Around the World in Arlington, VA
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Many visit Arlington, Virginia as a gateway to sight-see in Washington, DC, some for business travel at the Pentagon or the many businesses in Crystal City. There's plenty to see in Arlington: the sunset parade at the Marine Corps Memorial during the summer, pay your respects at the Arlington National Cemetery or take in the views of the National Mall along the Potomac at the Mount Vernon Trail. Aside from the landmarks, there's a whole culinary world in this international city. You can stamp your culinary passport with many selections, from fine continental dining to ethnic neighborhood favorites. About some of my favorites:
For an International Business Lunch: Whether it is business or pleasure you can find plenty of places to lunch in Arlington. A classic in Pentagon City is Lebanese Taverna. This family owned restaurant has several locations in the DC Metro Area but the atmosphere is intimate and personal. Sit at their patio and indulge in Lebanese staples such as hummus, eggplant, and grilled lamb. If you want to take a culinary trip for lunch, Fyve Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City is a quiet and elegant space. Executive Chef Hariharan hails from India but has worked all over the world. It reflects on the menu that includes tandoori chicken panini to falafel sliders to area classics such as Maryland Crab Cakes.
Take a Trip to Latin America: If looking for authentic Mexican, Guajillo in Arlington is one of my favorites. The owners and management come from the Oaxaca region of Mexico, which is renowned for its culinary treasures. Treat yourself to a hearty mole and sample their extensive mezcal (a spirit similar to tequila but with a smokier taste) selection at the bar. For a less known yet delicious Latin cuisine, head to Sibarita Restaurant, a beloved Bolivian restaurant in the heart of Arlington. Try their silipancho, a Bolivian version of schnitzel and their saltenas, a type of empanada made with a lightly sweetened pastry and filled with savory meat.
Head to Europe: Craving Spanish? Chef Jose Andres' Jaleo Restaurant in Crystal City offers all the Spanish classics: cured ham, Spanish cheese, tapas, paella, among others. The dining room is colorful and vibrant, automatically transporting you to a restaurant in Madrid. SER Restaurant also offers Spanish fare but with a Basque twist. Make sure to ask for a Basque cider pairing with the cochinillo (roasted suckling pig). If French cuisine is your favorite, Lyon Hall is a favorite amongst locals in Arlington. Sample their charcuterie plates, pates, and their famous mussel pots. Dive into the Mediterenean at Kapnos Taverna which has traditional Greek mezze (tapas) which range from crispy eggplant to one of my favorites, the charred octopus.
Off to Asia: Peter Chang is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in the area. So popular, that it is highly recommended to make a reservation in advance as it's been full ever since its opening. From the dumplings to the crispy duck, there's something delicious for every taste. For a modern Asian twist, head to Water & Wall. Conceived by Chef Tim Ma, a Chinese-American chef raised in Arkansas, the menu has the best of both worlds. The spicy chicken wings with crème fraiche are a must as well as the cold ramen with succulent pork belly.
The reality is that I can go on and on about the many international restaurants in Arlington as it offers everything from Middle Eastern Kebabs to Peruvian roasted chicken to good ‘ol American BBQ. Although there are plenty of sights to be seen in Arlington, make time to discover its eclectic yet diverse dining scene.