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A beautiful spread of raw fish with garnishes.
Sashimi from Nasime
Nasime/Facebook

Where to Eat and Drink in Old Town Alexandria

This historic area is well worth exploring

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Sashimi from Nasime
| Nasime/Facebook

Charming Old Town Alexandria is a favorite neighborhood for tourists because of its historic architecture, its waterfront setting on the Potomac River, and its proximity to D.C. But it also serves as a longtime dining staple for locals looking for everything from raw bar seafood to high-end Japanese tasting menus. Outside of these highlighted restaurants, there’s also a significant presence of local and marquee national chains, including Detroit-style pizza experts Emmy Squared, sandwich authority Lost Dog, Mexican standby Los Cuates, NY-Style pizza favorite Andy’s, and chili parlor Hard Times, among others. The scene is lively, with waterfront patios bustling and portions of King Street reserved for pedestrians.

Read on for 18 reliable restaurants in the area (and to plan a 24-hour staycation, go here).

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Wooboi Hot Chicken

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This spinoff from the original chicken shop in Herndon doesn’t shy away from the heat (consider yourself warned about the #5-level spice). White meat is the game here, used in chicken sandwiches and flavorful tenders. Order online here.

Tenders and pickles atop bread at Wooboi.
Chicken from Wooboi in Alexandria.
Wooboi Chicken

T.J. Stone's

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This neighborhood hangout traffics in solid bar food, from smoked chicken wings to a respectable burger to jambalaya penne pasta; the kitchen also stays open reliably later than many bars in the area. A barbecue combo brings a quarter rack of ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork to the table.

Hank's Oyster Bar

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One of several locations in chef Jamie Leeds’s classic seafood chain, Hank’s is the place for lobster rolls, oysters on the half shell, excellent cocktails, and steamed mussels in a convivial setting.

Yunnan By Potomac Noodle House

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This member of the Alexandria scene focuses on regional dishes from Southwest China. Mixian rice noodles are the main focus, but diners can also find hefty bao buns, deliciously sauced yu choy, a selection of spicy skewers, and more. A weekly lunch bento offers six plates for $25.

A bowl of thick rice noodles in a red, spicy-looking broth garnished with scallion and soft-boiled egg.
A rice noodle dish from Yunnan by Potomac.
Yunnan By Potomac

Old House Cosmopolitan

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Wiener schnitzel and spatzle can be surprisingly hard to find around greater D.C., but this old-school haunt has a bunch of German classics like bratwurst with a pretzel. There are some Bosnian dishes as well.

Fried schnitzel with a salad on the side.
Schnitzel from Old House.
Old House

Caphe Banh Mi

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Located one block off of King Street, this Vietnamese restaurant is known for its traditional pho and banh mi sandwiches; don’t skip an order of the imperial rolls to start.

A bowl of pho with toppings on the side as well as a white spoon.
A bowl of pho from Caphe Banh Mi.
Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Nasime Japanese Restaurant

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Customers who step behind the curtain shielding the tiny dining room and chef’s counter will feel like they’re eating in Japan. A destination-worthy tasting menu restaurant, Nasime serves a six-course lineup ($95) that changes with the seasons. It usually features some sort of traditional soup, a grilled dish, and some of the freshest and most interesting sashimi in town. Reservations recommended.

Raw fish on a black plate at Nasime.
A delicate plate of sashimi at Nasime Japanese Restaurant.
Nasime Japanese Restaurant/Facebook

Eddie’s Little Shop & Deli

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This addition to Old Town has been turning some eyes with its stunning sandwiches. Bronx native Ed McIntosh has taken inspiration from the bodegas of his childhood, while also expanding on typical offerings. Look for slow-roasted prime rib sandwiches, a corned beef Cubano spin, various Italian cold cuts, and more.

Customers have the option to “dip” the ribeye.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Old Hat Bar

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Find some of the best cocktails in Northern Virginia here, with a cool art deco vibe — the drinks menu is expansive and interesting, but bartenders are also comfortable going off-menu, especially when it comes to the classics. Fried cheese curds and kimchi hot dogs are among the food offerings.

The People’s Drug

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The People’s Drug serves relaxed comfort food like veggie burgers and truffle fries alongside seasonal cocktails like a watermelon whiskey smash (classic drinks are well-prepared here). The bar is small, but there’s a patio and indoor dining daily.

