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Bob Wells

Chasin' Tails, Crawfish Bar near East Falls Church Metro in North Arlington, and on Trinity Parkway in Centreville

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The Bear Rock Cafe near East Falls Church is being replaced by a crawfish restaurant called Chasin' Tails.

I tried Bear Rock once when I worked in FC. Completely forgettable, no surprise that it's gone. But, this new place screams "Joe's Crab Shack" to me, and that's not a compliment. What are the odds of this place being any good? My little girl would love to have a local source for mudbugs, but the lobby of an upscale condo is unlikely to be it.

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My standard for crawfish in the DC area was the long-closed Adams Morgan New Orleans Emporium. The Cajun Popcorn at the bar, accompanied by oyster shooters, are greatly missed. If Chasin' Tails brings them back, I'm there.

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According to my brother, who lives nearby, it supposedly is opening today.

I've heard some things about it from people nearby but they were admittedly unreliable (i.e. drunk) and therefore don't wish to repeat them until I can confirm them. I might try to swing by tomorrow and give it a shot...

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Went with The Wife for dinner tonight. Got there a little after 7 PM, the wait for a table was almost an hour. There weren't a lot of people hanging around, and later we noticed some tables sat empty while there was still a long wait. So I guess management was trying to keep the kitchen from being overwhelmed, which is understandable.

We sat at the bar and watched the Kentucky v Louisville game on one of the many flat screens. Fully stocked bar with a decent beer selection. I had a glass of Caso de Campo Moscato and The Wife a Corona. We ordered a 2 lb bag of crawfish, which also came with a couple of potatoes and corn on the cob. You can order one of three sauces or get all three combined, which is what we tried. They serve it piping hot in the bag with a bucket to toss your shells into. Messy but pretty tasty. Check with tax and tip a little over $40, but I'd expect a higher check on average (normally I think we'd get a little more food).

The bartenders seem friendly and knowledgable. I spoke briefly with one of the owners -- he said once crawfish are out of season they plan on using frozen rather than imported crawfish. And that they plan on adding to the menu options as they settle in and changing the menu seasonally.

There are growing pains with this, as to be expected. One of the friers is broken so no beignets now, they were out of some items on the menu, etc.

I'm glad to have this addition to the East Falls Church neighborhood.

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Has anyone tried this place that has also tried Hot & Juicy Crawfish in Woodley Park? A side by side comparison would be interesting.

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Has anyone tried this place that has also tried Hot & Juicy Crawfish in Woodley Park? A side by side comparison would be interesting.

I have not tried chasing tails. I did try Hot & Juicy recently. A sort of reasonable attempt at a real, Louisiana crawfish boil. There was not enough balance in the spicing. You should experience garlic, salt, lemon, pepper, allspice....H&J had a lot of pepper, but lacked the real salt, garlic, lemon, etc. Also, they were too juicy. Real crawfish are drained very well before serving. What's up with all that juice? It just makes a mess.

So far, the only "real" south Louisiana crawfish I've had come from the Acadiana Friday patio specials but those mud bugs are expensive. Sigh. When you grow up with crawfish boils as a regular spring celebration, and when someone's dad buys a sack of live bugs and everyone argues about how many lemons or how much cayenne goes into the boil, the DC restaurant stuff just doesn't live up.

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Went with The Wife for dinner tonight. Got there a little after 7 PM, the wait for a table was almost an hour. There weren't a lot of people hanging around, and later we noticed some tables sat empty while there was still a long wait. So I guess management was trying to keep the kitchen from being overwhelmed, which is understandable.

We sat at the bar and watched the Kentucky v Louisville game on one of the many flat screens. Fully stocked bar with a decent beer selection. I had a glass of Caso de Campo Moscato and The Wife a Corona. We ordered a 2 lb bag of crawfish, which also came with a couple of potatoes and corn on the cob. You can order one of three sauces or get all three combined, which is what we tried. They serve it piping hot in the bag with a bucket to toss your shells into. Messy but pretty tasty. Check with tax and tip a little over $40, but I'd expect a higher check on average (normally I think we'd get a little more food).

The bartenders seem friendly and knowledgable. I spoke briefly with one of the owners -- he said once crawfish are out of season they plan on using frozen rather than imported crawfish. And that they plan on adding to the menu options as they settle in and changing the menu seasonally.

There are growing pains with this, as to be expected. One of the friers is broken so no beignets now, they were out of some items on the menu, etc.

I'm glad to have this addition to the East Falls Church neighborhood.

Not to burst your geography bubble, but it's in Arlington, not Falls Church which is 4 miles away. :)

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Not to burst your geography bubble, but it's in Arlington, not Falls Church which is 4 miles away. :)

Yes, but it's actually west of the East Falls Church Metro, so go figure.

