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A fully dressed hoagie from the Italian Store.
The Italian Store/Facebook

Where to Eat Along Lee Highway (Rt. 29) in Arlington

The well-traveled thoroughfare has everything from NY-style pizza and monster subs to Cajun seafood

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A fully dressed hoagie from the Italian Store.
| The Italian Store/Facebook

Lee Highway (also known as Rt. 29) is one of several main thoroughfares through Arlington. Along this stretch of highway, diners can find everything from rich German pastries to spicy Sichuan cooking. Though the area has lost some mainstays in recent years, such as Alpine Restaurant and Linda’s Cafe, several restaurants remain that have stood the test of time, including Ruffino’s Italian Kitchen and Cowboy Cafe.

Here are 15 essential restaurants, both new and old, along this well-known stretch of road.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Crisp & Juicy (Multiple locations)

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This mini-chain offers Peruvian chicken and sides. Despite the name, the chicken is more juicy than it is crisp, but there’s plenty of flavor there. The restaurant offers a more extensive selection of sides than nearby competitor El Pollo Rico, and assertively spicy green sauce.

Rotisserie chicken with fries at Crisp & Juicy.
Crisp & Juicy/Facebook

Cassatt's

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Cassatt’s has the distinction of being the area’s only Kiwi cafe. Some menu items show their New Zealand influence, like meat pies, lamb kabobs, and “flat white” latte. But diners also can find standard brunch fare, Saturday jazz, and specials like a savory chicken cabbage soup.

A mushroom pie from Cassatt’s.
Cassat’s/Facebook

Pastries by Randolph

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This European bakery offers intricate cakes and Italian cookies (including the cult-beloved rainbow cookie), among other sweet treats.

Fruit tarts at Pastries by Randolph.
Pastries by Randolph/Facebook

Metro 29 Diner

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This old-school diner, open until midnight daily, serves plenty of breakfast fare (think: pancakes and corned beef hash) as well as everything from burgers to a shrimp Caesar salad. Metro 29 also holds the dubious honor of having appeared on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

A breakfast plate at Metro 29.
Metro 29/Facebook

Peter Chang

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The renowned chef continues to wow the D.C. area with iconic Sichuan dishes including bamboo fish, scallion bubble pancakes, ghost pepper beef, salt and pepper shrimp, and dry-fried eggplant. Peter Chang frequently has various specials worth exploring as well, such as snow peas with Chinese sausage, and a stellar rendition of beef chow fun.

An order of pork belly at Peter Chang in Arlington.
Annie T,/Yelp

Duck Donuts (Multple locations)

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This Outer Banks favorite for fried cake doughnuts garnished with various toppings now has a significant presence in Northern Virginia. Expect long lines at peak times. And don’t miss the popular maple-bacon doughnut.

Duck Donuts
Duck Donuts
Yelp [official photo]

Taqueria el Poblano (Multiple locations)

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This California-style Mexican mini-chain is a destination for crispy fish tacos and some of the best margaritas in town; the japapeno and habanero offerings have a nice kick. Keep an eye out for seafood specials.

Drinks at Taqueria Poblano.
Taqueria Poblano/Facebook

Sushi-Zen

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This sushi mainstay, known for its artful presentations of fresh fish, has been around for 20 years. Beyond the raw stuff, there’s teriyaki, tempura, and more.

Ornate sashimi at Sushi-Zen.
Sushi-Zen/Facebook

Cowboy Cafe

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Cowboy Cafe is one of Arlington’s most beloved dive bars. The former biker bar, which first opened in 1990, now draws in brunch crowds and regulars. Offerings range from beefy burgers and spicy chili to brisket tacos and barbecue spareribs.

Tacos at Cowboy Cafe.
Krissy W./Yelp

The Italian Store (Multiple locations)

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The Italian Store is mostly famous for its hoagies, stuffed with meats like capicola and prosciutto. But this Italian market also makes a pretty solid NY-style pizza. There’s also gourmet sweets, calzones, pasta dishes, and imported winses.

A patriotic-looking pizza at the Italian Store.
Italian Store/Facebook

Maneki Neko Express

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A spin-off of the Falls Church original, this tiny Arlington cafe has a more streamlined set of traditional Japanese dishes, including katsu curry, duck ramen, and agedashi tofu. But unlike its sister restaurant, Maneki Neko also serves a number of Thai dishes, including drunken noodle and spring rolls, as well as the occasional dish that bridges the gap between the two cuisines, like Tom Yum ramen.

Katsu at Maneki Neko Express in Arlington.
Maneki Neko Express/Facebook

Gaijin Ramen

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Ramen’s the main event at this Arlington restaurant, though several appetizers (like shrimp lollipops, Asian wings, steamed buns, and gyoza) are available as well, not to mention a few rice bowls. Gaijin serves a mix of classic ramen styles (tonkatsu, miso) as well as some of their own creations, such as garlic ramen, soft-shell crab ramen, and a Korean-influenced “Bam Bam Ramen” with beef.

Bam Bam Ramen from Gaijin Ramen.
Gaijin Ramen/Facebook

Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe

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Fans praise this traditional German bakery for its danishes, strudels, and cakes. But there’s also a German deli serving pretzels, sandwiches, and sausages, too. On Saturday afternoons during the warmer months, staff cook sausages on an outdoor grill.

Pastries from Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe.
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe/Facebook

Yayla Bistro

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This Mediterranean restaurant offers a variety of mezze, from grilled halloumi to various spreads. There’s Greek and Turkish specialities including borek, manti, and flatbreads. Find doner kebab on Friday and Saturday evenings, and both standard and international brunch fare on the weekends.

Halloumi at Yayla Bistro.
Yayla Bistro/Facebook

Chasin' Tails (Multiple locations)

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Located in Arlington right on the Falls Church border (incidentally, Falls Church boasts two other crawfish restaurants), Chasin’ Tails is a destination for New Orleans-style seafood, boiled in a bag, plus other novelties like fried gator bites. There are also happy hour specials and drinks served in fishbowls.

Steamed crawfish at Chasin’ Tails.
Chasin’ Tails/Facebook

Crisp & Juicy (Multiple locations)

Rotisserie chicken with fries at Crisp & Juicy.
Crisp & Juicy/Facebook

This mini-chain offers Peruvian chicken and sides. Despite the name, the chicken is more juicy than it is crisp, but there’s plenty of flavor there. The restaurant offers a more extensive selection of sides than nearby competitor El Pollo Rico, and assertively spicy green sauce.

Rotisserie chicken with fries at Crisp & Juicy.
Crisp & Juicy/Facebook

Cassatt's

A mushroom pie from Cassatt’s.
Cassat’s/Facebook

Cassatt’s has the distinction of being the area’s only Kiwi cafe. Some menu items show their New Zealand influence, like meat pies, lamb kabobs, and “flat white” latte. But diners also can find standard brunch fare, Saturday jazz, and specials like a savory chicken cabbage soup.

A mushroom pie from Cassatt’s.
Cassat’s/Facebook

Pastries by Randolph

Fruit tarts at Pastries by Randolph.
Pastries by Randolph/Facebook

This European bakery offers intricate cakes and Italian cookies (including the cult-beloved rainbow cookie), among other sweet treats.

Fruit tarts at Pastries by Randolph.
Pastries by Randolph/Facebook

Metro 29 Diner

A breakfast plate at Metro 29.
Metro 29/Facebook

This old-school diner, open until midnight daily, serves plenty of breakfast fare (think: pancakes and corned beef hash) as well as everything from burgers to a shrimp Caesar salad. Metro 29 also holds the dubious honor of having appeared on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

A breakfast plate at Metro 29.
Metro 29/Facebook

Peter Chang

An order of pork belly at Peter Chang in Arlington.
Annie T,/Yelp

The renowned chef continues to wow the D.C. area with iconic Sichuan dishes including bamboo fish, scallion bubble pancakes, ghost pepper beef, salt and pepper shrimp, and dry-fried eggplant. Peter Chang frequently has various specials worth exploring as well, such as snow peas with Chinese sausage, and a stellar rendition of beef chow fun.

