Tivoli Pastry and Gourmet - Rosslyn Station
I have been on a constant quest to find the best breakfast sandwich and coffee in Rosslyn. So far I have been to McDonalds, Skywalk Cafe, Cosi Cafe, and Coffee Express, and my latest stop was Tivoli. I don't remember seeing breakfast sandwiches on their menu in the past, but one day, sure enough the sign advertised them. So I stopped in one day and the Hispanic lady behind the counter said they didn't have any eggs, so I wandered over to my regular spot at the Skywalk Cafe. I decided to try again the next day and she went to work making my sandwich. She pulled a pre-made omelet out of the refrigerator along with two pieces of cold cooked bacon, stacked them together and threw them in the microwave. Luckily the bagel wasn't pre-toasted, but it still tasted a few days old. The egg had peppers in it, luckily I like peppers... The coffee was not really any good either.
This is by far the worst breakfast I have had in a long time. The frozen Lean Cuisine breakfast sandwiches in my freezer are much better and cheaper then the $6.22 they charge for a sandwich and large coffee. They also had no Sweet and Low or Splenda for the coffee.
Bad food, bad coffee, bad all around.
Kanpai Sushi - Rosslyn, Arlington, VA
Kanpai is a sushi spot, run mostly by Koreans, in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington. I was wandering around looking for dinner one night around 9:45, and stopped in here because most places closed at 10:00pm. Kanpai was open until 10:30, so I decided to stop in.
I was warmly greeted by one of the waitresses and I chose a seat at the sushi bar. They recommended one of the bento-box like dinners, and it sounded good to me. I had the nigiri sushi, with steamed rice, a big piece of teriyaki salmon, about 6 big pieces of mixed tempura, a few vegetable sides, miso soup, and a salad for about $24. The meal was very good and all of the staff was extremely friendly. I chatted with the sushi chef who was from Seoul and well as one of the waitresses quite a bit. The friendly owner and his wife were also present, and they assured me they'd remember when I return next time.
Cafe Asia - Wilson Blvd, Rosslyn, Arlington
The first time I walked past Cafe Asia in the fall of 2008 I was impressed by the huge number of customers packing the outdoor sidewalk tables. Once arrived the tables were gone but the inside is still usually busy. I finally got a chance to eat here when meeting a few friends for lunch. The interior is huge and spacious, and, we quickly discovered, a great place to people watch.
Were were quickly seated and given menus. While they serve a little bit of everything here including foods from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, their focus is mostly sushi with a variety of soups and some other main courses. I had the chirashi, my typical sushi meal, especially the first time at a new restaurant. The others with me had some sushi rolls and a massive bowl of ramen soup with chicken. My chirashi had shrimp, omelet, tuna, squid, and a few other fish pieces on a huge bed of seasoned rice for about $14, pretty standard for DC. The ramen had tons of noodles, fish cakes, and a choice of chicken ($10), shrimp ($12), or the seafood combination ($14). The specialty sushi rolls are around $10 and the more basic rolls are $4 or $5.
Saturdays from 4:30 to 7:30, you can get nigiri sushi for $1.25 a piece, draft beers for $2.50, and sake for $2.
Their original location is in downtown DC at:
1720 I Street NW
Skywalk Cafe - Rosslyn, Arlington, VA
Skywalk Cafe is above Rosslyn Station and is a very popular neighborhood cafeteria for all of the local office workers. They have a little of everything from prepared main dishes like meats and veggies, to short order sandwiches and fries. Most of the workers are Asian, and they offer a few Asian dishes. Seating is limited, but most people get their food to go. I had a good Philly cheese steak for about $6 on my visit, and it wasn't bad at all.
Lately I have become a morning regular at Skywalk Cafe. Their breakfasts are some of the best around, and they have great coffee. I love their bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on bagels. The eggs and bacon are fresh and made as you watch, probably fried in real real butter for how good they taste. A lightly toasted bagel and tasty melted cheddar and the masterpiece is complete. Excellent, and only about $5.50 with a big coffee.
Also, the Korean owners and cooks are very friendly and happy to have you back as a repeat customer.
