Arlington, VA

Hula Girl Bar and Grill is closing next week in the Village at Shirlington after nearly four years in business.

The Hawaiian restaurant, which opened at 4044 Campbell Avenue in late 2015, is the creation of chef and owner Mikala Brennan, who first operated Hula Girl as a food truck. Since opening the restaurant Brennan has made occasional appearances on the Food Network.

In an announcement today, Brennan said Hula Girl would be closing after Saturday, Sept. 21.

More from a press release:

Mikala Brennan, Chef/Owner of Hula Girl Bar + Grill announced that the restaurant will be closing its doors on September 21, 2019.

For four years, Hula Girl has been bringing the authentic tastes of the Hawaiian Islands to the DMV from its Shirlington location in the Village at Shirlington at 4044 Campbell Avenue.

“All I really wanted to do was to bring Hawaiian food to this area.  And I did, for close to 10 years, from the food truck to restaurant,” Chef Brennan said.  “I am just so very proud that I took this chance and I will always be thankful for the opportunity that I was given.  Connecting to a community is always so very important – and I thank our community for the support for the past 4 years.”

The restaurant will be offering specials until closing and an ‘eat the restaurant’ event on its last evening with special offers on food and beverage.

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Lyon Park barbecue joint Texas Jack’s may be featured in a new reality TV show.

A crew of a new reality show about D.C. area young professionals visited the restaurant’s private dining room last month to film a conversation between one cast member and his father.

The restaurant’s Director of Operations, Remzi Yilmaz, told ARLnow that the cast member himself chose the restaurant as the location.

“This was one of his favorite places,” he said.

Yilmaz said he was not allowed to share details like the name of the show, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but said the crew might be spotted over the next four weeks filming at other area restaurants, as well as landmarks like the Washington Monument

The show is expected to air in January, though the network on which it is airing and other details are murky.

“I think they’re just giving insight into young professionals in this area, and how they live life, and what they go through,” he said.

A camera crew was also spotted last week at Pentagon Row, in Pentagon City, but it’s unclear if the crew was connected with the new reality series.

Texas Jack’s opened in 2015 and replaced the Tallula and EatBar at 2761 Washington Blvd in Lyon Park.

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(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) Vegan Americana has been making waves, from the new Impossible Whoppers at Burger King to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s vegan chicken buckets. But at one popular Clarendon bar, vegan options are a longtime specialty receiving a new focus.

Galaxy Hut is a small, dimly lit bar at 2711 Wilson Blvd with regulars huddled around tables with built-in arcade games or in the outdoor brick alleyway. The bar has a long history in the local punk rock scene, opening in 1990 in the nascent era of the Clarendon bar scene. It’s strictly for the over-21 crowd, opening at 5 p.m. every day and closing at 2 a.m.

The bar also has a Smithsonian-worthy collection of VHS tapes playing on a regular cycle. Last night (Wednesday), it was Pulp Fiction.

In early August, the Galaxy Hut adjusted its menu with a masthead noting — as it has since 2017 — that every item on the menu can be made vegan. This is not a small menu either. Sandwiches like the Reuben or meatball sub can all be swapped out with vegan imitation ingredients. Others, like the “big mock” — a vegan burger with pickles, onion, Russian dressing and non-dairy cheddar — are implicitly designed as vegan entrees.

Each of these items can be paired with tater tots or eggplant fries, which manager Joe Baker swears by. All of the condiments on the menu are made in-house, according to Baker, so traditionally egg or dairy-based aiolis or ranch are swapped with vegan ingredients.

“We used to carry honey mustard, but people pointed out that’s not vegan so now we use sweet mustard,” Baker said. “We listen to our customers and adjust. Personally, I’ve stopped saying ‘do you want normal cheese’ and switched to ‘do you want dairy-cheese.'”

The vegan menu was not a sudden change but a gradual evolution, according to Baker. Galaxy Hut’s owners are vegan and the bar has been making adjustments over time to cater towards the establishment’s “pretty consistent vegan crowd.”

“We’ve had a significant vegetarian customer base for a long time,” said Lary and Erica Hoffman, the owners, in a joint email to ARLnow. “Galaxy Hut went entirely vegetarian for 9 months in 2012, but decided to add meat options back to the menu due to customer demand.”

The veggie focus event landed Galaxy Hut as the Virginia standout on a “50 States of Vegetarian Food” list compiled on the Food Network website.

A handful of the beers also have non-vegan ingredients, but Baker said all of the bartenders know the taps well enough to let those ordering vegan food items know which of the beers to avoid.

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Renegade Coffee and Kitchen is coming to the former Mister Days space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd.

“What we’ve got is full-service espresso with Stumptown Coffee,” said Patrick Crump, executive chef and owner of Renegade Coffee and Kitchen.

