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I recently completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training course at Mind the Mat in Clarendon. The class met six days a week for a month, so I had the opportunity to try a number of different restaurants for lunch.

My favorite, by far, is Northside Social. I enjoyed the atmosphere, eating both inside and out, and the food and beverages were consistently delicious. My go-to drink was the chai tea latte with ginger and turmeric. My favorite lunch dishes were the brown rice bowl with avocado and bacon, and the kale caesar salad with a poached egg. The coffee, soups and sandwiches that I tried were all very tasty. I never had a bad lunch at this spot.

My second favorite place is The Liberty Tavern. It is a little fancier and pricier than Northside Social, but I still felt comfortable lunching there in yoga attire. The roasted carrot and beet salad was wonderful, and I enjoyed their classic tomato soup. The grilled salmon with wild mushroom risotto, arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and crispy shiitakes was also quite good. Both times we ate there it was cold inside, so be sure to bring a jacket or a sweater.

I enjoyed a pleasant lunch at Circa, an underwhelming and overpriced meal at Silver Diner, a so-so burger at All About Burger (for me, it was all about the fries, which were much better than the burger), and a few subpar lunches at Cosi, my least favorite spot by far.

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Related Threads:
Drinking in Clarendon
Dining in Courthouse
Dining in Ballston

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On 8/28/2017 at 2:58 PM, DIShGo said:

I recently completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training course at Mind the Mat in Clarendon. The class met six days a week for a month, so I had the opportunity to try a number of different restaurants for lunch.

My favorite, by far, is Northside Social. I enjoyed the atmosphere, eating both inside and out, and the food and beverages were consistently delicious. My go-to drink was the chai tea latte with ginger and turmeric. My favorite lunch dishes were the brown rice bowl with avocado and bacon, and the kale caesar salad with a poached egg. The coffee, soups and sandwiches that I tried were all very tasty. I never had a bad lunch at this spot.

My second favorite place is The Liberty Tavern. It is a little fancier and pricier than Northside Social, but I still felt comfortable lunching there in yoga attire. The roasted carrot and beet salad was wonderful, and I enjoyed their classic tomato soup. The grilled salmon with wild mushroom risotto, arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and crispy shiitakes was also quite good. Both times we ate there it was cold inside, so be sure to bring a jacket or a sweater.

I enjoyed a pleasant lunch at Circa, an underwhelming and overpriced meal at Silver Diner, a so-so burger at All About Burger (for me, it was all about the fries, which were much better than the burger), and a few subpar lunches at Cosi, my least favorite spot by far.

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Related Threads:
Drinking in Clarendon
Dining in Courthouse
Dining in Ballston

Sounds like you might like the improbably long named Heritage Brewing Co. Brewpub and Roastery at Market Common.  Been here maybe a half dozen times since it opened, mostly during the day on weekends.  Warm space, not too big.  Music good.  Never too crowded but always reasonably full.  They seem to pay attention to the food.  Hand-cut fries.  Daily soups - today was a squash soup with some apricot accent.  On another visit I enjoyed the house made chicken liver pâté served in its own little jar with some good bread.  That and a grilled endive and citrus salad and you got yourself a nice mid-day meal.  It is not a large menu, and maybe it will not appeal to all tastes, but they do convey the impression that they care about what they are doing, but without noticeable affect (except, perhaps, on their website).  Most of the beer they make out in Manassas.  They have the ability to brew small batch beers on site, but I have never seen them actually pour anything.  Full bar, if that's how you roll.

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2 hours ago, dcs said:

Sounds like you might like the improbably long named Heritage Brewing Co. Brewpub and Roastery at Market Common.  Been here maybe a half dozen times since it opened, mostly during the day on weekends.  Warm space, not too big.  Music good.  Never too crowded but always reasonably full.  They seem to pay attention to the food.  Hand-cut fries.  Daily soups - today was a squash soup with some apricot accent.  On another visit I enjoyed the house made chicken liver pâté served in its own little jar with some good bread.  That and a grilled endive and citrus salad and you got yourself a nice mid-day meal.  It is not a large menu, and maybe it will not appeal to all tastes, but they do convey the impression that they care about what they are doing, but without noticeable affect (except, perhaps, on their website).  Most of the beer they make out in Manassas.  They have the ability to brew small batch beers on site, but I have never seen them actually pour anything.  Full bar, if that's how you roll.

Sounds good! I will try it.

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On 3/3/2018 at 8:41 PM, DIShGo said:

Sounds good! I will try it.

You could make a meal out of the Ivy City Smokehouse Board with smoked salmon, whitefish salad, smoked trout, and salmon pastrami on the brunch menu.  I have.  This weekend I tried the PEI Mussels steamed with the Heritage Brewing American Expedition Ale.  The mussels were pleasingly plump - not a measly bugger in the batch.  The ale/bacon/shallot/cream broth was good, but there was not quite enough of it.  It was hard to get the mussels at the top to the broth until you eat through about half.  They were not dry, per se, but they really come alive (albeit it they are surely dead) with a dunk in the broth.  It comes with hand cut fries served in a metal french fry cup that looked something like this.

