The fabulous Carrie tagged me after she was tagged by the mysterious and prolific Mr Write Now to compose a list of 5 eating establishments in my city. We don't really have a city mentality here, so I am giving you a few in Northern Virginia.
Living in Northern Virginia is like being the ugly and more intelligent step child. People do not come to "visit" Northern Virginia. Rather, they come here for business; to visit family; or because they are visiting DC but do not want to stay there.
This is not to say that there aren't things to do and places to see in Northern Virginia; rather, it is to say that our "hot" spots are less publicized. Northern Virginia is like your favorite hole in the wall cafe that you treasure because it is great and yet, no one knows about it.
Thus, should you find yourself visiting DC or in Northern VA on business or for pleasure, here are a few places to check out (food wise)
If you are craving a chain or Starbucks, you are going to feel right at home in this area. The farther you travel from DC, the more likely you are to find the chains. My list does not include the chains, but the places that are singular in nature and found only in Northern VA.
The Lost Dog Cafe - This eatery is so popular that the owners opened "the Stray Cat" just a few doors down. The menu is all about sandwiches and pizza and beer. The food is original. Yes, you can get a turkey sandwich or you can choose from nearly a hundred different sandwiches with a variety of toppings. If the prices and food aren't enough, this cafe also does everything it can to find good homes for homeless cats and dogs.
Il Porto - Located a block off the water in Old Town Alexandria, this Italian restaurant has its own character and charm. Despite the nicely dressed wait staff and the linen table cloths; dim lighting, and creeking hardwood floors, the dress code is quite liberal. The food is wonderful, service fantastic, and the charm speaks for itself.
Old Town has something for everyone - light meals to many courses, Colonial pubs to fine dining. You usually can find whatever you are seeking in Old Town.
Merky's Coffee - Located in Arlington, this is not your average coffee house. One of the people who makes the drinks (are they called something) recently competed against others in the profession, to take her signature brew/mix/whatever to a national competition. The coffee is great! Pastries are good. Space is large, naturally lit. The cliental is diverse. It is a great place to kick back, people watch, read, work quietly, and enjoy a great cup of coffee.
Cenan's - Vienna has a few claims to fame. The Vienna Inn (A must if you are into real diners with great chili and local flavor) is one and Cenan's is another. This is a small Turkish establishment which produces amazing sandwiches, breads, and cakes that my office mates dream about. It is always a treat to drop into Cenan's for a pastry and coffee and gaze longingly at the cakes and fruit tarts. They also have a selection of items, chocolates, and food products from the Middle East that a traditional market does not carry.
Pulcinella - I am a fan of Italian food - but am also quite picky about what is good Italian. My quest is often to find the best I can in a particular area. Thankfully, the diva is a lover of Italian as well. We recently found Pulcinella. It is a well established Italian restaurant in McLean. It is all about good food and a family oriented environment. And if you like Gnocchi, I mean really good Gnocchi, then this is the place for you!
Northern Virginia has its share of steak houses, seafood restaurants, and a few that are a bit more hoity toity than those I have listed. But, for the diva and I, there is nothing like a great sandwich, fabulous pasta, a well brewed cup of coffee, and a decadent treat to satisfy the appetite. Of course, no meal is complete without great company.
And now, I am tagging the following to provide their favorite haunts in their respective cities.
Cat House Teri