Our Mom Eugenia may finally be ready to “opa” later this week in Shirlington.
The popular, family-owned Greek eatery is preparing to open its newest location on Thursday (March 30), per a press release.
It’s moving into a new 3,604-square-foot space at 4044 Campbell Avenue, next to CHIKO. It’s expected to have a similar, if not the same, menu as the other two Our Mom Eugenia locations in Great Falls and the Mosaic District. That includes an all-Greek wine list.
ARLnow first reported Our Mom Eugenia was making its way to Shirlington in May of last year.
The restaurant was originally planning to open in the fall, but serving was delayed to late 2022 and, then, to February 2023 due to a wait for county permits.
Our Mom Eugenia is named after its co-owner Eugenia Hobson, who was raised on the island of Zakynthos in western Greece.
“Eugenia learned the secrets of Greek cuisine from her grandmother for whom she is named,” reads a press release.
Hobson is a long-time local chef who’s cooked at several D.C.-area Greek restaurants, most prominently Nostos in Tysons. In 2016, she ventured out to open her own restaurant in Great Falls with her two sons.
Besides Our Mom Eugenia, Shirlington is also planning for another notable restaurant opening this spring. The long-planned Astro Beer Hall and its “donut robot” is aiming for a May debut. It’s moving into the space once occupied by Capitol City Brewing Co.
Ahead of an official opening this weekend, Haute Dogs hosted a preview event last night with a coterie of Arlington’s underground “foodie” influencer community.
Haute Dogs has become a beloved local institution in Alexandria’s Old Town North neighborhood. The new location at 2910 N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood takes over the spot previously occupied by Smoking Kow BBQ.
The menu features an array of the eponymous hot dogs, from the classics to the more outlandish, like a veggie dog topped with jalapeño and pineapple.
The official opening is Saturday, Feb. 25, but last night (Thursday) the new restaurant was packed with local food writers getting close-up shots of hot dogs and comparing notes.
At the center of the scene was Chloé Swanson. Chloé is one of Haute Dogs co-founders, along with her mother Pamela Swanson and her stepfather Lionel Holmes.
Chloé said the new restaurant is a shift in more ways than just moving across Four Mile Run. While the Old Town North location is located in the epicenter of a rapidly developing section of Alexandria, the Arlington location is in a decidedly more residential community and closer to several schools.
“There are so many schools around and parents didn’t really have a place to get a burger and beer that’s also family-friendly,” Chloé said. “There are not a lot of dine-in options in the neighborhood.”
The different type of neighborhood necessitated some changes in the menu, like the inclusion of new burgers on the Haute Dogs menu. Chloé said, in preparation of opening a new location with a slightly different menu, she opened a ghost kitchen to test concepts. Chloé said the ideas were tested against the jury of D.C. residents, and burgers won out.
“It’s overwhelming and exciting,” Chloé said. “We’ve wanted an Arlington space for a long time, then Covid hit.”
Chloé said during the pandemic, it was all hands on deck with a focus on keeping the main restaurant afloat, but in September they found the Smoking Kow BBQ location.
“We wanted to erase the BBQ identity and wanted to create a different space,” Chloé said, “a different visual look both from Smoking Kow and from our Alexandria location.”
Samara Singer, creator of Arlington foodie Instagram account A Town Bites, said there were a lot of other familiar faces in the local foodie community at the preview event. The Arlington social media foodie circle is a small but fairly tight-knit community, Singer said.
Many started their blogs after Covid started, and Singer said the Haute Dogs debut was a fun chance for many of them to meet each other in person.
Singer said she was excited for the fries and onion rings at Haute Dogs, but also said the location’s milkshakes could help fit a niche in the Williamsburg neighborhood.
“There are not a lot of other great shake locations around here,” she said.
Singer hopes Haute Dogs is able to capture an underserved evening demographic in the area with parents coming by after they’ve put their kids in bed. The eatery will be open at 11 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sundays.
A new coalition will tackle how Arlington nonprofits and county government distribute food and support people who are food insecure.
The group held its kick-off meeting at Central Library last week, attended by 65 people. It will be focused on three areas: improving food access, increasing outreach to the community and making systemic change through policy advocacy.
The coalition “creates the infrastructure to systematically monitor the needs of Arlington’s food security system, allowing us to not only act more quickly when greater need arises, but also to identify and rectify systemic challenges earlier,” says County Board member Matt de Ferranti, who campaigned in 2018 on ending child hunger by 2022.
Although considered one of the wealthier localities in the D.C. area, several thousand Arlingtonians do not have consistent access to healthy meals and pantry and fridge staples. Arlington has historically supported these individuals through a patchwork quilt of nonprofit grocery and meal distribution programs, while county staff processed food stamp applications and Arlington Public Schools provided free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches.