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Not to burst your geography bubble, but it's in Arlington, not Falls Church which is 4 miles away. :)

Well, to burst yours, since I live here, and you so obviously do not:

1. The city of Falls Church is not 4 miles away, but mere steps away. The Arlington County/Falls Church boundary runs right through the same building that the restaurant is in. Look it up on Google Maps if you don't believe me.

2. The neighborhood "East Falls Church" is in Arlington County. See this PDF map of Arlington at the left corner and note the neighborhood designated as "Arlington-East Falls Church." Everyone who lives here drops the "Arlington" part of the name. I assume the name for our wonderful little suburban 'hood originated after the opening of the Metro station.

:-)

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Well, to burst yours, since I live here, and you so obviously do not:

1. The city of Falls Church is not 4 miles away, but mere steps away. The Arlington County/Falls Church boundary runs right through the same building that the restaurant is in. Look it up on Google Maps if you don't believe me.

2. The neighborhood "East Falls Church" is in Arlington County. See this PDF map of Arlington at the left corner and note the neighborhood designated as "Arlington-East Falls Church." Everyone who lives here drops the "Arlington" part of the name. I assume the name for our wonderful little suburban 'hood originated after the opening of the Metro station.

:-)

What's funny about Mr. Cunningham's post is that Falls Church proper is so small that if you go four miles west I think you'd be clear past the actual city of Falls Church. But you'd then be in the FC part of Fairfax County. I used to work right up the street from this spot in the crappy building at the corner of Washington St and Columbia St. Too bad this place wasn't around back then. The East Falls Church area has changed a lot, and all for the good.

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Perhaps ive confused my Bear Rock cafe's as I'm thinking of the one in Shirlington, which is clearly Arlington and there is no metro near it nor is Falls Church or any moniker aptly named falls church within a few miles.

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What's funny about Mr. Cunningham's post is that Falls Church proper is so small that if you go four miles west I think you'd be clear past the actual city of Falls Church. But you'd then be in the FC part of Fairfax County. I used to work right up the street from this spot in the crappy building at the corner of Washington St and Columbia St. Too bad this place wasn't around back then. The East Falls Church area has changed a lot, and all for the good.

This is true -- the boundary between Arlington Co and the City of Falls Church as a practical matter is drawn just the other side of the interstate, and if you go 4 miles west you will definitely be out of Falls Church, the City, and into Fairfax, the part of the county designated as Falls Church -- that boundary is basically at Hillwood Ave. and Annandale Road.

Google Map of the City of Falls Church .

So how are the crawdads?

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See this PDF map of Arlington at the left corner and note the neighborhood designated as "Arlington-East Falls Church." Everyone who lives here drops the "Arlington" part of the name. I assume the name for our wonderful little suburban 'hood originated after the opening of the Metro station.

Interestingly, the East Falls Church name long predates the Metro -- and indeed predates its status as part of Arlington County. The name evolved sometime in the 19th century, when the jurisdiction of Falls Church City overlapped what was then the northern part of Alexandria County (which later became Arlington), and was inside then-Alexandria. Later, "East Falls Church" did become associated with railroads as the name for the stops on the streetcars that ran along the W&OD and Fairfax Drive rights-of-way. And in the 1930s, East Falls Church prevailed in a battle with Falls Church City to win the right to secede from Falls Church and join what had become Arlington County.

Back on topic, stopped by Chasin' Tails earlier in the week for a pound of takeout as a snack. Tasty, but given that it's a couple of pounds to make a meal, not sure the pricing is where it needs to be to keep me from home-cooking a lobster instead.

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Interestingly, the East Falls Church name long predates the Metro -- and indeed predates its status as part of Arlington County. The name evolved sometime in the 19th century, when the jurisdiction of Falls Church City overlapped what was then the northern part of Alexandria County (which later became Arlington), and was inside then-Alexandria. Later, "East Falls Church" did become associated with railroads as the name for the stops on the streetcars that ran along the W&OD and Fairfax Drive rights-of-way. And in the 1930s, East Falls Church prevailed in a battle with Falls Church City to win the right to secede from Falls Church and join what had become Arlington County.

Thanks for the history lesson!

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Anyways.

Went there tonight. Note my recollections may be tempered by a number of 34 ounce Stellas.

I had way too much fun there.

It is NOT a place to go there by yourself. Or even maybe with just one other person. The bigger the group, the more fun. We ordered mussels, wings, shrimp, crawfish, sweet potato fries, crawfish bites, alligator bites, and I think some other stuff.

Thoughts:

* Great sweet potato fries

* Good food. Not great. But good. Nice spicing, if inconsistent between types (medium on shrimp was very different than medium on crawfish).

* Very friendly staff, including management/ownership. If they're going to do well, I think it will be because it's clear the owners are very involved in trying to get input. We had them visit our table, I got hit up in the restroom...not in a creepy way, but it got my honest opinion (i.e. crawfish are not economical in terms of satiating hunger, and at $10 a pound, these are Arlington prices but I'm okay with that).

