Known for its creative comfort food, waterfront fare and independent restaurants steeped in historic charm, Alexandria, Virginia, just minutes from Washington, D.C., has dozens of new dining spots waiting to be discovered. From authentic Mexican offerings to beer gardens where food is at the forefront, 25 new concepts showcase the city’s evolving and innovative culinary scene. Keep reading, and let the flavors speak for themselves.
Tacos & Mexican Fare
If 2018 set the stage for a taco resurgence with Smoking Kow BBQ’s brisket-stuffed tortillas and Tequila & Taco’s opening in Carlyle, then 2019 points to a full-blown taco renaissance with three more restaurants focusing on creative tacos joining the mix.
Just-opened in January 2019, Urbano 116 has quickly become Old Town’s hottest must-try restaurant. Award-winning Chef Alam Méndez Florián expands his Oaxacan culinary vision from his acclaimed Mexico City restaurant to his first concept in the U.S. as part of the team behind Common Plate Hospitality’s newest venture on King Street. Urbano 116’s sophisticated take on Mexican cuisine includes moles, ceviche, cocktails and tacos with fresh takes on fish, carnitas, lengua and vegetarian options. Better still, Chef Méndez’s team will not be confined by its neon-signed four walls—a churro window for pedestrian passersby is in the works.
Chop Shop Taco
Opening in the winter of 2019 at the Madison Collective in the Parker-Gray area of Old Town, Chop Shop Taco will also serve unique takes on tacos, plus creative offerings like Frito pie, in a casual setting that was converted from an actual 1970s automotive chop shop.
Casa Tequila Bar & Grill
With initial outposts in Purcellville and Lorton, Casa Tequila Bar & Grill landed in Carlyle in August 2018. Originally from El Salvador, both owners cut their teeth in Mexican restaurants stateside. They infuse their passion for tequila into an extensive drinks menu, advertising the purest agave taste.
Beer Gardens & Breweries
Augie’s Mussel House on the Patio
Named after the patron saint of beer, Augie’s Mussel House on the Patio will open on King Street in Old Town in late spring or early summer 2019, following a 2018 pop-up beer garden and dramatic renovation to the restaurant. Expect a creative Belgian menu from Chef Eric Reid and some of the best beers from around the world served indoors and on their expansive outdoor patio. If the pop-up’s savory and sweet menu samplings of buttery garlic mussels, watermelon halloumi salad and banana French toast were any indication of what’s to come post-renovation, then there’s plenty to look forward to.
Hops n’ Shine
Open since January 2019, Hops n’ Shine is already endearing itself to the North Del Ray community with craft and comfort. The extensive drinks menu includes more than 50 beers on tap, ranging from “light and crisp” to “tart and funky,” as well as moonshine. The decadent food menu indulges imbibers—and their little ones—with chef-designed, loaded grilled cheese, such as the Eeezy Capreeze and the Herbalicious, or a build-your-own option. Sweet-toothed diners can indulge in the S’More Grilled Cheese, complete with graham cracker crusted white bread stuffed with marshmallow fluff, Nutella and mascarpone cheese.
Coming this spring, the brothers-in-law behind Live Oak Restaurant and Charlie’s on the Avenue will open The Garden in the former Greenstreet Gardens location in Del Ray. The beer garden promises a playful atmosphere with outdoor games, colorful murals and a canine-friendly ambience.
Lost Boy Cider
With sights set on a summer 2019 opening in the Carlyle neighborhood, Lost Boy Cider will be the first urban craft cidery in Northern Virginia. Owner Tristan Wright’s vision for Lost Boy Cider sprang from magical and practical origins. Wright fell in love with hard cider after an enchanting trip to Ireland and began brewing after developing allergies to soy and gluten. The cidery will offer a line of heritage and modern dry craft ciders made from Virginia apples and featuring all-natural ingredients like hops, cranberries, pineapples and spices. Heritage ciders are aged in tequila, gin and Kentucky bourbon barrels.
Aslin Beer Co.
Coming in the summer of 2019, Aslin Beer Co., the small batch brewery with a cult-like following and four of the top 10 Virginia beers rated by users on Beer Advocate, will move its headquarters to Alexandria’s West End. The facility will feature a 3,500-square foot tasting room, private event space and larger brew house. IPA fans can eagerly anticipate flavors such as “Astro Zombie” and “Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”
Pendleton Carryout Co.
Don’t let the size of Pendleton Carryout Co. deceive you. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant incubator bursts with flavorful concoctions from multiple chefs. For a fresh take on pizza, try Sliced’s offerings. Chef Ed McIntosh tops his bubbly square crusts with generous heaps of pepperoni, burrata and more. If you prefer dumplings, check out Laoban’s Ginger Chicken and Fakin’ Bacon. For Instagrammable desserts like Munch Tarts and Atomic Brownies, sample Killa Cakes. And for a morning java jolt, grab a cup from Lost Sock Roasters and pair it with a gourmet egg sandwich.
Nearby and newly opened, Madison Collective offers another under-one-roof experience. Start by working up an appetite at Zweet Sport Total Fitness. Then, ride the endorphin boost over to Marlowe Ink to explore tattoo offerings. The Waiting Room provides a space to mingle and await your order from the coming-soon Chop Shop Taco. Unwind in Grateful Kitchen Co.’s bright, plant-filled space. Your body will thank you for the rejuvenating grain bowls, soups and smoothies on tap.
For a Night Out
The People’s Drug
The People’s Drug is the new go-to for the cocktail crowd. Since July 2018, exquisitely crafted creations are enjoyed in a tiny, Insta-worthy setting that features a pressed tin ceiling, neon light, and sky blue “Good food, good vibes” mural. Inspired by the original namesake drugstore that was founded in Alexandria in 1905, the new bar and eatery tempts diners by day and night with a modern take on a lunch counter. Open until midnight all week long, pair the libations with snacks such as chicken satay skewers and strawberry ricotta toast. The menu provides plenty of midday options, with craft sandwiches and “red, yellow and green” bowls.
