Arlington might be widely known for its American military history, but there is a diverse selection of local restaurants that are just a few minutes from the nation's capital. Most of the city’s dining is centred on the Clarendon and Ballston neighbourhoods, where you can find excellent food served by locally-owned restaurants.

    From hip outdoor patio restaurants and date-night spots to international fare from the around the world, Arlington is a foodie haven, but local insight is required to spot the best ones. Check out this guide to places locals love to eat in Arlington.

    1

    Lyon Hall

    Communal eatery serving classic French-German cuisine

    • Food
    • Families
    • Group

    Lyon Hall is the ultimate all-around dining destination in Arlington, blending the line between bar and restaurant. Situated in the heart of downtown, it is common to see families plopped down next to groups of twenty-somethings mingling and enjoying the dynamite oyster and pretzel happy hour deals every afternoon.

    Occupying a historic Art Deco building with an expansive outdoor patio, Lyon Hall serves French-German cuisine alongside a selection of notable world beers. Divulge in the German portion of the menu and order a hefty pile of sausages topped with sauerkraut, alongside creamy cheesy spaetzle. Or, be transported to Paris with a loaf of freshly baked bread, perfectly crusted for dipping in a steaming mussel pot.

    Location: 3100 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10.30 am to 2 am, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 703-741-7636

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    2

    The Liberty Tavern

    A date-night spot in the heart of Clarendon’s bar district

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Families

    The Liberty Tavern, where locals go to impress a first date, provides excellent modern American cuisine and a diverse cocktail list. Arrive before your reservation so you can enjoy a few drinks at the street-level bar area. Then head up to the dining room and revel in the warm ambience of this restored historic building.

    Portions at The Liberty Tavern are large, so start with a kale salad or smoked chicken wings before sharing a wood-fired pizza or house-made pasta. If a double-date is on the agenda, the rotating daily family offerings are a great option. Don’t leave without trying the seasonally inspired desserts, providing you with a sugar surge before hitting the bustling Clarendon bar scene.

    Location: 3195 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 12 pm to 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 703-465-9360

    Map

    photo by Ron Cogswell (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Pupatella

    One of Arlington’s finest pizzerias

    • Food
    • Families

    Boasting Neapolitan-certified pizzas, Pupatella has been satisfying locals' pie cravings for over a decade. You will find families along with Peroni-sipping millennials divulging in the infamous meatball pizza and fried risotto balls.

    Located next to a 7-Eleven, a few miles west of Downtown, don't let the worn outside appearance of Pupatella deceive you – this place is the real deal. Go with the classic Parma prosciutto and arugula pie to start, but make sure to order a side of garlic bread as well. If you are still hungry, their dessert pizza topped with Nutella and fresh fruit is a must-try. Due to minimal seating, takeout is most common but 2 additional locations have been added in the city, so you have options.

    Location: 5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205 USA

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 11.30 am to 10 pm, Sunday from noon to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 571-312-7230

    Map
    4

    Green Pig Bistro

    A meat lover's paradise

    • Food

    Green Pig Bistro is one of Arlington's most talked-about restaurants, combining French cooking with an American flair. The ambience is electric, yet simple and homey with walls covered in pages from culinary books, an open kitchen, and beautiful wooden communal tables.

    Be prepared for meat-heavy meals as the chefs use every part of the animals, from head to tail. Start with a light quinoa or beet salad before indulging in the signature braised pork shank. Order at least 2 servings of the meatballs on the side, because you will definitely want more. Located on the main drag of Clarendon, the Green Pig Bistro pumps out high-quality food at affordable prices every day of the week.

    Location: 1025 N Fillmore St, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 703-888-1920

    Map
    5

    Ambar Clarendon

    Try the Balkan Experience if you're dining with a group

    • Food

    Alluding to the area's heavy Eastern European population, Ambar Clarendon brings spectacular Serbian cuisine to Arlington. The original Ambar is on Capitol Hill, where locals flock to its distinguished garden-style dining room that's decorated overhead planters and vintage photos of Belgrade bringing the past alive.

    Buck traditional ordering procedure and just follow the waiter's guidance – order the Balkan Experience platter. Providing an unlimited number of small plates, it allows you to explore the range of the menu. From veal soup to tangy stuffed sour cabbage, a dining experience here is a culinary tour through the hearty Balkan cuisine. Eat outside of traditional hours as the restaurant gets quite loud during peak times.

