NFT Washington DC Old Town (South)

Old Town (South)

Essentials
This is arguably the most popular section of Old Town and what Arlington strives to achieve. Shops are plentiful and unique, restaurants range from high-end to pizza joints, and the streets with the million-dollar-plus townhomes (from the 18th century to centuries closer) are charming and close to the Potomac. It's a great area to perambulate, peek in on local artists at the Torpedo Factory, or sit for a spell by the river.

Sundries/Entertainment
Consider arriving into Old Town on bike, via the Mt. Vernon Trail. Stop here for lunch and a rest. Exceptional establishments include Restaurant Eve (four stars, so make your reservation weeks ahead) and the Chart House (lobster and a view). Nightlife abounds, but head to See more.

>PX (above Eamonn's: A Dublin Chipper) for a unique "speakeasy" experience. On an afternoon outing grab a coffee at Misha's then saunter down the block and window-shop in the many area boutiques.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

The Hour
Okay, so you started off with a collection of souvenir shot glasses. Then you graduated to stem glasses for wine. Maybe even a champagne flute or two. But how about martini glasses? Tumblers? A shaker? Snifter? Ice bucket? Punch bowl? Glass stirrer?! If you're sophisticated, boozy, and looking to bring some mid-century chic into your home, make a bee line for the Hour Shop. With an amazing collection of vintage barware (and helpful, good-looking staff, too!). this Old Town Alexandria shop is a cocktail lover's dream. Perfect for collectors, wedding gifts, and high-class drunks.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Tiffany Tavern
There are a select number of venues to hear live bluegrass in the DC area--and most involve standing in a crowded bar. But if you're looking for a more low-key vibe for pickin' banjos and twangy fiddles, head to the Tiffany Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. Around for the last 30 years, it offer live bluegrass--at no cover charge--on Friday and Saturday nights. (There's open mic on Mondays through Thursdays.) The front room is generally populated by older folks munching on London Broil and sipping domestic beers, but if you also want to enjoy conversation with friends, the back room allows you to do so without being rude--but also while soaking in the Appalachian sounds. Full of country charm and highly recommended.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Candi's Candies
Got a sweet tooth? Well I have located the motherlode (of cavities, root canals, and diabetes). Candi's Candies in Old Town Alexandria sells every variety of bubble gum, jelly bean, candy bar, caramel, and lollipop you can imagine. To hell with these fancy chocolatiers and their espresso truffles! I want Swedish fish! This extraordinary sweet shop has gummi bears, gummi worms, and gummi cola bottles. They've got pixy sticks--regular and supersize. They've got warheads, atomic fireballs, and sour patch kids. They've got Smarties, bit-o-honey, jawbreakers, candy necklaces, rock candy, red vines, and pop rocks. They've got Big League Chew and multiple brands of candy cigarettes. (It is Virginia, after all.) They've got the oversized gobstoppers, nerd ropes, and candy buttons of my childhood... And yes, I did feel like a kid in a candy store. As if all that weren’t enough, there's a second room full of barrels of salt-water taffy. They offer more flavors than I ever thought existed, including spicy chocolate and pomegranate. The only danger is getting a sugar high and accidentally spending your life savings on confectionary. That could be a sticky situation! Goody goody gumdrops!



Posted By:  Alyssa Kim
Photo:  Alyssa Kim

Eamonn's: A Dublin Chipper
Expectations are high with a restaurant this popular. While I have no complaints about the food at Eamonn's, the service left much to be desired. The one guy working the restaurant looked absolutely bored and seemed to have no desire to describe the different dipping sauces to us (and with names like Fronch and Marie Rose, I would say you need juuust a bit of guidance). But Eamonn's is great if you want a really casual, no-frills eatery: the food comes out in paper bags--no plates--and you're given plastic utensils. Fortunately for families, the joint is also kid-friendly; children get free ice cream as a reward for finishing their fish. Eamonn's could afford to make the fish servings a bit larger; they're a lot smaller than what you would normally get at a chip shop across the pond. Nevertheless, being a complete Anglophile, the mere presence of Cadbury, Mars, and Nestle candies, Walker's crisps, Digestives, Ribena, and Lilt made my Eamonn's experience infinitely better.



Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

Potomac Riverboat Company
Ah, the Potomac: so scenic, so calming, so unswimmable. Most DC, Maryland, and Virginia residents just think of the river as being there, few recognize it as an avenue for transportation. But the travel possibilities are not lost on the Potomac Riverboat Company (being a boat company and all), which offers sightseeing cruises and water taxi service from Old Town to Georgetown, Mt. Vernon, or the National Harbor. While the Georgetown and Mt. Vernon trips might technically be more fun and interesting, try the National Harbor destination for the cheapest and fastest outing ($14 roundtrip, 20 minutes each way). At the National Harbor you'll find the monstrosity that is the Gaylord National conference center, and you'll be able to visit the stolen... I mean relocated statue "The Awakening" (previously located at Hains Point near Reagan National airport). While most seating on the water taxi is inside, a few dozen visitors can enjoy the fresh air and view at the bow of the boat. So even if you're not interested in an insanely huge conference center, check out this water taxi, because a 40 minute ride down the Potomac on a nice day is definitely worth 14 bucks.