Red Hot and Blue BBQ - Rosslyn, Arlington, VA
Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Red Hot and Blue has franchised locations across much of the country, centered mainly in the Mid-West and the Mid-Atlantic states. I have eaten at a few locations, notably the Arlington (Rosslyn), VA branch and Annapolis.
The brisket is "to-die-for," the sausage will almost kill you. My last visit I had the three meat combo with pork ribs, brisket, and sausage plus sweet corn bread muffins, beans, and french fries for about $14. The brisket was awesome, but the ribs were a little overdone on the outside and the sausage gave me indigestion and kept me awake all night. Next time I'll stick with just brisket and ribs, hoping the ribs will be improved.
The Rosslyn location of RH&B is deceivingly huge with a dining room that just keeps on going. One of the best things about this restaurant is their excellent selection of tasty bbq sauces: a plain regular sauce, a hot bbq sauce, a vinegar-based sauce, and another that I don't remember off hand! Prices are good, the service was excellent, and they had big 24 ounce Yeungling Lagers!
Ray's Hell Burger
Ray's Hell Burger is a hidden gem with probably the best burgers in the DC area if not the entire solar system. First and most difficult, find the nondescript store front hidden in a small plaza on Wilson Blvd... so inconspicuous is the restaurant that it doesn't even have a sign on the facade. Next, find the menus... they are located in a photocopied stack by the door; two menus--one with the basics and all the toppings, the other with their 10 specialty burgers. Then find your way past the flesh-devouring consumers to the counter in the back and place your order. Last, grab a seat, and chuckle at the old movie posters that adorn the relatively plain dining room. Your meal will be delivered quickly!
Let's start with the location. It's address is 1713 Wilson Blvd, a few blocks from Rosslyn Metro Station. Walking or driving up the hill (its a one way street), look for the small plaza on the right, next to the Quinn Street intersection. Ray's Hell Burger is the second storefront on the right when facing the building... between Century 21 Redwood Realty and a place called IMON Shipping and Business Services. A Vietnamese place called Pho 75 is also in the plaza.
The menu is very impressive. The standard burger starts at $7 and consists of a 10 ounce patty (that's almost 2/3 of a pound!!!), with lettuce and tomato on a toasted bun, served with a simple fresh side. Other free (!) toppings include sauteed mushrooms or peppers, grilled onions, roasted garlic, pickles, jalapenos, and a few special sauces. For various fees ranging from $1 to $5 you can chose from other toppings like 17 different cheeses, bacon, guacamole, ham, and roasted bone marrow (?!). If you want a real treat, how about the seared foie gras (duck or goose liver) with truffle oil for an additional $10? The specialty burgers include BIG Poppa, Fat Joe, the Dog Catcher, Croque Burger, Big Punisher, the Burger of Seville, and others that range in price from $8 to $17. The only drinks are a few juices and root beer, and they have medium sized bags of chips you can get on the side. When I visited, the burgers were served with oranges, but their sides seem to be seasonal with picnic style dishes in the summer like watermelon, corn, and potato salad.
The counter in is the back and is well staffed with maybe 10 workers taking orders and making their burger masterpieces. Here you will also find their free hot chocolate and an ice cream freezer. They are happy to help you decide, then you will pay here and take your laminated number to a table.
The dining room is relatively plain but still interesting. There are only three little two-person tables by the window and about 10 other tables in the small dining area, including a few bar-style high tops. On the wall you will see posters from old movies like "The Brain That Wouldn't Die! (Alive ... without a body ... fed by an unspeakable horror from hell!") and another about a movie so scary it has flashing lights and a horn before the scary parts so you know when to close your eyes to avoid witnessing the horror.
I arrived about 2pm, so there was no line and a few empty tables. I missed the menu station by the door, so I had to the ask the girl at the counter for advice. She recommended the relatively pain Soul Burger Number One ("the hardest working burger in show business!") that was $9 and came with apple wood smoked bacon, Swiss, cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, and their unique quarter of an orange. I grabbed a seat and waited no more then 10 minutes before my burger arrived, open faced and looking tasty. I put the burger together, and when I picked it up, the juices began trickling over my fingers, puddling up on the plate.... mmmmm. This was, no doubt, the juiciest burger I have ever had. The bacon crispy and flavorful, the cheese thick and melted, and the onions very tasty. I'd call this a perfect burger.
