenant.

“Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante” has taken over the lease for the restaurant and will be filling the space at 3207-A Columbia Pike, owners of both businesses confirmed to ARLnow.

The new restaurant, which will also serve birria tacos as well as other dishes, plans to open next month, co-owner Elizabeth Marquez says.

Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante comes from local Nevi Paredes, who owns the taco truck Taqueria La Ceibita that is often parked at the BP gas station on Columbia Pike near S. Buchanan Street. Marquez, who is Paredes’ daughter, will help run it with her family.

“We’ve become a bit popular with the locals. [The truck] is run by my mom, me and my two older sisters,” Marquez said. “My mom’s grandkids love to come help out too. It’s been a dream of my mom’s to have a restaurant so we started with a truck and are super excited to open ‘Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante’ and expand our family business.”

Paredes has lived in Arlington for 35 years. Her daughters are Yorktown High School graduates.

The menu at the new restaurant will be the same as the truck’s, though the restaurant will serve shrimp and fish as well. There will also be breakfast and pupusas because “everyone loves my mom’s pupusas,” said Marquez. Eli’s Taqueria y Restaurante willo continue to provide halal meat, like the truck.

The opening of this new eatery continues to strengthen Columbia Pike’s case as Arlington’s taco corridor.

Nono’s Taqueria gained quite a following before it closed so that the owner can take a “mini-vacation.” The plan is to reopen next spring, perhaps again on the Pike.

The La Tingeria food truck was also quite popular, serving birria tacos on weekends on S. Courthouse Road right off the Pike. It moved to a permanent space in Falls Church earlier this year.

Just last month, Tortas y Tacos at 2911 Columbia Pike announced that it would be extending its hours to 24/7.

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A Columbia Pike taco spot that has gained a following on social media has closed until next year and is likely moving.

Nono’s Taqueria announced last week to its nearly Instagram 61,000 followers that it was “temporarily closing” its location at 3207-A Columbia Pike, tucked between Panda Bowl and Family Kabob House. But “better things are yet to come” continued the post.

Those better things appear to be a “mini-vacation” and a move, per chef and owner Christian Ruiz.

“We decided to close because our lease was almost up and it was time for an upgrade. Our clientele is big and we think it’s time to stand out on Columbia Pike with a facility that’s modern, offers more parking, and easier access for all our customers,” Ruiz wrote ARLnow in an email. “Our previous location served its purpose and was a great starting point for Nono’s Taqueria and we are grateful for all that it came with. All that being said, we are taking a mini vacation meanwhile so that we can come back stronger than ever.”

Ruiz also said that all of this might not happen until “close to March.”

We asked where Nono’s Taqueria plans to move but have yet to hear back. The taco shop opened in May 2021 and is known for its “Tijuana-style” birria tacos.

Birria tacos at Nono’s Taqueria (image via Instagram/Nono’s Taqueria)

The Columbia Pike corridor is gaining a bit of a reputation for being home to popular taco spots.

Up until this time last year, the La Tingeria food truck was also serving birria tacos on weekends on S. Courthouse Road right off the Pike before moving to a permanent space in Falls Church.

Last month Tortas y Tacos at 2911 Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse, announced that it would be extending its hours to 24/7, at least for delivery.

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Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

Airbag theft has been an ongoing problem this year in Arlington, but police just put two alleged thieves behind bars.

The arrests happened early Sunday, after three vehicles were damaged and two had airbags stolen along the 2100 block of Columbia Pike, two blocks east of Bob & Edith’s Diner.

Police say they were able to locate the suspects in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood based on a description of their vehicle given by someone who called to report the thefts. The suspects, ages 25 and 43, are now facing a variety of charges.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Series), 2022-11130036, 2100 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 3:03 a.m. on November 13, police were dispatched to the report of larcenies from auto just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined unknown suspect(s) had allegedly smashed the windows of three vehicles, stole airbags from two of the vehicles and fled the scene in a white sedan. A lookout was broadcast based on information from the reporting party and officers located the suspect vehicle at 28th Street S. and 26th Street S. Officers conducted a traffic stop and the two vehicle occupants were taken into custody without incident. Upon a search of Suspect One incident to arrest, a glass breaking tool was located. Upon a search of the suspect vehicle, burglarious tools, a radar detector and air bags were recovered. [A suspect], 25, of Manassas, Va. was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2), Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of Radar Detector. [A suspect], 43, of Manassas, Va, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2).

