A few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I decided that we were spending too much time downtown in D.C. and not enough time exploring other areas, just minutes away. It was decided that we would venture out to Old Town Alexandria, to try some places we had never been to, yet apparently, they had been around for years (cue almost embarrassed look, since I grew up around the metro D.C. area).
Last Saturday, we made our journey and fell in love with it all over again. While I’ve always known Old Town to be incredibly charming (see very old post on the history of the town), I never really spent time venturing out to new places to dine. Below are two great recommendations, if you have never tried them.
Just four blocks from the waterfront, Jackson 20 is part of Hotel Monaco, yet it is far from a hotel restaurant. The modern-day tavern-style seating is charming while the aroma coming from the kitchen, makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time to the colonial days, which is exactly what they want you to feel. According to their website,
“Colonial–era taverns and inns were designed to make travelers immediately feel welcome, and even though our customers tend to be more modern and local, they love this tradition. As in Colonial days, a giant bronze statue of a pig presides over the room as a symbol of hospitality and abundance. Because the pig was also President Jackson’s favorite animal, we use it as a motif throughout the restaurant, and take it even more literally in our pork friendly menu and regular Pig Roasts.” (As a side note: They also recognize that there are non-meat eaters amongst us and thus, also cater to that as well.)
The first thing I did was peruse the specialty cocktails. It’s almost now a ritual for me in a new restaurant. I chose the Raspberry Mule. I’ve been told that next time, I need to try the Virginia Gentleman.
For appetizers, we got the Deviled Farm Eggs and the Cheddar and Broccoli soup. Not one to ever order deviled eggs at a restaurant, they were the most amazing I’ve ever had. And, if you’re looking for a small meal that’s filling – I definitely recommend the soup – just not as an appetizer.
For main entrees, I got the Saltimbucca (a special for that evening) and my girlfriend got the beef stroganoff. Again, both utterly amazing and mouthwatering. My dish was comprised of parmesean crusted pork on top of truffles and white risotto, or as the waiter put it, “the cadillac of rice”.
For dessert, my girlfriend kept on going with the Grasshopper pie.
Overall, I think this is one of few restaurants I’d visit again and order something different each time, as the food is an experience all its own.
Virtue Feed & Grain
After stuffing ourselves, we walked the four blocks to the waterfront and 1/2 a block to the right onto Union. There, right past the Starbucks, and across from Ben and Jerrys is Virtue Feed & Grain.
When you open the heavy wooden doors, you feel like you’ve been transported into another old tavern with much swankier decor. We headed upstairs to the lounge/bar area to sip on cocktails in a more comfortable atmosphere. There, you can sit at long bar tables, round tables, couches, dining tables and swings (yep, you read that right).
It was the perfect way to end an evening.
Note: Places in Alexandria shut down MUCH EARLIER – last call was at 12:30am on a Saturday.