Hungry? If not, you will be later (like the jingle says, “Ya gotta eat”). Good thing we’ve taken all the guesswork out of scoring a great meal—make that, 35 meals—just about anytime.
Round the Clock Deliciousness
By Warren Rojas
Hungry? ¶ If not, you will be later (like the jingle says, “Ya gotta eat”). ¶ Good thing we’ve taken all the guesswork out of scoring a great meal—make that, 35 meals—just about anytime. ¶ Whether the mood strikes as soon as you roll out of bed (Nutella-swabbed paninis? Chicken-fried steak?) or you become ravenous around the witching hour ($1 oysters? Pot roast tacos?), we’ve got you covered.
[SUNDAY: BELLY BUSTER]
Mike’s Deli @ Lazy Sundae
For what others drop on cutesy java ($5-$7), you can feast on deli greatness. The Belly Buster summons sausage, ham, bacon, eggs and cheese folded into a cushiony roll. The Brooklyn Bridge piles pastrami, corned beef, Muenster, provolone and sauerkraut into a construct of Big Apple proportions. The Gainesville Green serves as a handheld salad (cukes, avocado, sprouts and Swiss on multigrain). 112 N. West St., Falls Church; 703-532-5299; www.mikesdeliatlazysundae.com. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
[THURSDAY: CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK]
While eating light is certainly an option (homemade granola, oatmeal gratin), Jackson 20 can go as hearty as you can handle. Exhibit A: chicken-fried steak (bronzed flour bubbles up around the meat) flanked by hash browns, eggs and sausage gravy. Exhibit B: bacon (peppery), eggs (flirty richness) and fried green tomatoes (provide pungency) layered on buttered brioche (fat-soaked gift wrapping). 480 King St., Alexandria; 703-842-2790; www.jackson20.com. Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday.
[FRIDAY: SWEET PANINIS]
Why fight sweet vs. savory urges when you can indulge both? At least that seems to be the tact Mello Out co-founder Lisa Patterson applied whilst divining her Adam’s Apple panini—compressing bacon (salty), peanut butter (chewy), apple (crunchy) and honey (sweet) between brioche. Or choose sides with a Mello Nutter (basically a breakfast S’more; Patterson’s homemade vanilla Marshmellos are the default, but her puffy peppermint creations are always an option) or croque monsieur (ham + Swiss + heat = bliss). 2 E. Federal St., Middleburg; 540-687-8635; www.melloout.com. Average entree: Under 12 ($). Open for breakfast and lunch daily.
[SUNDAY: PORK BELLY HASH]
Seasons, schmeasons. Chef Miles Vaden would be wise to make his uber-comforting chicken and dumplings a year-round repast. Shredded chicken, buttermilk dumplings (melt-in-your-mouths orbs of gravy-laden dough) and smoked cherry tomatoes (superb) swim in a dreamy sage-and-brown butter broth. Spice junkies are given their due in a corned pork belly and potato hash bolstered by diced poblanos and Tabasco-spiked hollandaise. 3165 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-3165; www.eventiderestaurant.com. Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for dinner and late-night dining daily, brunch Sunday.
OVERCOMING THE MUNDAY
[BREAKFAST: MONTGOMERY DONUTS]
Slice n Dice
Start the week with an historic (six decades and counting) and affordable (just $0.99) treat: a genuine Montgomery Donut. Founder Benson Fischer fields nearly two dozen varieties of homemade donuts—ranging from pull-apart fluffy to cut-with-a-fork cakey—daily, including: traditional glazed (the top seller), chocolate (customer favorite), strawberry (hot pink stunner), chocolate-vanilla-blueberry (impressive heft, tart finish) and maple glazed (shellacked in syrup; Fischer’s favorite). 2175 Crystal Plaza Arcade, Arlington; 703-418-4444; www.slicendice.net. Average entree: Under 12 ($). Open for breakfast, lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner Monday through Friday.
[DINNER: BBQ BEEF RIB]
Though not the best-selling bones on Great American Restaurant’s roster—that’d be the baby backs—Artie’s beef ribs (available Mondays and Tuesdays) are second to none in my book. Each rib is slathered in brazen mustard sauce (kudos, Bill Jackson), while the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Mac ‘n’ cheese lavished with cheddar, havarti, Monterey jack and parmesan makes the meal unforgettable. 3260 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax; 703-273-7600; www.greatamericanrestaurants.com/Arties. Average entree: $13 to $20 ($$). Open for lunch, Monday through Friday, dinner daily, late-night dining, Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Saturday and Sunday.
[HAPPY HOUR: PULLED PORK SANDWICH]
Cynics claim you don’t buy beer, you rent it. Monday nights (5-7 p.m.) at Rocklands you get a much more tangible—and quite tasty—return on your investment: free barbecue. Every beer purchased—prices range from $2.50 per Miller Lite draft to $6 for a tallboy of Strongbow cider—scores a gratis, pulled pork sandwich (hickory-smoked and vinegar-laced bliss). 3471 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-528-9663; www.rocklands.com. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open for lunch and dinner daily.
[SATURDAY: HANGOVER SOUP]
Gom Tang E
Consuming another creature’s lifeblood (literally) triggered some immediate introspection. And I can honestly say I’ve never felt more clear-headed, or inherently alive, than after my last slurp of “hangover soup”—an invigorating brew populated by massive, pock-marked blocks of coagulated cow’s blood (livery essence), pickled cabbage, sprouts and hot peppers. Now that I’ve tasted blood, I most assuredly want more. 13840-E Braddock Road, Centreville; 703-830-1131. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open 24 hours.