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Arlington National Cemetery’s restored Ord and Weitzel Gate was unveiled to the public earlier this week, after more than four decades in storage.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, the historic gate was officially reopened at the north entrance of the cemetery’s hallowed ground.

The iron gate dates to 1879 when it was first designed by Montgomery Meigs, also known for his work on the U.S. Capitol dome and what’s today the National Building Museum. The columns on top, decorated with “elaborately sculpted urns,” are two centuries old and were originally part of the War Department building prior to its demolition.

In 1902, the names of Civil War officers Gen. Edward Ord and Gen. Godfrey Weitzel were inscribed on the columns, thus giving the gate its name.

As the years went on, though, the cemetery expanded and the gate became weathered. It was also too small for modern vehicles to fit through. So, in 1979, it was disassembled and put into storage.

Forty-three years later, it’s back in its original location, restored, and reopened to the public. Now, though, it’s a pedestrian-only gate.

“The opening of the restored Ord and Weitzel Gate marks an important milestone in Arlington National Cemetery’s long-range plan to preserve our priceless monumental and architectural history,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of the Office of Army Cemeteries, said in a press release. “Our historic gates are among the cemetery’s most unique and meaningful cultural resources, yet their stories often remain untold.”

The restored gate also came with a number of improvements to the Custis walking path, including updating the sidewalk, security features, and making other visitor-friendly infrastructure changes.

The sidewalk was changed from asphalt to concrete for design and safety reasons, per a cemetery spokesperson. A new, updated guardhouse was also added, plus a water fountain, benches, trash cans, and street lamps. There’s a new pull-off location for the ANC tram as well.

ANC is in the midst of undergoing an expansion that will add 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

This will require realigning Columbia Pike and moving it closer to I-395 so that gravesites can be placed where it currently curves around the Air Force Memorial. That portion of the project just got underway this past spring. The construction will eventually result in the closing of a portion of Columbia Pike near Pentagon City, which could happen as soon as early next year.

With the expansion, as well as the restoration of the historic Ord and Weitzel Gate, Arlington National Cemetery is looking to preserve, modernize, and grow.

“Just yesterday I was giving a briefing on our Southern Expansion Project, and I discussed how we were building history, a project that will last as long as there is a United States of America,” ANC’s Director of Engineering Col. Thomas Austin said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Now, here at Ord and Weitzel, we have the honor of rebuilding history, reviving a structure with elements that go back nearly 200 years. What an honor it is and how lucky we all are to be a part of it.”

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A national media outlet has shed some light on a mysterious FBI raid in Arlington earlier this year.

Rolling Stone reports that the raid on a Columbia Pike apartment building, which ARLnow first reported in April, targeted a well-known ABC News producer, James Gordon Meek.

Meek, an Emmy award winner who often broke investigative stories on the topic of national security for the TV network, has reportedly not been seen or heard from publically since the raid. His formerly active Twitter feed’s last tweet was 5 a.m. the morning of the raid, which targeted his apartment on the top floor of the Siena Park apartments at 2301 Columbia Pike, according to Rolling Stone.

From our reporting on April 27:

Photos show several unmarked federal law enforcement vehicles, including a Lenco BearCat armored SWAT vehicle, in front of the Siena Park Apartments on the 2300 block of the Pike.

An agent in camouflage and tactical gear could be seen holding a shield inside the open doors of the moving BearCat.

Arlington County police deferred comment, noting that “the police activity is part of an active FBI investigation.” The FBI, in turn, confirmed the activity but said little else.