That began to change when Arlington County hired a food security coordinator, Stephanie Hopkins.
“My job is to look at the bigger picture,” she tells ARLnow. “One of the things I found when I started was that there wasn’t a good centralization of resources. Arlington Food Assistance Center and smaller churches each promoted their services, while the county promoted its programs, but there wasn’t a list of everything that’s available.”
The first step, says de Ferranti, was hiring Hopkins to get a better baseline of food assistance needs in Arlington. She worked with the Urban Institute to release a study on food insecurity and stood up a task force — comprised of food pantries, community leaders, and school and county staff — to develop a strategic plan to address hunger over the next five years.
“A lot of folks worked adjacent to each other, knew each other, but had few opportunities to work together,” she said. “Through this process, they made friendships and professional relationships where now, if they need something, they call each other.”
But still, Covid and inflation have interrupted this work, de Ferranti acknowledged.
“There has been progress, with a couple of more food service sites that help children, but we have much, much more to do on the goal of ending child hunger in Arlington,” he said. “I am committed to that work and will work with APS, the School Board, and Bethany Sutton in particular on child hunger.”
The coalition is tasked with implementing the strategic plan, which was released in October 2022. By January 2024, Hopkins says she aims to have at least one new food distribution location, at least one new tool for committing resources to residents and more accurate data on meal and grocery distribution trends.
Sally Diaz-Wells, who coordinates the food pantry at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Arlington, just got the weekly egg bill.
It was $2,000, which makes up nearly 20% of the church’s weekly budget of $12,000 for purchasing food for distribution.
Arlington Food Assistance Center CEO Charles Meng says the wholesale price for a dozen eggs in January 2021 was $0.98. This month, AFAC paid $4.45 per dozen. Overall, food prices are up 35% for AFAC, which is already over its $1.3 million budget by $160,000.
The uptick in food prices, driven largely by inflation, is squeezing local food and meal distributors, which are at the same time seeing more Arlington residents come, and come more often, for free food. Inflation again is to blame for this, as clients report their earnings are covering less of their grocery bills, local food assistance providers said during an Arlington Committee of 100 panel on hunger held Wednesday.
“These numbers are not pandemic-related numbers,” Meng said. “These are numbers related to the basic need in Arlington, plus the burdens based on our families by inflation in particular.”
Providers say this is hitting the working poor the worst.
“This group comes to us when they need us, once or twice a month,” Meng said. “When their other benefits start running out, they’ll come to us more often.”
They tend to come after paying for other necessities like rent, utilities and medical expenses, says Stephanie Hopkins, the food security coordinator for Arlington County Department of Human Services.
“We find that people spend their available income on rent, utilities and medical expenses, and other bills, and if there’s enough money to pay for food, they will pay for their own food,” she said. “If there’s not enough money, that’s when they lean on food assistance network.”
More families who otherwise would be able to pay are leaning on Arlington Public Schools for meals, too, says Amy Maclosky, the director of the Office of Food and Nutrition Services for APS.
“Student meal debt has increased a lot this year and it has increased for paying students,” Maclosky said. “Every student is entitled to a free breakfast and lunch, whether they have the funds or not, but they do incur debt. Our debt is up $300,000 right now among people who do not qualify for free or reduced but aren’t able to pay.”
The rising need for food assistance needs comes as Arlington County is preparing to launch this month a Food Security Coalition tasked with implementing some two dozen strategies for tackling hunger.
Food insecurity affects about 7% of Arlington residents — 16,670 people — says Hopkins. It disproportionately affects people of color: 53% and 20% of AFAC clients are Hispanic or Latino and Black, respectively, while comprising 16% and 9% of the county’s population.
Food insecurity can mean “‘I’m worried that my food will run out before I have enough money to get more,’ to ‘I have zero food in my house,” Hopkins said. “We know there are people on both ends of that spectrum in Arlington and people journey that spectrum all the time.” Read More
Changes are happening within the Columbia Pike-based nonprofit La Cocina VA.
Since its inception in 2014, the nonprofit has provided culinary job training to Spanish-speaking immigrants and donated the meals made by trainees to people in low-income housing and shelters.
Over time, it widened its focus to help immigrants, refugees and unhoused people from all backgrounds. Founder Paty Funegra tells ARLnow the nonprofit was renamed Kitchen of Purpose last month to recognize that shift formally. She also gave a heads-up of some other changes slated for the new year.
