10 Old Town Alexandria Restaurants That Have My Attention
I PCS'd to the National Capital Region in mid-2017 and since then have spent much of my free time exploring Old Town Alexandria. It's a beautifully historic city on the Potomac that my parents lived in back in the 80's. So I guess you could say it holds a special place in my heart as I walk past their old place on Cameron Street and realize how often life comes full-circle. While many of the businesses in the area have changed hands over the years, what hasn't changed is the architecture and immense charm of every small business.
So that brings me to meat of the matter (pun intended). Of all the fabulously trendy, terminally popular and vastly different restaurants in Old Town, there are a few I keep going back to again and again. In no particular order, here are my top 10 favorites:
My absolute go-to for Happy Hour. When I come here I will only sit at the bar because the vibe is just so perfect and the bartenders are top notch. During the warmer months, their outdoor seating (while limited) is very chic, but I just love the natural light and street view from the bar. The swanky 20's vibe is perfect and their cocktails are on point!
Right and Up Tip: I highly recommend their prime rib on Thursdays and their "Some Like It Hot" cocktail, when available.
I actually find myself craving the food from this place on a regular basis. Their Banh Mi sandwiches are excellent as is their Pho. I've been on the search for the crusty bread they use for their sandwiches ever since (tell me your secrets!). This place is perfect for a quick lunch or dinner, but it's not a place where you can linger and enjoy a long meal because the dining room is rather small and there's always a line out the door (for good reason).
Having come to the NCR from Fort Benning, GA, I was really missing that heavy-handed, heart-clogging southern food, and Blue & White delivers this and then some! Do not be fooled by its tiny, unassuming exterior. This place serves up a mean half-smoke and fried chicken sandwich (beautifully crispy chicken slathered in hot sauce and positioned between two pieces of white bread). It's about 6 blocks north of King Street, but well worth the visit, especially for the affordable prices!
At just a few blocks north of Old Town proper, this gem is close enough to visit if you're planning a night out on the town and you can easily walk here from King Street. There's nothing I don't love about this place! Of particular note, their menu is the most authentic Vietnamese cuisine I've seen and they even serve Bun Bo Hue, which is a noodle soup with beef blood jelly. I'd been searching for this dish ever since Anthony Bourdain tried it in his Vietnam episode of Parts Unknown.
I had high expectations of this place considering DC has the largest Ethiopian population in the US. And I can tell you, Hawwi's did not disappoint! The customer service is among the best I've experienced in the area so far and for a first-timer to this cuisine it was so nice to get a full run-down of the menu from our waiter. We took him up on all his recommendations and were just blown away by the food. It's a great place for a big group and any leftovers you bring home are just as good (if not better) the next day!
Right and Up Tip:This place is BYOB so come prepared!
You know a place is good when you see wait-staff from other restaurants coming here on their off time. This is usually my last stop after a night out with friends and is a great go-to for brunch and lunch (and I'm sure dinner too, though I've never been at that time). The vibe here is really fun and the food is great and doesn't break the bank.
If I have family in town, this is where I'm bringing them. Their oysters are the best I've had since being in the NCR and I just love the vibe (would she shut up about the vibe already?!) Sorry, I'm big on vibes. Aside from the oysters, they've gotta a killer lobster roll and a great beer selection. You can also get one of those fabulous seafood platters for a truly Instagrammable moment.
This place is usually on everyone's list of Old Town faves, but it's for good reason. It's one of those insatiably trendy hipster taco places that you gotta love! Their taco selection is pretty extensive with lots of fun combinations of tasty two-bite tacos. They are really just two bites and therefore you can order all the ones that peak your interest without much guilt. Be sure to order their margaritas as well since they advertise as a taco AND tequila bar. The more you know.
This spot has several locations throughout the NCR, but I'm partial to the one in Old Town. First of all, the decor is so fresh and pretty, especially at the bar. Second, their food. is. so. friggin. delicious. Order a pitcher of any of their signature sangrias and settle in for a night of tasting the best of Spain. Their brunch is a great deal too with many of my favorite options from all their menus.
Right and Up Tip:You HAVE to try their pulpo and patatas bravas. Yum!
If you're in the mood for authentic German and Bavarian food in a comfortable atmosphere then this is your spot. Aside from serving kicks** Cosmos (that are sure to send me stumbling home, every time), you can choose from a variety of traditional dishes including Obazda, Curry Wurst, and allll of the Schnitzels.
Right and Up tip:When the weather is nice, ask for a seat on their 2nd story patio!
There's plenty more wonderful restaurants in Old Town, but these are the ones that I keep going back to after living in the area for less than a year! What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
about the author
Riley is an active duty US Army Captain and the Founder of Right and Up. She’s currently stationed in Washington, DC, with previous assignments at Fort Huachuca, Fort Bliss, Fort Riley and Fort Benning. You can typically find her eating embarrassingly large amounts of food in local restaurants, or exploring her military town with her husband, Sean and her dog, Gus. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!