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Why so down on Old Town?


razzar
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I have been reticent to write anything in here. This is such an intimidating crowd :biggrin: I have noticed, however, that there is a general feeling that Old Town is pretty much a wasteland when it comes to restaurants.

On the rare occasion when I can break my mildly agoraphoic wife away from good ole Prince William County, the farthest afield we can generally go is to Old Town. (We do like Landini Bros. and Geranio, but haven't been there is a long time).

But, why that general feeling? Is it that the restaurants are just "okay"? Or are they certifiably bad?

I love giving people a chance to vent.

Rick Azzarano

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I have been reticent to write anything in here. This is such an intimidating crowd :biggrin: I have noticed, however, that there is a general feeling that Old Town is pretty much a wasteland when it comes to restaurants.

On the rare occasion when I can break my mildly agoraphoic wife away from good ole Prince William County, the farthest afield we can generally go is to Old Town. (We do like Landini Bros. and Geranio, but haven't been there is a long time).

But, why that general feeling? Is it that the restaurants are just "okay"? Or are they certifiably bad?

I love giving people a chance to vent.

There is nothing wrong with Old Town. If you go there, definitely try the Blue Point Grill (next to the Sutton Place Gourmet) and knock yourself out on a truly fresh and varied raw bar, excellent seafood, and totally charming & efficient service. A true fine dining experience.

"Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, 'I'm thirsty, not dirty' ". Joe E. Lewis

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There are some decent restaurants in Oldtown, but you have to know where to look. Mainly it seems that the area is geared toward tourists, so there's a lot of overpriced, overhyped places that benefit from the location.

In Oldtown, Southside 815 is really good, and I've had good experiences at Ecco Cafe as well, though I know some people say it's slipped as of late. Cafe Salsa is also supposed to be decent, although I've never tried it ... There's also a cute little pasta place, Cafe Mezzegiorno, that serves good pasta and sandwiches, and is very reasonably priced.

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Having lived there for many years, its always been a big dissapointment. Not that there are not some ok restaurants (and with Eve a great one) but it seriously could do better with that type of local income brackets.

Le Gaulois used to be great, I am not sure about it anymore.

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How abaout La Bergerie? I thought that was supposed to be OK. Blue POint is very good.

We went to a new Thai that opened on King at the water about 2 weeks ago, it was decent and nice outside sitting.

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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There are plenty of good restaurants in Old Town and there are plenty of mediocre ones as well, just like anyplace else. In addition to the ones mentioned above (and I will second DCMark's reference to Restaurant Eve, which is worth making Old Town a dining destination) places like Le Refuge come to mind. Landini Bros and Geranios I believe are still good. Majestic Cafe? There appear to be a couple of new places opening up on upper King (Flying Fish???), that sound interesting.

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Agh! I just don't get the appeal of Majestic Cafe. The atmosphere is very cold and the food was mediocre, in my opinion, and reeeally high-priced for the quality.

Huh. I've liked the cooking at Majestic the two times I've been and that type of decor appeals to me. It's the best that I have had in Old Town, but I am not quite a regular in the neighborhood. To each his/her own.

Looking forward to trying Eve, but need to let the debit card cool down for a bit.

Edited by bilrus (log)

Bill Russell

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Agh! I just don't get the appeal of Majestic Cafe. The atmosphere is very cold and the food was mediocre, in my opinion, and reeeally high-priced for the quality.

That's why I put a ? after Majestic, because I was unsure. I've only had a drink at the bar, never eaten their food. It seems to be popular.

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There are some decent restaurants in Oldtown, but you have to know where to look. Mainly it seems that the area is geared toward tourists, so there's a lot of overpriced, overhyped places that benefit from the location.

Anywhere that is heavily touristed tends to have a lot of awful restaurants. If you go to some of the more off the beaten path places in Old Town you tend to have better luck. Most of the restaurants on King down closest to the river are expensive and bland. Landini might be the exception. Whereas, I believe Chef Boyardee is the chef at Il Porto. :hmmm:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I think you all are hitting it on the head -- it is a touristy area, and touristy areas attract mediocre eateries. But, you all are naming restaurants I haven't thought about in years. Thanks. We DO need to get out more.

