Arlington, VA

A new bubble tea joint is coming to Rosslyn.

Permits have been filed for a Gong Cha Tea Shop at 1650 Wilson Blvd, across from the new Arlington Public Schools facility The Heights.

There is a Gong Cha international franchise with locations throughout D.C. and Maryland with a Fairfax location in Annandale (4230 Annandale Road) that opened earlier this year.

The chain offers bubble tea — a tea-based drink with pearls of tapioca balls — at a variety of sweetnesses. It also offers egg waffle dishes with ice cream.

There was no evidence of construction activity at 1650 Wilson Blvd and Gong Cha could not be reached to learn when the shop will be opening.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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L.A.-based gym Barry’s Bootcamp — famed for its difficulty — is coming to Clarendon.

Construction permits were filed earlier this year for a 5,695 square foot space at 2825 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, next to the Chase Bank.

The international gym franchise has one location in D.C., in Dupont Circle, and staff there said the Clarendon location is expected to open by the end of the year — most likely in December.

The layout of the new gym will be similar to the D.C. location, we’re told. There’s no word yet on promotions or other pre-opening deals, the company usually offers them to first-time members.

There’s no shortage of new gyms coming to Arlington, but the gym is opening near where Washington Sports Club closed in June.

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If you cruise Rosslyn streets late at night, you might want to avoid Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn over the next month.

From Sundays through Thursdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., Wilson Blvd is scheduled to be closed between N. Oak and N. Quinn streets.

The closures are expected to start Sunday, Aug. 18, and continue through the end of September.

The street will be closed to allow Dominion workers to upgrade power service to handle Arlington Public Schools’ new Heights Building and the redevelopment of 1555 Wilson Blvd as luxury condos and retail, according to a press release.

Cars and buses are expected to be detoured north to Key Blvd during the closures, though the sidewalk on the south side of the street will remain open for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

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Mediterranean restaurant House of Mandi may be gone from 5515 Wilson Blvd, but mandi devotees won’t have to go far to find the eponymous dish.

King of Koshary — a new Egyptian restaurant that opened a month ago in the former House of Mandi location — includes Mediterranean dishes like mandi on its menu.

“We’re an Egyptian restaurant, but we knew a lot of people really liked mandi, so we incorporated it into our menu,” said Ayob Mentry, owner of King of Koshary.

Like House of Mandi, King of Koshary features a variety of dishes from Mentry’s home, but centers around one. In this case it’s koshari: a vegan rice, macaroni and lentils dish topped with chickpeas, tomato sauce and fried onions. Koshari is a popular fixture of the roadside street-food scene in Egypt.

“King of Koshary isn’t a name, it is a title,” the restaurant’s Facebook page boasted in a post.

Mentry said the $8.99 meal is the restaurant’s signature dish. Other entrees include a variety of kabobs, oxtail, and seafood prepared in traditional Egyptian styles.

The restaurant includes dining-in or takeout options. On Sundays from 8-10 p.m., it also has an open seafood buffet.

The restaurant is currently hiring, as much of the work is currently done by Mentry running back and forth from greeting visitors to preparing the food.

King of Koshary is Mentry’s first restaurant and is a love letter to Egypt, both in modern food and ancient-style decorations. King Tutankhamun features prominently in the artwork.

“It feels great [to be open],” said Mentry. “It’s a challenge, but not taking that risk would have felt like a bigger risk.”

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Takeshi Sushi and Ramen in Courthouse has only been in its “soft opening” phase for a week, but at lunch today (Thursday) it was nearly full with locals checking out Arlington’s newest Japanese restaurant.

The small but sunny eatery at 2424 Wilson Blvd is sandwiched next to Delhi Dhaba Indian Restaurant and underneath Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill. It is open daily from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

The restaurant offers a range of sushi platters, ramen soups, and rice books for between $11-$15 (one eel on rice dish, Unaju, being the outlier at $18). Vegetarian and vegan options — like a soft tofu ramen and a mango/avocado-based fruit “sushi” — are also available.

