Arlington, VA

If you’re dating but on a budget, Arlington is a good place to be.

That’s according to a new-for-2021 set of rankings from the website SmartAsset, which examined cities and places from around the U.S., comparing to cost of things like coffee and wine, in addition to access to parks and employment.

“One small upside is that dates during COVID-19 may be cheaper than usual,” SmartAsset wrote about the study. “Many COVID-friendly dates such as picnics and takeout are less expensive than typical activities, so wooers won’t have to dig as deep into their savings accounts to make Cupid strike.”

The couple seen above, Justin and Alexis, proved that thesis on Valentine’s Day this past Sunday. They headed to the View of DC observation deck at the top of 1201 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn — which is free for Arlington residents — and danced to a record player amid the breathtaking vistas.

Arlington ranked No. 2 on SmartAsset’s budget-friendly list, between Madison, Wisconsin (No. 1) and St. Petersburg, Florida (No. 3).

From the website:

Arlington, Virginia ranks at the top of our study for economic favorability, which means that your date in this D.C. a suburb is likely employed and has a decent disposable income. In November 2020, the unemployment rate was 3.8%, the fourth-lowest in our study, and on average, residents pay only 26.14% of their income on housing costs, the second-lowest for this metric. Those looking to share a special meal with a significant other also have a vast variety of options: Arlington ranks 15th for the greatest density of restaurants, with almost 230 for every 100,000 residents in the city.

The rankings compared metrics like “date affordability (cost of two cappuccinos, cost of takeout and a bottle of wine, average monthly internet cost), date access (coffee and snack shop density, restaurant density, percentage of households with internet access, percentage of city made up of parkland) and economic favorability (housing costs and unemployment rate).”

Jay Westcott contributed to this report. Image (bottom) courtesy SmartAsset.

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Morning Notes

Love Notes in Rosslyn — “In honor of Valentine’s Day, we created Rosslyn Love, a community-wide free activity where anyone in the DMV could submit a message to be displayed across four temporary murals outside of 1550 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn. Whether it was for a partner, a friend, coworker, family member, healthcare professional or even just a favorite spot around the neighborhood, we received over 400 messages of love and gratitude.” [Rosslyn BID]

Dems Keep Focus on Equity — “The Arlington County Democratic Committee in early March is expected to make its ad-hoc Inclusion and Equity Committee a permanent standing committee. The goal, deputy party chair Maggie Davis said, was to ‘do better including more people that look like the population of Arlington’ in Democratic Party activities.” [InsideNova]

Local GOP Surveying Members — “The Arlington County Republican Committee is in the midst of surveying its membership in hopes of making the party and its meetings more relevant to the rank-and-file and broader community. ‘Dozens of Arlington Republicans have already taken the time to complete this survey, and their responses are thoughtful and thorough,’ said Matthew Hurtt, the Arlington GOP’s communications director.” [InsideNova]

Police Investigate Sexual Battery in Arlington Mill — “The victim was walking in the area when she noticed the male suspect walking behind her. The suspect approached the victim, grabbed her waist and thrusted himself against her multiple times while making sexual comments. The victim continued walking and, as she approached her residence, the suspect re-approached her and brushed his hands against her breast. The victim was able to enter her residential building and close the door, preventing the suspect from following her inside.” [ACPD]

Air Force Vet Still Standing Up to Cancer — “‘Pat’ Malone, a seven-year cancer survivor, and 20-year Air Force veteran will ‘stand up to cancer’ for 24-hours straight, during his Seventh Annual Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) 24-Hour Fundraiser, beginning at 4:26 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, and ending at 4:26 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2021, at Fire Works American Pizzeria & Bar, 2350 Clarendon Blvd.” [The Zebra]

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This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and also receive exclusive discounts and offers.

Valentine’s Day is often associated with indulgences in food, wine and chocolates or other desserts.

If you’re looking to change things up a little this year, there are some beer options that can make your evening just a little more special. If I may humbly offer a few suggestions:

Before Or With Dinner

If you’re starting with finger foods or a cheese/charcuterie plate (wherever might you acquire one of those, I wonder?), a clean, snappy Pils or other lighter Lager can simultaneously accentuate flavors while staying out of their way. My old standby Veltins Pilsener does this well, as do Hardywood’s Pils, Port City’s Downright Pilsner and the new Bruery Ruekeller: Helles.

Helles is a great way to go for something with a tick more flavor that you can also take to the table. Consider The Bruery’s version along with Rocket Frog’s Hellenor.