Expected to open in 2019 and already offering fine dining in cities across the South, Oak Steakhouse will carry its success into North Old Town. Expect a hearty range of New York strip, prime ribeye and filet mignon, paired with the perfect red wine and maybe even an artisan cheese board to share.
Diya Indian Cuisine
Located in a cozy second-floor space on N. Lee Street in Old Town, Diya Indian Cuisine’s menu pulls from the owners’ Indian-Nepalese upbringing. Open since August 2018, Diya Indian Cuisine has quickly become the go-to spot for lunch with a buffet that includes favorites like garlic naan, tandoori chicken and momo dumplings.
Located in Alexandria’s West End and open since July 2018, Pho Huy adds to Alexandria’s Vietnamese dining offerings. The warm, salty broth and chewy noodles satisfy on a cold winter’s day, while the wide range of milk teas promise warm-weather refreshment.
For a hearty trip to Central Asia, visit Rus Uz, an August 2018 addition to the Eisenhower area. Former Uzbekistan Embassy Chef Bakhtiyor Rakhmatullaev developed the menu at the original Ballston location, earning multiple mentions in Washingtonian’s annual list of “Best Places to Eat Cheap.” Diners rave over the manti, described in Washingtonian as “palm-sized dumplings…stuffed with peppery lamb and buried under drifts of sour cream.” Next to AMC Hoffman Center 22, Ruz Uz makes for an unconventional pre- or post-movie feast.
Yunnan by Potomac
This March, Dr. Zongmin Li brings the “soul food” of her childhood in China’s Yunnan Province all the way to North Old Town. To develop Yunnan by Potomac’s menu, the owner/general manager and her team traveled to southwest China to sample mixian rice noodles and glean secrets from local chefs. The silky, non-glutinous mixian noodles form the perfect base for braised beef, shiitake mushrooms and more comforting combos.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Bagel fans, rejoice! After building a following at the Four Mile Run Farmers Market and at several pop-ups in Del Ray, Bagel Uprising will soon have a permanent home on Mount Vernon Avenue. Through a partnership with Stomping Ground, Bagel Uprising will move into the former Happy Tart space, where the team will boil and bake traditional bagels like everything, sesame and plain, fresh daily.
Genuine Water Bagels Pop-up
For a deeper diver into Alexandria’s burgeoning bagel scene, look no further than Genuine Water Bagels, operating out of La Trattoria on S. Washington Street in Old Town. Since the fall of 2018, bagels have been sold from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For a peek behind-the-scenes, catch baker Gregg Linzey’s tips for bagel storage, re-heating and more in videos posted on their Facebook page.
Java Grill replaced longstanding Bread & Chocolate in January 2019, with a prime location on King Street. Java Grill’s owners are developing a window-side gelato-rolling station, enticing passersby to linger over coffee, meals and dessert. The menu offers wide-ranging options, from brunch food to paninis, soups, danishes and more.
Bread and Water Co.
Tucked inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Bread and Water Co. expanded its regional footprint in August 2018. After a day spent strolling the waterfront or exploring artists’ studios, duck inside the first-floor café for a hot drink, light lunch or a fresh artisan loaf to take home.
Located near the King Street Metro on Duke Street, Bistro Sancerre debuted in January 2019 as an upscale French restaurant and wine bar. The monkfish, braised lamb shank and steak frites paired with wine butter have especially impressed diners. The bistro boasts an enormous wall of reds and whites to accompany your meal.
Coming in the spring of 2019, it will always be Oktoberfest at Village Brauhaus. Building off its medieval predecessor, John Strongbow’s Tavern, the King Street locale promises a warm, festive atmosphere and both modern and traditional German-Austrian cuisine. Villague Brauhaus adds to a German fare food trend that includes Old House Cosmopolitan Grill, which opened its doors on Cameron Street in June 2018.
Glory Days Grill
In the market for a sports bar? Glory Days Grill brings sports fans together with a bar, burgers and ballgames. The restaurant opened its doors in the West End at Alexandria Commons in August 2018. With locations throughout Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, Glory Days Grill offers extensive daily specials, happy hour drinks and appetizers.
Catch on the Ave
Catch on the Ave replaced Snackbar’s storefront on Mount Vernon Avenue in December 2018, amplifying the nautical theme of a seafood restaurant with a twist. The Common Place Hospitality Team was inspired to include subtle homages to East and Southeast Asian cuisine, as found in the teriyaki-sesame rainbow trout. Yet this operation is decidedly local, even offering the “Pat Miller Square Frittata,” made with seasonal vegetables from the Del Ray Farmers’ Market.
Charlie’s on the Avenue
With trivia nights, live music and a crowd-pleasing menu, Charlie’s on the Avenue makes its case as a community mainstay. Opened in September 2018, the menu offers upscale bar food, including a Taco Tuesday special—choose between vegan, brisket and shrimp fixings. The brothers-in-law owners, fans of their hometown and local sports teams, offer occasional discounts to customers wearing Washington Capitals’ and Nationals’ gear on game nights.
Whiskey & Oyster
Coming to Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood in 2019 is Whiskey & Oyster, the latest restaurant by husband-wife duo, “Mango” Mike and Donna Anderson, and their business partner, Bill Blackburn. Designed to be a festive local watering hole, Whiskey & Oyster will optimize its warm-weather opening with outdoor seating and a raw bar for a full-blown seafood experience.
Header Image Credits: Ica Images for Visit Alexandria and M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria