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KitchenCray Brings Its Caribbean-Spiced Soul Food to Alexandria

At its first Virginia location, the fast-growing brand serves lobster escovitch, catfish and grits, and rum cake

Fried chicken comes with French toast soaked in ice cream base at KitchenCray
Fried chicken and French toast from KitchenCray’s brunch menu.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Caribbean-leaning soul food spot KitchenCray opened its first Virginia location over the weekend, taking over the former Walker’s Grille space at 6909 Metro Park Drive in Alexandria, Virginia.

Chef James “JR” Robinson and business partner Sudon Williams have built a following at two other locations, the original in Lanham, Maryland, and an offshoot that opened on H Street NE last November. This year, KitchenCray also added two concession stands at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Football Team, where fans can snack on best-sellers like a crabcake BLT, mumbo wings, and lobster macaroni and cheese. In addition to crabcake or oxtail Benedicts, Northern Virginia customers will find new dishes exclusive to the latest location and an outdoor dining space that just got an upgrade with additional seating and a floral arrangement.

Appetizers at KitchenCray’s new location include croquettes stuffed with lobster mac and cheese. Chunks of lobster, marinara sauce, and cheesy macaroni are coated in breading seasoned with paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and other Cajun spices before hitting the deep fryer for a couple minutes. A $12 platter of fried frog legs tossed in a house made Thai chili sauce also join the ranks.

Lobster also plays a starring role in an escovitch entree. In the popular Jamaican preparation, pickled vegetables sit atop a whole lobster placed on a bed of fried rice and beans with a side of garlic green beans. KitchenCray added a fried catfish and grits instead of shrimp and grits, and expanded its lineup of sandwiches to include a salmon BLT and chicken sandwich. Robinson brought along his popular banana pudding and a vanilla bundt cake that gets doused in a rum glaze and served with fruit and whipped cream.

Claiming A-list fans such as Stevie Wonder, Wale, and Pusha T, KitchenCray expects to continue expanding. For now, Virginians can visit the latest installment from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday with an 8 p.m. closing on Friday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m until midnight Sunday.