Virginia Square, a neighborhood in Arlington, Va., is home to the Arlington Arts Center, which presents contemporary works from upcoming artists and cutting-edge installation pieces. The area offers an exciting new place for Hoyas to venture beyond the District in addition to some landmark restaurant destinations such as El Pollo Rico, open since 1988.
1000 N Randolph St., Arlington, Va.
0.3 miles from Metro stop
Russian | $$$$
Rus Uz, located in Arlington, Va. specializes in authentic cuisine from Russia and Uzbekistan. The menu includes the typical cabbage rolls, chicken Kiev and beef stroganoff; however, there is also an impressive array of less familiar foods that are definitely worth trying. The pelmeni dumplings ($10), with minced meat filling and wrapped in thin dough, are delicious, and save room to try the the samsaappetizer ($2.50), a baked puff pastry pie stuffed with minced lamb, and the shashlik ($3.50), a marinated kebab of beef, veal, chicken, mutton and fish. For something more unfamiliar, opt for the under a fur coat ($8), made with herring fillets, vegetables and eggs. If you’re looking to try a new and unfamiliar type of cuisine, this may be your place.
El Pollo Rico
929 N Kenmore St., Arlington, Va.
0.5 miles from Metro stop
Peruvian | $$$$
Every food lover needs to go to El Pollo Rico. Although located in a sketchy building and has a pretty basic menu, its Peruvian-style roasted chicken is D.C.’s hidden secret. One serving with fries, rice and a drinkis evidence enough of the best chicken you’ll ever have. I don’t know what the restaurant does to it, but it must involve some form of witchcraft. What makes this place even better? It’s cheap. An entire meal will cost about $7, so including the cost of the Metro ride to get there, the meal equated to an overpriced Sweetgreen salad and was 10 times as delicious. Its website domain is welovethischicken.com. That speaks for itself.
3434 Washington Blvd. Arlington, Va.
0.3 miles from Metro stop
Chinese | $$$$
If you have never had the opportunity to experience Chinese hot pot, then Mala Tang is a restaurant you need to check out. You may be wondering just what hot pot is, and the best way to describe it is as Asia’s delicious, broth-based response to fondue. Hot pot cuisine, also known as “steamboat,” involves a simmering pot of broth in which various vegetables and proteins are cooked and then immediately eaten. Restaurant patrons technically do most of the cooking in this unique style of dining. Since you do the cooking yourself, dining here may take a little longer than normal but the taste and novelty is well worth the wait. This goes double at Mala Tang when the sauce bar and spicy “Mala” broth are involved. It may not be the most authentic hot pot around — they offer a pre-set “American” vegetable menu as well as more traditional options — but sometimes taste wins the day. Some of their menu options are a little on the pricy side so it is admittedly a spot for a splurge. I highly recommend doing so and ordering the wine marinated beef ($21) or the more economical chicken ($15).
Water & Wall
3811 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, Va.
0.1 miles from the Metro stop
American | $$$$
Water & Wall has only been open for a few months, but the restaurant is already establishing itself as a go-to for fine American dining in the Arlington area. As an expansion of the popular Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna, Water & Wall has quite a lot to live up to. Describing its cuisine as “not a fusion of worlds rather a blend of all,” the upscale eatery offers dishes ranging from more common delicacies like hangar stake ($25) and duck confit ($24) to a few more extreme dishes like veal sweetbreads ($12) and flash-seared octopus ($12). They also offer a brunch menu with more approachable, yet still upscale offerings such as Pumpkin Buttermilk pancakes ($14) and truffle scrambled eggs with Applewood bacon ($14). The brunch menu also has a section entirely for “The Sparkling Stuff,” which includes cucumber bellinis ($9) and apple cider mimosas ($9). If the menu didn’t already give it away, this restaurant is certainly on the pricier side, so maybe save it for a special occasion, foodie date night or a nice, subsidized dinner with your parents. Even most Georgetown students can’t afford to spend $10 on an appetizer — no matter how delicious their fried okra is.