This Arlington neighborhood has been a residential staple for years, and has seen a growing restaurant scene emerge due to more daytime activity and an increasing number of residents. Find everything from Pakistani kebabs to excellent Spanish fare to a food hall of fun contemporary choices here.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink Around Ballston
This neighborhood of Arlington has many enticing options
Mala Tang is where Arlingtonians go for Chinese hot pot, including dry pot. The menu also offers a variety of appetizers and Sichuan dishes such as cumin lamb. Hot pots are customizable with dippers like fish balls, prawns, “mala’ spicy beef, and a number of vegetables, as well as multiple broths. Sichuan lunch specials are available on weekdays.
This hidden gem just off of Ballston’s main thoroughfare is one of the area’s underrated destinations for Spanish food. Find robust paellas, a variety of tapas, Spanish wines, and traditional preparations of salt cod and roasted pork. Ser consistently provides stellar service, too, courtesy of gregarious proprietor Javier Candon. Outdoor seating available on the patio in warmer weather. Order takeout and delivery online here.
El Pollo Rico (Multiple locations)
This beloved longtime Arlington eatery is one of the area’s most well-known destinations for Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and sides. Expect spice-crusted birds, crunchy fried yuca, and fiery green chile dipping sauce. Order online here.
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Rus Uz (Multiple locations)
Russian and Uzbek dishes appear alongside each other at this neighborhood restaurant, which serves sharp vinaigrette salads, plump manti dumplings, and savory pastries such as samsa and pirozhki. The Uzbek section of the menu tends to edge out the Russian fare (including the country’s national dish, rice-based plov), but there are still solid examples of the latter including beef stroganoff and chicken Kiev. The restaurant infuses its own vodka, but a simple Moscow mule is a pleasure during a sunny day on the patio. Order takeout here.
The Bronson Bierhall
Giant stuffed pretzels, chorizo and chicken brats, and schnitzel all go well with the 16 beers on tap at this modern German beer hall. Settle in at a communal table — there’s plenty of them outdoors — or play games like shuffleboard, bocce ball, corn hole, and ping pong. Order takeout or delivery through Doordash.
Waffle fries, pizza by the slice (and NY-style pie), short rib poutine, and fried cheese curds are among the contributions from this local hangout.
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Grand Cru Wine Bar and Bistro
Ballston’s original wine bar serves up a European-influenced dinner menu here with dishes such as escargots, Wagyu beef stroganoff, and duck and mushroom strudel. Wine flights are available alongside bottles. Ample outdoor seating outfitted with heat lamps lines the outside of the restaurant.
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Hawkers Asian Street Food
A lively neon-lit street foods spot that pays homage to bustling night markets in Asia zoomed into Ballston last summer with dim sum, pad Thai, Korean twice-fried wings, soup dumplings, tiki drinks, and sake (bombs). Best-selling Malaysian flat breads with curry sauce and other recipes come from co-founder Allen Lo’s family. The Orlando-born brand debuted locally at Bethesda Row in 2020. The Arlington locale, outfitted with a fire pit-lined patio and indoor-outdoor bar, tests out dairy-free soft serve topped with taiyaki. —Tierney Plumb
Rustico (Multiple locations)
Rustico is known for its extensive beer list as well as respectable pizzas and pastas and comforting apps like a take on tater tots that’s made with risotto. There’s a patio; carryout available here.
The Salt Line
This Navy Yard favorite for New England seafood opened its second location in Ballston with a raw bar selection (including several crudos), lobster rolls, and regional touches like a North Shore roast beef sandwiches and fried whole belly clams. Entrees, mostly seafood, are generally in the $30s.
The popular Mexican street food spot features a familiar menu of traditional tacos such as al pastor and carnitas, along with speciality additions only available at the Ballston location. The El Rico Pollo taco, a homage to the nearby Peruvian chicken institution, includes spiced chicken, green chili puree and aji amarillo mayo. Online ordering is available, along with limited outdoor seating.
The DMV’s food hall craze extends to Ballston at Quarter Market, which has a pretty impressive of options from which to choose. Among them: Hot Lola’s for enviable fried chicken sandwiches and tenders, Turu from the Timber folks for pizza, Superette for sandwiches and cocktails, and many more.
Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe
A must-stop for doughnut lovers, Good Company Doughnuts & Cafe boasts a menu of yeast and cake doughnuts in flavors like blueberry buttercream, Nutella toffee, and cherry vanilla bomb. There are also other breakfast options, sandwiches, and booze. Online ordering and outdoor seating are available.
Pupatella (Multiple locations)
Pupatella’s certified Neapolitan-style pizzas are a local favorite, and the location near Ballston is the original for the franchise (and arguably the best). There’s a patio, too.
Ravi Kabob House
This longtime Ballston-area staple is where to find a variety of kebabs, as well as Pakistani dishes. It’s also a rare option in the area open till midnight.
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El Paso Cafe
This neighborhood favorite offers Mexican, Tex-Mex and Salvadoran fare. The margaritas are solid, the fajitas sizzle, the pupusas are gooey, and the combo plates are generous.