After four wonderful years in the Northern Virginia/DC area, we have moved on to our next home in Los Angeles, California! I will be sharing our favorite places in the area in a set of three blog posts along with a recipe today for a Nutella Latte. In case you missed it, here is my post for Woodbridge, Virginia.
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The Corner Q:
We didn’t spend much time in Lorton, but did come across The Corner Q, a wonderful Filipino and Puerto Rican Restaurant just off the exit on I-95. The kids especially loved the Pinoy Spaghetti.
Eleni’s Greek Taverna:
I took my mom to Eleni’s Greek Taverna once while she was in town visiting.
I first fell for Taco Bamba at their Falls Church location (see below) and was so excited when another one opened near Chad’s work. This was the perfect spot for him to bring home dinner on especially rough days.
Rawr Sushi was another great spot for take-out.
Jones Point Park:
Located along the Potomac River directly under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is Jones Point Park. Here you will find sweeping views of National Harbor across the river, two playgrounds, trails, the last remaining riverine lighthouse in Virginia (built in 1855), a canoe launch, basketball courts, and two fishing piers.
Our first restaurant in Alexandria was Balkan Grill.
Kumo Asian Bistro:
Kumo Asian Bistro was our last date night before Claire was born.
Cheesetique now has a few locations in Northern Virginia. Along with being a great stop for finding a variety of cheese, they also have some wonderful food (all cheese-related of course).
La Mexicana Bakery & Taqueria:
All the food we tried at La Mexicana Bakery & Taqueria was wonderful, especially those Pupusas.
Grounded Coffee Shop:
Grounded Coffee Shop was our go-to stop before or after visiting one of our favorite playgrounds: Chessie’s Big Backyard. Claire was particularly fond of the little play area with a train table.
Old Town Alexandria:
You can find my post on Old Town Alexandria here, but I have tried a few more places in the area since then:
The first time we tried SnoCream, they were still located in the refurbished bus parked behind the Kmart in Annandale. It was such a fun spot. They have since outgrown the bus and moved indoors.
One day, we went back to Annandale in search of the SnoCream bus. What we discovered was a sign saying it was closed and the shop had been relocated into the building next to the Kmart as a part of The Block. The Block soon became one of our favorite food halls. It is on the smaller side, but had something for each of us. I always went to Balo Kitchen, a stall with Asian comfort food, since they were consistently coming up with new dishes and specials. Chad gravitated towards Pokeworks. We still ordered from SnoCream from time to time, but also enjoyed their neighbor, Munch.
Lil Thingamajigs Gift Shop:
Lil Thingamajigs Gift Shop was such a fun find. This little store is packed with Japanese and Korean stationary, toys, bento supplies, hair accessories, and more items that are often difficult to find on the east coast.
Kogiya Korean BBQ:
A friend of mine introduced me to Kogiya Korean BBQ.
Breeze Bakery was one of our favorites in the area for pastries.
Nak Won Restaurant:
We went to Nak Won Restaurant once with the wait for Kogiya was out the door. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
Ocha Tea was actually one of our final stops before our move to California. The kids were huge fans of the board games available.
Eden Center is a shopping center in Falls Church with a variety of Vietnamese-American restaurants, bakeries, and stores.
When visiting Eden Center, we stopped by Huong Viet for lunch. As a note, this restaurant is cash only.
Phuoc Loc Bakery & Deli
Before heading home, I picked up a few egg tarts from Phuoc Loc Bakery & Deli. They are known for their bánh mì, Vietnamese pastries, and bubble drinks.
I first heard about Taco Bamba after watching Chef Victor Albisu’s demo during MetroCookind DC in 2014. We made a point to stop by pretty much every time we were in the area (until the location in Springfield opened).
Padaek features two menus- one with Lao cuisine and the other with Thai. Everything we tried was incredible. I really want to make the Khao Piak Sen sometime soon.
Magnolia Dessert Bar & Coffee:
After trying Spot Dessert Bar while in New York City, I started searching for something similar near our home and came across Magnolia Dessert Bar & Coffee. The Roti Milo was my favorite (a waffled flatbread with condensed milk, Milo powder, crumble, and chocolate ice cream. As a note, parking can be tight, especially during peak hours. We got lucky with a last spot when visiting.
Eerkin’s Uyghur Cuisine:
I knew very little about Uyghur cooking until I came across Eerkin’s Uyghur Cuisine in Fairfax, Virginia. Such a wonderful cuisine and I can’t wait to try more.