Vermilion

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This ambitious Old Town restaurant finally reopened after being closed throughout the pandemic. Its current menu under the direction of chef Ben Pflaumer features dishes like Parisian gnocchi with Madeira and grilled octopus with celery root slaw. There’s a strong (if brief) early happy hour, too.

Three oysters with green garnish on a slate board.
Oysters from Vermillion.
Vermillion/Facebook

Thompson Italian

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This Falls Church favorite for Italian pastas (and excellent desserts) just opened an outpost in Old Town; its cacio e pepe gimlet is already making a splash.

A few dishes of pastas and toasts.
A variety of dishes from Thompson Italian’s new Alexandria outpost.
Thompson Italian

Taverna Cretekou

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Taverna Cretekou is as consistent as they come — this family-run, Greek restaurant has been in business for nearly half a century. Its spacious garden patio should be particularly appealing in warm weather.

An outdoor space with a heater and several chairs surrounding it.
Patio at Taverna Cretekou.
Taverna Cretekou/Facebook

Vola’s Dockside Grill/Hi-Tide Lounge

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This waterfront restaurant is a bustling option for a lobster roll, pan-seared swordfish, and tacos, with retro sister bar Hi-Tide Lounge connected by a hallway. Find boozy drinks like orange crushes and margaritas to go here as well, plus a weekday happy hour.

Daniel O'Connell's Irish Restaurant & Bar

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Daniel O’Connell’s is an Alexandria standby for a proper pint. This historic bar and restaurant is an elegant Irish pub typically known for live music, Irish egg rolls, and fish and chips. Saddle up to a table near the fireplace, a seat at one of its four bars, or one one of its snug nooks.

A fried piece of fish on top of thick chips with a little container of mushy peas.
Fish and chips at Daniel O’Connell’s.
Daniel O’Connell’s/Facebook

BRÜT Champagne & Wine Bar

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This Virginia bar is a strong option for a glass of bubbly; there also wines and ciders. The small menu includes choices like truffled egg toast, bacon-wrapped plates, and raclette, plus a whole bunch of other cheeses and meats.

Ada’s on the River

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This addition to the waterfront, heavy on meats and seafood, has everything from wedge salads to smoked ricotta gnocchi.

Seared scallops on an orange puree with pretty garnishes.
Scallops from Ada’s on the River.
Ada’s on the River

BARCA Pier & Wine Bar

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This wine bar is Spanish-influenced and right on the water. Outdoor seating is dog-friendly (and also allows those with boats to dock and dine).

Sauteed mushrooms with an egg yolk on top and slices of baguette.
A mushroom tapa from Barca.
Barca

Wooboi Hot Chicken

This spinoff from the original chicken shop in Herndon doesn’t shy away from the heat (consider yourself warned about the #5-level spice). White meat is the game here, used in chicken sandwiches and flavorful tenders. Order online here.

Tenders and pickles atop bread at Wooboi.
Chicken from Wooboi in Alexandria.
Wooboi Chicken

T.J. Stone's

This neighborhood hangout traffics in solid bar food, from smoked chicken wings to a respectable burger to jambalaya penne pasta; the kitchen also stays open reliably later than many bars in the area. A barbecue combo brings a quarter rack of ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork to the table.

Hank's Oyster Bar

One of several locations in chef Jamie Leeds’s classic seafood chain, Hank’s is the place for lobster rolls, oysters on the half shell, excellent cocktails, and steamed mussels in a convivial setting.

Yunnan By Potomac Noodle House

This member of the Alexandria scene focuses on regional dishes from Southwest China. Mixian rice noodles are the main focus, but diners can also find hefty bao buns, deliciously sauced yu choy, a selection of spicy skewers, and more. A weekly lunch bento offers six plates for $25.

A bowl of thick rice noodles in a red, spicy-looking broth garnished with scallion and soft-boiled egg.
A rice noodle dish from Yunnan by Potomac.
Yunnan By Potomac

Old House Cosmopolitan

Wiener schnitzel and spatzle can be surprisingly hard to find around greater D.C., but this old-school haunt has a bunch of German classics like bratwurst with a pretzel. There are some Bosnian dishes as well.