Kitchen of Purpose will be putting an $80,000 grant from longtime supporter Bank of America to use to address food insecurity and support workforce development. Meanwhile, the nonprofit will be updating the menu and adding outdoor seating to the café it operates out of its facility at 918 S. Lincoln Street in a bid to attract new customers. Kitchen of Purpose moved into the facility in 2020.
Funegra says the name change was a years-long process that wrapped up last month.
“It didn’t take too long until we had applicants to our program from other ethnicities, immigrants from other places, Americans who speak good English who were interested in food service as career opportunities,” she said.
While La Cocina VA began offering classes in English by 2018, “we were always labeled as ‘La Cocina only serves the Hispanic community,'” Funegra said.
She says many of Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European descent — mostly women — have applied to Kitchen of Purpose’s small business incubator program.
“They already utilize food as not only a way of gathering families, but creating something,” she said.
Bank of America’s $80,000 grant will increase the number of meals Kitchen of Purpose can provide to people in affordable housing and homeless shelters, to senior residents and public schools children during the summer. A portion will support the nonprofit’s workforce development program that helps unemployed people get jobs and training in food service and hospitality.
“It definitely is a large contribution,” she said. “We project this is around 10,000 meals that we can provide our clients, using part of this grant.”
With the new name comes a “relaunch” of the café on S. Lincoln Street, which doubles as an incubator for other restaurants, including RAMMY-nominated fried chicken spot Queen Mother’s.
Starting in February, customers can order from the new food menu, with international flavors, Sunday brunch, plus beer, wine and cocktails. The interior will be redesigned and, by the spring, there should be outdoor seating.
“We want to bring more attention to the café,” Funegra said. “Like any other establishment, we’re surviving the pandemic… Some people know about us, but we want to come out with a new look, new name and new personnel to bring clients and raise awareness about us.”
It’s a far cry from where she started: a 167-square-foot kitchen in a church basement. To help small business owners make similar kinds of moves, she says in the near future she wants to provide microloans. That way, they can start building credit and eventually qualify for bigger loans.
“They have the talent, knowledge and passion, but because of their condition, they face barriers to obtain a small seed capital loan,” she said. “We’re exploring opportunities to create a fund that would allow us to inject capital — $5,000 to $10,000 loans — to these entrepreneurs so they can start generating business.”
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
There is nothing Clarendon resident David Kolton loves more than hyping up the ancient Roman superfood legume, the lupini.
High in fiber and protein, the lupini fills you up quickly and keeps you satiated for longer. It is one of two plant-derived complete proteins and has more protein per serving than chicken or beef. It is low in sugar, so it is diet-friendly for pre-diabetic and diabetic people.
Beyond health benefits, it is environmentally friendly, Kolton says. Farmers can grow the bean using only rainwater — no irrigation required — and it restores phosphorus and nitrogen to the soil where other crops absorb it.
“It is the next superfood,” Kolton says. “It’s the superfood you’ve never heard of.”
While the legume is popular in Canada and Australia, Kolton is looking to take this humble bean to new heights in the U.S. with his health foods brand Aviate. The name is a nod to his day job as a commercial pilot and his 19 years of service as a military pilot. In fact, he first tried the bean after a visit to Rome and was surprised it hadn’t yet attained more popularity in America.
“I was so obsessed,” he said. “I was like, ‘I need to start this company’… during Covid, some people had babies or got a Peloton. I started this company.”
Kolton, who is still in the Air National Guard, founded the brand and kicked off sales in spring of 2021 with lupini flour and flakes, which can be added to stir fries, taco meat, hummus and chili for a fiber and protein boost. Last week, he celebrated two new products at Clarendon’s East West Cafe, as a gesture of appreciation for all the hours he has spent there working on the company.
Aviate now sells pancake and brownie dry mixes, which he advertises as Ket0-compliant. All the lupini products are made of legumes sourced from French farms.
“We have Keto on there because 80% of our clients are probably low-carb or Keto, but it’s all search engine,” he said. “We only sell on Amazon, and we can research what people search. They don’t search ‘protein pasta’ or ‘high fiber pasta,’ they search ‘Keto pasta.'”
It took a professional food developer, who specializes in low-carb foods, 16 tries to perfect the pancakes and eight tries to hone the brownie mix. He tapped his unofficial nieces and nephews — the children of his friends — for frank reviews.
“I’d test them on friends and family, and they’d say ‘Yeah, it’s good, Dave’ because they don’t want to hurt my feelings,” he said. “Once the kids wouldn’t spit them out, or they wanted more, I said, ‘Sweet, we’re good.’ Kids are going to give you honest feedback.”
