Best Restaurants in Alexandria, Virginia
As an Alexandria resident, you’ll never have a shortage of restaurants to try! Great places are located throughout the city, but Old Town boasts the most eateries concentrated in one walkable area. Dozens and dozens of delicious options are available to suit every palate, from low cost to fine dining, and everything in between--Alexandrians are lucky this way.
Becoming a local includes two important tasks: finding a home and learning first hand about the popular restaurants you’ll hear about over and over again. Some might not meet every critic’s qualifications for "Best Of," but they continuously draw in the crowds.
If you’re headed to Alexandria to do a little pre-PCS house hunting for homes for sale or rent, grab a reservation to make sure a table is open during your time scouting for homes. Start with this list and see where Alexandria food takes you. Amazing restaurants often lead to discovering amazing neighborhoods, so keep an eye out.
You can do no wrong with tacos morning, noon, or night, which is good, because District Taco has a legitimate breakfast menu for eat-in dining and for grabbing a bag full of good stuff to take back to your office mates. The rest of the day, you’ll find fresh and fast tacos made right to order. District Taco is a local chain, with several other locations throughout Northern Virginia.
It's hard to find a restaurant in Alexandria that doesn't have historical ties. The city itself is older than the U.S., and its strategic waterfront location means that hundreds of years’ worth of people had to eat somewhere! Gadsby’s Tavern is one of the most well-known and history filled places to eat in the city. A true tavern back in the day, history unfolded throughout many years of its operation, to include regular seatings by a guest named George Washington, who also enjoyed fine dining.
If old school Italian food is a must-find at each of your duty stations, start with this Alexandria standby. Guests dine on fresh, made on site pasta, and dive into a carefully measured wine list. Ask to read about the history of the building. It includes time served as a store front, butcher shop, speakeasy, and cover for an anti-Nazi radio network.
There’s nothing like heading inside to sit down to a warm cup of soup or hot toddy after exploring George Washington's beloved plantation on a cold day. The restaurant's ambiance reflects the time period, especially if you can grab a table fireside.
Image via Mountvernon.org
Some of the offerings, to include their famous peanut soup, are also colonially inspired, but plenty of modern food fills the menu, too. The restaurant is the perfect setting to celebrate a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s gathering. Some service members use Mount Vernon grounds for promotion ceremonies and the stay to eat at the Inn.
This is another local chain of restaurants, and residents do love all the variations of chili on the menu. Feeling adventurous? Instead of the standard bowl of chili, give the Chili Mac and Chili Dogs a try. Repeat diners often don stretchy pants to feast on wings, too.
Brunch, brunch, and more brunch. This is the place to be for the not quite breakfast, not quite lunch menu. Brunch classics like pancakes and French toast mingle with new brunch classics such as brunch tacos and a Scottish Scramble. Add in a Bloody Mary or Mimosa and all is well for a Sunday Funday.
"The Best Coffee You’ll Ever Have" is their tagline, and throngs of Alexandria coffee lovers agree. Obviously not a restaurant, but very popular nonetheless. Coffee purveyors feel at home among hand roasted beans and custom blends and varietals.
Timeless and classic are two words that perfectly describe the restaurant. Built in 1833, the building holds it own within Alexandria’s historical context. Diners looking for American comfort food or a healthy selection of seafood can enjoy the best of both worlds here. Outdoor patio seating is the perfect place to take in the bustle of Old Town.
One of the relatively newer restaurants Alexandria has to offer, Virtue Feed & Grain stays true to its roots by conserving the building’s history as a feed house.
Here, cocktails are named after long past prominent citizens and cuisine options include farmhouse inspired dishes in addition to creative takes on traditional food like meatloaf. Expect a lively atmosphere inside, as the restaurant’s popularity remains steady.
A classic Old Town restaurant on King Street, The Majestic has been serving the community since 1932. The Art Deco interior inspires diners to lounge in romantic booth seating while the bar serves up sophisticated cocktails for happy hour. Enjoy sandwich and daily menu specials throughout the week. The Majestic is also known for its brunch service on Saturday and Sunday.
11) Cedar Knoll
Set on the banks of the Potomac River, Cedar Knoll is tucked away in the residential area of Fort Hunt. The current iteration of the restaurant has fed guests since 2015, after undergoing a renovation, however, the original log cabin structure dates back to the 1800s. Diners are treated not only to high-quality American cuisine but experience historic ambiance not frequently found in a restaurant setting. Due to the panoramic scenery, events are popular on the grounds.
Set in Old Town North, Cafe 44 has quickly become a local’s favorite due not only to the exceptional food and craft cocktails but because of the spectacular view of the Potomac River waterfront area of Old Town Alexandria. Ask about the private dining option on the heated balcony.
The Del Ray part of Alexandria has multiple must-try eateries and Del Ray Cafe leads the pack. Serving a combination of American and French plates, co-owners Laurent and Margaret Janowsky hope you’ll feel comfortable and welcome in their converted Virginia farmhouse. The Del Ray Cafe team specializes in local, natural, and organic ingredients.
Blackwall Hitch Restaurant via Ron Cogswell
This location of the regional collection of restaurants serves diners a menu inspired by the Maryland and Virginia coasts. Driven by seasonally available ingredients, the menu changes to accommodate the freshest sources of ingredients. The Alexandria location takes advantage of its position along the waterfront of Old Town and offers outdoor seating.
The Parker-Gray district of Alexandria is the perfect home for the chef-driven menus that Mason Social is acclaimed for. Not only are diners drawn to the Modern American food, but to the craft bar offerings and inventive architecture that make the restaurant unique.
Once you're settled in your new Alexandria home, you’ll likely be sitting down to eat at one of these recommended places and notice an interesting restaurant right across the street. In time, you’ll craft a list of your own favorites to share with friends and family visiting from out of town.
Try a date night, bring in out of town guests, or have brunch with friends. Just continuously try somewhere new, and often. Be warned, though, once you find a go-to, it's hard not to revisit a great place over and over again!
If for some crazy reason, you run out of local restaurants to try, remember that less than 10 miles away in Washington, D.C. , there is a whole other realm of world class food to be discovered.
By Dawn M. Smith
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