An order of pork belly at Peter Chang in Arlington.
Annie T,/Yelp

Duck Donuts (Multple locations)

Duck Donuts
Duck Donuts
Yelp [official photo]

This Outer Banks favorite for fried cake doughnuts garnished with various toppings now has a significant presence in Northern Virginia. Expect long lines at peak times. And don’t miss the popular maple-bacon doughnut.

Duck Donuts
Duck Donuts
Yelp [official photo]

Taqueria el Poblano (Multiple locations)

Drinks at Taqueria Poblano.
Taqueria Poblano/Facebook

This California-style Mexican mini-chain is a destination for crispy fish tacos and some of the best margaritas in town; the japapeno and habanero offerings have a nice kick. Keep an eye out for seafood specials.

Drinks at Taqueria Poblano.
Taqueria Poblano/Facebook

Sushi-Zen

Ornate sashimi at Sushi-Zen.
Sushi-Zen/Facebook

This sushi mainstay, known for its artful presentations of fresh fish, has been around for 20 years. Beyond the raw stuff, there’s teriyaki, tempura, and more.

Ornate sashimi at Sushi-Zen.
Sushi-Zen/Facebook

Cowboy Cafe

Tacos at Cowboy Cafe.
Krissy W./Yelp

Cowboy Cafe is one of Arlington’s most beloved dive bars. The former biker bar, which first opened in 1990, now draws in brunch crowds and regulars. Offerings range from beefy burgers and spicy chili to brisket tacos and barbecue spareribs.

Tacos at Cowboy Cafe.
Krissy W./Yelp

The Italian Store (Multiple locations)

A patriotic-looking pizza at the Italian Store.
Italian Store/Facebook

The Italian Store is mostly famous for its hoagies, stuffed with meats like capicola and prosciutto. But this Italian market also makes a pretty solid NY-style pizza. There’s also gourmet sweets, calzones, pasta dishes, and imported winses.

A patriotic-looking pizza at the Italian Store.
Italian Store/Facebook

Maneki Neko Express

Katsu at Maneki Neko Express in Arlington.
Maneki Neko Express/Facebook

A spin-off of the Falls Church original, this tiny Arlington cafe has a more streamlined set of traditional Japanese dishes, including katsu curry, duck ramen, and agedashi tofu. But unlike its sister restaurant, Maneki Neko also serves a number of Thai dishes, including drunken noodle and spring rolls, as well as the occasional dish that bridges the gap between the two cuisines, like Tom Yum ramen.

Katsu at Maneki Neko Express in Arlington.
Maneki Neko Express/Facebook

Gaijin Ramen

Bam Bam Ramen from Gaijin Ramen.
Gaijin Ramen/Facebook

Ramen’s the main event at this Arlington restaurant, though several appetizers (like shrimp lollipops, Asian wings, steamed buns, and gyoza) are available as well, not to mention a few rice bowls. Gaijin serves a mix of classic ramen styles (tonkatsu, miso) as well as some of their own creations, such as garlic ramen, soft-shell crab ramen, and a Korean-influenced “Bam Bam Ramen” with beef.

Bam Bam Ramen from Gaijin Ramen.
Gaijin Ramen/Facebook

Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe

Pastries from Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe.
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe/Facebook

Fans praise this traditional German bakery for its danishes, strudels, and cakes. But there’s also a German deli serving pretzels, sandwiches, and sausages, too. On Saturday afternoons during the warmer months, staff cook sausages on an outdoor grill.

Pastries from Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe.
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe/Facebook

Yayla Bistro

Halloumi at Yayla Bistro.
Yayla Bistro/Facebook

This Mediterranean restaurant offers a variety of mezze, from grilled halloumi to various spreads. There’s Greek and Turkish specialities including borek, manti, and flatbreads. Find doner kebab on Friday and Saturday evenings, and both standard and international brunch fare on the weekends.