Posted By:  Katie Pyzyk
Photo:  Katie Pyzyk

Candi's Candies
Candy candy candy candy candy candy candy. Sorry, I must still be on a sugar buzz after visiting Candi’s Candies in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. Not only does this place have oodles of sugary treats, but the owner is so sweet herself, you’ll want to just hang out and chat. The best part is she’s very pro-sampling. Being that I am too, we get along great. She encourages you to sample any of the bulk candies your sweet tooth desires, including the dozens of flavors of salt water taffy. There are also some hard to find retro candies. Even if you don’t go crazy for the throw backs, your parents probably will. Don’t even think about walking out of this store empty handed. After gorging on countless free samples, you probably want to buy a little something to keep Candi’s Candies in business.



Posted By:  Megan Parry
Photo:  Megan Parry

Union Street Public House
The Union Street Public House bills itself as an Old Town Alexandria "institution" and while I have no qualification to confirm or deny such a claim, I can surely say that the food is hot, the beer is cold and the oysters are raw. The public house serves typical American food with a Southern bent. It's the new raw oyster bar that is most thrilling; especially due to the fact that the bar is non-smoking and you can enjoy your oysters in peace. I may be old-fashioned, but if I am going to ingest raw, muscle-y flesh, I'd rather it be carcinogen-free, thank you very much.



Posted By:  Megan Parry
Photo:  Megan Parry

Diva Designer Consignment
I recently read Victoria Beckham’s style guide, That Extra Half an Inch (yes, on purpose). Sure, she’s too skinny and a bit robotic, but she is fabulous and I adore her. Anyway, she—along with every other celebrity, stylist, editor and project runway judge—has been touting the recent fashion philosophy of “mixing high and low.” The idea here is that while most of us don’t have the dough to afford strictly designer duds, we can afford the occasional Tory Burch tunic or Prada sunglasses to pair with our Gap jeans and Target tote. Still, sometimes even the intermittent designer purchase can be too much for the wallet. That, my friends, is why Diva Consignment Boutique is a stop for the fashion obsessed. Diva carries a menagerie of luxe designer brands—last time I visited, Diva had a classic Chanel boucle blazer for sale. Diva is the perfect shopping complement to Treat (a designer sample sale store, also in Old Town Alexandria). Diva (like Treat) is a shop to visit frequently. Not only does the merchandise in these shops change often, once you get to know the owners, you may just get the inside scoop the next time they are expecting a Chloe Paddington bag.



Posted By:  Megan Parry
Photo:  Megan Parry

Treat
Our dear district, lovingly nicknamed ‘business suit city’ by the fashion-conscious, has oftentimes acted as the proverbial wet (acrylic/rayon blend) blanket for a lady’s fashion creativity. Add to that hefty prices at most choice shopping spots (Georgetown, Metro Center, Tyson’s Corner) and you’ve got some disgruntled fashionistas traipsing around the city in years old Lanvin flats in desperate need of repair. This tragic truth is truth no more, however, with the recent addition of the designer sample sale store, Treat, in downtown Alexandria. Treat is a designer dud haven, with the likes of Chloe, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Marc Jacobs shoes, clothes and bags all being sold at around 50% off regular price. All the goods are brand spankin’ new, too—remnants of previous seasons or discontinued items make up the bulk of inventory. The merch changes constantly and the boutique is only open on weekends, so Treat is a good place to keep in heavy shopping rotation to pick up the best deals.



Posted By:  Megan Parry
Photo:  Torpedo Factory Arts Center

Torpedo Factory Art Center
While DC boasts some of the choicest art museums and galleries in the metro area, the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia is a well-known—but sometimes overlooked—art center that houses the studios of over 165 visual artists, six cooperative galleries and the Alexandria Archeology Museum. The space is modern, inviting, airy—the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon strolling artists’ studios. There is something here for everyone—sculpture, watercolor, oil paint, photography, mixed media, modern abstractions, classic portraits and expansive landscapes. The artists are oftentimes at the studios and welcome questions, observations, and even idle chit chat, which creates a collaborative, educational atmosphere without being intimidating (which art oftentimes can be). If you really fall in love with the place, you can sign up for a class, as the center also offers classes through The Art League.



Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Jade Floyd

Morrison House
There’s no better place in the Old Town to savor the legendary Mint Julep than at the The Grille at Morrison House. Beginning December 10, from 5 to 7 pm Monday through Friday’s happy hour features The Flight of the Julep for $5. You’ll have a taste of three different Julep’s from the restaurant’s cocktail menu—Traditional-made with Makers Mark Bourbon muddled mint and peach syrup; Blackberry Mint Julep-a tempting mix of Buffalo Trace Bourbon muddled blackberries and mint; and Whisky Pineapple Julep-a tropical bent on the classic, made with Bulleit Bourbon muddled pineapple and mint. All of the happy hour hors d’oeuvres are $6 and created by The Grille’s own Chef Dennis Marron. You can snack on escargot gratin with basil pesto, grilled bread & roasted garlic; an artisanal cheese selection, with truffle honey, seasonal preserves; truffled pomme frites with fleur de sel; and oysters Rockefeller, baked oysters with traditional herb butter sauce.



Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Jade Floyd

Eamonn's: A Dublin Chipper
Old Town, New Digs. Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper is now open for business as the creators of the PX and Restaurant Eve (Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong and Todd Thrasher) have once again brought us another top-notch eatery. Their fish is fresh and their chips are hand-cut and delightfully stick to the roof of your mouth. I made it through the entire meal without swallowing a single drop of liquid so as to keep all of that creamy Cod goodness on my taste buds. The sauces (Tarter, Marie Rose, Chesapeake, Hot Chili, Kitty O’Shea, Fronch, and Curry) are all made by “ewemans” in their own kitchen and for less than $10 you can have one of three fish–Cod, Ray, or F.O.D.–and an order of fries with sauce. They also have the Batter Burgher, Batter Sausage, and Mushy Peas that took me back to my days of being spoon fed by my daddy. Just in case you actually do need light refreshments to wash down the rich fare, order their Guinness Draft, a sweet Pinot Noir, or any of their Irish Sodas. And for the record, this is not a British Chipper, or any other chipper. It’s their chipper and if yis don’t like it…..hump off.



PX

Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Jade Floyd

Eamonn's: A Dublin Chipper
The days of speakeasy drinking establishments were a thing of the past until the creators of Restaurant Eve (Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong and Todd Thrasher) brought us PX. Back in the day, the PX would have welcomed the likes of Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and the sultry sounds of Ella Fitzgerald. Rich mahogany chairs, royal blue velvet couches, and chandeliers adorn the place which holds only 35 patrons. Cocktails, like the Sweet Basil (lillet blanc, orange water, and basil simple syrup), Chicas Fizz (Hendricks Gin, Rose Water, lemon juice, and cream) and the Plum Diggigty (Shiro plums, Grey Good Citrus Vodka, and lemon thyme ice cubes) are poured by “swank host” Clinton Terry. As if the exclusivity of getting in and laying down the cash for the $10 to $16 drinks while donning your swankest dinner jacket (required) weren’t enough, you feel a certain unease that the Federal Government will raid the place at any moment as the clientele brings in barons, bankers, and ballers. The PX is an experience. Where just outside there is the buzz of cars and tourists trekking through the streets of Old Town Alexandria; inside, you’re in the lap of luxury. So sit back, and as owner, Meshelle Armstrong says, “Listen to the ice.”



Posted By:  Brooke A. Morris
Photo:  Brooke A. Morris

Book Bank
In a society with a Starbucks and Barnes and Noble on every corner, it’s refreshing to walk into a store and not feel overwhelmed by its size or overly eager sales associates. Upon entering Book Bank, your chain store anxieties are immediately eased, as this store isn’t your average bookstore. Though it’s crammed into a tiny space, the store manages to carry everything from biographies to science fiction. The shelves are stocked with new titles found in the typical chains, as well as old hardbacks (in very good condition) for reasonable prices. Book Bank also offers $1 books and has ongoing sales on select genres. After perusing the small shop for about an hour, I opted for an eclectic lot—Conversations of Socrates, Stephen King’s Misery, and the fictionalized Marilyn Monroe bio, Blonde, for less than $20. Score! Be sure to check out the front of the store, which is filled with first editions of the classics such as Anna Karenina, Little Women, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare.



Posted By:  Brooke A. Morris
Photo:  Brooke A. Morris

Whoever said you should never judge a book by its cover had Decorium in mind. At a glance, this furniture/gift boutique looks like all the other upscale antique stores that line King Street. With its chandeliers, too expensive to sit on furniture, and prissy pastel colored interior, most of us take one look and keep on moving—unless we’re 75 or a debutante. Once you get in and browse around, however, you’ll find that it’s more Spencer’s than Hallmark. The store, obviously suffering from a severe case of ADD, consists of furniture, books, plants, jewelry, and more. My favorite finds had to be the David Roberts’ Dirty Bertie books, the Jackie McClure/Joyce Wilde “Bitch” cookbooks, and the cute Bad Girl’s little pink book. Men beware—this place does discriminate. It clearly targets those on the pink team, making this is an ideal store for finding a gift for that classy girl friend with a tart sense of humor.



