With an evolving dining scene featuring more than 20 new restaurants in the last year, Alexandria’s creative comfort food scene has grown to include newcomers like Mia’s Italian Kitchen in Old Town and Smoking Kow BBQ in the West End. For those craving a comforting fix, we’ve rounded up new and recent additions along with more established favorites. Just be warned: this post may cause extreme hunger.

Not-Your-Average Pasta Places

Mia’s Italian Kitchen

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Opened in 2018 at 100 King Street, Mia’s Italian Kitchen from Alexandria Restaurant Partners features brick oven pizza, house-made pastas and other family recipe-inspired Italian specialties, plus some surprising twists on classic recipes. Mia’s serves up a creative brunch menu, including breakfast spaghetti with kale, bacon, scrambled egg, cheese and breadcrumbs. They also have a brunch pizza that’s basically a breakfast sandwich pizza, topped with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and cheese. Mia’s also serves up all your favorite brunch and Italian favorites, with a wide selection of small plates, salads, entrees, cocktails and more.

Yunnan by Potomac Noodle House

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Dr. Zongmin Li brings the “soul food” of her childhood in China’s Yunnan Province all the way to North Old Town. To develop Yunnan by Potomac’s menu, the owner/general manager and her team traveled to southwest China to sample mixian rice noodles and glean secrets from local chefs. The silky, non-glutinous mixian noodles form the perfect base for braised beef, shiitake mushrooms and more comforting combos.

Donuts and Cocktails

Sugar Shack & Captain Gregory’s

Image Credit: Captain Gregory’s

Sugar Shack Donuts takes creative comfort food to another level with some of their flavor combinations including a maple glazed donut topped with bacon and seasonal, short-term menu items like the Butterbeer donut inspired by the Harry Potter movies. Captain Gregory’s, the speakeasy hidden behind a sliding wooden wall inside Sugar Shack, keeps the comfort food coming with a seasonally rotating menu that includes creative cocktails and elevated comfort food like pork belly with squash, maple, mustard seeds and sprouts.

Barbecue with a Twist

Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Opened in 2017, Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbecue in Old Town is one of the hottest BBQ joints in the region, receiving high praise from The Washington Post, Zagat and Washingtonian among others, including national attention from USA Today. The restaurant comes from world BBQ champion and celebrity pitmaster Myron Mixon. His award-winning barbeque, made with his competition rubs and sauces on barbecue classics, is served in a lively atmosphere. The menu has everything a BBQ-lover needs, from sandwich and plate combinations to ribs and chicken, endless sides and appetizers and special family offerings. Look to the snacks and sides for some of Myron’s most creative offerings, like BBQ deviled eggs, the baby back mac n’ cheese and the loaded baked potato salad.

Smoking Kow BBQ

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

The newest addition to Alexandria’s barbecue scene, Smoking Kow BBQ in Alexandria’s West End, will become your go-to for creative BBQ and was already named one of the top 13 barbecue places in the D.C. region by The Washington Post. Owner Dylan Kough (last name pronounced “Kow”) has expanded his popular food truck business to include this new brick-and-mortar location opened in 2018. Smoking Kow serves up American barbecue tacos, platters and sandwiches, and the mac ‘n meat, with Dylan’s signature meats served over mac ‘n cheese. Don’t skimp on the sides, including cheesy jalapeño grits and classics like homemade barbecue beans.

Eggrolls with Multiple Personalities 

Meggrolls

Image Credit: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Named Virginia’s top food truck by Southern Living in 2016 for its quirky and imaginative eggroll flavors, Meggrolls added a brick-and-mortar location to its successful food truck and catering business in 2017. Created by native Alexandrian Meghan Baroody, these “eggrolls with multiple personalities” are an innovative way to enjoy favorite dishes such as chicken parm, Buffalo wing, four cheese mac and chorizo pablano. The Big Megg will satisfy a Big Mac craving, while the breakfast Meggroll tantalizes with fried egg, bacon, French toast, Béchamel sauce and maple syrup. Each Meggroll is handmade, cooked to the perfection, sliced in half and served as a hot open-faced sandwich with an amazing crunch.

Southern-Inspired

Magnolia’s On King 

Image Credit: Jessica van Dop DeJesus

Magnolia’s On King opened in 2015 and has garnered attention as an OpenTable Diners’ Choice winner and as a local favorite. It’s the perfect spot to meet friends for Sunday brunch and Southern immersion cuisine, featuring dishes like the Southern benedict with country ham, pimento cheese, fried green tomato and poached eggs with hollandaise, or the chicken biscuits n’ gravy with homemade buttermilk biscuits, crispy fried chicken, sausage gravy and a fried egg. Treat yourself with the bread pudding for dessert, with cinnamon brioche, vanilla custard and spiced rum sauce.

