A Bar (West End)

When I heard about a new bar between the West End and Georgetown, I was immediately interested. Then I saw some pictures of their outdoor patio area, I cleared my schedule. When I heard about pitchers of punch, I was on my way! A Bar is located basically between Georgetown and Foggy Bottom, on Pennsylvania Ave in the Avenue Suites hotel. It’s an old condo building that has been very nicely updated and turned into a suites hotel.

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When we walked in, my first impression was that it was sleek and modern and I was drawn to it and wanted to spend time there. We tried to sit outside, but it was a bit steamy for me, so we moved inside to a couple of loungers. The staff was happy to accommodate. I want to go back in the fall and sit around the fire pit outside.

Normally on Thursdays, they have the grill fired up and are serving up hamburgers and hot dogs. There was a threat of rain all evening on the particular night we were there. Maybe next time!

We had to start with a pitcher, of course. Out of the 3 options,  we decided on the Wild One- Grey Goose Pear, Lemoncello, and ginger ale. It tasted like the most refreshing lemonade ever. Just enough tartness with the bonus of some bubbles from the ginger ale! The lady and I had no problem taking care of the GIANT pitcher between the 2 of us. And it’s only $15! It’s an awesome deal.

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For food we we decided to split the Fennel Sausage flat bread and the Caprese salad.

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The flatbread was crispy, and the sausage was flavorful and juicy, and the peppers were a touch sweet. The salad was nice and refreshing. They were a perfect combo together.

We were still a little hungry, so we decided to also try the Brie and Raspberry Phyllo puffs. We downed them so quickly! They were also balanced perfectly. A little bit of crunch, a little bit of salt, a little bit of sweet. Yum!

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We contemplated getting a second pitcher, but between the 2 of us, that would have been WAY too much for a school night. Next time, I’m bringing a group and getting multiple pitchers! 

The space is modern but still comfortable, the service was top notch and friendly, the drinks excellent, and the food was very tasty. It’s definitely a must try next time you find yourself at the Trader Joe’s in West End or anywhere near Foggy Bottom at all.

  • Favorite thing I had: The flatbread and the phyllo puffs tied for most delicious. Both very balanced and tasty.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The flatbread. The sausage and sweet peppers were really nice together.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The other pitchers! The Sirloin skewers, a cheese board. And I HAVE to delve into the cocktail list.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I have to try to get a work happy hour going here soon. Maybe within the next couple of weeks? Those pitchers of punch are perfect for a group outing like that.
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Lunch and Coffee at Mockingbird Hill (Shaw)

It is no secret that Mockingbird Hill is our absolute favorite bar in the city. She loves the sherry, I love the cocktails on tap, and we both love the friendly service. When they started their coffee and lunch services, I knew we had to get over there to try it out. I work half-way across the city and she works even further, so it was either dip out of work one day, or just wait until we had a weekday off. When the lady and I decided to take the entire day off before her sister’s evening bridal shower, we knew we had to fit in a trip to our favorite bar to check out the daytime offerings.

I ran some errands, we packed the car for our trip, and we were off. It felt weird to walk into the bar before noon, but I am not complaining! We sat down and perused the menu and started with drinks. I had been really curious about the Kenya Cola (Kieni coffee, sugar, bitters, soda water)  after seeing this article, so I decided on that. The idea of something tasting a like cola, but without the cloying sweetness (I stopped drinking soda several months ago, so it just tastes like pure syrup to me now) sounded so perfect. The lady went with the White Columbian (El Desarollo coffee, sugar, cream, egg white)

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Neither drink came quickly. There is a lot of work that goes into crafting these beverages. I see why they insist that you sit down and take your time. Both drinks were absolutely amazing. I was unsure of the Kenya Cola on first sip, but the next sip brought out the complex flavors of the coffee. I could had stood it being a touch sweeter, but it was still great.

Her drink was absolutely amazing. Sweet, creamy, foamy. It took everything in me to not drink all of hers. I almost got one for myself, but two coffee drinks at lunch time would have had me up all night. I will certainly be back for that one. I may even have to dip out for a long coffee break from work one day.