I also sorta agree with Swankalicious (I hope I spelled that right) about the Majestic Cafe. I too like the space, but (based on my admittedly slim one time brunch visit), I didn't think the food was all that special (I had the corned beef hash and eggs).

For DonRocks, thanks for the note. I tried to respond, but apparently haven't posted enough to achieve the level of permission to use the email, so the reply "wasn't sent."

Rick Azzarano

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Agh! I just don't get the appeal of Majestic Cafe. The atmosphere is very cold and the food was mediocre, in my opinion, and reeeally high-priced for the quality.

I think that perhaps for the first time, I am going to agree with Swankalicious.

:shock::shock::laugh:

I found the cooking at Majestic to be positively mediocre the two time I went. Mrs. JPW, the good Southern girl that she is, was excited by the prospect, but disappointed by the execution. Absolutely, nothing stood out as special or different from what you can get anywhere else (compare in your head with Vidalia), especially for the prices they charge.

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Agh! I just don't get the appeal of Majestic Cafe. The atmosphere is very cold and the food was mediocre, in my opinion, and reeeally high-priced for the quality.

Decorate it right, or run ads in the tourist rags, use vacuum cooking method and BAM! Old Town eatery. It's not you.

Southside

The Royal

Ecco

Bertucci's

Five Guys

Are all places I'd drop in. Ecco could stand some more consistency. Old Town & Del Ray are starved.

Over more into Del Ray RT's isn't bad. The Chiralagua Deli across from Mr. Wash is interesting takeout. Especially if you don't know Spanish. Mandarin Inn on Mt. Vernon, same block as Giorgio's, sells a killer hot & sour soup. Get it to go. The restaurant stinks like a moist hobo and nothing else I've had there is good. I've had some good food at Bombay Curry Company. I cannot remember the name but a platter of chilies with bits of chicken punished me in a good way.

Edited by meatwad (log)
Give me your oldest Grand Marnier and a thousand year egg.
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I've had some good food at Bombay Curry Company. I cannot remember the name but a platter of chilies with bits of chicken punished me in a good way.

Sounds like Chicken Kadai. I love it. The trick is to not stop eating so the heat doesn't creep up on you. :wink:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I have been reticent to write anything in here. This is such an intimidating crowd :biggrin: I have noticed, however, that there is a general feeling that Old Town is pretty much a wasteland when it comes to restaurants.

On the rare occasion when I can break my mildly agoraphoic wife away from good ole Prince William County, the farthest afield we can generally go is to Old Town. (We do like Landini Bros. and Geranio, but haven't been there is a long time).

But, why that general feeling? Is it that the restaurants are just "okay"? Or are they certifiably bad?

I love giving people a chance to vent.

Why the reticence?

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I have been in Alexandria for over 2 years and have had a chance to poke about a few restaurants. I agree that there are too many "factories" (I used to work at one). But here are my favorites.

As others have mentioned I think Southside is very good. It is cheap and I would say about 80% of the time their ribs are fantastic. They also have nice vinegary wings.

I know they probably out-source their pasteries, but I had a fruit tart one sunday morning/afternoon at Mesha's and the plum was so fresh it smacked me in the face. wow.

I really enjoy El Taqueirio Poblano. It, as well, is cheap and their chile relleno and tacos washed down with a few margaritas is a very good meal.

I had my first meal at The Bombay Curry company this weekend and was very impressed. It has been a while since I enjoyed Indian food, but everything was very fresh. The appatizer of puffed rice and a side dish of pureed eggplant reverberate in my mind.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Del Ray Dreamery when talking about these two places. It is phenomenal. I had a strawberry custard the other day that was just about the best thing I have ever had the opportunity to taste.

As for the other places...

I enjoyed a meal at Majestic. It was simple, but well presented although a bit pricey. The only things that I remember from the meal are a really nice complex bourbon gravy and the fried grits. I also had the hash at brunch and thought it was good.

Five guys... nothing I can say that hasn't been said.

