People Find a Place to Dish in ‘Alexandria’s Curbside Dining’ Facebook Group

Growlers, wine and cocktails are now readily available for pickup at Alexandria restaurants like Lena’s Wood-Fired Grill at Braddock and Mount Vernon Avenue. (Courtesy photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – What does a serious foodie town due in a lockdown? They do takeout and delivery in a big way and diners start giving armchair reviews and promoting their favorites. A new Facebook group called Alexandria Curbside Dining has 1134 members chatting, asking questions, and sharing pictures already, and it was just started a little over two weeks ago.

“I’m learning about restaurants from all over that I have never tried and now can’t wait to try,” says Maria Z. Perez in a recent post.

Many restaurants like Sweet Fire Donna’s at 510 John Carlyle Street pictured here are offering free delivery for minimum orders. (Courtesy photo)

Restaurant owners and staff are also encouraged to join and are telling members what the night’s special is, what’s flying out the door, or if they need help with a Go Fund Me page set up to support out of work staff.

Rebecca Ingram put up this picture with the caption, “Hops N Shine family dinner for the win.” (Courtesy photo)

For example, C. J. Cross, owner of Hops n Shine at 3410 Mount Vernon Avenue, posted, “The family meals are back! We swapped the BBQ and the themed meal day so that we can provide folks with a Sunday Brunch. Friday we’ve got a Whole Smoked Chicken Meal.”

When Governor Northam lifted to-go alcohol restrictions, it also put a little positive bump back into the economy. “That likely means we’ll be able to bring an additional bartender back to work a few days a week! We’ve been giving the majority of the proceeds from these dinners to the staff who have had hours cut, and now they can hopefully get more hours as well,” said Cross.

Specialty cocktails to go are flying into cars with orders too, like Kenneth Petty’s special pineapple concoctions. (Courtesy photo)

The overall mood of the group is positive and posts are enthusiastic endorsements of old favorites revisited and new dishes just tried. But there are occasional boos and hisses and the chatter can provide helpful checks to restaurants, reminders of what’s going right and what’s not so hot.

“Had a perfect beer-battered fish and hand cut chips for lunch from Haute Dogs & Fries!” posted member Chloé Swanson, also posting a mouth-watering photo of the crispy fried treat.

“We’ve ordered contactless delivery from The Rub Chicken and Beer twice now, chicken sandwiches are so good! Order the wimpy if you don’t like spicy chicken because it’s definitely hot. Jalapeño hush puppies are amazing too. Happy quarantine eating to everyone!” said Elizabeth Rodriquez today.

Cara Bloomer’s first post was today, “We had an ahhhmazing lunch from The People’s Drug fabulous food. Super fast and friendly service. It was my first time going there (never had the chance pre-quarantine) but will not be last. really appreciated the fact that all tips are going to their out of work service team members and 50% of gift card sales are too!”

Some restaurants are doing more than just their menu. Some have become pop-up mini grocery centers offering household staples like toilet paper, milk and cleaning supplies.

Milk at Nature’s Nibbles is among grocery items being carried by Nature’s Nibbles and other Alexandria businesses. (Photo: Karen Johnson)

“Shout-out to restaurants offering grocery staples for sale — in Del Ray, Market2Market, Cheesetique, and Junction Bakery & Bistro. Was able to add impossible-to-find yeast and flour to my order from Junction — paid over the phone and picked up from the shelf for an easy, contactless transaction,” posted Maureen Schweers.

And don’t forget the booze. The bar sides of most Alexandria restaurants are open for business too. Hummingbird General Manager and “Bar Ninja” Kenneth Petty, showed off some enticing pictures of his “Tito’s Drunken Pineapple,” which is made for two, and Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Tap showed off their cocktails plus all the growlers they have available for drive by pickups.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson’s front seat recently when picking up dinner around town for his family. (Photo: Justin Wilson)

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson led by example the other night going curbside all the way, when he showed a photo of his front seat laden with three packages and the caption, “Okay, this might be slightly ridiculous, but drinks and appetizers from Captain Gregory’s, pizza from Lost Dog Cafe Alexandria and custard from The Dairy Godmother!

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