With Dinner

English-style Ales offer a great mix of sweet notes from both their malts and yeasts, along with easy-going lower ABVs and balanced mouth feels thanks to judicious hop usage that rarely crossed over into bitter or overpowering. We’re lucky to have a couple good local options available in the Denizens Lowest Lord ESB and the recently arrived Fast Mail from Danville’s Ballad Brewing, a lovely interpretation of an English Mild clocking in at 4.2% ABV.

For the more adventurous, a nice Belgian or Belgian-style beer always works. Denizens comes through again here with Third Party Tripel, but it’s hard to stay away from Trappist classics like Westmalle Tripel, Rochefort 8 and Orval. It’s a bit esoteric, but De Proef’s Saison Imperiale is a unique, maltier take on the style that is complex and gorgeous on its own but would play well with earthier entrees.

After Dinner

Staying with the Belgians, Rodenbach’s Felmish Sours play beautifully off of chocolates and fruits. The Rodenbach Classic runs more tart than sour, with hints of cherry, while Alexander actually sees the addition of sour cherry juice. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with Rodenbach.

If you’re veering toward a truly indulgent end to the meal, consider a lush Imperial Stout: Toasted Almond from Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Company in Virginia Beach is a cocktail-inspired, Bourbon barrel-aged monster made with lactose (pair with/on ice cream?), whole coffee beans and yes, toasted almonds.

It’s not cheap and hard to find — apparently only two cases came up to NoVA; guess who got one? — but if you’re going all-out, go all out, right? Also consider: Sierra Nevada’s Barrel-Aged Narwhal (recently released in 16oz cans and apparently as a year-round beer), Port City Porter, or Hardywood’s seasonal Baltic Sunrise, a lovely Baltic Porter on coffee.

As always, follow us on Untappd or check our site for real-time updates on what’s on the Draft Station. Until next time!

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In case you forgot, Friday is Valentine’s Day. Wait, before you make a panicked purchase on Amazon and hit “next day shipping,” a market is scheduled this Friday in Crystal City to rescue last-minute shoppers.

The Valentine’s Market is scheduled to run from 4-8 p.m. at The Grounds (1102 S. Eads Street) with a variety of local vendors. If gift-giving isn’t really your style, an event listing said there will also be plenty of activities to turn it into a date night:

Leave your Valentine’s Day shopping to the last minute again, or just looking for a nice outing that doesn’t involve a quiet restaurant? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with the Valentine’s Market at The Grounds!

Join us at The Grounds in Crystal City for wine & beer tastings and shopping from local crafts and treat vendors. There will also be a cash bar and food trucks, powered by Curbside Kitchen, so you can make an evening of it!

The Facebook page noted that the beer tastings will be offered by Caboose Brewing Company and the wine will be offered by Crystal City Wine Shop.

According to the website, vendors at the event include:

The website also says Arlington County’s Vision Zero program will be in attendance, in case your partner is a transportation policy wonk.

Photo via Agents in Style/Facebook

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Haven’t made Valentine’s Day reservations yet?

You’re in luck. Here are the top 15 best-reviewed restaurants in Arlington, according to OpenTable, that — as of publication time — still have reservations available between 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14.

1. Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant (Crystal City)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

2. Maya Bistro (Lee Highway)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

3. MeJana (Courthouse)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

4. True Food Kitchen (Ballston)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

5. Heritage Brewpub (Clarendon)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

6. Lebanese Taverna (Westover)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

7. Sushi Rock (Courthouse)
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m., 6 p.m.

8. Palette 22 (Shirlington)
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m., 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

9. Open Road Grill (Rosslyn)
Time slots available: 6:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

10. Istanbul Grill (Bluemont)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

11. Baba (Clarendon)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m.

12. La Bettola Italiano (Crystal City)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

13. Osteria da Nino (Shirlington)
Time slots available: 8:15 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

14. Liberty Tavern (Clarendon)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

15. Texas Jack’s Barbecue (Lyon Park)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash

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Morning Notes

No Coronavirus in N. Va. So Far — “UPDATE: Tests came back negative on a second Northern Virginia resident suspected of having the novel coronavirus.” [Twitter]

HQ2 Search Was Intended to Extract Handouts — “When Elon Musk secured $1.3 billion from Nevada in 2014 to open a gigantic battery plant, Jeff Bezos noticed. In meetings, the Amazon.com Inc. chief expressed envy for how Musk had pitted five Western states against one another in a bidding war for thousands of manufacturing jobs; he wondered why Amazon was okay with accepting comparatively trifling incentives.” [Bloomberg]

