If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to take a moment to luxuriate in the springtime weather that has finally elected to arrive in Alexandria. Put your computer or phone down for a second, go outside, and take a deep breath in. Mmmmmmmmm. Now exhale. Ahhhhhh.
Now come back to your device and start planning where you want to eat.
May is, to my mind, a perfect time to dine al fresco in the Northern Virginia area – the weather is warm, but not scorching. The humidity hasn’t arrived en masse. The mosquitoes haven’t gotten the memo yet. And the evenings stretch out endlessly, the sun lingering till after 8. It’s a gorgeous time to relax with a glass of wine (or iced tea, or a mocktail, or even good old water) and loiter over a glorious meal with friends and family while somebody’s restaurant plays host.
The options for such al fresco dining in Alexandria are nearly limitless, but here are five top picks for Old Town. (Del Ray, West End, Cameron Station, Carlyle, don’t holler at me yet! You’ll get your own rundown soon!)
1. Fontaine, 119 S. Royal St.
Grab a table on the sidewalk at this café and you’ll almost swear you’re in Paris (or, well, close enough!). Then tuck in and get ready for another Parisian staple: Crepes. Oh man. So many crepes. Sweet crepes. Savory crepes. Crepes with Nutella. NUTELLA, people! Fontaine has other items on the menu as well, but honestly, unless you are allergic to crepes you should just go with them. Life is short.
2. Mia’s, 100 King St.
SItuated on its corner at the 100 block of King, Mia’s has a wealth of options for your taste buds. (Also, spoiler alert: Mia’s gets a guest spot on our Classic Restaurants Walking Tour!) Try one of the restaurant’s pizzas, baked in its first-floor pizza oven, or pick up a sandwich or plate of pasta for a meal that will stick to your ribs. Feeling like something on the lighter side? Good news: Mia’s Sunday Salad isn’t just for Sundays, but for any day, and is a great complement to the beautiful weather.
3. Augie’s, 1106 King St.
A springtime afternoon on the patio with mussels and beer: Can you think of a more relaxing way to while away the hours? With its expansive picnic tables and casual ambiance, Augie’s patio is a force to be reckoned with. Get your mussels any number of ways (good news: There are vegetarian options on the menu too!) and post up at your picnic table while you watch your friendship group expand by the hour.
4. Chadwicks, 203 Strand St.
Now, I know I’ve put Chadwicks at No. 4 on this list, but when it comes to getting together with a group of friends or when family is in town, it is No. 1 in my heart. And it has wonderful outdoor dining, to boot! Will wonders never cease? Anyway. From brunch to dinner, Chadwicks (also on our tour) has you covered. Crab cakes. Burgers made to order. Huevos rancheros. Even a killer vegan taco salad! They won’t let you down. Order up a beer or a mimosa to complete the experience.