This Hong Kong-style kitchen dishes hardcore delicacies (bitter melon, duck feet, bullfrog) morning to night. But only early birds (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) can enjoy shrimp-and-dough fritters—flaky loaves layered with steamed shrimp, wrapped in wiggly rice noodles and served with ginger-soy sauce (adding crushed red pepper balances out the sweet, introduces a welcome heating element to the dish). 6124 Arlington Blvd, Falls Church; 703-536-1630. Average entree: $13 to $20 ($$). Open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily.
[SATURDAY: ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP]
Pane e Vino
Weekends are all about letting your problems melt away. Saving a buck doesn’t hurt none either. Pane e Vino fulfills both goals via their $9.99 lunch deal. Italian wedding soup washes away worries with each slurp of savory stock (crowded with meatballs, potatoes, cabbage and tomatoes). Pancetta, garlic and onions come together in a spicy ragout spooned over chubby rigatoni. 9020-E Lorton Station Blvd., Lorton; 571-642-0605; www.paneevino-ristorante.com. Average entree: $13 to $20 ($$).Open for breakfast Saturday, lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily, brunch Sunday.
[THURSDAY: KABOBS BUFFET]
Crowds don’t tend to form until the sky darkens and the bespangled hips of the evening’s entertainment begin to writhe and wiggle. But lunch-goers are rewarded with non-stop servings of freshly grilled meats—succulent steak, saffron-y chicken and spiced lamb—jasmine rice and salad for $10.99. Don’t miss the dynamite hot sauce (forged from ground chilies, vinegar and lime juice). 3975 Metrotech Drive, Chantilly; 703-378-6677; www.alflaylah.com. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner and late-night dining daily.
[TUESDAY: SQUARE PLATE SPECIAL]
Once solely the provenance of savvy barflies, Tuskie’s recently expanded its “square plate special”—a rotating arrangement of meats and starches served for $6.95—to all guests. SPS offerings include: pork schnitzel with lemon caper sauce, linguine with clams, shaved roast beef in a mushroom-pepper-brandy reduction (quite satisfying), eggplant parmesan, grilled Moroccan chicken and shrimp pesto over angel hair pasta. 203 Harrison St. S.E., Leesburg; 703-771-9300; www.tuskies.com. Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sunday.
The munificent Lickety Split combo—$13.50 for any lounge menu duo—lures in all kinds, from the local who’s lunched there daily since 2006 to the business exec who doubled up on birthday cake (“It was cute,” Eve co-founder Meshelle Armstrong says). Pounce on anything confit—chicken, duck and partridge pop up regularly—or rashers (toothsome slabs of Irish bacon). 110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-706-0450; www.restauranteve.com. Average entree: Over $31 ($$$$). Open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday.
[WEDNESDAY: ITALIAN COMBO]
Windy City Red Hots
You can’t get a bag checked to O’Hare for less than $8. But you can rip into the overlapping layers of sumptuous roast beef, fennel-packed pork sausage and molten provolone—scorching giardiniera mix optional—that is Windy City’s mammoth Italian combo. Intimidated? Warm up with a traditional dog (plain/chili/cheese/combo), polish sausage or shaved beef, courtesy of Chi-town’s Vienna Beef. 19413 Smith Circle, Ashburn; 703-505-6934; www.windycityredhots.com. Average entree: Under 12 ($). Open for lunch daily.
[TUESDAY: BREAKFAST TACOS]
The roving taco flingers have tapped into Arlingtonians’ lust for Latin flavor, serving up bulging Yucatan-style breakfast fare ($3, $5 or $7 for one, two or three tacos, respectively). Foundations include flour or corn tortillas—always go corn—brimming with sensory-rattling fillings (savory chorizo, soupy pintos, zesty pico, charred bacon, fluffy eggs). Next stop: conquering D.C. (track them on Twitter—twitter.com/DistrictTaco). Arlington; www.districttaco.com. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open for breakfast, lunch Monday through Friday.
[SATURDAY: STUFFED BURGER]
Nothing says weekend like a mouthwatering burger. And while most restaurants reach sky-high with their toppings, Wildfire has chosen to look within. They’ve co-opted the Juicy Lucy concept with a dozen-plus stuffed burger specials, including: French onion (streams of Asiago and Swiss gurgle out), baked potato (plied with cheddar, bacon and sour cream) and Southwestern (jalapeno Jack, pico de gallo, guacamole). 1714-U International Drive, McLean; 703-442-9110; www.wildfirerestaurant.com. Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for lunch and dinner daily.
Although owner Anthony Richards insists native Jamaicans prefer their pigs breathe fire—his private stash of pickled scotch bonnet peppers is hot as Hades—the man jerks pork for US. The slow-cooked swine is slathered in a blackstrap molasses-like glaze that smacks of black pepper, cinnamon, onion and garlic, its blackened skin cooked to a crunchtacular conclusion. Fair warning: It goes fast. 4008-A University Drive, Fairfax; 703-246-9040. Average entree: Under $12 ($). Open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
[TUESDAY: STEAK NIGHT]
Iron Bridge Wine Company
Does it get any better than rotating “meat on a bone” selections (steak, game, chops) for $20.10? 29 Main St., Warrenton; 540-349-9339; www.ironbridgewine.com. Average entree: $13 to $20 ($$). Open for lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily.
[BREAKFAST: PORK BELLY HASH]
Southern favorites + gourmet accents + festive cocktails = perfect recipe for a deliciously LOOOONG brunch. 3165 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-276-3165; www.eventiderestaurant.com. Average entree: $21 to $30 ($$$). Open for dinner and late-night dining daily, brunch Sunday.