Owner and chef Wu Lin said there are a few more dishes on the way when the restaurant has its full grand opening sometime next month.

Lin said he trained at the Tokyo Sushi Academy and showed top-ranked certificates from the school.

While the restaurant is still using napkins from Papa John’s next door and has a rather sparse, hole-in-the-wall interior, the staff showed careful precision as they assembled meals. One chef slicing lemons for a boxed meal discarded two pieces after he decided they were sliced slightly too thin.

“This area is new for us, but we’re confident,” said one of the staff.

Lin said that while the restaurant offers sushi and ramen, the ramen has by far been the more popular choice so far.

A second location for the restaurant in the Fairfax Circle Shopping Center is also now open, according to Lin.

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A reported wrong-way crash prompted the closure of Wilson Blvd at N. Rhodes Street, between Rosslyn and Courthouse.

A witness told ARLnow the driver of a blue SUV was driving in reverse down the street and struck several parked vehicles. A Metrobus was also struck.

Northbound N. Rhodes Street was also closed at Clarendon Blvd shortly after the crash. Rhodes and one lane of Wilson have since reopened as of 2:30 p.m.

Police placed the driver of the SUV in handcuffs after conducting a breathalyzer test. Open cans of beer could be seen inside the vehicle following the crash.

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One month after it served its last beer in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, Meridian Pint is planning to open its new location in the Dominion Hills shopping plaza tomorrow.

For owner John Andrade, the move brings his new bar — at 6035 Wilson Blvd — a little closer to home. Andrade is from the neighborhood and many of the wait staff are hired from the nearby neighborhoods.

“I live a quarter-mile away and my daughter goes to Ashlawn,” Andrade said. “I know the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to understand the void for folks here for craft beer.”

Andrade said oversaturation and competition with a new wave of breweries having their own bars forced Meridian Pint out of D.C., but added that the move is also an opportunity to rebuild the small community bar scene.

“There is a focus on D.C. or even Clarendon or Ballston for beers, but the neighborhoods are neglected,” Andrade said.

A sign at the front says the restaurant will be called Dominion Pint, but Andrade said there was a legal challenge to the name so the bar is sticking with Meridian Pint. The restaurant has been holding a series of soft openings for neighbors and other invitees this week, but the official public opening is Thursday.

It will be the sixth restaurant Andrade has opened, including those no longer operating. Andrade also runs three other D.C. restaurants: Brookland PintRosario’s Tacos & Tequila in Adams Morgan, and Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan.

Andrade said the focus of Meridian Pint will be on American grilled food and craft beer — both local and national brands. In addition to beers, Andrade said he’s focusing on the restaurant’s homemade ice cream.

Jace Gonnerman, the beer program director for Meridian Pint, said his goal is to maintain a careful balance of obscure and approachable beers.

In addition to the obscure and higher-end craft beers, Gonnerman said he’s happy to have two more affordable brews for the opening: Narragansett Lager and Genesee Cream Ale.

“We want to have a beer for everyone,” Gonnerman said. “We want something for the community, but also the latest and greatest for aficionados.”

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Ballston Quarterfest — a new Ballston-centric music, drinks and food festival replacing Taste of Arlington — is being held weekend.

The festival is scheduled to run from 12-6 p.m. this coming Saturday (May 18) and Sunday (May 19). Admission to the festival is free, but tickets are required for the restaurant crawl or street pub.

Free live music from local performers is planned at a stage next to the street pub for both days.

Other activities around the festival include a “Kids Zone” on Saturday, with face painting and balloon artist, and the Arlington Art Truck, with an interactive art display on Sunday.

The event will take place mainly along Wilson Blvd — like Taste of Arlington — but will be more focused around the new Ballston Quarter mall and Ballston businesses, whereas “Taste” featured restaurants from around the county.

