Alexandria, VA

It’s Valentine’s Day and if you’re stumped on what to do for a date, fret not, because several businesses in Old Town have some ideas.

ALXnow went around a few blocks of King Street to some of the city’s more romantic shops to get ideas for how to spice up an Old Town date. Here’s what we found:

Blüprint Chocolatiers

“There’s something really special about a couple going through a box of chocolates,” said Kim Gustafson, owner of Blüprint Chocolatiers at 1001 King Street. “You open that box, look at the guide, then figure it out together and share it.”

The shop has a wide variety of chocolates, from boxes to individual bars of various types, including a handful of vegan options. Gustafson said shopping for chocolate with a partner can be a memorable experience.

“Chocolate really brings people together,” she said.

Bellacara

Jennifer Smithmeyer perused the shelves of Bellacara at 1000 King Street, where she works, for a few minutes trying to think of the perfect couples’ activity. The store stocks a variety of beauty products and accessories like candles. Then as she walked back towards the register, she found the perfect choice.

La Bouche Rouge,” Smithmeyer said, indicating an array of lipsticks. “You pick which color for the case and she can pick her own lipstick for it.”

There are four colors for the case, so Smithmeyer said the gifting partner can pick which one the recipient likes most. But when it comes to picking a particular shade for the lipstick, Smithmeyer said it could be fun for a couple to come in and pick out which of the variety of color choices suits her best.

As a bonus, Smithmeyer said the cases can be monogrammed, advising gift-givers to place the recipient’s initials on either side of where the case splits apart.

Bloomers

Staff at Bloomers, a lingerie and loungewear shop at 924 King Street, said the very colorful and fluffy sets of matching lingerie in the store have been a popular item for couples.

“People really go for the hanky panky sets,” an employee said.

There are two rows of the popular lingerie sets in the store, ranging from brightly colored fabrics to more simple, traditional outfits. The items are relatively easy to shop for as well, given that the full sets for each garment are paired together on the displays.

Wine Gallery 108

The wine shop at 108 N. Patrick Street has gone all out for Valentine’s Day. Katie Surface, an employee, said there are several romantic options in the store, like bottles of Italian wine with a ceramic heart on the glass.

There are also cutting boards, painted wine glasses, and other works of art around the store put together by local artists.

The store will be hosting a wine tasting today (Friday) for Valentine’s Day from 6-8:30 p.m. Italian cookbook author Domenica Marchetti will present several different Italian dishes and desserts. The event is advertised at being aimed at “singles, couples, or even threesomes.” Tickets are $75.

For Surface, though, one of the best Valentine’s Day dates would be a simple wine sampling at home.

“It would be fun for a couple to get a few bottles they haven’t tried yet,” Surface said, “and to work their way through a little tasting together.”

If none of the dates above sparked your fancy, ALXnow also put together a list of non-restaurant and non-bar date spots around Alexandria, including an Anti-Valentine’s Party, and a list of local restaurants that as last night still had Valentine’s Day reservations available.

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Morning Notes

T.C. Football Coach Steps Down — “James Longerbeam stepped down as head coach of the T.C. Williams High School football team on Feb. 3. Longerbeam has served as head coach since 2016, when he moved from Panama City, Florida to Alexandria to take the position. He cited his father’s recent passing and his mother’s dementia as reasons for his decision in a Facebook post.” [Alexandria Times]

Local Doctor Helps the Homeless — “Dr. William Mazzella has a message for the homeless living on the streets of Alexandria, Virginia. ‘I have the medicines,’ Mazzella said. ‘I have the bandages, the training, and I’m here to help you if you will have me…’ He has formed a nonprofit called MedStreet, which is accepting donations and seeking volunteers to help continue his work and help more people.” [WTOP]

Old Town Chocolate Shop Reveals Shape Secrets — “The owners of a Northern Virginia chocolate shop are urging customers to be aware of what’s in a box of chocolates before making a purchase this Valentine’s Day. If the customer’s preference is chewy over gooey caramels, it might be wise to consider rectangular-shaped versus square candy from a heart-shaped holiday box… said Robert Ludlow, who co-owns Alexandria, Virginia, shop Fleurir Chocolates.” [WTOP]

Investigators Reveal Massive Fire’s Cause, Cost — The massive fire at the South Alex development along Route 1 “started in the second-floor trash chute of the residential portion of a multi-use complex. The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking materials. Damage figures include the total loss of the main buildings under construction, 14 townhouses, and one trailer. The amount also includes damage to five apartment buildings, 14 additional townhouses, four single family homes, 29 vehicles, and multiple pieces of construction equipment. Damage total as a result of the fire is $48,171,075.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Procrastinating on your Valentine’s Day reservations? You’re in luck.

Here are the top 15 best-reviewed restaurants in (and within a stone’s throw of) Alexandria, according to OpenTable. As of publication time, each of these eateries still have reservations available between 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 14.