Posted By:  Brooke A. Morris
Photo:  Brooke A. Morris

Masaya
Strolling through King Street in Old Town, you’ll find dozens of quaint, exotic restaurants that cater to the artsy folk of the neighborhood. Whether it’s tapas or Lebanonese, there are countless eateries specializing in “unique” foreign cuisine. However, there is something particularly special about Masaya Thai Restaurant. Maybe it’s the way its tiny fenced in patio jumps out at you as you pass by. You can’t help but look in curiously as you try to maneuver around the little wrought iron gate. That’s when the spicy-sweet smell of curry attacks your nostrils. Once you’re lured in though, Masaya offers more than just a cute exterior and intriguing aromas. The food is traditional Thai cuisine, i.e. no bells and whistles or cross-cultural “infusions” that many restaurants in the DC area offer. The menu, consisting of entrees between $10 and $15, is simple in presentation but intricate in taste. The small size of the restaurant also makes for exceptional service so you don’t have to search for your waiter, nor do you feel like your being stalked. I suggest stopping by on an intimate date or during a Sunday afternoon shopping binge.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Misha's
Remember coffee? Remember cigarettes? Jim Jarmusch does, I know. But in these Starbucks days, people are hardly embracing the caffeine-induced nicotine binge like they once were. Maybe I should be promoting healthy hotspots, like yoga classes or Robek’s, but there’s something nice about popping into this coffee shop in Old Town Alexandria for a strong cup of joe and seeing a band of mouthy men sitting around a large wooden table, puffing away. Coffee and cigarettes—like champagne and caviar! like frosties and french fries!—best friends forever. And while I’m hardly one to promote Virginia (give DC its land back, I say!), I suppose this is one interesting difference between the soon-to-be entirely non-smoking District and the tobacco-rootin’, tootin’ Commonwealth. Oh and besides the smoking thing, there’s also delicious baked goods at Misha’s. Oh, and top-notch coffee too.



Posted By:  Nancy Dunham
Photo:  Nancy Dunham

Fresco is one of those coffee and sandwich shops that seem as if it should always have been there. Although it’s just recently opened at the busy intersection of King and Washington streets in Old Town, Alexandria, Fresco feels like an old friend. Unlike restaurants that used that locale in seasons past, Fresco has a fresh, European feel to it that blends in perfectly with the young, trendy mobile mood of the area. A brightly lit counter filled with luscious muffins, scones, cheesecake, and other pastries and a full assortment of beverages are enough to delight the pickiest breakfast patron. An equally wide assortment of wine, small European-style sandwiches and hearty soups are available for lunch. While most of the business seems to be take- out, customers are welcome to linger over lattes at one of the small tables located inside or out.



Posted By:  Nancy Dunham
Photo:  Nancy Dunham

Want tapas but not in the mood for the jam-packed, standing room only crowds you face in DC, just to snare a tiny, tippy table crammed against a wall near the kitchen? Las Tapas, right in the heart of Alexandria’s Restaurant Row, is the place for you–and plenty of others who are in evidence almost every night of the week. One suspects many DC residents actually travel across the bridge (gasp!) to dine here. Who can blame them? The atmosphere is charming, featuring plenty of live music (including Flamenco on Tuesday and Thursday evenings).There’s no dress code but you might feel a bit out of place if you wear ultra casual attire in this darkly elegant restaurant. Whether you and your friends just want to relax and enjoy or the folks are in town, this is the place. Oh, yeah, and the food is great too. Las Tapas serves up 62 authentic Spanish tapas including cold tapas, warm tapas, meat tapas, seafood tapes, veggie tapas – well, you get the idea. Add to that an extensive wine list and the aforementioned live entertainment and you have the recipe for a first-rate evening.



Posted By:  Nancy Dunham
Photo:  Nancy Dunham

I’m a coffee aficionado. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I am one of those “must go to X shop not Y shop” snobs. All I really seek is a good cup of coffee – hot and fresh. But I must admit that I get somewhat jaded when I go from shop to shop and never taste a real difference – it’s good – but bland. That changed when I visited a new shop a bit off the main drag of Old Town Alexandria. Perk Up, located about eight blocks from the popular King Street, offers just the right mix of “chain” efficiency and local flavor. Decorated with comfy couches, sink-way-in chairs, and solid wood dining sets, you’ll find a nice selection of fresh baked pastries including yummy scones and muffins. Best of all, the coffee is hot, fresh, and aromatic. Perk Up is the perfect place to kick back and sip your java while you visit with friends.




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