We also decided to grab lunch while we were there. I decided on the Tuna sandwich. I forgot to take a pic of the menu, and I don’t recall what else was in the tuna mixture. It was like a super tasty , high end tuna salad sandwich. As soon as I was finished with it, I wanted another one. So good!

 

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She had the lomo sandwich. It had lomo ham, bitter greens, pickled raisins, and some sort of aioli. It was salty and sweet and really delicious. She said she’d like to eat it every day.

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We also had the pickled snacks as a side. Different every time, always a great choice! Just a nice few bites.

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  • Favorite thing I had: My tuna sandwich and her beverage, the White Columbian. I’ve been craving both ever since.
  • Favorite thing she had:  Her drink and her lomo sandwich. She’s also been craving them. I’m really surprised we haven’t been back this week as much as we’ve both been craving everything.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I’d like to try a coffee flight. I love coffee, but with lots of cream and sugar, so I think it’s time to start appreciating good coffee for what it is. I’d also like to try their other sandwich option. I think it had mushrooms? It was a veggie option.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): If we lived there, we’d just spend all our money at Mockingbird Hill. We’d be there every day. Most of the bartenders are starting to recognize us… can I just move in now?

Weekend Round Up: Enjoying the Weather

The weather basically could not have been any more perfect this weekend, and we took full advantage of it and spent as much time as we possibly could outside.

Piola

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Friday after work, I hopped over the bridge to Rosslyn to meet the lady and her sister (who just moved here, I’m SO excited!), to scarf down some pizza at Piola. You all know how much I love pizza. We ordered Hawaiian and and Carbonara. I also ordered a Sgroppino Al Limone, which was basically a wine glass of vodka and lemon gelato. It was sort of like a tiny boozy milkshake. Tasty, but a bit thick to enjoy with pizza. The pizza was good! Not the best, but pretty good. The crust was nice and thin, not too heavy on the toppings. The best part- because it was happy hour, they were half price. We fed 3 people, with leftovers and a bev for $30, with tip. We will certainly be back for their bottomless brunch. Just all the pizza you can eat. Yeah, that’s my jam. 

Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival

After dinner, we headed over to Gateway Park to grab a spot on the lawn and meet some friends for Office Space at the outdoor film festival. We always get there absurdly early, but it’s the best way to make sure you get a good spot. My advice is to make sure you have plenty of cozy, soft things. I am always over prepared, so I had a jacket, sweatshirt, blanket, sheet, and tarp. It was a little chilly, but even when it’s not, all those things will make for great pillows and padding from the ground. Because we’re getting old. I think next time we may picnic there beforehand. Maybe bring some cards? Before the movie they usually have some activities to occupy you while you wait.

 

On Saturday, we ended up bar hopping and spending the entire day outside (mostly) enjoying the perfect weather and accidentally drinking a lot. This is what living in DC is all about, right?

Nationals Game

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We had tickets for the Nats game and that was pretty much our only plan for the day. We were just going to take in the game then head home to do responsible adult stuff. Well, once you’re in the city, you might as well explore, right? We enjoyed the game and some sandwiches from G. Once it was clear that the Nats had this game in the bag- we headed out to beat the crowd. The lady had never been to Yards Park, so we strolled that direction. As we got closer, we noticed that there were bikes EVERYWHERE. Oh yes, it was Tour De Fat. Which I knew, but had totally forgotten about. We didn’t stick around long, even though it wasn’t too terribly crowded and could have been an enjoyable experience. That’s definitely something we’ll have to check out next year. Instead, we decided to head to U St. / Shaw and check out some things there.

Our initial idea was to check out Veritas. We had just had lunch, so a glass of wine and some small plates sounded perfect. Well, we got there and took a seat at the bar. It was clear it was still brunch, but no one paid us any attention. We weren’t in the mood for brunch, so we cut our losses and decided that this was not the place for us at this time. Maybe that’s more a post-work place for us. Better luck next time.

American Ice Co. 

