Top 8 Places to Carb Load Before the Big Race

Does all this sunshine have you walking (or running) with a spring in your step? With the warmer temperatures and longer days, now is the perfect time to prepare for the big race, whether it’s this spring’s George Washington Parkway Classic or training for the fall’s Marine Corps Marathon and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon, or one of many local 5k or 10k’s in between. Of course, Alexandria is home to some extraordinary places to run, but some of the most important training isn’t on your feet, it’s at the table. Keep reading for our list of the top 8 restaurants for carb loading before the big race, with tips from local experts.

1. Hank’s Pasta Bar

Hank's Pasta Bar with White Clam Sauce

Courtesy of Hank’s Pasta Bar Facebook Page

Hank’s Pasta Bar is new to Alexandria, but it’s an instant favorite for their cozy atmosphere and creative recipes from chef Jamie Leeds. With 13 types of fresh handmade pasta daily, you’ve got your choice of carbs and trust me, you can’t go wrong. Hank’s Pasta Bar is now open for dinner and lunch, which means you should run, not walk, to try their menu.

2. Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza + Tap

Lenas woodfire pizza

Courtesy of Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza + Tap

Brooke Curran, local runner and founder of the nonprofit RunningBrooke, says, “I usually eat pizza and drink a beer the night before races,” suggesting Lena’s as the perfect spot to “train”. Their pizza is wood-fired at 900 degrees, and the mushroom pizza with truffle oil is heavenly. For beer, we suggest trying a pint from Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company.

3. Landini Brothers

Brooke Curran also suggests pasta from Landini Brothers on King Street, which has been a local favorite ever since 1976. Their mouth watering menu brings “the essence of Tuscany to Old Town Alexandria” and will not disappoint anyone trying to carb load.

4. Pizzeria Paradiso

Image Credit: Pizzeria Paradiso

Old Town’s Pizzeria Paradiso serves up classic carbs with some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza in the D.C. region, plus an extensive beer list with 14 drafts and 200 bottles.

5. Port City Brewing Company

Port_City_Brewing_Co_CREDIT_Sarah_Hauser_for_VTC_720x480_72_RGBCourtsey of Sarah Hauser for VTC

Alexandria resident and Marketing Director for Back on My Feet, Meg Phillips says, “Port City Brewery is not only one of my favorites, but it’s also a popular meet up for Alexandria runners! I love their Monumental IPA after a run on the Holmes Run Trail. They host Pacers Joggers n’ Lagers on Monday nights that are always well attended.” Since more than one of our local experts suggested having a beer before a big race, we suggest getting in a run and grabbing a pint on Monday nights with Port City Brewing Company, recently named the #1 Best Small Brewery in America. 

6. Eamonn’s a Dublin Chipper

Courtesy of Eamonn’s

Local runner Rob Krupicka of Sugar Shack Donuts says Eamonn’s a Dublin Chipper is his favorite place to carb load before he runs. “The chips are amazing for carb loading, and the fish is always wonderful,” says Krupicka.

7. Sandwiches at Market to Market

For those looking to carb load on the go, Market to Market in Del Ray also comes at the recommendation of Krupicka, who says they have “some of the best sandwiches around and the bread is just fantastic.”

8. Sugar Shack Donuts

Sugar Shack Alexandria VA

Courtesy of NOVA Sugar Shack Facebook Page

For the adventurous runners, Krupicka says, “I have gotten into the habit of eating a donut before every race and think the combination of carb and sugar is a pretty great race fuel. I’ve had a few of my best races with donuts in my belly!” Stop by Sugar Shack Alexandria and try a donut (or two)—it’s training, right? At the very least, reward yourself with a Sugar Shack donut after the race.




For more on restaurants in Alexandria, click here. Or, for more on outdoor recreation and wellness, click here.

Header image by C. Davidson for VTC.

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