Todd Hitt’s Path to Fraud — “Todd Hitt had never worked for the family company. He’d built spec houses around the same North Arlington neighborhoods where he’d grown up, but according to a court document, his homebuilding business had collapsed… now solidly into midlife, Hitt suddenly seemed eager to leave his fingerprints on the Washington landscape.” [Washingtonian]

Ballston Homicide Investigation Update — An update on last month’s homicide in Ballston, from an Arlington County Police spokeswoman: “The homicide investigation remains a top priority of the department with detectives continuing to process evidence, interview witnesses and follow-up on investigate leads. At this time, there is no new information to provide regarding the investigation. Arlington County Crime Solvers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest of a suspect. Report tips anonymously by calling the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Virginia’s Favorite Valentine’s Candy — Virginia’s favorite Valentine’s Day candy is conversation hearts, followed by heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, according to a candy website. [CandyStore.com]

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The Made in Arlington Pop-Up is in full bloom on February 12 at the Courthouse Plaza Shop with new vendors and sweet treats for all the Valentines in your life.

Adding local charm to gifts of the heart, Arlington’s creative makers, artisans and entrepreneurs are part of a growing creative sector. Not sure how to declare your love or say it best? FastSnail greetings is on hand with artist designed cards that will make the recipient smile.

Welcome fresh flowers from new vendor Tiny Bloom Shop. Pick up a small vase of beauty designed by Gretchen Dimina, a former buyer for the Renwick Gallery shop, who puts charm and whimsy in all her arrangements.

Sweets for your sweet? Hand decorated cookies made from scratch are a hallmark of Village Sweet that spell out messages in icing. Or give in to a chocolate craving with rich delights from Kingsbury Chocolates.

More local surprises for the home and heart come from Dennison Lane home accessories and Mandy Sahm’s unique felted wool jewelry and crafts.

Stop by and shop some local love!

Tuesday, February 12
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Plaza Library Shop
2100 Clarendon Blvd., 1st Floor Lobby

For ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities, click here. View more Creative Economy stories on our blog.

Shaheen Hossini likes when Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week.

When the holiday falls on the weekend or a Monday, her floral arrangements business, Crystal City’s Flowers With Love, scrambles to deliver sometimes hundreds of rose bouquet orders as early in the day as possible. The florists can’t encourage people to have their arrangements delivered a few days in advance, because people won’t be in the office to enjoy them for as long.

But when the holiday is later in the work week, it’s easier for Hossini to encourage customers to have early deliveries.

“A lot of times, people are not expecting the flowers on Monday or Tuesday, because they’re thinking Valentine’s is on Wednesday,” said Hossini, a Springfield, Va., resident. “It gives them an opportunity to enjoy the flowers earlier.”

Flowers With Love only has two full-time employees and a part-time employee, but several seasonal employees are hired each Valentine’s Day just to keep up with the high volume of orders.

Ranard Wood, a seasonal employee and resident of D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood, has been working with flowers for the last 45 or 50 years. He loves arranging flowers, preferably tropical bouquets or hydrangeas, but since retirement he rarely works except for at Hossini’s store around Valentine’s Day.

“She’s the only one who can bring me out to do this, because this is insane this time of year,” said Wood, pointing toward Hossini along the arrangement bar, where slews of Ecuadorian and Colombian roses cover the counter.

In the two or three days leading up to Valentine’s Day, Hossini’s store makes about 10-15% of their annual sales. Mother’s Day and the Christmas season are their next busiest times of year, but Valentine’s Day is another level. That demand leads to higher markup for roses in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, as rose growers stop cutting to prepare for the February 14 onslaught.

The markups can range from an additional 100% per rose to as high as an extra 140%, which leads to higher prices for the florists and, in turn, for the customers. Beginning in early December, the prices shoot up, incrementally raising higher and higher closer to mid-February.

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend two billion dollars on Valentine’s Day flowers in 2018. Total planned Valentine’s Day spending is up nationwide, from $18.2 billion in 2017 to a projected $19.8 billion this year.

“There used to be a time where we would depend on the phones and at a certain point we would turn them off,” Hossini explained. “But now, with internet e-florists, we get so much business from that. We think we’re not that busy but the orders are coming through on the computer.”

“You turn around and there’s 10 orders on the computer and you’re like — ahhh!”