Nothing else springs to mind right now...

Amazingly the most memorable thing I have eaten in Alexandria was at a little divey Irish (in name) bar up Duke near the mall. It was the "porno burger" said to be "so good its obscene".

Meatwad, I just saw the chirlagua deli and your post made me wonder if it is worth checking out. Any tips? And what about RT's?

I've been reading for a while and appreciate all of the interesting "stuff" I have read here. You have led me to many good meals (and just a couple not so good ones). Thanks!

(sorry for the long post and all of the ())

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definitely agree that the dining in old town is geared toward tourists-especially if you stay on the section of east king street near the water (the section with an overabundance of starbuck's) i lived in old town for 4 years and spent a good amount of income at southside (when i didn't want to cook) and at sutton place gourmet (when i did want to cook) i moaned that there weren't any good restaurants in old town and continued to go to the same joints over and over. or i went in to the district. looking back on my time there, the food in old town was "OK" it just wasn't $25 per entree "good." i cooked for myself because i knew that i could turn out a meal a bit better than chef boyardee at il porto and i went to southside because the food was cheap, filling and i could easily stumble home. so it's not d.c. dining- but don't you have to cut through some expensive deadwood in the district? there are plenty of places i'd not pay $5 an entree for let alone quadruple that (Kinkead's for example) so take the mediocre with the good in old town and be happy with the wide variety of places within strolling distance, if you happen to live in the area. note-evening star (in delray) has been consistently mentioned by gourmet magazine as a "best in d.c." restaurant- i just don't see it !

"Ham isn't heroin..." Morgan Spurlock from "Supersize Me"

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Why the reticence? Reading these and other posts demonstrate to me just how out of touch I've become about the restaurants in the area. We really DO need to get out more. It's like I tell the young(er) people at work when I asked them what they're goiing to be up to onthe weekend -- I'm not nosy, I just have to live vicariously through them.

I'm also sorry to see posts about the decline of some of the restaurants we have been to. Chef Boyardee at Il Porto? When it first opened, Il Porto was fairly decent. Of course, the last time we were there was for my daughter's 15th birthday, and she's 29 now.

(Edited to correct egregious typing mistakes.)

Edited by razzar (log)

Rick Azzarano

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Based on a single visit, Vermillion on King Street seemed to serve better than your average tourist-fare.

Over more in my neck of the woods, in Del Ray, I second the vote for Taqueria el Poblano and can't say enough good things about the Bombay Curry Company. (I onced asked for the Chicken Kadai extra spicy -- don't do that.)

The Evening Star (the original restaurant of the folks who brought us Vermillion) is so wildy inconsistent that I treat a meal there as an evening spent gambling rather than Having Dinner Out, but I've had good meals there.

A jumped-up pantry boy who never knew his place.

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I ate at NamViet last night in DelRay. Garden rolls w/prok and shrimp were standard fare (excellent) and the curry special with squid, shrimp and scallops was very nice at $11.95.

Negatives: Push waiter trying to sell softshells, bringing a beer not ordered and charging us for two specials at $14.95 instead of $11.95.

place was empty...

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I ate at NamViet last night in DelRay. Garden rolls w/prok and shrimp were standard fare (excellent) and the curry special with squid, shrimp and scallops was very nice at $11.95.

Glad to see that the menu typo on the original NamViet's (in Arlington) menu "prok" vice pork is still appearing on the offshoot's menu. :laugh:

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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I've had some good food at Bombay Curry Company. I cannot remember the name but a platter of chilies with bits of chicken punished me in a good way.

Sounds like Chicken Kadai. I love it. The trick is to not stop eating so the heat doesn't creep up on you. :wink:

good call, this is the trick for eating most spicy food. although i rarely find restaurants that cook food spicy enough to merit this strategy.

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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I love giving people a chance to vent.

There is nothing wrong with Old Town. If you go there, definitely try the Blue Point Grill (next to the Sutton Place Gourmet) and knock yourself out on a truly fresh and varied raw bar, excellent seafood, and totally charming & efficient service. A true fine dining experience.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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