The north end of Del Ray has long been a bit less upmarket than much of the Alexandria neighborhood, but that’s been changing with the arrival of Streets Market, Northside 10, and now Hops N Shine, which occupies the former Señor Chicken space at the corner of Mount Vernon Avenue and West Glebe Road. (It doesn’t hurt that Amazon’s new headquarters will be close by in Crystal City.) “It’s a very up-and-coming neighborhood,” says co-owner Matt Rofougaran.
Rofougaran was a partner with Señor Chicken owner Abe Hadjiesmaeiloo in Tyson’s Biergarten; he says that when Hadjiesmaeiloo wanted to do something new with the space, another beer garden serving simple but tasty food seemed like a natural fit. Rofougaran partnered with Hadjiesmaeiloo’s son Paymon Hadjiesmaeiloo and C.J. Cross to open Hops N Shine. “We like beer, I love grilled cheese sandwiches, and moonshine’s going to be a good addition,” he says.
Let’s take those attributes in order. Hops N Shine has 52 taps pouring local and national craft beers, as well as classic styles from Germany and Belgium. Cross, an avid beer fan and home brewer, can help anyone intimidated by that breadth of selection to find something they like. On recent visits during the restaurant’s rollout (its grand opening is this weekend), I’ve tried some hazy New England-style IPAs, including Ocelot Brewing Company’s Lucky You and Solace Brewing Company’s Partly Cloudy.
Grilled cheeses do in fact occupy a lot of space on the bar food menu. Rofougaran likes the steak and cheese version as well as the “original gangster” grilled cheese with a shot of tomato soup. There are also spiral-cut hot dogs, wings, fries, and tater tots that customers can dress any way they like. It’s not exactly health food, but all the sandwiches are available on low-carb keto bread and Rofougaran says a gluten-free menu is in the works.
And then there’s the moonshine, which neighbors may be relieved to hear isn’t brewed on premises. Patrons can choose from a selection made by craft producers like Richmond’s Belle Isle Moonshine. There’s also a lineup of rotating house infusions using vodka, tequila, and rum, which can be sampled straight or in cocktails (order a Green Apple-tini and feel like it’s the ’90s again).
Along one inside wall is an enormous mural by the artist Gary Witt that shows a family tree of beer styles—one more way to navigate all those taps. The owners have also commissioned Witt to paint a mural for the outdoor beer garden in the 3,000-square-foot space out back. This feature roused some opposition from neighbors when it was first proposed, but Rofougaran is confident the concessions they made—fewer than 30 seats outside and limiting outdoor hours to 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and 9 PM the rest of the week—will help keep the peace. Indoors, Hops N Shine will be open till 1 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and midnight other days. Weekday happy hour will be from 4 to 7 PM, where customers will find food and drink specials.
As Washington Business Journal noted when Amazon chose Crystal City last fall, Del Ray restaurants “typically close early.” So while the nabe may not be a nightlife destination just yet, Hops N Shine plans to start serving breakfast sandwiches as early as next month, Rofougaran says.
Hops N Shine, 3410 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria.