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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Eleni’s Greek Taverna:
I took my mom to Eleni’s Greek Taverna once while she was in town visiting. Featured below is their Salad, Cheese Saganaki, Greek Tour, and Makaronatha with Sausage.
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. Their Lahmacun was especially amazing.
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.
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.
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. Below is their Blini, Manti, Plov, Meringue Cake, and Chak Chak.
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.
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 (inspired location now closed), 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.
I now have an espresso machine to froth the milk. Without one, steam the milk by heating it (on the stove or in the microwave), transfer to a frothing pitcher, and use a handheld milk frother to create the right consistency. If using a non-dairy milk, it won’t steam as well without a professional espresso machine. I then swirled chocolate syrup around the top and pulled a toothpick in and out to create the pattern featured in the photos.
Without a handheld frother, cold milk (nonfat to 2% is best for stable foam, but won’t be as rich) can be shaken in a tightly sealed jar (no more than a third filled), then microwaved to set the foam or heated and frothed in a French press (pump for about 10 seconds, be careful not to overfill) or whisked vigorously while hot.
My original plan was to share step-by-step photos of this Nutella 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.
Looking for more recipes with Nutella?
Nutella Latte Recipe
Adapted from How Sweet Eats
- 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) hot espresso or strongly brewed coffee
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
- 3/4 cup (177 milliliters) milk dairy or non-dairy, 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.