The Portland-based Stumptown Coffee is widely lauded, but a rare sight in the D.C. region. Taps are are being set up along the new coffee bar to serve nitro cold brew coffee. The unique offerings could help Renegade stand out, and steady daytime business could help the business afford the high Clarendon rent, but the restaurant faces plenty of competition, including a Peet’s Coffee across the street.

Other coffee competition in Clarendon competition includes Northside SocialWaterhouse CoffeeHeritage BrewingOby LeeDetour CoffeeBakeshopDunkin Donuts, Starbucks and the future East West Cafe and Kaldi’s Social House.

Crump is no stranger to Clarendon. He’s executive chef at Clarendon Ballroom, Spider Kelly’s and formerly Clarendon Grill — which closed in October after 22 years. Crump’s vision for Renegade is a full-service restaurant with an international menu — including cuisine from Morocco to Vietnam. The menu will mostly be small bites from around $3 to $5, he said.

Another part of the restaurant’s aim is helping to revive the local live music scene. The coffee bar only takes up one corner of the restaurant, so the rest is filled with seating, with plans to use some of it as a music venue — taking up the crown left unclaimed in the wake of Clarendon Grill and Iota Club and Cafe’s closures.

“We want to replace Iota for live music,” said Eric Anderson, general manager and partner. “We want to bring that back.”

In the evenings, Crump plans to turn the area into a nightclub to help carry on the Mister Days legacy.

The coffee shop is still working through some permit approvals, but the owners said they expect Renegade to open within five or six weeks. In the meantime, the company is currently hiring full and part-time baristas, servers and bartenders.

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Zoup! Eatery could be opening in Ballston —  the chain’s first Arlington location — by the end of October.

The soup joint is opening in 4401 Fairfax Drive, occupying the ground floor of an office building undergoing a revitalization effort. A contractor working at the site said much of the work should be done within the next few weeks.

(The building is also home to a new University of Phoenix campus and a reportedly forthcoming poke restaurant.)

“We’re setting up ‘soft opening’ days on Oct. 18 and 19 with proceeds going to charity, opening to the public on Oct 21,” franchise owner Jim Beverley said in an email to ARLnow, “and then doing a grand opening celebration 6 weeks or so after that… we haven’t nailed that down yet though.”

As the name implies, the restaurant specializes in soup, but it also offers a wide variety along with salads, sandwiches and more. The soups include vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options served alongside a hunk of freshly-baked bread.

A press release for Zoup! Eatery noted that the company will also offer takeout and delivery options.

“Long before I even thought of becoming a franchisee, I was a Zoup! regular,” Beverley said in the press release. “A friend jokingly called me an addict after seeing my umpteenth Zoup! bag. I love Zoup!’s gourmet soups, fresh salads and sandwiches, delicious new Sustain-a-Bowls, and zesty craft beverages. I can’t wait to bring the Zoup! experience to my friends and neighbors in Ballston!”

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After weeks of remodeling, the Wendy’s at 5066 Lee Highway is back open for business, with a “free food for a year” giveaway this weekend.

The fast food restaurant quietly opened earlier this week, but the grand opening celebration is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) from 9-11 a.m. The first 100 customers in line by 10 a.m. will have a chance to win free food for a year, according to a press release.

Two of the biggest non-decorative upgrades for the new Wendy’s are a new Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage dispenser — a soda machine with a lot of choices — and free Wi-Fi internet service.

“This restaurant has bold curb appeal and features a compelling design — inside and out,” said Arif Islam, Wendy’s region manager, in the press release. “It’s very different from what our customers in Arlington are used to, but we think they’ll really like the fresh look and feel of the new Wendy’s.”

The press release boasts that the new Wendy’s boasts improvements like “large windows” and “multiple seating options,” which in practice means the fast-food restaurant has been brought up to par with other renovated spots like the Taco Bell down the street and fellow renovated Wendy’s locations on Columbia Pike and King Street.

Next door, however, the former Linda’s Diner location remains virtually untouched one year after it was “soon to be replaced” by a Bob and Edith’s Diner.

Diners seemed to be excited to finally have their neighborhood Wendy’s back. Lines for the drive-thru stretched back to Lee Highway during lunch hours yesterday.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) It was poultry pandemonium at Popeyes on Pershing, the Pike and in Pentagon City today.

The fried chicken chain has been selling out of its wildly popular, critically acclaimed new chicken sandwiches nationwide, and Arlington is no exception — but one shining beacon of salty and fatty goodness in the county was still serving as of mid-afternoon today.

Spurred on by a social media war among Popeyes, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s and lesser chicken sandwich purveyors, customers have been flocking to Popeyes restaurants and scarfing down every clucking sammy in the joint.

In Arlington today, we went searching for the coveted bread-chicken-pickles-and-mayo stack at three Popeyes locations in the county: at 4241 N. Pershing Drive in Buckingham, near Ballston; at 5007 Columbia Pike, near the Arlington Mill Community Center; and at the Pentagon City mall food court. (A fourth, right on the Arlington/Alexandria border at 4675 King Street, was left off our visit list.)

