The Food Court at Mount Vernon is located in glass-enclosed Pavilion with tables put on the terrace as well (open when the weather is OK). It includes a few fast food chains like Pizza Hut, Mrs. Fields (cookies), Federal City Deli, Cafe Lafayette, Red Devon (burgers) and Frozen Smiles. They offered limited choice of pizzas, burgers, deli, coffee and desserts, beer and wine, nachos and fries. Menu here.
We were in a hurry. We had to go to Dulles to reclaim our lost luggage, come back to Arlington, find out our booked hotel and meet there Kathy (Kodi01) and Chris (balfor) and not to be late to the evening meeting with Kristi (Dabs). That's why we had no choice. If it weren't for Northwest / KLM losing our luggage, we might have had chance to enjoy some fine dining Mount Vernon style and have more time to tour the grounds. Thanks a lump!
Don't eat here unless... you don't have time or more money. There is Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. Read their Lunch Menu (11.00 am - 3.30 pm) and Dinner Menu (5.00 pm - 9.00 pm).
Favorite Dish: I had small Cheese Pizza ($4.50) from Pizza Hut which was bad (much worse than delicious Pizza Hut in my hometown, Tychy). Urszula had warm Jumbo Pretzel ($4.00) from Cafe Lafayette which was eatable but... nothing great. Nat had a sauerkraut hot dog from Federal City Deli which wasn't even warm. Well, the best was a bottle of Budweiser beer ($3.00) although it should be served a little bit colder.
Il Paradiso Traporia Italiano is a quite typical Italian Restaurant. The ambience is like Italian trattoria with many photos of Italian towns and famous Italian people. The service was good and the food is Italian American: typical Italian dishes with the touch of fantasy of the Cheff Hector Guerra. The waiters are very friendly but they don't speak English very well.
Favorite Dish: During my back trip to Washington D.C. I found Il Paradiso Traporia Italiano Italian restaurant and decided to stop. It offers good food and good prices. The staff was very friendly.
I can suggest to taste Salmone alla Parmigiana: grilled salmon with tomato souce, parmisan cheese and olives. It is served with vegetables and pasta (spaghetti with tomato souce). As dessert you can taste the home made delicious Tiramisù: cake dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa.
Very good experience.
Tim's Rivershore Restaurant ... half the fun is getting there!
For game seven of the Stanley Cup finals, we decided to meet at a friend's house in the Dumfries/Woodbridge area to watch the game. I had heard of a great crabshack in the area called Tim's Rivershore, so I offered to find this restaurant and bring dinner.
We plugged the address into our Garmin Nuvi (named Jill), and off we went. Off of Highway 1 in Dumfries, we quickly hit a snag. New development, new roads, and a confused Jill. Finally she directed us down what looked to be an almost abandoned two lane road. It started to look more abandoned after we saw much of it had been washed out, and there was a huge pool of water covering 80 percent of the driving lanes. Then we saw the boat. A boat in the road? Yup! There was also a boat in the middle of the road, with a broken windshield and graffiti painted over the outside. Soon after that, the road turned into a dirt path with no place to turn around. No signs, no detour, nothing.
Luckily Laura had her blackberry. She pulled up the website for Tim's and, after we escaped from this abandoned road, we found our way onto the correct route (Tim's website does say, "Important: Due to recent construction, GPS navigation and online direction services may be inaccurate."). Even the correct route was interesting, quickly turning into a winding rural road that resembled my hometown in Western Pennsylvania or maybe West Virginia. Then we hit a set of railroad tracks down by the water where the road ended, and our only option was to turn left and take the trail that was squished up against the railroad tracks basically on the railroad right of way. We squeezed into the last parking space before realizing there is more parking across the railroad track, if you don't mind dodging trains.
We sat at the bar and ordered our dinner for four: a dozen hard shell crabs ($45), a pound of steamed shrimp ($16), two soft shell crab dinners with fries and hushpuppies ($15 each), and an order of onion rings to top it all off ($7), plus we had a few beers while we waited. Our bill was reasonable at about $120, and the food was excellent. The soft shell crabs were the best I ever had, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The shrimp might have been slightly overcooked, but delicious. The large hard shell crabs were a little early in season, we heard the bartender tell another customer, but the meat was sweet and tender nonetheless.
The only restaurant near Mount Vernon, other than the tourist food courts, is the Mount Vernon Inn. This restaurant is part of the visitors center established in the 1930s when the Mount Vernon Parkway was constructed. The interior is huge, resembling an old farmhouse, and the workers all dress in colonial garb. It's easy to rip on this restaurant, part of a major tourist attraction, but I didn't think it was too bad... certainly better than many of the more expensive places in Old Town Alexandria.
Four of us arrived around noon one Sunday and were seated in the back of one of the large dining areas. We had pulled pork and brisket sandwiches and a dish they call cassoulet along with some clam chowder and chestnut and peanut soup. The brisket looked like roast and was topped with horseradish sauce. The chowder was not the typical white that you'd expect, rather a brown color, but tasty. The peanut soup was also surprisingly good. The cassoulet contained white beans, pulled duck and sausage all baked into a small casserole dish, unique and gamy tasting, yet flavorful.
All of the food was pretty good, and very cheap for the area... every item on the menu was under $9 and the sandwiches were only $6 to $7. The same food in Old Town Alexandria would often cost you twice as much. This is not the best restaurant around, but it is a solid choice and just steps from Mount Vernon... sure beats the nearby food court!
Just outside the entrance to the grounds, along the main circle is the Mount Vernon Inn. Besides the fast food court inside the grounds, this is your only food option. The ambience and views are very nice; however, the food leaves something to be desired. Meals are fairly expensive (around $15 for lunch, entree only). Dishes are representative of colonial fare and include turkey pot pie, fried chicken, ham and roast beef. It all sounds good, but my several visits there have been disappointing. The food just isn't very good.
If you're not interested in the fast food court and want to avoid the Inn, finding alternatives can be tricky. A meal in Old Town Alexandria (about 5 miles north of Mount Vernon) may be your best bet.
I hated to take Matt and Urszula here when the Mount Vernon Inn was more suitable for the occasion. We would have done that too if we didn't have to go to Dulles to reclaim their lost luggage. I tell all my foreign friends to steer clear of American fast food and we end up eating here. Sorry, Matt and Urszula.
Favorite Dish: Matt had an inferiour pizza from Pizza Hut, Urszula had a soft pretzel from somewhere else, and I had a sauerkraut hot dog from Federal City Deli. The hot dog wasn't even warm. As it turns out, the best thing was a little tin of Moravian cookies at the cashier's desk.