Like Taste of Arlington, the event will come with a series of road closures. Per Arlington County Police:

  • Wilson Blvd will be closed between N. Randolph Street and Glebe Road in both directions the entire weekend (use Fairfax Drive as an alternate route)
  • N. Taylor Street will be closed at Wilson Blvd
  • N. Stuart Street, from 9th Street N. to Wilson Blvd, will be closed
  • 7th Street N., between Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, will be closed

Temporary “no parking” signs are also planned throughout the area, and illegally parked vehicles could be ticketed or towed. Police encourage attendees to use the Metro or other means to get to the festival.

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Drivers at the busy Washington and Wilson Blvd intersection are continuing to make the left turn onto Wilson, despite that action having been made illegal in March.

Current plans call for the tricky intersection to be overhauled and made easier to navigate for both pedestrians and drivers. That includes eliminating the left turn that has caused frequent backups.

At least two signs at the intersection indicate that left turns are not allowed, even though the street does feature a left-turn lane that serves seemingly no purpose as the road funnels into one lane at the other side of the intersection.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow that the violations are not surprising when a change is made to an intersection like that.

“It takes time to change driver behavior, especially when the change is to a long-standing travel pattern,” said Balliet. “We always start with education, finding ways to inform drivers about the change and their options. Our efforts so far included a blog post and video shared multiple times through the county’s email listservs, social media posts from our department as well as Arlington County Police, an electronic message board located near the intersection, and the new signage we’ve installed noting the restriction.”

Navigation apps Waze and Google Maps no longer direct drivers to make the turn, which Balliet said was partially the result of communication from county staff.

Balliet said he believes as construction continues on the intersection, known at Clarendon Circle, the confusion should clear up.

“The no-left-turn will become clearer to drivers as construction for the Clarendon Circle project moves forward and the street is reconfigured to remove the left turn pocket,” said Balliet.

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Takeshi Sushi — a new Japanese restaurant at 2424 Wilson Blvd — is planning an opening sometime in May.

Owner Wu Lin said the restaurant is planning to offer sushi, ramen, and other Japanese food in a quick-service style eatery.

The new restaurant is located next to Delhi Dhaba Indian Restaurant and under Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. Takeshi Sushi is replacing a Subway that closed in November.

Lin said the restaurant is his first location, but they are planning to simultaneously open another Takeshi Sushi in the Fairfax Circle Shopping Center, in the Fairlee neighborhood of Fairfax.

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Quarterfest presented by Dittmar is coming to Ballston on May 18 and 19.

From 12-6 p.m. each day, this festival continues Ballston’s tradition of giving back, as a charitable event of BallstonGives, and invites visitors to sip, sample, shop and savor the best that Ballston has to offer!

Located on Wilson Boulevard near the Ballston/MU metro station, and directly in front of the newly redeveloped Ballston Quarter — an entertainment and dining destination, the festival will feature a Quarterfest Crawl on Saturday, Curbside Kitchen‘s Food Truck Alley on Sunday, street pub all weekend serving up craft brews, wine and specialty cocktails, and a free concert.

New to the neighborhood, the Quarterfest Crawl will allow festival-goers to explore the neighborhood, sampling “tastes” at each participating venue with purchase of a Quarterfest Crawl wristband.

Food crawl venues include established Ballston favorites such as SER and Mussel Bar, and neighborhood newcomers DIRT, True Food Kitchen, Punch Bowl Social and more. Additionally, the Crawl wristband entitles visitors to exclusive retail discounts and giveaways of experiential activities at Cookology and 5 Wits, plus two free drink tickets to use at the street pub.

The festival and concert are free and open to the public, but festival-goers will need a wristband and drink tickets to savor the food and drink experience at Quarterfest. Tickets and wristbands are now on sale at “early bird” pricing until May 1.

You can find out more about Quarterfest Crawl locations and what will be coming to Ballston May 18 and 19 at https://www.quarterfestballston.org/.

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