One of the great things about running and working out so much is that I get to enjoy all of the great restaurants (in moderation of course!) near me in the Arlington area without worrying about packing on the pounds! I’m by no means a foodie, so fancy or trendy restaurants aren’t my thing, but I do love to eat. There are so many great spots to eat out at here, but given my love for pizza and pub food, it should come as no surprise that my top three spots in Arlington in the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor are RiRa, Fire Works and Ray’s Hell Burger.
RiRa is an irish pub up in Clarendon. It’s part of a chain that tries to bring a bit of Ireland to the states by hiring bartenders and servers from Ireland and serving dishes like Guiness stew and fish and chips. For years my favorite Irish pub in the area was Four Courts, but since they have stopped serving Magners and have taken my favorite food options off the menu, RiRa is now number one.
RiRa has a great appetizer selection. My favorites are the soft pretzles and the spinach dip. If you’re not looking for a full meal, you can get a sampler to share with three full-size apps for under $25. They also serve good burgers and chicken sandwiches, which is about all it takes to please me! I love the setup and atmosphere of RiRa as well – you can catch a game in the eating areas downstairs, come for trivia night or head upstairs where another bar is located for some great people watching, especially on 80s cover band nights!
Fire Works near the Court House metro opened a couple years ago and won me over right away with their wood-fired oven pizzas. I also love their garlic knots and their spinach dip (are you sensing a theme here?) served with delicious pizza bread. I generally go with the plain old cheese and herb pizza, unless the special of the day is their buffalo chicken pizza, which is quite tasty. They have an extensive beer list and a few ciders too, so I usually end up ordering a Crispin or two.
The only downside to Fire Works is their service. I’ve never had anyone be unpleasant, but they are usually understaffed resulting in pretty slow service. The food and atmosphere make up for it though, especially when you can sit out on the patio on a nice summer evening or even on cooler evenings if you’re by the fire.
Ray’s Hell Burger might be the best burger I’ve ever had. If you’re looking for a great burger, then look no further than Ray’s. It’s cash only, so be sure to stop at the ATM first or you might miss out on your best burger ever. The meat is seasoned perfectly – you have several seasoning options to choose from – and cooked to juicy perfection. I always add a side of seven cheese mac and a coke. I’m no expert at restaurant reviews, so head on over to Croutons Stuck in Futons for a review that does Ray’s a bit more justice.
I finally made it to Ray’s: To The Third recently. It’s another one of the restaurants in the Ray’s family and is right across the street from the plaza that houses Ray’s Hellburger. I didn’t think it was fair to add to this list since I’ve only been there once, but it will quickly become one of my favs. It contains all the Ray’s wonderfulness from the steakhouse, Ray’s Hellburger and Ray’s Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy. The steak and cheese sandwich was out of this world, and the inside of the restaurant is a bit nicer than the more cafeteria-style version over at Hell Burger.
The best part about these places: all three are walking distance from my place. Some might argue with me on that when it comes to RiRa and Fireworks, but hey, it can never hurt to work up an appetite on the way there or walk off a delicious meal on the way home!