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Instead, we headed over to American Ice Company. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too terribly crowded. We took a seat at a table in the outdoor area and perused the menu. I had heard about the nachos (Swachos) before, so we decided to give that a try. The pickled veggies on the menu also caught my eye. That and a couple of beers in a laid back environment was so perfect. We hung out there for quite some time, had a couple of beers and watched it fill up. Then, as it the case any time we end up within 5 blocks of Shaw, we decided that a trip to Mockingbird Hill was in order. We finished up our beers at American Ice but still had some time to kill. Where could we go and continue to drink outside and kill some time? Ah yes, El Rey. There was a pit stop there for one margarita, and then onto the DB3! (Derek Brown 3)

Mockingbird Hill

So, I know I’ve talked about how skeptical I was about the Derek Brown concepts.  Sherry and ham, what? Well, the lady and I have dropped our skepticism and officially decided that Mockingbird Hill is our favorite bar in the city. And for so many reasons. It seems like every time we go there, there’s always something new to discover. The lady is slowly exploring the world of sherry- and I’m really enjoying the cocktails on tap. Last time we were there about a month ago, we chatted up bartender Adriana. When we sat down this time, she immediately recognized us and remembered our names. Of course this makes you feel special and important and makes you feel like you belong there. The lady made such an awesome point while we were there- this is the kind of place that could so easily be a snooty, exclusive sort of bar, but it’s just not. The bartenders are friendly and willing to chat. You feel like you’re sitting down with friends.

I’ve also discovered my Drink Of the Summer. The PX Sherry Iced Tea on draft is one of the most amazing beverages I’ve ever tasted. It basically tastes like sweet tea. The southerner in me is so smitten. I was pretty sure that there was some simple syrup at play, and asked another one of the bartenders was it was. He said that actually, no, it was just a very sweet sherry- no simple syrup. He poured me a taste of the sherry and described the flavor profile to me. So perfect. I had 3.

I noticed that Derek Brown was in the bar that evening and geeked out a little bit. On the way back to my seat from the restroom, I caught Adriana’s attention and sort of whispered to her that I’d like to meet him. She made the intro and I was in! This man owns 4 of the most fantastic bars in the city and seemed more than happy to spend a couple minutes chatting with me. He was so friendly and gracious. I told him that I loved his bars and he mentioned sherry week and their one year anniversary to me. We will definitely be back this week to celebrate with them.

On the way to Mockingbird Hill, I texted an old friend of mine who lives in Bloomingdale. Luckily, she and her boyfriend were able to come out to meet us. We had a round or two of drinks and then decided it was time to move to the next place. They were meeting some friends at Dacha beer garden and invited us to come along.

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DACHA is somewhere we had been meaning to try for months and months. But any time we’d been past it, it was super crowded. I’m not one for elbowing my way to a bar, but after several drinks this particular day, I thought why not! If it was too crowded, we’d just stumble home. Well, we got there and while it was crowded, we were able to find a little spot to settle into. We made our way to the bar and I ordered the most giant raspberry beer for myself and a hefeweizen for the lady. They were huge and delicious.

During this time, my friend and I realized that we had been friends since like 2002 or 03 and talked about how awesome it was that we now lived in the same city and still hung out. It’s always really interesting to watch where life takes you and who follows a similar path as you. I have a few of those kinds of friends in DC. It’s so nice to have people here who understand Roanoke. We’re all here for similar reasons, we had bigger plans than Roanoke, but still love home.

Around 10-10:30, we decided that it was probably time to call it a night. We walked the few blocks from Dacha and hopped on the metro at Mt. Vernon Square and journeyed back to Alexandria.

 

We were going to brunch in the city on Sunday, but decided to stay close to home and recover instead. Cooking breakfast sounded really daunting, so we decided to tackle the few blocks to Buzz for a waffle and quiche instead. I really need someone to figure out the whole breakfast delivery thing, but in the meantime, the food from Buzz hit the spot. Since we had basically said “Screw responsibility” on Saturday, we spent most of the day catching up on all the stuff we had to do. We didn’t venture more than 2 miles from home and that was just fine with us. After dinner, we ended the evening hanging out in the courtyard with 6 of our other neighbors. (Hey guys!) It was a perfect end to the weekend.

It’s weekends like this that makes me realize how lucky I am to live here and have the friends that I do. This is a good life. Next weekend: PRIDE!!

