Where to Eat
The best places to eat in Arlington right now.
Ambar. Ambar’s super-friendly staff is eager to help you navigate the small-plates Balkan menu—a trip made easier with the $35 all-you-can-eat option. The inclusive price lets you dabble in many different regional tastes besides the more familiar sausage and kebab offerings, such as goulash, stuffed cabbage rolls, and beet spread served with puffs of fried sourdough. 2901 Wilson Blvd.; 703-875-9663.
Bistro 360 and Cassatt’s. Art Hauptman expanded beyond his New Zealand–focused menu at Cassatt’s with Bistro 360, which samples the world with entrées such as gooey Georgian cheese bread and classic French steak frites. Hauptman recently brought Cassatt’s lunch menu, with its popular meat pies, to Bistro 360. Live-music lovers can dine at Cassatt’s on Saturdays, while oenophiles can sign up for Bistro 360’s monthly wine dinners. Bistro 360, 1800 Wilson Blvd., 703-522-3600; Cassatt’s, 4536 Lee Hwy., 703-527-3330.
Green Pig Bistro. Save a Monday night for the fried-chicken special at Green Pig Bistro, served with mac and cheese, collards, and a fluffy biscuit. It’s not on the menu, but ask for the hot sauce for the chicken and you won’t be sorry. Along with its Southern-influenced dishes, the kitchen does equally well with delicate, charred branzino, meatloaf, and polenta. 1025 N. Fillmore St.; 703-888-1920.
Kapnos Taverna. If your group is carnivorous, order a lamb shoulder for the table—a mountain of fall-off-the-bone meat served with cleansing tabbouleh, cucumber, and sumac. Or graze the mezze, spreads, and flatbreads; earthy grilled broccoli; Greek-spiced fries; and grape-leaf-wrapped salmon. The Greek Easter brunch, which this year is April 8, includes spit-roasted meats, grilled-bread and egg dishes, and vanilla custard with phyllo and cinnamon sugar. 4000 Wilson Blvd.; 703-243-4400. *This restaurant is a part of Mike Isabella’s restaurant group. Isabella is being sued by a former employee for sexual harassment, assault, battery, and retaliation.
Pupatella. Don’t be deterred by the long wait to order—the charred-crust Neapolitan pies brimming with melty blobs of buffalo mozzarella are well worth it. The only frustration is deciding what you want on top, but you won’t go wrong with either a heap of fresh arugula and prosciutto or sweet caramelized onions and sausage. Leave room for fried arancini balls with smoky eggplant, plus house-made gelato. 5104 Wilson Blvd.; 571-312-7230.
Ray’s the Steaks. In a world of share plates and crudos, Ray’s steakhouse menu remains delightfully no-frills. Just as you could when the place opened 16 years ago, you can get a hanger steak—which comes with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes at no extra cost—as well as wine and a slice of Key-lime pie for less than $50 a person. The atmosphere is intentionally spare, owner Michael Landrum says, “to welcome people who otherwise would feel intimidated by a fancy restaurant.” 2300 Wilson Blvd.; 703-841-7297.
Ser. The traditional Spanish menu changes seasonally, but certain standouts are always available, such as Iberian ham sliced tableside, salt cod, and the paella—including a black version infused with squid ink. On Wednesdays, six guests can sit at the kitchen counter for the txotx ritual dinner, a six-course tasting menu paired with all the Basque cider you can drink. 1110 N. Glebe Rd.; 703-746-9822.
Takohachi Sushi. The “special” attached to Takohachi’s $1 nigiri menu isn’t time-limited. “Forever,” we’re told when we ask how long it will last. Prices for the rest of the menu, likewise, are exceedingly reasonable. At lunch, a $14.75 sushi-and-sashimi bento box overflows with salmon, tuna, shrimp, yellowtail, and eel—not to mention airy tempura, pork gyoza, and seven salads. The Japanese restaurant also offers ramen and noodle dishes, plus grilled and fried meats. 3249 Columbia Pike; 571-312-7678.
Texas Jack’s Barbecue. The vegetarian sides are as popular as the protein here, where our favorites include seared Brussels sprouts with lime juice and Parmesan, Mexican street corn, and coleslaw brightened with green chilies and cilantro. The barbecue meats are served without sauce to let their flavors shine. And just when you thought your waistline couldn’t take any more, the restaurant recently hired its own pastry chef and began serving Saturday and Sunday brunch. 2761 Washington Blvd.; 703-875-0477.