Alexandria, VA

New taco shop, Taco Rock 2 is opening today at the western edge of Alexandria.

Chef Mike Cordero announced in a press release that the spin-off of Rosslyn-based Taco Rock is opening at 6548 Little River Turnpike in the Pinecrest Plaza shopping center.

“Taco Rock 2 is Chef Mike Cordero’s ninth Northern Virginia restaurant location and seats 75 guests with 20 barstools centered around the tequila bar,” the company said in a press release. “New to this location is an expanded tequila bar and a substantial outdoor patio with large garage door front windows that access the open-air space offering 48 seats for alfresco dining.”

Taco Rock two is the team’s first cast casual restaurant. Socially distanced seating will be incorporated throughout the restaurant, the company said.

“Team Cordero is thrilled to expand our footprint in Northern Virginia with the grand opening of Taco Rock 2,” Mike Cordero said in the press release. “Taco Rock is an epicurean treat that gives a nod to street food but includes a gourmet twist with our signature Blue Rock tacos. We anticipate the Alexandria community will greatly welcome our concept.”

The restaurant will mostly match the Arlington location, with tacos served on homemade blue corn tortillas. Listed offerings include breakfast tacos and vegetarian tacos. The restaurant also features a tequila bar and imported Mexican beers, along with crispy stuffed churros and ice cream tacos.

Photos courtesy Taco Rock 2

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Beloved local Del Ray coffee shop St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub has opened a new North Old Town location (529 Montgomery Street) to help anchor a budding new community.

The new coffee house opened on Saturday, Jan. 9. St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub joins Wooboi Hot Chicken and Hinata Sushi Bar and Grill on the ground floor of Gables Old Town North, a new residential development at the north end of Old Town.

According to the website, the North Old Town branch of St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub offers fresh baked goods, soups and sandwiches — with an ABC permit pending for craft beer and wine.

“We really like being in neighborhoods,” Larry Ponzi, owner of the pub, said on the website. “We love to get visitors from out of town, and we do, but we really want the base of customers to be from the neighborhood.”

Photo via St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub/Facebook

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Alexandria’s newest waterfront restaurant has officially targeted Thursday, Jan. 14 as its opening.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners announced in a press release that Ada’s on the River (3 Pioneer Mill Way) will open next Thursday with dinner reservations currently available.

“Located at 3 Pioneer Mill Way at Robinson Landing, Ada’s on the River will feature spectacular waterfront views and an extensive menu including a selection of prime steaks, fresh seafood and vegetarian dishes cooked to perfection by the wood-fired oven,” Alexandria Restaurant Partners said in a press release.

According to a press release, the restaurant will be dinner-only for its first week, but will extend to lunch and weekend brunches by the end of the month.

“The waterfront is prime and ready for new dining experiences, especially one that lends itself to outdoor dining,” ARP partner Dave Nicholas said in the press release. “Ada’s 105-seat patio will be a great attraction in the area and the water views from inside are the perfect complement the extensive coal-fired menu during the winter months.”

ARP is also planning to open BARCA Pier & Wine Bar, a new restaurant built from converted shipping containers, on the waterfront at Robinson Landing in spring 2021.

Rendering via Alexandria Restaurant Partners

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A coworking space, food market and restaurant are all coming to The Atrium (277 S. Washington Street) in Old Town.

Companies W.C. & A.N. Miller Development Company and Avison Young announced in a press release that new restaurants Mae’s Market & Café and Virginia’s Darling Restaurant would be opening in the building over the next few months. Both restaurants are new ventures from Stomping Ground in Del Ray, which also expanded to Tysons in 2018 and bagel shop Bagel Uprising next door in Del Ray in 2019.

The Atrium will also be a home to Alexandria-based coworking space ALX Community. The new coworking location is scheduled to open sometime later this year.

“The timing of the location’s opening — as well as The Atrium Building itself — should be ideal for the ALX Community,” said Scott Shaw, co-founder of the coworking firm, in the press release. “Fall 2021 puts us on the other side of the pandemic, which is a plus. And we think The Atrium Building’s size, amenities and location are a winning combination for companies that have been waiting to make a move.”

The new move comes after a facelift for the building was approved last year.

Image via WC. and A.N. Miller Development Company

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A new pho restaurant is now open for business in Old Town — five months after the fact.

Pho Nam, the second location for the Gaithersburg-based company, was under construction for six months at 606 King Street. It was supposed to open in May, but got held up because of the pandemic. The restaurant officially opened on Oct. 20.

“I came here last Christmas and took a picture of how magical Old Town looked during the holiday season, and we wanted to be open this time around,” Pho Nam Old Town’s General Manager Ryan Le told ALXnow. “This is the soup season, and it’s always good to have a hot bowl of soup when it’s cold out.”

Le’s uncle Quang Nguyen emigrated to the area from Vietnam in 1977, and opened Pho Nam in Gaithersburg 20 years ago.

The building on King Street was last home to Breugger’s Bagels, which closed in 2018 after 12 years in business. Neighbors include Noodle Box Old Town and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

“When we opened we had a debate over waiting until COVID is over or just opening,” Le said. “We don’t know how long it’s going to last, so we decided to open. We’re very happy we did, and people have been willing to spread the word about our phenomenal soup.”

Pho Nam posts updates on its Instagram and Facebook pages. It does not serve alcohol and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 pm. every day of the week.

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Alexandria Restaurant Partners has filed a special use permit request to buy the old Charlie’s on the Avenue restaurant in Del Ray and turn it into a concept called “Joe’s Kitchen.”

The SUP was sent in to the city on Nov. 5, and the last day for public comments is Nov. 26.

Charlie’s (1501 Mount Vernon Avenue) closed in January after opening in the former home of Fireflies, which closed in 2017 after 15 years in business.

ARP owns  Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s RestaurantPalette 22 and The Majestic. It is also developing Ada’s On The River at Robinson Landing.

Image via Charlie’s on the Avenue Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Voted 80% for Joe Biden — “The vote total in Alexandria, as of Wednesday morning, was 65,201 or 80.4 percent for Biden, the former Vice President; 14,251 voted for Trump.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Reaches Complete Count in 2020 U.S. Census — ” The Bureau’s Crystal City Area Census Office, which includes all of Alexandria, was the only such office in the Washington, D.C. metro region to count 100% of households by the time data collection ended on October 15. Because almost 74% of Alexandria households completed the census questionnaire by mail or online, census workers had to visit fewer households in person.” [City of Alexandria]

Here’s Updated COVID-19 Guidance from Alexandria — “Everyone has a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Take immediate action by wearing a mask, reducing unnecessary travel, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and staying home when sick. Below are specific guidance and resources based on setting or need.” [City of Alexandria]

Vegan PLNT Burger Restaurant Opens Inside Whole Foods — “Co-founder and chief culinary director for PLNT Burger, Spike Mendelsohn (of ‘Top Chef’ fame) was in town recently to open the hip new vegan burger joint inside the Whole Foods store at 1700 Duke Street and on opening day gave away 100 free burgers to the first people in line.” [Zebra]

Waterskiing Santa Going Virtual This Year — “The show was originally scheduled to run on Christmas Eve this year but organizers announced that they decided to cancel the live event for safety reasons. Instead, a recording will be available for viewing on Dec. 20 so families can “stay home, get some hot chocolate and popcorn and cozy up while watching the Waterskiing Santa,” organizers said on the event’s Facebook page.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. High 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Partly to mostly cloudy (at night). Low 48F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Scholarship Program Assistant — “The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, a national nonprofit in Alexandria, Virginia, seeks a Scholarship Program Assistant to become part of the Scholarship Program team. The Scholarship Program Assistant works closely with the Assistant Director, Scholarship Programs to support the needs of the department and the \Foundation and its various stakeholders. S/he is responsible for supporting the Department in an overall administrative capacity and to provide support in the day-to-day functions of the Department and team.” [Indeed]

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What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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Herndon-based Wooboi Hot Chicken is hosting a small “soft opening” today at a new location opening in North Old Town (531 Montgomery Street).

The soft opening is scheduled to run from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. though those who want to try the chicken should lean towards the earlier side, as Wooboi Hot Chicken said there is a limited supply today.

“We have 100 chicken breasts and 400 tenders to sell!” the restaurant said.

Today and tomorrow, the location is cash-only. The restaurant said on Facebook that at the grand opening on Monday, they will accept cards, cash, and apple pay.

Sandwiches or a basket of chicken tenders are $8.99 ($10 with tax included, for purposes of planning how much cash to bring) and sides are $3.99 ($4.50 with tax).

Photo via Wooboi Hot Chicken/Facebook

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This was a big week for Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the Alexandria School Board’s decision to reopen schools for students with disabilities, while the future reopening of school for elementary, middle and high schoolers remains in doubt.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the only feasible option for reopening schools — based on distancing and staffing constraints — would be for students to rotate to in-person schooling only one day per week. Hutchings also appeared on CNN and said that ACPS is not likely to fully reopen until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We also reported that the Alexandria City Council approved plans for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the North Potomac Yard development plan, virtually paving the way for the college to open its doors to hundreds of students by 2024.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 75 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,100 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in the city on Monday to unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

We also reported that the City Council unanimously approved naming the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town “Earl F. Lloyd Way” in honor of the first Black man to ever play in the National Basketball Association.

Restaurant-wise, we spoke with one of the owners of a pizza and burger joint that is taking over the former location of Pizzeria Paradiso on lower King Street. The Chewish Deli is also now open in Old Town, and the owner of Del Ray Boccato says that his gelato shop will soon open.

Additionally, more than 175 people participated in our weekly poll. With the November 3 election around the corner, this week we asked about voting plans, and 65% of respondents voted by mail/absentee, 31% plan to vote on election day, and 4% are not voting.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  2. City Releasing Torpedo Factory Draft Action Plan Today
  3. City Council Approves Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and North Potomac Yard Development Plan
  4. Alexandria Student Called N-Word in Online Forum, and Not By Another Student
  5. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  6. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  7. One Arrested After Attempted Armed Robbery in Alexandria’s West End
  8. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  9. Female Suspect Flees, Nothing Taken in Attempted Old Town Bank Robbery
  10. Alexandria and Arlington Want a New Future for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  11. Alexandria Courthouse Deep Cleaned After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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