“The FBI is present at the 2300 block of Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA, conducting court authorized law enforcement activity,” Washington Field Office spokesperson Samantha Shero tells ARLnow. “The FBI cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”

More details about the investigation are unlikely to be released today or tomorrow, Shero noted.

The raid was initially brought to ARLnow’s attention by local resident John Antonelli, who is quoted in the magazine’s article.

… self-described police-vehicle historian Antonelli was about to grab a coffee at a Starbucks before embarking on his daily three-mile walk. He inched closer to get a better vantage, when he saw an olive-green Lenco BearCat G2, an armored tactical vehicle often employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other law-enforcement agencies. A few Arlington County cruisers surrounded the jaw-dropping scene, but all of the other vehicles were unmarked, including the BearCat. […]

“They didn’t stick around. They took off pretty quickly and headed west on Columbia Pike towards Fairfax County,” Antonelli recalls.

So far, according to Rolling Stone, Meek has not been charged, documents related to the case remain sealed, and it’s unclear why exactly he’s under investion.

It is unusual for federal law enforcement to target a journalist, the magazine noted.

Meek has been charged with no crime. But independent observers believe the raid is among the first — and quite possibly, the first — to be carried out on a journalist by the Biden administration. A federal magistrate judge in the Virginia Eastern District Court signed off on the search warrant the day before the raid. If the raid was for Meek’s records, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would have had to give her blessing; a new policy enacted last year prohibits federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ documents. Any exception requires the deputy AG’s approval. (Gabe Rottman at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press says, “To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a case [since January 2021].”)

Meek’s attorney released a statement to Rolling Stone responding to one particular detail of the story.

“Mr. Meek is unaware of what allegations anonymous sources are making about his possession of classified documents,” the attorney wrote.

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A work crew inside the former LoanMax site on Columbia Pike (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An indoor golf facility with “state of the art simulators” is set to take its swings on Columbia Pike.

Independently-owned Par Citi is opening inside of the old LoanMax building at 3102 Columbia Pike. The entertainment center and cafe will feature virtual golf simulators inside of individual bays where people can play for fun and practice, Par Citi managing partner Kristian Hara told ARLnow via email.

The golf entertainment center will be similar to Five Iron Golf in D.C., Hara said.

Like Five Iron, it will also feature a cafe that will have food and a bar serving beer and wine, with a Virginia ABC permit pending. The plan is to open this fall, “most likely November 1st,” Hara said.

When ARLnow went to the building earlier this month, construction appeared to be well underway, though the big yellow LoanMax sign remained on the building.

While the location may strike some as a bit of an odd place to put an indoor virtual golf business, between a gas station and a county-owned office building, the Pike is about to get a bit of a facelift.

Just down the street, the new Westmont development, featuring 250 apartments with ground-level retail, is also underway. It’s set to be completed in 2024. A few blocks away will be “The Elliott,” a new mixed-use development that’s set to have hundreds of apartments as well as more retail. The aim is for it to be completed in 2024 also.

Prior to LoanMax, 3102 Columbia Pike was home to Columbia Furniture. The family-owned furniture and appliance store previously served as something of a community-gathering place, where the owner would keep the store open late to allow folks to come to watch sports on Friday nights.

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When one Bank of America branch closes on Columbia Pike, another one opens.

The Bank of America branch at 3401 Columbia Pike is set to close in late November, per the bank’s website. The building it is housed in at the intersection of S. Glebe Road is likely on its way to being demolished to make way for a six-story, 250-unit residential development with ground-floor retail.

The office building at 3401 Columbia Pike was last sold in December 2020 to Marcus Partners for nearly $15 million, county property records show. That’s a $10 million over what it sold for in 2015.

The bank branch occupies most of the building, with a doctor’s office and an immigration law office also at that location. It’s not immediately clear when those businesses might be moving or closing.

Those looking to make deposits won’t have to go far, though.

A new Bank of America branch is set to open soon after the other one closes just a block away at 3532 Columbia Pike. It’s moving into the former home of a Capital One Bank. That branch was in the news over the years due to it being robbed twice, including one incident that was investigated by the FBI. It closed more than three years ago.