Live Oak

Image Credit: Live Oak Facebook page

Nestled in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, Live Oak comes from chef Justus Frank, former executive chef at Fiola in D.C., along with local restaurateur Jeremy Barber. The restaurant serves up distinctive Charleston, S.C.-inspired Southern cuisine with dishes like vegetarian gumbo with roasted zucchini, okra, red peppers, Carolina gold rice and mushroom sausage, and the grilled cheese and FGT sandwich on sourdough with avocado, pea pesto, pimento and potato salad. Don’t miss Live Oak’s take on the Buffalo Berkshire pork cheeks with Clemson blue cheese, house hot sauce, shaved celery and pickled carrots–named one of the “5 dished to try now” by Washingtonian.

9. Hen Quarter

Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Hen Quarter is located in the heart of King Street and offers a menu packed with classic comfort food including waffles, fried chicken, seafood and more. The restaurant offers creative dishes like chicken & waffles with fried chicken topped on a savory cheddar, corn and scallion waffle with watermelon, honey pearl butter and Tennessee bourbon maple syrup—a must-try if you’re looking for a warm meal to hit the spot. They also have blue crab hushpuppies with Cajun remoulade and classic Southern sides like collard greens, skillet mac and succotash.

10. Stomping Ground

Image Credit: B. Hunter for Stomping Ground

Chef/Owner Nicole Jones brings a taste of her former home of Georgia to Del Ray’s Stomping Ground, a combination neighborhood café and biscuit joint. For breakfast, you can try their fried chicken biscuit sandwich “classic” style with pimento cheese and house pickles or the “not-so-classic” style with honey, hot sauce, benne tahini, Za’taar and red onion. The banh mi biscuit sandwich with pork tenderloin, pickled carrots, pickled jalapeño, radish, sriracha aioli and cilantro is a must-have for lunch.

Inventive Classic Comforts

11. Junction Bakery & Bistro

Image Credit: C. Davidson for Visit Alexandria

Junction Bakery & Bistro established itself as the go-to spot for fresh bakery items handcrafted in-house when it opened in 2016 in the Del Ray neighborhood. Junction was named in homage to the Potomac Yard railway system and its workers who called Del Ray home. Serving breakfast and lunch along with their breads and pastries, Junction comes from Noe Landini (behind Landini Brothers, Fish Market and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream) and executive pastry chef Jonni Scott, and won’t disappoint. It will take more than one trip to try all their creative comfort food, including the breakfast kimchi with roasted pork shoulder, house made kimchi, a fried egg and cilantro-lime mayo on a brioche roll, or the General Tso’s cauliflower batter dipped in General Tso’s sauce, plus sandwiches, salads and breakfast toasts.

12. Cheesetique

Mac_n_Cheesetique_478x720_72_RGBImage Credit: Cheesetique

Cheesetique‘s mac n’ cheesetique was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best Mac N Cheese in the U.S.” for its delectable combination of warm, gooey goat gouda, asiago and cacao de roma, topped with truffle-infused bread crumbs. It’s the ultimate dish to fulfill your comfort food craving and goes perfectly with a glass of wine. Cheesetique has everything from grown-up grilled cheeses to hearty sandwiches like the ‘tique cheeseteak, a refined take on a classic cheesesteak with tender slices of marinated flank steak, creamy cheese and punchy garlic aioli. Starters like the spinachoke dip with artichokes, spinach, crème fraiche and parmesan with hot tortilla chips are perfect for sharing with a group.

13. Haute Dogs & Fries

Banh_Mi_CREDIT_Haute_Dogs___Fries_720x540_72_RGBImage Credit: Haute Dogs & Fries

Haute Dogs & Fries is continually ranked among the top restaurants for “cheap eats” in the DC region, serving hot dogs and other American classics in style. The dogs are served on toasted, buttered New England-style buns and include choices like the banh mi dog with sriracha mayo, carrots, cucumber jalapeños and cilantro, or the bombshell AKA the Monroe with sautéed onions, mango-pineapple relish and jalapeños. Haute Dogs’ menu also features veggie dogs, fries and milkshakes and are a fan-favorite at Nationals Park for baseball games.

To browse restaurants in Alexandria, click here.

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