1. City Kitchen (330 South Pickett Street)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 8 p.m., 8:15 p.m.

2. Laporta’s Restaurant (1600 Duke Street )
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 8 p.m.

3. Evening Star Cafe (2000 Mt. Vernon Avenue )
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m.

4. Ramparts Tavern (1700 Fern Street)
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 8:15 p.m.

5. Village Brauhaus (710 King Street)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

6. Rustico (827 Slaters Lane)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

7. Live Oak (1603 Commonwealth Avenue)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

8. Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque (220 N. Lee Street)
Time slots available: 6:15 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

9. Joe Theismann’s Restaurant (1800 A Diagonal Road)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

10. T.J. Stone’s (608 Montgomery Street)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 8:15 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

11. Trademark Drink + Eat (2080 Jamieson Avenue)
Time slots available: 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 8:45 p.m.

12. Tanger Kabob House Cafe (5735A Telegraph Road)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

13. Augie’s Mussel House and Beer Garden (1106 King Street)
Time slots available: 5:45 p.m.

14. Los Cuates (1116 King Street)
Time slots available: 6 p.m., 6:15 p.m.

15. Namaste’ Jalsa (1504 King Street)
Time slots available: 6:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash

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Morning Notes

New Coworking Space Opening This Spring — “A new co-working space is opening in a historic property that once housed a grocery delivery company… The Loop, a unique, dog-friendly co-working space that will help Alexandria residents ‘Work Better, Be Better, Do Better’ will open in April. The Loop is under construction on North Payne Street in the former Chec Soda & Refrigeration Co. complex.” [Alexandria Living]

Presidents Day Closures in Alexandria — “All City of Alexandria government offices will be closed on Monday, February 17, in observance of George Washington Day.” [City of Alexandria]

AWLA Delivering Pets on V-Day — “Forget roses and chocolates, or even flowers. The new gift is Fido or Felix. This Valentine’s Day, there will be volunteers from the Animal Welfare League in Alexandria delivering rescue pets to their forever homes from noon to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]

Vietnam Vet Speaking at GW Parade Event — “Capt. Eugene ‘Red’ McDaniel (ret.), a Vietnam veteran considered one of the most brutalized prisoners of war during six years of captivity, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association Breakfast Feb. 17 at the Alexandria Westin Hotel.” [Gazette Packet]

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Ain’t love grand? It depends on how you look at it. If your perspective is of the darker variety, with a dose of good humor, there’s an event in Alexandria for you.

This coming Thursday and Friday nights, Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Ave.) is hosting “Love Is Hell: A Valentine’s Day Horror Experience.”

Forget your regular Valentine’s Day programming. For $20 per person with the promo code FUNLAND (it’s $25 at the door), participants will get a pint of Port City draft beer and be led upstairs to the brewery’s Lighthouse Lounge, which has been converted into a haunted house. Inside will be dimly lit tables full of dead flowers and chocolate, love-themed games of horror and Demonic Cupid in her booth offering love advice to couples. Red lights have been put in the bathrooms, in addition to creative writing on the mirrors, which should make for a number of Instagram-worthy experiences.

The events will be held from 7-10 p.m. Also, at the end of the night, a list of the worst break-up lines participants have ever been given will be read aloud.

The program is presented by Funland Productions, a group founded last year by area comedians and artists, including Alexandria’s Melanie Harker and Shawn Paul Ellis.

Co-founder Charlie Visconage has been happily married for three years and said his troupe is walking a fine line of presenting, “more of a Sam Raimi comedy horror-vibe instead of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe.”

“There are plenty of things in our romantic past that are frustrating, weird and come out of left field,” Visconage told ALXnow. “We’re really hoping people will hang out. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I promise it won’t be like a haunted house with jump-scares.”

If you’re still hungry afterward, there will be food trucks outside Port City on both nights — Basic Burger on Thursday and Borinquen Lunch Box on Friday.

Image via Funland Productions/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Best Local Valentine’s Day Options — “We asked readers what they thought was the most romantic dining spot in the city. A few of the suggestions were Vermilion, Fontaine and The Wharf. Some suggested following up dinner with desserts from places like Alexandria Pastry Shop, Alexandria Cupcake and Blüprint Chocolatiers.” [Patch]

New Alexandria Tourism Campaign — “Tourism in Alexandria continues to be a major economic driver, and Visit Alexandria is launching a new marketing campaign to encourage even more visitors to come experience Alexandria’s charm. The campaign is targeted at overnight travelers who live outside the D.C. region.” [Alexandria Living]

Big Scholarship for Two T.C. Students — “The pair stood on stage in front of friends and family at a D.C. theater, where they were formally awarded Posse Foundation scholarships worth $250,000. Now, Wilmer Carranza and Madeleine Allen will head off to college this fall without having to give a second thought to tuition costs. They were two of six T.C. students to make the final round out of tens of thousands of applicants from across the United States.” [Gazette Packet]

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