The new Bank of America branch is planning to open by the end of the year, but that timeline is “dependent on construction completion” a company spokesperson told ARLnow.

“The new center has been designed to highlight our high-tech high-touch approach, which helps us best serve all of our clients’ financial needs,” the spokesperson said.

Customers with safe deposit boxes in the existing branch are being urged to retrieve them by October 7, according to a letter from Bank of America shared with ARLnow by a reader.

Arlington has eight Bank of America financial centers and ATM locations, according to the bank’s website. This includes the locations inside of the Pentagon and a State Department facility on Arlington Blvd, which both may require “authorization to enter.”

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A handful of main roads in Arlington may be getting speed limit reductions.

At its meeting this Saturday, the Arlington County Board is slated to vote to advertise a potential reduction in the speed limit on four arterial streets, per a staff report.

The reductions would target road segments with high volumes of pedestrians walking to and from transit stations, schools, apartment buildings and commercial areas, the county says. Among them:

The segments also have more serious and fatal crashes than other roads, the report said.

The selected segment of Washington Blvd, south of Clarendon, sees lots of foot traffic due to the public transit stops on both sides of the road connected by controlled and uncontrolled marked crosswalks, according to the county.

The corridor had 39 crashes in a 5-year period, and is one of the roads in Arlington’s Vision Zero High Injury Network, which accounts for 78% of all serious or fatal crashes. North of Arlington Blvd, the speed limit on Washington Blvd is already 30 mph.

S. Joyce Street, in the Pentagon City area, also has “steady” pedestrian activity due to a transit stop. The county says more people will walk, cycle and scoot along the road — which passes near the Air Force Memorial — once Columbia Pike is realigned to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

Lower speeds here “are essential” for lowering the risk of severe collisions, since the lane widths are limited and have no shoulders, per the report. To improve walkability on this stretch of S. Joyce, the county widened sidewalks and installed new lighting in 2013.

The Dept. of Environmental Services also recommends lowering speeds on the segment of Columbia Pike from S. Dinwiddie Street to the Fairfax County line to account for increased walking and transit use associated with new transit stations. Columbia Pike, with 85 crashes in a five-year period, of which six involved pedestrians, is also part of what has been designated the “High Injury Network.”

Continuing east on Columbia Pike, the speed limit is currently 30 mph.

Meanwhile, a high volume of people walk and cycle across Lorcom Lane to go to and from Dorothy Hamm Middle School, per the report. The school also has foot traffic outside school hours and on weekends, for events such as the Cherrydale Farmers Market, which started last year, despite complaints from some neighbors.

This road saw 18 crashes in six years, and of those, speeding contributed to three crashes.

The county considered, but decided not to lower speeds on segments of S. Walter Reed Drive, S. Four Mile Run Drive and Wilson Blvd from N. Glebe Road to the Fairfax County line — where the limit is currently 30 mph.

At its upcoming meeting, the Board is also expected to enact some speed reductions in Courthouse and Glencarlyn, which were advertised last month. The planned speed limit changes are:

  • Fairfax Drive from Arlington Boulevard to N. Barton Street (30 mph to 25 mph)
  • 5th Road S. from S. Carlin Springs Road to the Fairfax County line (35 mph to 25 mph)
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Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

Just days after the last reported series of airbag thefts in Arlington, police are investigating another.

Arlington County police say a thief or thieves smashed windows on and stole airbags from three Honda vehicles on the 900 block of S. Rolfe Street, near Towers Park.

Dozens of similar thefts — mostly involving Hondas and Acuras — have been reported so far this year, including a series of four less than a week ago.

From ACPD:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Late, Series), 2022-09050059, 900 block of S. Rolfe Street. At approximately 6:41 a.m. on September 5, police were dispatched to the report of a late larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined between approximately 11:30 p.m. on September 4 and 6:41 a.m. on September 5 the unknown suspect(s) smashed the driver’s side windows of three vehicles and stole the airbags. All vehicles involved are Honda models. There is no suspect description at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

Also in the latest ACPD crime report, police say a man pulled out and loaded a gun inside a business along Columbia Pike — and then walked away without making any threats or demands.