Now, he says, he regularly gets grateful emails from low-carb customers who are able to make a healthier baked good the entire family enjoys. Typically, they come from moms who changed their diet to stave off diseases like Type 2 diabetes and have struggled to make diet-compliant foods their husbands and kids will eat.
Kolton understands that split-family dynamic. Growing up in an Italian-American kitchen where “food was everything,” the love language — combined with the sugary, high-fat American diet — was a recipe for a chubby childhood. Read More
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A Filipino food festival is coming to Pentagon City this weekend.
“Filipino Chef’s Night Out” is set to take place this Friday, Oct. 21 from 6-10 p.m. inside Sparrow Room. That’s the cocktail bar and dim sum restaurant located behind Bun’d Up at Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) on S. Joyce Street.
The festival is a collaboration between local restaurateur Scott Chung and six Filipino chefs in honor of Filipino American History Month. It will feature the six chefs serving a “specially curating tasting box” to each attendee to go along with a night of karaoke and mahjong.
The line-up of local chefs includes James Beard nominees, the executive chef from one of America’s best restaurants, and RAMMY award winners. They’ll be cooking up traditional Filipino dishes with a modern flair like pork belly kare kare, beef tapa, and biko.
The evening event costs $75 per person. Both Sparrow Room and Bun’d Up will be closed to the public starting at 6 p.m for the duration of the night.
Chung, who co-owns Sparrow Room and Bun’d Up, told ARLnow that this is the first time he’s doing something like this, though he was inspired and encouraged by last weekend’s night market at Westpost.
“[Our festival] is the same idea, giving chefs a platform outside of the restaurant to celebrate their culture,” Chung said.
The chefs will be putting together about 150 boxes and Chung expects them to sell out.
Bun’d Up first opened in late 2019 and, about a year later, added Sparrow Room to the back. It’s styled as a “speakeasy” cocktail bar with a focus on the resurgent 19th-century Chinese game of Mahjong. The bar also offers classes to teach the game.
Between the night market and “Filipino Chef’s Night Out,” Chung says the popularity of these events makes it clear there’s an appetite for these types of festivals in Pentagon City.
“It really gives me ideas for what can be done with the space,” he said. “We can have a lot of success here. “
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
Autumn is upon us and a local cookie company is hoping to mint some pumpkin spiced profits with new seasonal flavors.
MOLTN, a late-night cookie shop operating from a ghost kitchen in Arlington’s Dominion Hills neighborhood, is jumping on the fall flavor hay wagon as it seeks to continue its warm and gooey growth path.
“Regardless of where you fall on the PSL [Pumpkin Spice Latte] debate, we’re pretty sure you’ll love our pumpkin white chocolate pecan cookie, which we just added to the menu this week,” co-owner Neal Miglani said.
The company — which operates from Allspice Catering at 6017 Wilson Blvd — is finalizing recipes for other seasonal menu items, as well as vegan chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies.
He said he will soon be announcing a “top secret” vegan flavor, while year-round ice cream lovers should be able to enjoy shakes and sundaes by October. Ice cream-based desserts items were advertised when the company launched in the spring, but have yet to go on sale.
“We haven’t been able to add the ice cream items to the menu yet because our freezer is still on backorder due to supply chain issues,” the co-owner said. “We’ve got everything ready to go as soon as it gets here, which we hope will happen within the coming weeks.”
Miglani reported that local businesses and the county government have been sweet on MOLTN’s catering arm.
“We… recently delivered 1,000 cookies to 22 of the Arlington County government buildings for their Employee Appreciation Day, which may have been the most fun we’ve had yet with catering orders,” he said.
But the most loyal sweet tooth customer base remains those trolling delivery apps for a comforting late night treat.
“While we see that late-night cookie cravings know no age or gender boundaries, the largest share of our customers are Millennial and Gen Z women,” he said.
And the company’s most popular flavors are the Reese’s peanut butter, s’mores and red velvet varieties.
To give employees a break, the co-owner did roll back MOLTN’s night-time hours from 2 a.m. on weekends to 1 a.m.
“To be honest, we did this primarily for our team,” Miglani said. “Demand usually starts to drop after the midnight to 1 a.m. window, and we didn’t want to ask people to stay so late when the sales were coming in sporadically.”
Despite one fewer hour of operation, MOLTN has been baking more than 2,000 pounds of cookie dough every month “right out of the gate,” he said.
“We’re really lucky to be a part of the amazing community in Arlington, from the customers who have been so supportive since we opened to our all-star team of employees who make the job fun and easy,” Miglani said.
Ballston Quarter is set to hold a free food festival featuring international cuisine this Saturday (July 30) at its food court.