Other notes. They only take cash, they don't have fries, they don't serve alcohol, and they have lots of signs saying not to claim a table until after you've order in respect to customers who are ahead of you in line.
In the same plaza you will find even more famous Ray's The Catch and down the road is Ray's The Steaks, owned by the same person.
Rosslyn Metro Mall Food Court - Philadelphia Mikes
Philadelphia Mike's looks like a dump, like most of the other places in the Rosslyn Metro Mall. But this restaurant, run by an Indian family, has some great food options at cheap prices. I've tried their shami kabob and gyros that run about $6 a meal, plus a little extra for drinks. They also offer a few sandwiches.
The biggest problem with this restaurant, and others in the Metro Mall, is that the place is ghetto. Some of the restaurants are never open, some are just empty shells.
McDonalds - Rosslyn, Arlington, VA
I have never written a tip about a typical American fast food joint before, but this one deserves mention. I have been to the Rosslyn, Virginia McDonald's more than any other restaurant in the DC area, and probably more than any restaurant anywhere. In just a month and a half, I have visited this McDonalds at least 20 times, mostly just for coffee, other times for their sausage burritos or their other breakfast sandwiches. Like other McDonald's, the breakfast sandwiches range from $3 to $4 for bacon, sausage, or just $1 for the sausage burrito. Coffee is $1 to $2 for a small, medium or large.
This McDonald's is unique because it is frequented by a wide variety of customers. Some military from the nearby offices distributed away from the Pentagon come here, some office workers from the ever growing skyscrapers eat here, and even more impressive are the homeless that frequent the restaurant.
The first time I ever came here I noticed a large number of homeless loitering by the doors, eating here, or just hanging out in this multilevel store where the staff can not keep an eye on the premises. Just before Thanksgiving I was stopped by a homeless guy who wanted change; when I offered to get him some food instead, he suggested the most expensive item on the breakfast menu--the $3.50 steak bagel. I can afford it, but please.... why not get four sausage burritos for that price? Way to ask for something so expensive I wouldn't even consider it for my own meal, jerk. I was kind enough to buy one for him. Lesson learned; never again.
On another occasion, there was a fat, sweaty guy stinking the place up while sleeping here. He was sitting right in the main dining room, covered in a blanket and snoring as loud as can be. If I had been planning to eat more than just a quick $1 breakfast burrito I probably would have left. As it was, I just laughed and took a picture.
This Micky D's is quite a place. I'm sure more stories will be forthcoming as I plan to stop here pretty much daily for the next six months.
Cafe Cu Cu - Rosslyn
Cafe Cu Cu is a large restaurant with a deli, short-order grill, and buffet. This is a popular place for lunch in the neighborhood because it has something for everyone. They offer cold sandwiches ($4.50 to $5.50), hot sandwiches ($5.00 to $5.50), and a buffet with hot foods, salads, soups, and even sushi and a unique Mongolian BBQ.
They also offer breakfast sandwiches and a breakfast buffet until 10am.
Oak Street Cafe - Rosslyn
One of dozens of small, nondescript cafes lining the streets of Rosslyn to serve coffee and sandwiches to local military and businessmen who work in the nearby high-rise offices. They offer four or five types of coffee, a few types of fruit, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, chips and other quick snacks. Nothing special, but nothing wrong here either.
Gallery Market & Cafe (& Dry Cleaning?) - Rosslyn
Oak Street Cafe is a decent place near the Rosslyn Metro to grab coffee, sandwiches, or even beer, some groceries, and the dry cleaning. We stopped in one afternoon around 4pm just for coffee and were the only people in the cafe except for the workers and a loud guy yelling into his phone in Spanish for about 10 minutes.
We had a cappuccino and a cafe late (maybe $3 each?), then waited by the window for about 5 minutes while the guy behind the counter prepared our drinks. When he yelled toward us, we had to walk up to the counter to get the drinks, despite being the only people in the store... I guess he had to get back to his computer games.
The coffees were good, service is average, and the best part of the ambiance is the view across part of Rosslyn.