Arriving at the Pershing location around 1 p.m., the parking lot was full and a line wrapped around the interior of the restaurant. After finally advancing to the front of the line, a woman dressed in business attire and not the usual Popeyes uniform — was it the owner? — broke the news that the restaurant had sold out of the sandwich an hour earlier. She said a shipment on Friday is expected to restock their sandwich supply, and added in hushed tones that they may be restocked tonight (Wednesday) as well.

The story was even bleaker at the Popeyes on the Pike. Staff there said they’re out of the sandwiches, noted that many local Popeyes have been out for two days, and asserted they won’t be getting more until Friday at the earliest. One particularly spicy customer — the sandwiches come in classic and spicy varieties, it should be noted — said the viral online food fight is to blame.

“It’s crazy. I blame it on social media,” the customer said. “They [the Popeyes sandwiches] are good, but they’re not Chick-Fil-A good.”

Finally, at 3 p.m., the Popeyes at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City food court beckoned. Taking stock of the origin of the chain’s name — it’s supposedly named after a detective in the 1971 film The French Connection, not the spinach-swallowing cartoon sailor — it dawned on our intrepid reporter that we, too, were conducting an investigation into a dealer of addictive substances. But since chicken sandwiches are decidedly more benign than heroin, he soldiered on.

From a distance, a long line could be seen. Upon further inspection, it started at the Popeyes and stretched well past the McDonald’s. Approaching the counter, employees could be seen preparing it — The Sandwich — the most buzzworthy fried chicken fast food concoction since the KFC Double Down.

Sure enough, the chicken sandwich was still being served to hungry shoppers and office workers, pulled to the Popeyes stall at the mall at 3 p.m. as if by some magnetic force.

“It’s really good,” said Sedaya Moore, halfway through her first Popeyes sandwich experience, before continuing to chow down with her dining companions. There was nothing else to say.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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Our report of Pizza Roma’s possible demise last week was a bit exaggerated.

The pizzeria, located across the street from the Ballston Metro station at 4219 N. Fairfax Drive, was indeed closed during lunchtime hours. At the time, there was no indication at the restaurant, over the phone or online that its hours had changed.

Now, a sign in the window says that until next Monday, Aug. 26, the restaurant will only open for dinner, starting at 5 p.m. Tipsters tell us Pizza Roma was open for dinner this past Friday and Saturday.

In June, ARLnow heard from another customer who thought the restaurant had closed — it turned out then, as well, that it was only open for dinner.

Though our article couched the observation that Pizza Roma “seems closed,” and we tried several ways of getting in touch with the owner during business hours, ARLnow apologizes for the insinuation that the restaurant might have closed for good without checking in person, at night to see if it was open for dinner.

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Morning Notes

Now Might Be the Time to Sell Your Home — “‘Some sellers are thinking ‘gosh, why don’t I just wait until Amazon gets into full bloom before I sell my house, because maybe values will go up even higher,” Christine Richardson, president of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, told WTOP. ‘But I’m not sure that is necessarily the right way to think about it, because often that initial exuberance is actually higher than reality turns out to be.'” [WTOP]

Local CVS Sold Millions of Opioids — “The largest recipient of pain pills in Arlington, according to the database, is a CVS Pharmacy located at 3133 Lee Highway. A total of 1,465,700 pills were shipped to this pharmacy between 2006 and 2012, which would be enough for one pill per year for each of the 106,612 people who live within five miles of the pharmacy.” [Patch]

Lots of Booze Sales in Arlington — “The eight Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores in Arlington accounted for 2.8 percent of total ABC purchases Virginia-wide during the state government’s last fiscal year, which saw a new statewide record set in total sales volume. A total of $29,052,507 in sales (excluding tax) were made at Arlington’s ABC stores from July 2018 to June 2019.” [InsideNova]

Cristol on Kojo — Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol went on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show on Friday. Among the topics she discussed: the federal government’s search for a new shelter for detained, unaccompanied immigrant children in Northern Virginia. [Kojo Nnamdi Show, Twitter]

Local Restaurants Coming to Memphis — A pair of local restaurants — Matchbox American Kitchen and Arlington-based Big Buns Best Damn Burger Co. — are opening new locations in Memphis, Tennessee. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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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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One of two Subways in Ballston is closing, part of a widespread slimming down of the fast-food sandwich chain across the U.S. and Arlington.

The Subway at 801 N. Quincy Street will be closing on Sunday, August 25, according to an employee at the restaurant.

The location is slightly removed from the main restaurant corridors along Wilson Blvd and Fairfax Drive — where the other Subway sits directly across from the Ballston Metro station.

The nestled Subway is nestled between Urban Tandoor and the Virginia ABC store. Despite its off-the-beaten path location, it had a fairly steady lunchtime crowd, including from construction workers at nearby projects.

The closure comes on the heels of recent closures of Subway restaurants in Cherrydale, Clarendon, and Courthouse.

H/t Matt M.

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