    Location: 2901 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday from 11 am to 11 pm, Saturday from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 11 pm, Sunday from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 703-875-9663

    Map
    6

    Northside Social Coffee & Wine

    Arlington’s hippest gathering place

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Couples

    Northside Social Coffee & Wine is an Arlington institution that plays host to locals imbibing in happy-hour wine and summer sunshine right on Wilson Boulevard. It's a cafe by day, serving up healthy-ish sandwiches and salads, and an energetic wine bar by night.

    Whether you’re catching up with an old friend or going on a first date, Northside Social is a great low-commitment meetup. The outdoor patio is large and simple, with an accompanying bar seating area providing nice shade. The upstairs section turns into the wine bar at night, making it a great place for social drinks and light snacks.

    Location: 3211 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 6 am to 10 pm, Thursday from 6 am to 11 pm, Friday from 6 am to midnight, Saturday from 7 am to midnight, Sunday from 7 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 703-465-0145

    Map
    7

    Metro 29 Diner

    Traditional American fare in a New-York style diner

    • Food
    • Families

    Eating at Metro 29 Diner is an easy-going experience as it's very popular for serving breakfast ‘round the clock. Founded by 2 families bringing years of working experience in New York diners, you can expect quality food, prompt service, and even hugs of hospitality.

    The pancakes and waffles are scratch-made every time and don’t even need syrup (but is recommended). A must-try is its signature French toast, consisting of homemade challah bread topped with eggs and bacon. It also has a robust children's menu, making it a great place to bring a family. Metro 29 Diner is a mere 3 miles west of Clarendon.

    Location: 4711 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207 USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 703-528-2464

    Map
    8

    Mussel Bar & Grille

    Where locals get their mussel-and-beer fix

    • Food

    As the name states, Mussel Bar & Grille specialises in pots of mussels cooked in a variety broths – always accompanied with a hunky loaf of bread. The menu is Belgian-inspired, offering not just mussels but iced seafood platters, wood-fired dishes, and an impressive Belgian beer list.

    The classic white wine mussels soaking in a creamy garlic, parsley, and cream sauce is the go-to dish. For something a little heartier, try the Mediterranean-style with sausage, goat cheese, cilantro and a tomato-based broth. Located in the heart of Ballston, Mussel Bar & Grille’s chic and modern setting feels upscale but the food is unpretentious. Its outdoor patio offers a more relaxed atmosphere on sunny days.

    Location: 800 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22203 USA

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 3 pm to 10 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 703-841-2337

    Map
    9

    Rus Uz

    Traditional Russian-Uzbek fare in a stylish setting

    • Food

    Rus Uz is a Ballston neighbourhood gem, serving up classic Russian and Uzbek dishes alongside an impressive list of house-infused vodkas. Always start a meal here with a savoury meat-in-dough starter such as fluffy pirozhki (Russian savoury buns) or samsa (baked flaky pies) loaded with spiced lamb. The Uzbek section of the menu tends to outshine the Russian, favourites being the manti (Turkish dumplings) with juicy chicken potato filings. However, Russian classics such as beef stroganoff and plov (pilaf) are still must-try items.

    Go with a group of friends and try your hand at Vodka Roulette – 10 blind shots randomly curated from house-made vodkas. We advise against trying this solo. If you are into DIY cooking, the market next door sells many of the specific ingredients needed to recreate their dishes.

    Location: 1000 N Randolph St #3a, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11.30 am to 10 pm, Saturday from noon to 10 pm, Sunday from noon to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 571-312-4086

    Map
    10

    Cava Mezze

    Greek-inspired Sunday brunch joint

    • Food

    Cava Mezze is an uber-popular local Greek chain serving up a fabulous all-you-can-eat brunch every weekend. It takes you on a tour of the Mediterranean via an unlimited supply of small plates. The different types of eggs Benedict are crowd favourites, ranging from lamb patties to brussels sprouts – weird but delicious. Ensure to order some honey-butter biscuits that just melt in your mouth, and do not leave without trying spanakopita (a Greek savoury pastry with spinach and feta cheese filling).

    Situated right in the heart of Clarendon, Cava Mezze is also a great spot for a light dinner before barhopping this bustling neighbourhood. Four fast-casual spinoffs now dot the region, so you are never too far from this Mediterranean eatery.

    Location: 2940 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 4 pm to 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 703-276-9090

    Map
    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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