Here on the precipice of Virginia’s Phase 3 of reopening, most of Alexandria’s restaurants are back to business as usual – within the scope of a major pandemic, that is. Dining rooms are filling up with the requisite six feet of space between tables, and as summer heats up, outdoor seating is once again prime space. For many, that al fresco dining setup is still the most comfortable way to get back into the world without venturing too far afield. On the cusp of July 4 weekend, here are some al-fresco spots that mustn’t be missed.
Landini Brothers, 115 King St.
The scene on lower King Street has been hopping of late, and Landini Brothers has been right in the middle of the mix. With tables lining the sidewalk, diners can people-watch from where they sit – sometimes, perhaps, a little too close to the action for socially distanced comfort. Landini Brothers, as usual, is bringing the best of its menu to the out-of-doors, with entrees such as penne alla Romana and risotto a la primavera, or a plate of bruschetta to share. Order a bottle of wine, fill your glasses and idly watch as the world goes by.
Café 44, 44 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 401
Tucked away as it is in the Canal Center complex, Café 44 is a bit of a hidden gem. And though its dining room is open to accommodate the latest phases of reopening, it’s the outdoor space that takes the ambiance to a new level. With balcony views overlooking the Potomac River, the café is an excellent off-the-beaten-path option for weekend brunch or weekday lunch or dinner. Try the “Café Trio” of soup, sandwich and side for lunch; a charcuterie board to share (along with a bottle of bubbly, perhaps) for a light dinner; or a Bloody Mary grilled cheese for weekend brunch.
Whiskey and Oyster, 301 John Carlyle St.
Over in the Carlyle neighborhood, Whiskey and Oyster awaits with widely spaced tables and a wide-open menu to boot. Start the meal with kung pao cauliflower or hush puppies to share (or keep all to yourself), and then belly up to a lobster roll or “Hot Mess Burger” piled high with mac and cheese, sriracha aioli and more. Round out the proceedings with a beignet and the meal will be sweet indeed.
Tempo, 4231 Duke St.
The patio was naturally the first part of Tempo to open, and it remains so even as indoor seating has become a way of life. Like so many other Alexandrian restaurants, Tempo’s outdoor space is small but mighty, hosting tables while maintaining appropriate distances. Settle into a helping of capelli d’Angelo Napoletana or steak diablo, order up a signature cocktail and enjoy a few minutes of normalcy – with a good meal served alongside.
Hope Nelson is the author of “Classic Restaurants of Alexandria” and owns the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at http://www.kitchenrecessionista.com/. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.