Fried schnitzel with a salad on the side.
Schnitzel from Old House.
Old House

Caphe Banh Mi

Located one block off of King Street, this Vietnamese restaurant is known for its traditional pho and banh mi sandwiches; don’t skip an order of the imperial rolls to start.

A bowl of pho with toppings on the side as well as a white spoon.
A bowl of pho from Caphe Banh Mi.
Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Nasime Japanese Restaurant

Customers who step behind the curtain shielding the tiny dining room and chef’s counter will feel like they’re eating in Japan. A destination-worthy tasting menu restaurant, Nasime serves a six-course lineup ($95) that changes with the seasons. It usually features some sort of traditional soup, a grilled dish, and some of the freshest and most interesting sashimi in town. Reservations recommended.

Raw fish on a black plate at Nasime.
A delicate plate of sashimi at Nasime Japanese Restaurant.
Nasime Japanese Restaurant/Facebook

Eddie’s Little Shop & Deli

This addition to Old Town has been turning some eyes with its stunning sandwiches. Bronx native Ed McIntosh has taken inspiration from the bodegas of his childhood, while also expanding on typical offerings. Look for slow-roasted prime rib sandwiches, a corned beef Cubano spin, various Italian cold cuts, and more.

Customers have the option to “dip” the ribeye.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Old Hat Bar

Find some of the best cocktails in Northern Virginia here, with a cool art deco vibe — the drinks menu is expansive and interesting, but bartenders are also comfortable going off-menu, especially when it comes to the classics. Fried cheese curds and kimchi hot dogs are among the food offerings.

The People’s Drug

The People’s Drug serves relaxed comfort food like veggie burgers and truffle fries alongside seasonal cocktails like a watermelon whiskey smash (classic drinks are well-prepared here). The bar is small, but there’s a patio and indoor dining daily.

Vermilion

This ambitious Old Town restaurant finally reopened after being closed throughout the pandemic. Its current menu under the direction of chef Ben Pflaumer features dishes like Parisian gnocchi with Madeira and grilled octopus with celery root slaw. There’s a strong (if brief) early happy hour, too.

Three oysters with green garnish on a slate board.
Oysters from Vermillion.
Vermillion/Facebook

Thompson Italian

This Falls Church favorite for Italian pastas (and excellent desserts) just opened an outpost in Old Town; its cacio e pepe gimlet is already making a splash.

A few dishes of pastas and toasts.
A variety of dishes from Thompson Italian’s new Alexandria outpost.
Thompson Italian

Taverna Cretekou

Taverna Cretekou is as consistent as they come — this family-run, Greek restaurant has been in business for nearly half a century. Its spacious garden patio should be particularly appealing in warm weather.

An outdoor space with a heater and several chairs surrounding it.
Patio at Taverna Cretekou.
Taverna Cretekou/Facebook

Vola’s Dockside Grill/Hi-Tide Lounge

This waterfront restaurant is a bustling option for a lobster roll, pan-seared swordfish, and tacos, with retro sister bar Hi-Tide Lounge connected by a hallway. Find boozy drinks like orange crushes and margaritas to go here as well, plus a weekday happy hour.

Daniel O'Connell's Irish Restaurant & Bar

Daniel O’Connell’s is an Alexandria standby for a proper pint. This historic bar and restaurant is an elegant Irish pub typically known for live music, Irish egg rolls, and fish and chips. Saddle up to a table near the fireplace, a seat at one of its four bars, or one one of its snug nooks.

A fried piece of fish on top of thick chips with a little container of mushy peas.
Fish and chips at Daniel O’Connell’s.
Daniel O’Connell’s/Facebook

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BRÜT Champagne & Wine Bar

This Virginia bar is a strong option for a glass of bubbly; there also wines and ciders. The small menu includes choices like truffled egg toast, bacon-wrapped plates, and raclette, plus a whole bunch of other cheeses and meats.

Ada’s on the River

This addition to the waterfront, heavy on meats and seafood, has everything from wedge salads to smoked ricotta gnocchi.

Seared scallops on an orange puree with pretty garnishes.
Scallops from Ada’s on the River.
Ada’s on the River

BARCA Pier & Wine Bar

This wine bar is Spanish-influenced and right on the water. Outdoor seating is dog-friendly (and also allows those with boats to dock and dine).

Sauteed mushrooms with an egg yolk on top and slices of baguette.
A mushroom tapa from Barca.
Barca

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