Paisano’s: Pizza, Pasta, and More

This Virginia pizza and pasta chain has been a local favorite since the first branch opened in Fairfax in 1997. Paisano's has grown steadily over the years with a combination of fair prices, sizable portions and good quality. The restaurant's credo is that it works to make almost everything from scratch daily, including pasta and pizza dough. Paisano’s also works hard to help out their local communities, which has endeared them even more to Virginians. Paisano’s offers a variety of crusts to choose from, with the thin crust recognized as the best. The toppings are high-quality and diverse, with some favorite combinations including the Big Paisano, loaded up with pepperoni, sausage, ham, meatballs, onions, mushrooms, and green peppers, as well as the Greek with gyro meat, feta cheese, tomatoes, onions, and black olives. The menu also offers some excellent pasta dishes, with regulars recommending the homemade lasagna and the baked spaghetti. Sub sandwiches are also exceptional.

269 S. Van Dorn Street
Alexandria, VA 22304
(703) 504-6100

Rice and Noodles Thai Gourmet: Spectacular Tastes

This popular family-owned Thai restaurant has earned a reputation in the Alexandria area for serving up authentic, flavorful food for a wide variety of palates. The menu at Rice and Noodles Thai Gourmet is exceptional, with a tremendous selection of dishes so large that you could order a different thing every day for a month. Some favorites include the drunken noodles, which have the perfect amount of spiciness and are loaded with vegetables, as well as the awesome Penang curry. There’s literally not a weak dish that comes out of the kitchen here, though. The honey glazed duck curry is a dish you won’t find at many other Thai places, but it’s very much worth trying – the rich, fatty duck pairs perfectly with the sweet honey glaze and the earthy spiciness of the curry. Get a glass of the fresh lemonade – it’s tart and refreshing.

Rice and Noodles Thai Gourmet:
6111 Franconia Road
Alexandria, VA 22310
(703) 313-0330

Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe: A Grocery and More in Alexandria

This exceptional local business does two things and does them very well. First off, it provides a great place to buy a wide selection of groceries and food products from a variety of Mediterranean cuisines. Walking down the aisles of this place will open your eyes to a new world of spices. There’s even a whole aisle dedicated to different blends of olive oil from different regions, each of which has its own flavor profile. Fresh olives and delicacies like preserved limes and more are also on sale. And then there’s the cafe portion of the store, which is a local favorite for succulent grilled chicken, flatbreads, and more. The house-made samosas are a can’t-miss – these Indian pastries are filled with beef, chickpeas, potatoes, and other amazingly-spiced wonders.

Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe
352 S. Pickett Street
Alexandria, VA 22304
(703) 751-0030

Tacos el Costalilla: One of Alexandria’s Most Delightful Mexican Restaurants

This unassuming restaurant actually serves up some of the best street-style tacos in Alexandria, so pay it a visit. These aren’t boring tacos loaded with sour cream and beans – they’re served authentically, just a tortilla wrapped around meat with lime juice, onions, and cilantro. Accessorize them with your choice of salsas and other toppings from the self-service bar and you’ve got an incredible meal for just a few dollars. Some of the best options are the Pastor (spicy pork, cooked to tender perfection) and the amazing beef tongue – not normally a delicacy, this place has mastered how to wring every drop of flavor out of it. It’s actually worth making a special trip to Tacos el Costalilla on weekends to try the pozole. This hearty pork stew made with kernels of hominy is topped with fresh vegetables. It’s very time-consuming to make, but you can taste the care in every bite.

Tacos el Costalilla
7862 Richmond Highway
Alexandria, VA 22306
(703) 704-9088

Try the Best of Southern Barbecue at Jackson 20

Southern hospitality and cuisine receive a high-end twist at Jackson 20, a popular tavern and restaurant in Old Town. Here, the focus is on authentic Southern barbecue and comfort food, with a seasonal menu that shines a spotlight on local ingredients. Start off with the wood-roasted acorn squash and the charcuterie board. The house specialty is the ribs, where the meat melts right off the bone. For dessert, try the triple chocolate mousse cake or the banana pudding, and wash it down with an espresso martini!

Behind the bar, Jackson 20’s mixologists are always crafting new and exciting drinks, but it’s the classic mint julep that many diners recommend. The restaurant also serves bourbon, craft brews, and globally sourced wines.