* I think this place will KILL during the NFL season.

I am happy for it. I hope they do well. I had a lot of fun there, and I think when I go there in groups we'll have fun - admittedly, as a group of 8 grown ups and 2 infants, we spent about $300 there tonight - and they seemed inclined to make sure we will have fun. I wish them the best, and plan on revisiting soon.

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Consider this post an echo of the "fun times" sentiment posted above.

On a 20-mile bike tour today, we hit Chasin' Tails for a midpoint repast. We lucked into it, turns out today was their first day for lunch, so our mid-afternoon visit was refreshingly uncrowded.

Prices are Falls Church right, which could mean Fall Down wrong to someone from out of town. The two of us had a $70 tab, which was not bad, including $10 pound of crawfish (cajun seasoning, medium heat), $22 pound of snow crab legs (whole shebang, medium heat), $8 fried oysters, $6 beignets, two 34 ounce beers, and two glasses of wine.

The menu proclaims fresh, not frozen, mud bugs, and they were delicious. I've missed them so much, and just having them again was a giddy boon. The "whole shebang" seasoning was the superior flavor choice, the cajun a less vibrant experience. The seasonings were especially pronounced on the purple Peruvian and other small potatoes, and half ear of corn, that came steamed with the seafood. Densely-packed snow crab legs were steamed effectively, not overheated like many venues. Fried oysters were briny cornmeal tidbits, and accompanying fries offered pleasant crunch. Beignets were merely OK, with a nicely tart raspberry jam, but the base batter needed a touch more salt and a tad more leavening to begin approaching crave-able.

This is a unique table service concept for the area--a silver pail arrives stuffed with plastic bags of your steamed goodies, and then the pail becomes your trash bin. I found that fun and efficient, others might be aghast with such a casual framework. One downside of those metal buckets is they obscure the ingredients, making it hard for servers and bussers to see whether or not they should clear your table. Servers seemed new to their craft (it's a new place), but friendly and attentive. Bussers were really on top of their game, stopping by periodically to clear out the growing compost piles with a smile.

Fun Points For Others To Follow:

  • You will get messy, this won't be a dainty experience. Not a good place to make a first impression, unless you are dating a brain-sucking alien.
  • The "no plates, no napkins" mantra seemed gimmicky at first. But damn if I didn't get into it early by pouring ketchup, hot sauce, and crustacean parts directly onto the papered table. Fun!
  • Aim for crawfish, it's the name of the joint, for Sebastian's sake. King, snow crab, and other choices are available by the pound as well.
  • Of all the seasonings, aim for the Whole Shebang, a punchy combination with bold mustard and garlic. The medium intensity leaves a nice heat, it lingers a bit, and pleasantly.
  • The restaurant was packed by the time we left, and this was well before the dinner rush. Time your visit accordingly.
  • There are a handful of outdoor seats, but they go quickly.

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On a 20-mile bike tour today, we hit Chasin' Tails for a midpoint repast.

Mile 6 on the W&OD Trail!

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Mile 6 on the W&OD Trail!

Yes, and we were delighted to find a bike rack just outside the front door of the restaurant. They have clearly realized the hunger, and business potential, from the cycling types.

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Yes, and we were delighted to find a bike rack just outside the front door of the restaurant. They have clearly realized the hunger, and business potential, from the cycling types.

I've done the whole trail, back and forth, on a mountain bike, during my 93-mile ride (he says, smugly).

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I've done the whole trail, back and forth, on a mountain bike, during my 93-mile ride (he says, smugly).

Rookie.

I did the 185 miles on the C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland to Georgetown in 2 days.

In mud.

On a non-suspension hybrid.

With slicks, not knobbies.

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Rookie.

I did the 185 miles on the C&O Canal towpath from Cumberland to Georgetown in 2 days.

In mud.

On a non-suspension hybrid.

With slicks, not knobbies.

And then there's Kavita, who rides with DC Velo and averages 26 mph. <--- Different planet.

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And then there's Kavita, who rides with DC Velo and averages 26 mph. <--- Different planet.

Yeah, pretty much. Once they start having to do pacelines to keep the speed up, that's more effort than I want to put in for a recreational ride.

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Yeah, pretty much. Once they start having to do pacelines to keep the speed up, that's more effort than I want to put in for a recreational ride.

My "recreational-versus-I'lltakeapassthankyouverymuch" threshold is when it's SOP to tinkle in your bike shorts rather than pull over. (Ever seen a Tour de France rider take a restroom break? Think about it.) #eew

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Besoin naturel.

You never launch an attack while the race leader is on the side of the road. TdF coverage usually goes to an unscheduled commercial when the leader pulls over. You can't always go while moving - they do sometimes, but it does make the chamois chafe.

There's actually a law in France about relieving yourself with the public around, but these days there's so few places on the route with no fans, that many riders come away from the TdF with a handful of fines.

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