Great Falls Park:
We took a short day trip to Great Falls Park near McLean, Virginia last autumn to see the beautiful waterfalls on the Potomac River. Check the website before visiting to keep up to date on trail closures and other information (there was a ton of rain this summer). On peak days, the park may also fill up early.
Gravelly Point Park:
Gravelly Point Park is the place to go for little ones who love to watch planes take off. The park is situated along George Washington Parkway just north of Reagan National Airport’s runway.
RusUz, located near to the Ballston metro stop in Arlington, features Russian and Uzbek cuisine. After your meal, stop by the Russian market next door for household items, ingredients, frozen items (including dumplings), and desserts.
Sugar Shack Donuts:
Of all the doughnut shops we tried in the area, Sugar Shack was one of my favorites. There are locations throughout Virginia.
Chill Zone is a Vietnamese-based coffee shop in Arlington. Claire loved the large stuffed bear in the raised seating area.
Pupatella had some of the best pizza we tried in the DC area.
Sophie’s Dough features a variety of treats made from eggless cookie dough. You can get everything from small scoops of flavored cookie dough to dough-filled cannoli, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches. Their booth can be found on the second floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
Clarendon is home to Evan’s favorite playground: Rocky Run Park, so we visited the area often.
I believe Ambar is up there in one of my top ten meals from the DC region. I love the assortment of traditional Balkan dishes. Unfortunately, we never made it to the DC location.
Bakeshop in Clarendon was one of my favorite stops for macarons.
Kabob Bazaar is home to traditional Persian cuisine.
We first went to the NiceCream location in Old Town Alexandria, but also came across their other shop while in Clarendon. When we got the sampler (photo below), the kids thought it was so fun to see so many mixers at once.
Bar Bao was a fun date night spot for cocktails and bao buns. The bulgogi fries were a favorite and Chad raved about the bok choy.
Jireh Bakery Cafe:
We always tried to stop by Jireh Bakery Cafe while on the way to Dulles or the Lego convention in Chantilly. They have such adorable Korean pastries.
Ciao Osteria is a great Italian restaurant for the family. I loved the added touch of bringing out dough for the kids to play with while waiting for our meal.
Evan’s favorite sweet treat is the doughnut. I think we tried most of the ones available in the DC area over our four years there. He happened to be out of school on his birthday this year, so we drove to Texas Donuts for a special birthday treat. The doughnut he picked out was definitely Texas-sized.
Evan wanted to find “ice cream on a waffle” after trying it during our trip to Philadelphia and Iron Ice was one of the few places that came up during my search in the Virginia area. Claire loves all things strawberry and Evan wanted chocolate so they were quite happy with their creations (the sizes were definitely large enough for splitting).
We went to Cox Farms during the fall for Evan’s (and lastly Claire’s) preschool field trip. So many fun activities and play areas to explore!
Thai Basil Restaurant:
Frying Pan Farm Park:
Frying Pan Farm Park was another fun place for the family. There are hayrides, a playground, carousel, plenty of animals to interact with, festivals, and more.
There are so many other amazing places in Northern Virginia that I simply forgot to include, didn’t photograph, or never got the chance to visit. I can’t wait to go back (hopefully sometime soon) to visit friends, family, and reconnect with the area.
After trying the Nutella Latte at Killer E.S.P., I wanted to make my own at home. I have been attempting different types of latte art with incredibly varying levels of success and finally found one that I can do consistently!
As long as you have the right tools, this Nutella Latte comes together quickly and easily. Place a tablespoon or so of Nutella into the bottom of a wide mug large enough to hold roughly a cup of liquid. Pour in a double shot of hot espresso and stir until smooth.
To steam the milk for the latte, I heated it (on the stove or in microwave) and transferred to a frothing pitcher. I used this milk frothing wand to briefly froth the milk before slowly pouring into the espresso. I then swirled chocolate syrup around the top and pulled a toothpick in and out to create the pattern featured in the photos.
My original plan was to share step-by-step photos of this latte and making the decoration on top, but I still cannot find my tripod. We are only down to a handful of boxes left, so I am starting to worry that it may have gotten lost in the move. Since I couldn’t take the step-by-step photos, here is a video I found on Youtube with a tutorial for the same topping I made.
Nutella Latte Recipe
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
- 1/4 cup hot espresso
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
- 3/4 cup milk steamed
- Chocolate sauce for decorating the top
- Place the nutella in the bottom of a wide mug. Pour in the hot espresso and stir to melt and combine with the nutella.
- While holding the mug slightly to the side at a 45˚ angle, slowly pour the steamed milk in the center to fill the mug and add a thin layer of the foam to the top.
- Decorate the top with chocolate syrup as desired and serve immediately.