Jackson 20 Tavern & Restaurant
480 King St
Alexandria, VA, 22314
(703) 842-2790

Firehouse Subs: An Alexandria Favorite for Sandwiches

If pre-made sandwiches just aren’t doing it for you anymore, a stop at Firehouse Subs will remind you of how good a sandwich can be. Located in Kingstowne Towne Center, this Alexandria favorite has been winning raves for years for its incredible subs, which are packed with freshness. Firehouse is actually a scrappy chain founded in Florida in 1994 that has grown to over 500 locations in the United States. The mission of the restaurant is to produce subs that are a cut above the rest, with generous portions of meat, cheese, and vegetables prepared right in front of you. Some of the best sandwiches include the brisket and cheese, which presents slow-roasted meat in an awesome setting, as well as the Steamer – pastrami, Provolone, Italian dressing, and mayo on wheat. It’s one of the place’s signature sandwiches and it’s very good. Firehouse also boasts a high-tech Coca-Cola “Freestyle” machine that lets you choose from over 125 different beverages and create custom flavors.

Firehouse Subs
5900 Kingstowne Towne Center
Alexandria, VA 22315
(703) 822-9400

Valentino’s New York Style Pizzeria: A Piece Of The Pie

Pizza diehards all have their own regional style that they prefer, but New York style usually ranks pretty high on everybody’s list. The Big Apple’s pizza is fired in a hot oven with a thin, crispy crust that doesn’t overpower the other flavors, and toppings are usually kept down to a reasonable level. You don’t have to be in Manhattan to have real New York style pizza, though, as regulars at Valentino’s New York Style Pizzeria in Alexandria can attest. This place serves up exceptional pies to appreciative diners on a daily basis, with a note-perfect crust and a sauce that perfectly balances sweet and savory notes to support cheese and toppings adroitly. In addition, the pies here are absolutely enormous, with one weighing in at a staggering 20 inches across. This isn’t a place for tiny appetites, but if you’re hungry Valentino’s offers a great bargain. Try their savory, buttery garlic knots as well.

Valentino’s New York Style Pizzeria
4813 Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22312
(703) 354-8383

Daniel O’Connell’s Bar and Restaurant: An Irish Pub in Alexandria, Virginia

Three friends, Mark Kirwan, John Brennan, and Billy O'Sullivan, opened Daniel O'Connell's Restaurant and Bar in 2006 with the goal of offering traditional Irish dishes with a modern twist using fresh, seasonal ingredients in an upscale setting.

Carpenters and masons restored the building that houses the restaurant, installing woodwork that had been imported from castles and monasteries throughout Ireland. They also built several fireplaces, which gives the restaurant a cozy feel. Regulars say their efforts have paid off, with many saying Daniel O'Connell's creates a convincing feeling of being in a classic pub.

The most popular dish is the fish and chips, with the fish described as meaty yet light and well-battered. Another recommended dish is the lamb burger topped with goat cheese, which regulars say is juicy and perfectly seasoned. The shepherd's pie is another standout. Daniel O'Connell's version of this classic dish comes with beef and seasoned vegetables, traditional brown gravy, and parmesan cheese-crusted mash.

Daniel O'Connell's Restaurant and Bar
112 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 739-1124

Scoop Up Something Sweet at Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato in Alexandria

Gelato is a creamy frozen dessert that's popular throughout Italy, and you'll find it near The Asher at Alexandria's Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato. Family-owned and -operated, Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato serves made-from-scratch gelato in fresh, seasonally inspired flavors that include pumpkin, coconut, pistachio, dulce de leche, pina colada, and mint chocolate chip. You can choose from three different sizes at affordable prices.

Inside, Casa Rosada (which translates to "pink house" in Spanish) is small and cozy, with a quaint ordering counter displaying all of the various types of gelato. If you want to enjoy your dessert on site, however, there is a spacious outdoor patio area that offers a great view of historic downtown Alexandria.

Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato is open noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato
111 S Payne St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 349-1001

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Appeal to Grown-Up Palates at Cheesetique in Alexandria

Part cheese shop, part restaurant, Cheesetique focuses on all things warm, melted, and cheesy. From grown-up grilled cheese sandwiches with pimento cheese and crusty bread to the expansive cheese boards filled with gourmet cheeses and crackers, the menu has something for even the most knowledgeable cheese connoisseur.

In the retail section of Cheesetique, you'll encounter more than 300 different types of globally sourced cheeses behind the glass display cases. A wide selection of charcuterie and accompaniments is also on offer, ranging from duck prosciutto, pâtés, and chorizo to honeys, jams, chocolates, and pickles. Meanwhile, in Cheesetique's restaurant portion, diners chow down on decadent dishes like gourmet macaroni and cheese, creamy tomato soup, and five different variations on the grilled cheese sandwich.

With its charming interior with cozy wooden café tables and an outdoor patio with even more seating, there are few better places to relax with your favorite types of comfort foods than Cheesetique!

2411 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA 22301
(703) 706-5300

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