The Perfect Pita (1640 King St.; 703-683-4330). This local chain is a favorite lunch spot for people who work in the area. The pita bread is house-made daily. The American and Mediterranean menu includes cold and hot pita sandwiches, such as one that’s toasted with chicken, spinach, and feta and provolone. There are also several vegetarian options including falafel. In nice weather, grab a seat outside on the patio for great people watching.
Restaurant Eve (110 S. Pitt St.; 703-706-0450). Ranking fourth on The Washingtonian’s most recent 100 Best Restaurants list, this Old Town jewel churns out precise yet imaginative dishes that keep locals coming back for more. In the 34-seat Chef’s Tasting Room, try a five- or nine-course tasting menu heavy on locally grown, seasonal produce and meat. In summer, the chef uses tomatoes from his own garden for a basil-laced heirloom-tomato tart. The less formal bistro and lounge offer à la carte menus with items such as duck-leg confit with lentils and house-made lemon and lobster ravioli. The five-course tasting menu costs $95, the nine-course $125; à la carte entrées run $26 to $34.
Uptowner Coffee Bar and Cafe (1609 King St.; 703-836-3162). This corner coffee shop has a homey feel thanks to the mismatched furniture, beat-up lounge chairs, and fireplace tucked in the corner. Adding to the homegrown atmosphere, the menu—which includes breakfast and lunch items—is an homage to Alexandria: Each item is named after a street in the neighborhood. The Duke Street sandwich is a turkey club for $5.95, and the Columbus Street, for the same price, is a reuben.
Vermilion (1120 King St.; 703-684-9669). Ranked among the top restaurants in The Washingtonian’s most recent 100 Best Restaurants list, this Alexandria hot spot features a simple yet eclectic menu that pulls inspiration from Italian, French, and American Southern cuisine. The space is rustic, dimly lit with Colonial gas lamps. Treat yourself to a dinner of house-made fettuccine with trout or ravioli filled with smoked cheese, but save room for an after-dinner drink—many of Vermilion’s specialty cocktails drink like dessert.
ART & FUN
Arts Afire Glass Gallery (1117 King St.; 703-548-1197). This glass gallery and shop features breakable creations by local artisans as well as ones as far away as Washington state. Some of the pieces are kitschy, such as the glass cats, but some are truly beautiful. The creations by Nina Falk remind us of rolling waves. A word of caution: The gallery has a strict you-break-it-you-buy-it policy, so this might not be the best place for little ones.
Big Wheel Bikes (2 Prince St.; 703-739-2300). Athletic types can rent a bike here and ride to George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon. It’s just a ten mile trip on the Mount Vernon Trail, which follows the Potomac’s Virginia shoreline. Rentals cost $35 a day.
Elizabeth Stone Gallery (1127 King St., Suite 201; 703-706-0025). The works on display at this whimsical gallery make you want to be a kid again—it houses original artwork by renowned children’s book illustrators. Check out signed illustrations from classics including Where the Wild Things Are and Curious George. While you’re there, pick up signed, limited-edition prints, posters, children’s books, and more from the gift shop.
Old Town Theater (815½ King St.; 703-683-8888). This former vaudeville theater, built in 1914, now serves as 400-seat movie theater. It screens indie films alongside mainstream blockbusters—when we went, Baby Mama with Tina Fey had top billing. The concessions counter offers the usual snacks and sodas but also beer, wine, and a few sandwiches.
Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St.; 703-838-4565). This unique spot is a World War II torpedo factory turned art gallery and studio space. The two torpedoes are on display are impressive, but the main draw is the 160 professional artists who create, exhibit, and sell their art on the premises. Among the fine arts and crafts at the gallery are ceramics, collage, glass, jewelry, photography, and sculpture. New artists are added annually through a juried selection process, keeping the work fresh. Admission to the gallery and studios is free. The gallery spaces are open until 5, but studio hours vary depending on the artist.