 

Mad Momos (Columbia Heights)

I discovered Mad Momos  this football season. They were one of the team sponsors. The name and logo caught my attention. Was it a new gay bar? (Sort of, it’s very gay friendly) My curiosity was piqued enough to check out the menu. Once I did, I saw that it was different from everything else, and I knew I had to try it. I emailed the owners and co-owner Sam, e-mailed me back. He was very receptive to us coming in and trying it out so I could write a post. He made sure to let me know which nights he’d be there so that we could meet. It’s a lot of fun to be able to put a face to a concept. I think it makes the experience more enjoyable. It also makes me feel like a baller 🙂

So, as I learned from the website, it’s a pan-Asian restaurant that specializes in dumplings called momos. They are steamed and then fried. We didn’t end up trying them, but we will next time.

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My first impression of the place was that the space is great and I want to just move in there and have it be my house. It very much has a loft feel, eclectic furniture and all. We walked in and were greeted by a a very casual, friendly, fabulous host. He gave us our pick of tables, and I chose one close to the front of the restaurant. The weather was absolutely perfect and with those windows open, I was pretty blissed out.

I was excited to see that the cocktail menu was all drinks with sparkling wine. I settled on one called the She’s Out of my Life- sparkling wine, OJ, and papaya juice. It was light and just sweet enough. I think I need to start keeping papaya juice at home for this very purpose. The lady went with a beer.

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We decided against appetizers for calorie consumption reasons and went straight for main entrees. I was tempted to go vegan just to see if they do it well, but think I’ll save that for when I go there with an actual vegan. Instead I went with the Wasabi-cucumber fish and she went with the Curry Chicken Naan-Mi served with tater tots. (Which I forgot to get a picture of, ugh). They actually initially brought out the wrong entree for me, but it was very quickly remedied and another drink was delivered with my corrected entree. It gave me a chance to steal bites of  and enjoy the lady’s sandwich.

The rice was a touch dry, and the slaw didn’t stand out, but dear god, that fish was DELICIOUS. I ate it slowly and savored every bite. Her Naan-Mi was also really excellent.

We did decide on dessert, just because the Mojo Apples (granny smith apple fritters with a guava drizzle, served a la mode was way too good to pass up.

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It was as delicious as it sounded. The tartness of the apple cut the sweetness of the ice cream and batter. The drizzle was tropical, tart, and sweet. And ice cream is just awesome with anything fried.

When we finished up, the server brought our check in an old CD jewel case. Momos strives to be eco friendly, and this is just one of the ways they decided to recycle. A cute idea, and a bit of a conversation piece.

I knew that they had an upstairs beer deck, and so after we finished, we hiked the stairs to check it out. This space is even more fantastic than the downstairs. There’s a tiny front porch with a few tables and also a whole roof deck out back. There’s another bar up there, as well as more eclectic furniture, lots of wood, plants, and light. Just awesome.

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  • Favorite thing I had: The fried Tilapia on my main course. My drink was really tasty too.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The Curry Chicken Naan Mi. The sauce was flavorful but not too spicy.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: We want to go back for brunch. Also, we really should try the momos. The mango and pineapple pulled pork naan mi is right down my alley.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space is absolutely incredible. I just wanted to move in and take it as my home. The upstairs is so airy and bright, but still warm. They also have a number of vegan options on their menu. The CD jewel cases they use to deliver checks to the table are cute. The art on the walls is all local artists. Right now, it’s actually the art of one of the co-owners.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We’ll be back within a month for brunch. I also want to take my trainer there to try their vegan options.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Red Derby is just up a block across the street. A perfect place to get a beer or two after dinner. The main drag of CoHi is also just about 5 blocks south. You could definitely do vegan dinner here, and vegan dessert at Sticky Fingers.

Pork Barrel BBQ (Del Ray)

I decided to take last Friday off from work after having a couple of really long work weeks. I had all sorts of grand plans to take a bike ride and do things outdoors, but the weather gods had other plans and decided this would be perfect timing for a nice huge spring storm. It did clear up later in the day, but at that point, I realized that the lady had accidentally taken the key for the storage unit with her to work. That’s ok, I found plenty of other things to do to occupy my time.