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Le Kon (NolaCaine)

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On 12/6/2018 at 8:48 AM, B.A.R. said:

I find the breadth of the CF Menu and portion sizes to be appalling. That being said, I have always been pleased with the quality and freshness of the food I have received. It is light years above any other high-volume chain. The "Thai" lettuce wraps are by no means Thai food, but they are flavorful, fresh, and the appetizer fills me up (far more than my recent $190 bill at O-Ku). I have enjoyed every meal I have had at CF and have no qualms about going back, again and again.

I went to USC for grad school in the early 90s, when Cheesecake Factory was still starting out, with a location in Marina Del Rey and, I think, somewhere else.  It was quite good and was considered a nice night out, though not for the Wolfgang Puck Spago crowd (one that I could neither afford to keep up with, nor dress appropriately for).  Now, there are too many restaurant choices around here for me to eat there, and I'm still bitter about how it precipitated/portended the fall of Clarendon's Little Saigon (ah, for the days of Cafe Dalat - does anyone know where that family ended up?  They were terrific - and Queen Bee).  But I can completely relate to DaveO and B.A.R.'s views above.  Sometimes, you just want a reasonable amount of totally edible food, which it is.

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2 hours ago, captcourt said:

I went to USC for grad school in the early 90s, when Cheesecake Factory was still starting out, with a location in Marina Del Rey and, I think, somewhere else.  It was quite good and was considered a nice night out, though not for the Wolfgang Puck Spago crowd (one that I could neither afford to keep up with, nor dress appropriately for).  Now, there are too many restaurant choices around here for me to eat there, and I'm still bitter about how it precipitated/portended the fall of Clarendon's Little Saigon (ah, for the days of Cafe Dalat - does anyone know where that family ended up?  They were terrific - and Queen Bee).  But I can completely relate to DaveO and B.A.R.'s views above.  Sometimes, you just want a reasonable amount of totally edible food, which it is.

I too fondly recall Clarendon’s Little Saigon.  Were there not 4 Vietnamese restaurants;  the 2 you mentioned plus Nam Viet and Little Viet Garden?  I ate there a healthy amt with a variety of folks with Cafe Dalat and Queen Bee often being favorites of others.  My fave was Nam Viet 

I-was there a bit ago and chatted with Richard, son of the founders, as we have a mutual friend.  His parents purchased the property in the 90’s.  I wouldn’t blame CF for pushing out those other wonderful restaurants.  Big big money bought up a lot of the properties, built the retail center and pushed up the rents to unaffordable rates.  

Hmmm.  I’d also like to know if the folks that owned Cafe Dalat opened up elsewhere.

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12 hours ago, DaveO said:

I too fondly recall Clarendon’s Little Saigon.  Were there not 4 Vietnamese restaurants;  the 2 you mentioned plus Nam Viet and Little Viet Garden?  I ate there a healthy amt with a variety of folks with Cafe Dalat and Queen Bee often being favorites of others.  My fave was Nam Viet 

I-was there a bit ago and chatted with Richard, son of the founders, as we have a mutual friend.  His parents purchased the property in the 90’s.  I wouldn’t blame CF for pushing out those other wonderful restaurants.  Big big money bought up a lot of the properties, built the retail center and pushed up the rents to unaffordable rates.  

Hmmm.  I’d also like to know if the folks that owned Cafe Dalat opened up elsewhere.

Queen Bee and Nam Viet were my go-to restaurants back in the '80s. I knew people who knew people who claimed that these Vietnamese restaurants, plus a few Clarendon stores, were fronts for Asian crime activities and money laundering. No matter, the food there introduced me to the flavors of Vietnam before I knew anything about the Eden Center.

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On 1/25/2019 at 11:02 PM, DaveO said:

Were there not 4 Vietnamese restaurants;  the 2 you mentioned plus Nam Viet and Little Viet Garden?  I ate there a healthy amt with a variety of folks with Cafe Dalat and Queen Bee often being favorites of others.  My fave was Nam Viet 

I-was there a bit ago and chatted with Richard, son of the founders, as we have a mutual friend.  His parents purchased the property in the 90’s.  I wouldn’t blame CF for pushing out those other wonderful restaurants.  Big big money bought up a lot of the properties, built the retail center and pushed up the rents to unaffordable rates.  

Hmmm.  I’d also like to know if the folks that owned Cafe Dalat opened up elsewhere.

Yes, there were 4.  Like others, CD and QB were the ones we liked most and went to, with Cafe Dalat being our favorite - we loved chatting with the family.  CF was the first interloper, so I completely, and irrationally, blame them.

Smart move for the Nam Viet folks to buy their property.  Glad they're still sticking it out.    

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There were at least two others:  My An and one whose name I forget but it was where the Indian place is now opposite the Metro entrance.  And there was also a lunch counter at the Asian department store.

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1 hour ago, Peachyboy1 said:

There were at least two others:  My An and one whose name I forget but it was where the Indian place is now opposite the Metro entrance.  And there was also a lunch counter at the Asian department store.

Thanks.  That is why I listed restaurants l recalled in the form of a question.  I wasn’t sure.  I don’t even recall the Asian department store.  Where was it?

