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Where Arlington Locals Like to Eat, Shop, and Hang Out

The dish on Arlington's best-kept secrets.

Eric Schaeffer, cofounder and artistic director of Arlington’s Signature Theatre, enjoys the Lost Dog Cafe. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

Willow Restaurant

4301 N. Fairfax Dr.; 703-465-8800

Willow Restaurant in Ballston is casual, and yet the service is so good. The seafood is excellent—I always find myself getting some kind of fish. It also has a nice bar area.

Bob & Edith’s Diner

2310 Columbia Pike; 703-920-6103

The great Saturday-morning hangover breakfast is at Bob & Edith’s Diner. You can get breakfast 24 hours a day. It’s very old-fashioned, with booths and neon signs.


3471 Washington Blvd.; 703-528-9663

Rocklands in Clarendon is a quick place to get great barbecue. You can sit outside if the weather’s nice. I love their corn salad.

Le Village Marché

2800 S. Randolph St., Suite 110-A; 703-379-4444

There’s a great store in Shirlington called Le Village Marché. It’s a paper store, but it has a little bit of everything—specialty items like books and soaps from France.

The Lost Dog Cafe

5876 Washington Blvd., 703-237-1552; 2920 Columbia Pike, 703-553-7770

The Lost Dog Cafe is a great pizza-and-sandwich place. A portion of the profits go to help find homes for lost dogs. They have more than 100 different types of beer, too.


4000 Campbell Ave.; 703-931-0777

Whenever we have Broadway or other famous folks visiting us at Signature, we take them to Carlyle in Shirlington. It’s American cuisine with steaks and salmon and pork chops.

Northside Social

3211 Wilson Blvd.; 703-465-0145

Northside Social, a coffee shop, is a terrific place to work. I often meet colleagues who live in Arlington for coffee or lunch there.

Elevation Burger

2447 N. Harrison St.; 703-300-9467

My kids really like Elevation Burger. It’s a grass-fed-burger place, much healthier than normal fast food. Whenever we go, my kids see their friends, so it’s clearly become a big hangout for families with children.

Kettler Capitals Iceplex

627 N. Glebe Rd.; 571-224-0555

Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston is an incredible resource with a really great second-floor viewing space where you can watch the ice. My son has been playing ice hockey for a couple of years. I’ve started to play as well—they have adult classes and a women’s league.

Capital Cat Clinic

923 N. Kenmore St.; 703-522-1995

Capital Cat Clinic, in an old home, is just wonderful. The feel is very homey, and they’ve got a couple of resident cats, so there are other cats around while you’re waiting.

Cherrydale Hardware

3805 Lee Hwy.; 703-527-2100

Right around the corner from us is a little store called Cherrydale Hardware. They always have four or five people standing there who are so polite and helpful. Even if all you want is a single screw, they’ll take you back to the drawers and find it for you.

Italian Store

3123 Lee Hwy.; 703-528-6266

Whenever I get a craving for an Italian sub or hoagie, I’ll wander down to the Italian Store. It takes me back to when I was growing up and would visit Philadelphia. All the meats are just as good—the capicola, the soppresatta. It’s a great sandwich.

Cowboy Cafe

4792 Lee Hwy.; 703-243-8010

After work, I like to go down to Cowboy Cafe with all the kitchen guys. They have the coldest Miller High Life I have ever had. It’s a really intimate space and sometimes has live music.


3207 Washington Blvd.; 703-812-0939

There’s always O’Sullivan’s, next door to my restaurant, which we find ourselves going to a lot for a proper pour of Guinness.

This article appears in the November 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

Staff Writer

Michael J. Gaynor has written about fake Navy SEALs, a town without cell phones, his Russian spy landlord, and many more weird and fascinating stories for the Washingtonian. He lives in DC, where his landlord is no longer a Russian spy.