This is the only time of year that Flowers With Love, bought by Hossini in 1998 from the original owner, does a lot of walk-in business. Much of their business comes from party work for the businesses and hotels in Crystal City.

Flowers With Love is one of only a few florists in Arlington, according to Hossini, but having competition from elsewhere in the county is actually a good thing around Valentine’s Day, when there are sometimes just too many orders to fill at the last minute for one store.

“We can only do so much, and everyone wants flowers,” said Hossini.

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Could Be Big Budget Winner — Commercial real estate analysts expect Crystal City and the Dulles Toll Road corridor to be the big winners from the new spending bill that was signed into law last week, boosting domestic and military budgets. Crystal City is also among the Northern Virginia locales under consideration for Amazon’s HQ2. [Bisnow]

Park Police Chief Cancels Meeting with BeyerUpdated at 12:30 p.m. — The chief of the U.S. Park Police cancelled a scheduled meeting yesterday with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Beyer and Norton are seeking answers in the fatal Park Police shooting of Bijan Ghaisar, who fled from a reported crash and then from officers before being shot in Fairfax County. USPP later released a statement explaining the chief’s decision. [WUSA 9, PDF]

Ballston to Hold Puppy Party Tomorrow — “Didn’t feel the love on Valentines Day? Join the Ballston BID for a puppy pick-me-up. All dogs present available for adoption through our partner, Homeward Trails. They bring the furry friends. Earl’s will bring the food.” [Ballston BID]

Charlie Clark on Arlington and Its History — “Clark compared the local population to the cast of the NBC show ‘Parks and Recreation,’ a group of honest, do-gooders who try their best but things still go awry. They’re a body of citizens that aren’t afraid to challenge their local governance on issues, pointing in particular to the struggle put up by local citizens last year when Arlington worked to relocate Fire Station 8.” [Arlington Connection]

Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Reservations — Procrastinators rejoice, a number of Arlington restaurants were, at last check, still taking reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner tonight. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by Tim Brown

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Next week the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse will be hosting an alternative to the traditional Valentine’s Day sit-down dinner: stand-up comedy and a showing of “The Princess Bride”

There will be two showings of both on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Doors will first open at 6 p.m., with the stand-up starting at 7 p.m. and the movie beginning at 7:30 p.m. For the second showing, doors will open at 9:30 p.m., the stand-up will start at 9:45 p.m. and the screening will begin at 10:15 p.m.

Tickets are value-priced, according to the Drafthouse’s website.

“Only $10 — inconceivable!” the website says.

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Morning Notes

View of Rosslyn from Courthouse

Norovirus Outbreak at School — More than 80 students at Oakridge Elementary in south Arlington are out sick as a result of a suspected norovirus outbreak. The virus causes symptoms like “stomach aches, fever, vomiting and, in some cases, diarrhea.” [NBC Washington]

Sign Controversy at Yorktown — Some conservatives are upset that teachers at Yorktown High School are being allowed to hang “politically suggestive” signs in their classrooms. The signs read: “Patriots Know: Facts are not political. Diversity strengthens us. Science is real. Women’s rights are human rights. Justice is for all. We’re all immigrants. Kindness is everything.” [Daily Caller]

Yorktown Lacrosse Star Nears 200 Goals — Yorktown senior lacrosse star Laura Crawford is nearing the 200-goal mark for high school career. Crawford, a three-time team MVP, has committed to Penn. [Washington Post]

Female UAE Hockey Player Visits Caps — Fatima Al Ali, a hockey player and coach from United Arab Emirates, has been visiting with the Washington Capitals this week as part of the NHL’s “Hockey Is For Everyone month.” The visit has included taking the ice at the Caps practice facility in Ballston and dropping the puck at last night’s game at Verizon Center. [Fox 5, Al-Arabiya]

Levine, Favola Advance Rape Kit BillUpdated at 9:40 a.m. — Legislation sponsored by Del. Mark Levine and state Sen. Barbara Favola, which Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol helped to craft, has passed unanimously in the Virginia House of Delegates. The bill calls for police to keep rape kits for a longer period of time even if the victim is not ready to prosecute. [WVTF]

MMA Studio Gives Parents a Night Off — A mixed martial arts gym is not a place that one would usually think of as a babysitting venue, but that’s precisely what Pentagon MMA on Columbia Pike will be Saturday night. The business is hosting a “parents’ night out” event for Valentine’s Day, letting mom or dad “enjoy a worry-free evening with your special someone this Valentine’s Day while your child enjoys a night of structured activities in a supervised environment.” [Pentagon MMA]

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