As Phase 2 of the state’s Forward Virginia plan nears the end of its first week in Alexandria, restaurants are settling into the new rules in different ways. From continuing with the curbside status quo to opening their doors for the first time since the shutdown, establishments are finding their way in the new normal, one meal at a time.
Lost Dog Café, 808 N. Henry St.
The pizza, pasta and sandwich purveyor on Route 1 has opened its doors again this week after months of delivery and takeout. Though Lost Dog has a small patio, it hadn’t opened for tableside dining during Phase 1, opting instead to wait until indoor dining could be offered at 50% capacity. Now, with tables spaced further apart and new precautions in place, Lost Dog has opened once more, offering nightly dining both indoors and out on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fontaine, 119 S. Royal St.
Fontaine, meanwhile, has been offering outdoor dining since Phase 1 began, and the restaurant has now begun offering indoor seating as well with the dawn of Phase 2. The cute outdoor tables simply can’t be beaten, though; by making use of the parallel parking spaces outside the cafe, Fontaine has offered diners a very intimate outdoor setting with plenty of space to go around. The restaurant has reconfigured its indoor seating to allow for more space between tables – and more room to enjoy crepes.
Port City Brewing, 3950 Wheeler Ave.
Alexandria’s longtime brewery has elected to stand pat at the moment, maintaining its bustling curbside and delivery business while not opening the tasting room to patrons just yet. Port City is adamant that it will open back up when the time is right, when the region is more safe from Covid-19, but that time is not now. Meanwhile, the pineapple remains out front for hours each day, welcoming drivers up to the front door for curbside pickup, and the brewery’s delivery service remains quite popular as well.
Del Ray Café, 205 E. Howell Ave.
Parking-lot dining? Forget it – change your attitude and your mindset, and suddenly the asphalt outside the Del Ray Café becomes a stunning seat along the Champs Elysees. The restaurant has had its outdoor dining in effect since the beginning of Phase 1, but with the advent of Phase 2 it has also reopened the indoor space to the requisite 50% capacity. Still, as mild as the weather has been this week, there’s really no better seat in the house than the patio outside the house. Reservations recommended.
Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap, 401 E. Braddock Road
While Lena’s hasn’t opened its indoor dining room yet, it already has a robust outdoor patio for those looking to get a little more distance from others – and fresh air, to boot. But the restaurant has taken things one step beyond this week with the new Lena’s Oasis, a secluded spot atop the restaurant’s parking deck. But don’t let the location fool you – with a tent, white curtains, and plenty of green plants, the spot is truly an oasis, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle while being a bit pampered. It takes “staycation” to a whole new level.
Hope Nelson is the author of “Classic Restaurants of Alexandria” and owns the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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