Ballston Quarter Food Fest is set to be held at the plaza of the mall, adjacent to the Quarter Market food hall, between noon and 4 p.m., according to the event’s webpage.
The event is expected to feature different restaurants at the food court providing food from around world, including Mexican and Japanese among others. No registration is required, spokesperson for the event Ali Zeliff said.
Attendees will receive passports and stamp card as they arrive.
“Participating restaurants will offer sample-sized food to guests as they tour Quarter Market with their Ballston Quarter passports,” the event webpage notes.
More than 10 restaurants are expected to participate, according to the mall’s Facebook post, including the following.
- Rice Crook, an East Asian fusion restaurant, is offering chicken fried rice
- Ice Cream Jubilee, an Asian American-owned ice cream shop, is offering flavors such as Thai Iced Tea
- Go Poke, a Hawaiian restaurant, is offering tuna and salmon poke bites
- Punch Bowl Social, an American gastropub, is offering its Knockoff Slider and vegetarian mini quesadillas
- Jinya Ramen, a Japanese restaurant, is offering gyoza
- Hot Lolas, a Nashville hot chicken restaurant with a Chinese kick, is offering chicken tenders with Szechuan spice
- Bartaco, a Latin street food chain, is offering tuna poke and salsa verde and chips
Meanwhile, the artisan sandwich and cocktail restaurant Superette, Turu’s by Timber Pizza and the brewery Ballston Service Station are also set to join the event, but their tasting menus are yet to be announced.
Aside from food, the D.C.-based DJ CYD is scheduled to play current hit songs at the event.
This is the first time Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd) has organized an event of this nature, Zeliff said. The mall organized this event because of the new restaurants and vendors that opened in the past few months, such as Jinya Ramen, she said.
“We are excited to invite the Ballston Quarter community into Quarter Market and give them the opportunity to try restaurants they might not have experienced before,” Zeliff said.
Arlington’s summer days have always consisted of a sweltering combination of high humidity and temperatures. This month has been no exception.
Yet summer is also the season to venture out, try new things, and explore new places.
In the interest of remaining active while cooling down, here are eight tasty, cold goodies in Arlington you can try before summer ends.
1. Nutella ice cream from Nicecream
Nicecream in Clarendon (2831 Clarendon Blvd) uses the process of freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Its selection of ice cream flavors rotates weekly and has flavors spanning from white chocolate peanut butter to grapefruit creamsicle. However, Nutella is a must-try.
2. Nutella açaí bowl from South Block
Similarly, did you know you can get some of that addictive chocolate hazelnut spread in your South Block açaí bowl? We did, so we figured you would want to try that to cool off. Topping off South Block’s Nutella açaí bowl are mixed granola, banana, strawberry, coconut and Nutella.
3. Peanut butter icebox pie from Bakeshop
Bakeshop in Clarendon (1025 N. Fillmore Street) is no ordinary bakery. Offering a slew of flavors of cupcakes, bread, cakes, cookies, pies and macarons, Bakeshop also offers vegan and gluten-free options. Its Peanut Butter Icebox Pie is the perfect pick-me-up for peanut butter lovers.
4. Ice cream cookiewich from Bakeshop
One of the most popular summer treats at Bakeshop that is a must-try is its ice cream Cookiewich. This Cookiewich consists of two mouth-watering chocolate chunk cookies enveloping vanilla ice cream. Bakeshop’s Cookiewich is, in the opinion of this reviewer, beyond any ice cream sandwich you have ever tried.
A festival to showcase Latin American music, folk dance, art and food is coming to Rosslyn next month.
The ¡Viva Cultura! Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 13, at Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd), which is a five-minute walk from the Rosslyn Metro station. The event is set to begin at 10 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Centro de Apoyo Familiar is organizing the family-friendly event and plans to provide live music, dance performances, exhibitions and food, according to the festival’s website. Folk dance groups representing countries like Bolivia, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico are expected to perform their traditional dances in traditional costumes as well.
As for the exhibition, Centro de Apoyo Familiar plans to have artisans from the Caribbean as well as Central and South America offering handcrafted items. Exhibitors include a Colombian handmade jewelry store and organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens. The deadline for becoming an exhibitor is Sunday, July 31, according to the online registration form.
An art exhibition for Latino artists in Arlington is also set. However, registration for it has yet to open, according to the event’s website.
The event will feature a number of activities catered to kids, including face painting, clowns, musical chairs and other games, according to the website. Food trucks selling cuisines from different countries are also expected. Registration for food vendors is still open.
CAF is a nonprofit working in D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia to provide housing counseling to low-income Latino and immigrant families, according to its website.