Alexandria is known for its chef-driven restaurant scene, with endless options for every palate and price range. But sometimes, all you crave is your favorite home-cooked comfort food. Luckily, in Alexandria you can get classic comfort foods with creative culinary twists like a short rib grilled cheese, a fried chicken breakfast sandwich or a banh mi hot dog.
We’ve rounded up 11 spots where you can get your creative comfort food fix in Alexandria, including some brand new restaurants and noteworthy favorites. Just be warned, this post may cause extreme hunger.
Just Opened and Coming Soon
1. Live Oak
Image Credit: Gregory Smaldone for Live Oak
Live Oak is a new restaurant nestled into Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood from chef Justus Frank, former executive chef at Fiola in D.C., along with local restaurateurs Tim Irwin and Jeremy Barber. The new locale is serving up distinctive Charleston, S.C.-inspired Southern cuisine with dishes like head-on shrimp & grits with lobster bisque and chorizo, and the grilled cheese and FGT sandwich on sourdough with avocado, pea pesto, pimento and potato salad. Don’t miss Live Oak’s take on the Buffalo Berkshire pork cheeks with Clemson blue cheese, house hot sauce, shaved celery and pickled carrots–named one of the “5 dished to try now” by Washingtonian.
2. Hen Quarter
Image Credit: Hen Quarter
Hen Quarter just moved into the heart of King Street and offers a menu packed with classic comfort food including smokehouse chicken, succotash, short ribs and more. The restaurant is already getting rave reviews for their creative dishes like chicken & waffles with compressed watermelon, honey pearl butter and Tennessee bourbon maple syrup—a must-try if you’re looking for a warm meal to hit the spot.
3. Junction Bakery & Bistro
Image Credit: Junction Bakery & Bistro
Junction Bakery & Bistro just opened in Del Ray in July 2016, serving fresh bakery items handcrafted in house along with breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings. Named in homage to the Potomac Yard railway system and its workers who called Del Ray home, Junction comes from Noe Landini (behind Landini Brothers, Fish Market and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream) and Nathan Hatfield (former baker at Restaurant Eve, Society Fair and Le Diplomate), and won’t disappoint. It will take more than one trip to try all their creative comfort food, including the cheddar chive biscuit, short rib grilled cheese on roasted garlic sourdough, special toasts or the breakfast kim chee with steam buns, kimchi, egg, bacon and rice wine mayo.
4. Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue
Image Credit: Alex Martinez
Opening in 2017, celebrity Pitmaster Myron Mixon from Destination America’s “BBQ Pitmasters” is coming to Alexandria to open Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque alongside Joe Corey and Bill McFadden of Alexandria’s Faccia Luna. The restaurant will have the taste of authentic barbeque and include Mixon’s signature dishes such as cupcake chicken, peach barbecue beans and baby back mac and cheese. Yes, please!
5. Hank’s Pasta Bar
Image Credit: Hank’s Pasta Bar
Hank’s Pasta Bar was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in the DC area by The Washington Post and is the dream project of chef Jamie Leeds of Hank’s Oyster Bars in Old Town and DC. It’s hard to imagine a restaurant concept more rooted in comfort than Hank’s, which is named for Jamie’s father. The menu takes classic Italian comfort food and gives it a modern twist with handmade menu offerings including goat cheese and beet plin, squid ink gemelli and Jamie’s favorite linguine with white clam sauce in perfectly portioned servings.
6. Stomping Ground
Image Credit: C. Mouledoux for Visit Alexandria
Owner Nicole Jones brings a taste of her former home of Georgia to Del Ray’s Stomping Ground, a combination neighborhood café and biscuit joint. For breakfast, you can try their fried chicken biscuit sandwich “classic” style with pimento cheese and house pickles or the “not-so-classic” style with honey, hot sauce, benne tahini, Za’taar and red onion. The banh mi biscuit sandwich with pork tenderloin, pickled carrots, pickled jalapeño, radish, sriracha aioli and cilantro is a must-have for lunch. For dinner, try the farro & kimchi with beet greens, sambal oelek and poached egg or the “bangers” beer brats with tater chips, buttery onions, sauerkraut and pickled mustard seed.
7. Sugar Shack & Captain Gregory’s
Image Credit: Captain Gregory’s
Sugar Shack Donuts takes creative comfort food to another level with some of their flavor combinations including a maple glazed donut topped with fried chicken from local Korean restaurant Dak. It sounds like an adventurous choice, but it’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Captain Gregory’s, the speakeasy hidden behind a secret door inside Sugar Shack, keeps the comfort food coming with a seasonally rotating menu that includes creative cocktails and comfort food like a BLT with garlic lemon aioli on a warm, unsweetened donut bun.
8. Magnolia’s On King
Image Credit: Jessica van Dop DeJesus
Magnolia’s On King opened in 2015 and has garnered attention as an OpenTable Diners’ Choice winner and local favorite. It’s the perfect spot to meet friends for Sunday brunch and Southern immersion cuisine, featuring dishes like the pulled duck bbq with bourbon barbecue sauce, garlic confit and cheese grits to start or the smoked chicken with maple-bacon green beans and sweet potato as an entrée. Treat yourself with delectable desserts like Meyer lemon bread pudding, mom’s hot fudge sundae, pecan pie and vanilla bean cheesecake with lemon preserves and brandied cherries.
9. Haute Dogs & Fries
Image Credit: Haute Dogs & Fries
Haute Dogs & Fries is continually ranked among the top restaurants for “cheap eats” in the DC region, serving hot dogs and other American classics in style. The dogs are served on toasted, buttered New England-style buns and include choices like the banh mi dog with sriracha mayo, carrots, cucumber jalapeños and cilantro or the bombshell aka the Monroe with sautéed onions, mango-pineapple relish and jalapeños.
Image Credit: Cheesetique
Cheesetique‘s mac n’ cheesetique was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best Mac N Cheese in the U.S.” with warm, gooey goat gouda, asiago and cacao de roma, topped with truffle-infused bread crumbs. It’s the ultimate dish to fulfill your comfort food craving and goes perfectly with a glass of wine.
11. Jackson 20
Image Credit: Jackson 20
Located adjacent to Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco on King Street, Jackson 20 has some of the best Southern-inspired comfort food in Old Town and is a go-to for smoked meats and barbecue. The local eatery serves creative dishes like pimento cheese ravioli with cream corn, sweet potato purée and crispy shallots as well as BBQ spare ribs, slow cooked beef brisket with horseradish mashed potatoes and more.
To browse restaurants in Alexandria, click here.
Header Image Credit: Haute Dogs & Fries