The odd situation played out Friday night on the 2900 block of the Pike, which is home to a Domino’s Pizza and a CVS, among other businesses. Arlington police typically do not reveal the identities of people or entities that have been the victims of crimes.

More via ACPD:

BRANDISHING, 2022-09020220, 2600 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 8:49 p.m. on September 2, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 8:43 p.m., the unknown male suspect entered into the business, approached the counter, removed a firearm and magazine from his waistband and loaded it before fleeing the scene on foot. The suspect did not make any demands or threats. No injuries were reported and no items were reported stolen or damaged. Responding officers canvassed the area yielding negative results.

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A new family-owned Peruvian chicken restaurant is opening on Columbia Pike.

Cabaña Restaurant is looking to start serving roasted chicken and other Peruvian food at 4815 Columbia Pike, perhaps later this month.

Management is just waiting on the county to do its inspections and issue licenses, co-owner Soledad Marreros told ARLnow. The restaurant is also waiting on approval of its liquor license from Virginia ABC.

Marreros owns the restaurant with her brother. Together, they also both run Restaurante El Salvador located only a few doors down from its new restaurant. That eatery has been open for about 30 years, she said, and will continue to operate along with the new restaurant.

Cabaña Restaurant will be its own restaurant with a new menu and a different type of cuisine, Marreros said.

With the population increasing along Columbia Pike, particularly residents originally from Central and South America, the time felt right to open another restaurant, Marreros said.

Plus, with so many other restaurants closing over the last two years due to the pandemic, space became available close to their original restaurant. Prior, 4815 Columbia Pike appears to have been home to Ginger Beef.

Cabaña Restaurant is nestled between a cell phone store and an Ethiopian market in the Barcroft Shopping Centre at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street.

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The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and the Columbia Pike Partnership are nearly ready to open the doors to their new home.

The two Pike-centric organizations will host a joint grand opening celebration on Sept. 16 from 4- 6 p.m., on the first floor of the Ethiopian Community Development Council building at 3045B Columbia Pike. Local officials are expected to attend and the public is welcome to attend with an RSVP.

“The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington is excited about the grand re-opening of our museum in a new space!” the museum’s president Scott Taylor said in a statement. “We are so thankful to so many of you, who have been with us every step of the way so that this day would finally come again for us to display information and be a voice to many unsung Arlington heroes who have certainly a hand in making Arlington the great county/city it is today.”

We reported in May that the museum and the Columbia Pike Partnership (CPP) had found a new home a few blocks from their former one at 2611 Columbia Pike. Both were forced to vacate — along with all of the businesses at the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center — due to the impending demolition and redevelopment of the shopping center.

It took about four months to settle into the space, CPP’s deputy director Amy McWilliams told ARLnow, but now they are ready to start welcoming the public. Their new home was originally intended as retail, not an office space, but with a majority of employees still working from home often the reconfiguration isn’t a big deal, said McWilliams.

Part of the office will be taken up by a display of photos from the Columbia Pike Documentary Project.

The Black Heritage Museum will be taking up a large chunk of space for its displays, exhibits, and artifacts. Museum president Scott Taylor said this allows the museum to display a few new artifacts and a couple of newer displays, including vintage items from an old drug store as well as photos of Arlington-raised singer Roberta Flack.

“A new space and change is always good,” Taylor wrote ARLnow in an email. “We still have some of this same items that we’ve always had in which is okay because there are still a lot of people who have not experienced us yet.”

Taylor told ARLnow in May that the museum was still hoping for its own space. With the county acquiring 3108 Columbia Pike, there remains a possibility the museum could go back to the building it occupied several years ago.

For now, the museum is once again sharing space with CPP and taking advantage of what they do have.

“Unfortunately we still don’t have as much space as we would like to have but we are making the best of what we do have and I can’t wait for everyone to see!” said Taylor.

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