At some point in the day, I started getting a ridiculous hankering for BBQ (chicken and potato salad in particular). I’ll blame it on all the summery thoughts brought on by visiting Nicecream Factory earlier in the day. I did some internet research and laid out all the BBQ options in the metro area. Since I was off from work, I was already in Alexandria, so Pork Barrel BBQ came up the obvious answer. When the lady got home from work we headed over to Del Ray.

When we walked into the restaurant, I was surprised at how… nice? it was. I’m not sure why, but I think I just assumed since it was a fast casual place, the finishings wouldn’t be so nice. Lots of stone and wood. There was also a full sized bar that ran the full length of one side of the restaurant. We decided to saddle up at the bar and take advantage of their happy hour specials.

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We started with a couple of $2 “Old School Cans.” They had a selection of about 6 different beers. Craft cans were $4. You really can’t beat that. We went with cheap beer because I was craving a Miller Lite (sometimes that just happens), but they have a pretty decent beer selection.

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Since they were also on special, we decided we’d start with an appetizer of nachos.

 

The cheese sauce on the nachos was a little strange. It sort of tasted like it had been mixed from a powder. But everything else about them was delicious! And whoever came up with the idea to put slaw on BBQ nachos is a genius.

Since the nachos were pretty sizable, we decided just to share on entree. We went with the Build A Platter Combo with beef brisket, ribs, potato salad, and baked beans. It also came with a piece of cornbread.

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It was actually a pretty absurd amount of food. And despite how delicious it all was, we could only finish about half of it between the two of us. The brisket was super tender and the ribs really flavorful, and huge! The potato salad hit the spot and added a nice cool element to the meal. The baked beans were delicious, nice and sweet. The other bonus was the 3 types of BBQ sauce on the bar in front of us. They had a NC vinegar style, a memphis vinegar style, and a classic sweeter BBQ. I like being able to choose, and take different bites with different sauces.

The food was great, the atmosphere really nice, and the server/ bartender was pretty fantastic. I can’t believe it took us so long to eat there. I’m pretty excited to go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything was good, and it was exactly what I wanted. My fave was probably the baked beans. And the NC and Memphis-styled BBQ sauces.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The potato salad
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pulled pork! Well, we had it on the nachoes, but next time I’m craving a pulled pork sandwich, that’s it. the sausage also sounded good
  • What makes this place stand out: I wasn’t expecting such a nice, huge, fully stocked bar in a fast casual setting. This could double as a neighborhood bar! All that was missing was a cocktail menu. OH! I almost forgot! Since they’re connected, you can also order from Holy Cow’s menu from the bar there. Burgers or BBQ, take your pick!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably monthly in the lunch/ dinner rotation. It’s a good, affordable option.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Dairy Godmother would be our usual destination.

Bourbon (Glover Park)

Bourbon made it on the to-try list by recommendation of P. I had been to the Adams Morgan location for his birthday, but had never had more than a couple of beers. Upon creation of the blog, he insisted it go on the list and that we check it out. So, when we finally got around to setting up a double date night with P and his boyfriend, that’s where we headed. The lady and I decided to go over a little early to grab a couple of drinks before dinner. She went with the Manhattan w/ Four Roses and I went with the Scottish Summer (Scotch, basil, strawberry, lemon, simple syrup, and ginger beer)

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The Scottish Summer was not quite as delightful as all those flavors sounded together. I think the bartender went a little heavy on the lemon juice and neglected the sweeter elements that would have helped balance it out. The Manhattan was excellent. P and his boyfriend showed up and we ordered another round. This time I went with a Pimms Cup and the lady stuck with her Manhattan. P went with a beer (Great Lakes, like a good Clevelander) and his boyfriend went with an Old Fashioned.

We sat and chatted for a bit and conferred that this was where we wanted to have dinner. So we moved to the corner of the bar, where we would be sitting less in a straight line. We would have loved to sit outside, but there were no seats available and a threat of rain. I think we were there during the changing of a shift, so it took a little while to get attention to order food. At that point, we were super hungry and feeling our drinks, so we ordered some wings.