Lynn Street Cafe- Rosslyn, Arlington
My latest venture in the Rosslyn area is the Lynn Street cafe just a block away from the Rosslyn Metro station on, you guessed it, Lynn Street. When I arrived about quarter to eight in the morning there were just three other customers in the large, comfortable cafe. I grabbed a large cup of coffee then ordered my regular bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on a plain bagel. I walked down to the cashier and pad just under $6.00 for my meal. I waited only a few minutes for the sandwich before it was ready.
Since I had a few minutes before work, I decided to sit in the restaurant, read the paper, and enjoy my breakfast. When I opened the sandwich I realized it was bacon, egg, and cheese on rye not a plain bagel. Seems like that would be hard to screw up, but they managed to do it. I don't mind rye, so I decided to just save time and eat the sandwich. It was pretty good, with lots of cheese and bacon, along with freshly cooked eggs. I also enjoyed the environment here, which has numerous windows, window stools, and numerous tables to spread out your newspaper upon.
For lunch they have hot and cold sandwiches and salads--everything for under $6.
Too bad for the screw up on my sandwich, because the rest of my time here was enjoyable!
Coffee Express -- Wilson Blvd, Rosslyn
Coffee Express is one of seemingly hundreds of small, breakfast and lunch-only delis and coffee shops in the Rosslyn area (OK, the Yellow Pages only lists 87 coffee shops in all of Arlington). This little place is located just a half block from the Rosslyn Metro Station on the neighborhood's main thoroughfare.
I stopped in one morning around 7:30am when heading to an early meeting in the area. I ordered a coffee and their bacon, egg, and cheese bagel that was bout $5. It came out quickly, but when I opened the bag I noticed a toasted raisin bagel instead of the much more expensive and filling breakfast sandwich. I was short on time, so I was debating whether to exchange it for what I ordered, or just eat and run. Luckily, they quickly noticed their mistake, and gave me the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel. The bagel was surprisingly huge, with at least twice as much egg as McDonald's puts on their breakfast sandwiches. It also appeared to me freshly made, also a nice contrast to Micky D's!
Manhattan Deli - Rosslyn
Manhattan Deli is at an odd location in Rosslyn, away from the Metro and facing away from most of the big office buildings. It's location is good, though, because it faces the Iwo Jima Monument and is on the route between this major tourist attraction and the nearest metro station.
The cafe reminds me a lot of nearby Skywalk Cafe, though this one is a little nicer. Both offer hot food in a self-serve buffet as well as a short order grill with hot sandwiches and deli sandwiches. I stopped here for lunch one day after work, and decided to try their "Sicilian" sandwich, made with roasted turkey chunks, salami slices, Parmesan cheese, lettuce, tomato, and olives, and mustard on fresh bread for about $7. I took my sandwich over to the Iwo Jima Monument and watched the tourists mill about while I ate my lunch. A great way to enjoy a nice spring day in northern Virginia!
Manhattan Cafe is located next to Dark Star Park, an urban land-art creation dating back to 1984 and featuring concrete posts, balls, and tunnels.
Potomac Perk - in Rosslyn's Holiday Inn
Potomac Perk is a tiny cafe on the second floor of Rosslyn's Holiday Inn. It can be reached from the hotel lobby or via the "skywalk" system that connects buildings above street level in this part of Rosslyn.
I work next door, and buy coffee somewhere almost every morning, so I decided to give it a try one day. I walked over from the skywalk and noticed a homeless guy's belonging piled up outside the hotel entrance. I wandered in and didn't have to wait at all for my coffee. The workers, who appeared to be South Asian, perhaps Indian, were friendly and quick with the service. My coffee was less than two dollars for a big 20 ounce cup. While getting sugar for by beverage, I noticed the lone table of the cafe was full of high school students who must have spent the night here as part of a school trip or something. They were bouncing around and being awkward like high school kids do.
Before leaving the hotel, I relaxed for a minute outside of the cafe next to a window by the skywalk. This must be the hotel workers cafeteria, because there were people seated at tables and constantly coming and going. On y way out the door, I noticed the homeless guy, now with his stuff and with a coffee from Potomac Perk in hand. Lucky guy.