ALEXANDRIA – DINING IDEAS

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Restaurants in Old Town Alexandria offer unforgettable meals in a beautifully historic and walkable setting. With the combination of a polished atmosphere, exquisite ingredients and personal service, Alexandria’s restaurants leave diners in awe after every meal.   There is something for every taste and budget.   Even if one follows a Vegan and Vegetarian diet you will be able to have a fabulous dining experience.  Restaurants range from Ethiopian, Italian, Spanish, Irish, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, regional and Native American fare, Seafood and more.  This is but a brief introduction and look into the dining experiences that await you in Alexandria. I am aware of many outstanding restaurants as well as micro-breweries and pubs that can be found in Alexandria, and I could write a more complete dinning guide. I don’t mean to slight any of them.

An excellent choice of regional American cuisine can be found at Restaurant 219 on King Street in the heart of Old Town. Found in an elegant Victorian setting, serving genuine New Orleans cuisine since 1979. The Basin Street Lounge has live jazz & blues Fri. & Sat. The Bayou Room has dancing with a DJ. Outdoor dining is available weather permitting.

Take to the outdoors and dine alongside Alexandria’s bustling streetscape or tranquil waterfront. With more than 30 of the city’s restaurants featuring sidewalk or patio seating, finding crepes, pad thai, burgers, or seafood (even dog-only menus!) to enjoy outside is simple. Sip on a glass of wine at Grape & Bean or indulge in Greek cuisine on the garden patio of Taverna Cretekou.

Whether setting the tone for a relaxing, laid back weekend or fueling up for a day of activity in Alexandria, there’s no better meal than weekend brunch, where coffee and mimosas flow. For savory dishes like salmon benedict and shrimp and hoecakes, head to Bastille, or head over to the organic-minded Del Ray Café for sweet treats like fluffy brioche French toast tossed in a vanilla batter and served with a strawberry rhubarb compote.

At Il Porto Brunch offerings include a variety of items including Brunch drinks such as Tuscan Punch, mimosas, Grand mimosa. Favorites include our chop salad, coconut shrimp, paninis, sauteed jumbo lump crab cakes, french toast, poached eggs with hollandaise and biscuits. Try the Grilled Filet Mignon & Eggs, short Smoked Salmon Filet, Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Omelet, home fries and more.     Il Porto’s Brunch menu is as expansive and outstanding as their fantastic lunch and dinner menus.   Every dish at Il Porto Italian Ristorante is made from scratch, on premise, including our pasta, all fresh, every day!  The chef has added his own signature to the Northern Italian style of cooking at Il Porto. The daily specials are not to be missed, always new, always innovative, while still rooted in Northern Italy style and tradition. There is also a wide variety of wines to accompany any and all meals as well as after dinner selections.

Bastille offers elegant and contemporary French bistro cuisine in a comfortable yet, upscale setting. Highlighting the cooking of acclaimed chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux, Bastille features an award-winning wine list. Locally sourced ingredients exemplify the cooking of this duo along with an amazing hand selected wine list are just a sample of what awaits you at Bastille. Outdoor seating available, weather permitting.

Nestled in the West End, Tempo Restaurant is one of Alexandria’s best-kept secrets. This elegant, but unpretentious, neighborhood restaurant is where the locals dine. Tempo’s menu displays a blend of northern Italian and French cuisine, featuring fresh seafood.

If you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, look no further than Old Town for some of the region’s most delicious and creative seafood fare. Stop by the Cajun-inspired Warehouse Bar and Grill for crawfish and shrimp beignets or The Wharf for tender clams and oysters steeped in garlic herb butter. DC-area legend Hank’s Oyster Bar, named amongst America’s Best Oyster Bars by Food & Wine, brings New England style comfort food to Old Town. If views leave you breathless, book your reservation at the Chart House at sunset, where diners watch the amber sun’s reflection slip into the Potomac as they dine on macadamia crusted Mahi Mahi drizzled in a warm peanut sauce. In the spring, summer and early fall you can even sit outside at the Chart House and the Wharf to enjoy your meal.

A newcomer to the dining experience is Blackwall Hitch which honors the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay with a modern interpretation of a classic coastal tavern. We deliver an ambiance of relaxed sophistication, with service that pampers and delights and food that is simple, fresh and delicious. Their sophisticated yet comfortable ambiance offers flexible gathering spaces for all occasions. The menu draws upon classic American techniques while we look to our region for additional inspiration. Simply put, the best ingredients make the best food. Their menu is seasonally inspired with classic, local fare. To complement any meal there is an exceptional beverage program complete with creative cocktails and an extensive wine list and draught beer selection. Whether it’s the colossal Blackwall Prawns, oysters shucked at your request, or the wood-fired flatbreads rolled out daily, they deliver an experience you are guaranteed to remember.

In the Del Ray area of Alexandria, I have discovered Cheesetique, a gourmet cheese boutique specializing in hard-to-find cheeses, meats and accompaniments from around the world. Also take the time to browse through their extensive wine and beer selection. If you are unsure of what to choose, do allow their expert staff to help you make selections or create your custom party platter or gift bucket.

For a slightly different dining experience complete with gourmet dining, dancing and an unparalleled view of our nation’s majestic monuments. Day or night, rain or shine, year ’round. Nina’s Dandy features a 465-square-foot marble dance floor and 3,700-square-foot outer deck for dancing under the stars.

There is also the Odyssey. Experience Washington DC from a stunning, glass-enclosed ship on the Potomac River. Listen and dance to live music. And take in the beautiful, totally unobstructed view of our nation’s capital while enjoying creative cuisine. Your Odyssey escape awaits. Come see why nothing on land can compare to the Odyssey.   Delicious food and drinks, top entertainment and stunning views combine for an experience both you and your guests won’t forget. From business meetings to special occasion celebrations, give your event a whole new energy.

There are also two excellent examples to have a bygone era dining experience in Alexandria.   The first is at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town.   Gadsby’s is an Historic 18th-century tavern, serving fine dining since 1770. They also serve Brunch on the weekends. Enjoy lunch and dinner in elegant Colonial dining rooms, while enjoying nightly Colonial entertainment.

The other is the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, located just footsteps from George Washington’s historic estate.  The Inn is open daily for lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends.   They also offer happy hour Tuesday thru Friday. The menu uses only the freshest and seasonal items, and while contemporary in nature, yet remains colonial in nature. The Inn, like Gadsby’s, is also available for private events and both offer seasonal menus.

The Mount Vernon Inn is located 8 miles south of Old Town Alexandria and 16 miles from Washington, D.C. at the southern end of the George Washington Parkway. The Mount Vernon Inn is considered one of Washington’s best- kept secrets.

Kathy Kiefer

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