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Oh, now you've gone and made me do actual research.  The department store was Pacific Department Store, at the corner of Wilson and Highland.  The restaurant whose name I couldn't remember was Cafe Saigon, notable for its orange beef and beef with grape leaves.  I believe My An (I recall that's where I ate my first pho) moved and became Nam Viet.  Cafe Dalat had a marvelous all-you-can-eat lunch buffet that was unbelievably affordable.  Queen Bee benefited from a lot of good press, but the cuisine at CD was superior.  And Nam Viet was and still is excellent.  We loved Little Viet Garden and were sad to see it close, then gladdened to see it reappear at Eden, only to have it close again.  (It never seemed to regain its old magic there.) 

Now I'm hungry for cha gio.  But I always am.  And if you find out if and where those people from Cafe Dalat are still cooking,please  broadcast it.

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2 hours ago, Peachyboy1 said:

Oh, now you've gone and made me do actual research.  The department store was Pacific Department Store, at the corner of Wilson and Highland.  The restaurant whose name I couldn't remember was Cafe Saigon, notable for its orange beef and beef with grape leaves.  I believe My An (I recall that's where I ate my first pho) moved and became Nam Viet.  Cafe Dalat had a marvelous all-you-can-eat lunch buffet that was unbelievably affordable.  Queen Bee benefited from a lot of good press, but the cuisine at CD was superior.  And Nam Viet was and still is excellent.  We loved Little Viet Garden and were sad to see it close, then gladdened to see it reappear at Eden, only to have it close again.  (It never seemed to regain its old magic there.) 

Now I'm hungry for cha gio.  But I always am.  And if you find out if and where those people from Cafe Dalat are still cooking,please  broadcast it.

Great research and recall.  I probably started dining there in the mid 80's as my ex had great friends in the neighborhood.  We did eat are way through all the Vietnamese alternatives.  It was my substantial introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.  I periodically get to Nam Viet and if I get to speak with Richard, son of the founders, I'll ask if  My An was their first restaurant in the area.

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Bringing back memories....that tall pyramid-esque building over the Clarendon Metro once housed part of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the 1980s and 1990s. Whitey's bar down Clarendon Blvd was a true "spook bar" of which we have a few in the Washington DC area. [NOTE -- "Spook" refers to "spy"]

Please jog my memory -- on the same side of Wilson as Queen Bee was once my favorite sushi restaurant, some 30 years ago. It was on a par with Tachibana, which at that time was on Lee Highway in Arlington. Can anyone remember the name of that sushi place?

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Atami.  Where the CVS now is.  And while we're memory flogging, what was the name of the Chinese carryout in what looks like it once was a Little Tavern?  They had great sweet and sour cabbage.

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47 minutes ago, Peachyboy1 said:

Atami.  Where the CVS now is.  And while we're memory flogging, what was the name of the Chinese carryout in what looks like it once was a Little Tavern?  They had great sweet and sour cabbage.

That's it! Atami! Some of the best sushi in our area 25-30 years ago!

And I remember the Chinese place, but I can't recall its name.

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On 1/25/2019 at 8:03 PM, captcourt said:

 I'm still bitter about how it precipitated/portended the fall of Clarendon's Little Saigon (ah, for the days of Cafe Dalat - does anyone know where that family ended up?  They were terrific - and Queen Bee).  

My recollection from talking with the Cafe Dalat family around the time they were closing was that the parents were retiring rather than opening somewhere else while the building was being renovated, and their kids had been working there as second jobs while they had busy first jobs in other fields (including one in a medical field).  So while I was so sad to see Dalat close, I understood that the second generation might be somewhat relieved.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this recollection, or whether anyone who worked there might have decided to open another place, but that's the conversation my husband and I remember having.

Miss them very much still!

This was in 2005, before I had found this site, and I posted on Chowhound when they closed:

"I'm very sad to report that Cafe Dalat, on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon, is closing for good at the end of this month.

According to the Clarendon Chronicle, the building's owner reached the point where he had to renovate or tear down, so he's renovating. The businesses in his building will need to close down or move elsewhere (at least for the duration). I asked at Cafe Dalat last week and they have decided to close.

They have great Vietnamese food (including the best pho I've found -- even Pho 75's pho doesn't taste like this, with the hint of anise and the wonderful restorative smell and flavor). They have tons of vegetarian choices (love the cari chay, tofu curry with a good variety of veggies) and great crispy spring rolls. Prices are cheap, and the room is bare-bones (it used to be a pizza joint and looks it). A great place to take kids.

So sad to be losing this neighborhood treasure!"

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2 hours ago, Genevieve said:

My recollection from talking with the Cafe Dalat family around the time they were closing was that the parents were retiring rather than opening somewhere else while the building was being renovated, and their kids had been working there as second jobs while they had busy first jobs in other fields (including one in a medical field).  So while I was so sad to see Dalat close, I understood that the second generation might be somewhat relieved.

[...]

Thank you.   I lost perspective on those restaurants and the "old" Clarendon vs the current Clarendon.   I never would have guessed that Cafe Dalat was still in the neighborhood in 2005.

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