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They hit the spot. Very flavorful and juicy. The way wings should be. For dinner, I decided on the BBQ salmon and everyone else went with sandwiches. (The Turkey Jack, the Chicken Cuban, and the Beer Battered Pork (B.P.T))

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I think the sandwiches fell in the “pretty good” category. The potato chips served with the sandwiches were really good though. I keep reaching over and stealing them from the lady. The salmon was excellent. The BBQ was tasty and it was cooked just right. I was pleasantly surprised to get such good salmon from a bar. So, overall, not a bad experience. I’d really like to try the Scottish Summer again to see if it’s actually a better drink if made by another bartender. The Manhattans were good enough, I’m sure the lady will insist we go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: The salmon. It was cooked perfectly. And the wings were really good.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The Manhattan w/ Four Roses Yellow Label and the Old Bay chips that came with her sandwich.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The lamb burger or the steak salad. The brunch menu looks pretty good.
  • What makes this place stand out: The whole wall behind the bar is just covered in bottles of bourbon and whiskey. It was really nice to look at. And tasty to drink, as well.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)We would probably stop by here for a drink before or after dinner next time we’re in Glover Park.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We went over to see our friends at Arcuri for a night cap

Favorite Friday: Lost Dog Cafe (Arlington)

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I’ve already said plenty about how much I love pizza. And I’ve told you a little bit about how much I love beer. I’ve even talked a little bit about sandwiches. Well, I love Lost Dog Cafe because they have all 3 of those things, and they do them so well. They now have 4 locations (two in Arlington, one in McLean, and one in Dunn Loring along with Stray Cat Cafe, also in Arlington) but we’ve only been to the South Arlington location.

Lost Dog was something we knew about before YEARS before we actually made it there. We made plans to go there once with friends, but it just so happened to be when that particular location was closed for renovations. We lived in Rockville at the time, so we weren’t spending much time in Arlington. When we moved to Alexandria, it came back onto our radar, but still took some time to expand our local circle to that point. As soon as we finally made it there, I regretted waiting so long to make it back! We’ve been making up for lost time and now visit on a regular basis.

My most recent visit was last weekend. My friend, P, asked me if I could drop him and his boyfriend off at his sister’s place for Easter dinner. He described where she lived. I agreed because I love him and it wasn’t too far out of my way, but also because I knew that meant I could have pizza and beer for my own Easter dinner! It had been a long day with two football games (that didn’t go so well for our team) and I just didn’t feel like cooking. So, I dropped them off and hurried over to Lost Dog to pick up a pizza for me and the lady. I plopped down at the bar, perused the beer menu and grabbed a beer by one of my favorite VA breweries, Wild Wolf. The lady had given some guidance via text of what she wanted, so I checked those out and settled on the THE CATAHOULA: Spicy tomato sauce, marinated chicken breast, spinach and sliced tomatoes, covered with mozzarella cheese and basil. It was so much effort to have the pizza in the front passenger seat and not eat a piece of it on the way home, but I made it. I didn’t even change out of my football clothes before I sat down to inhale the pizza. It was a perfect end to a long day.

  • What I usually order: The menu is so huge, I don’t have a regular thing yet. The past couple of times, we’ve gotten pizza. Before that, I was making my way through the sandwiches. The Catahoula we had last time was SO GOOD.  I want to know the secret to the spicy tomato sauce.
  • Why I keep going back: Because I know it’s going to be an awesome meal! The beer selection is huge, so I know I’ll be able to get pizza and whatever beer I want. Or I’ll be able to find a unique sandwich. The one off of Columbia Road is a perfect meet-in-the-middle place for us with friends who live in Arlington. The menu is diverse enough that everyone can find something.
  • Thing I still haven’t tried yet: About 90% of the menu. The pizza that caught my eye last time was the CHULITA’S MADNESS — Cheese pizza topped with homemade meatballs, oven roasted tomatoes, pineapple, and banana peppers. I’m totally going for that one next time. I also still need to get to The Stray Cat Cafe, by the same owners.
  • Fun things about this place: The owners have been rescuing stray dogs and cats for almost as long as they’ve been in business. How can you argue with a business that’s tied to animal rescue? I love my rescue cat as much as or maybe even more than I love pizza.