Newsletter

A&J Restaurant in Annandale (file photo)

Seven restaurants in Fairfax County are part of this year’s Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list.

The restaurants that earned a coveted spot include:

The highly anticipated list was published by the regional magazine for the first time since 2020. That year, nine local restaurants made the list, including several that reappeared this year: A&J, Elephant Jumps, Mama Chang, and Marib.

A&J Restaurant at 4316 Markham Street is no stranger to these types of accolades. The two-decade-old Annandale dim sum eatery was on the 2020 and 2019 lists as well, and last summer, it won a RAMMY for its brunch.

“We are excited to be included in the 100 Best again. Since we opened in the mid-90s, the Best Bargains issue featured us every year. 2019 marked the first time we were included in the 100 Best,” a restaurant spokesperson told FFXnow via email. “There are many outstanding restaurants in Fairfax County. It is great to see The Washingtonian highlight some hidden gems in the suburbs.”

Korean barbeque restaurant Honest Grill opened in 2021 in the Centreville Square Shopping Center and immediately got the attention of the magazine’s critics.

Restaurant manager Kevin Yoo told FFXnow that Honest Grill’s inclusion is “a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff, and a reflection of the restaurant’s popularity among Washington DC foodies.”

Yoo also noted that the county has a “thriving food scene” that’s attracting a “growing local community of culinary innovators,” as evidenced by the restaurants that made this year’s list.

Aracosia, which opened about three years ago in McLean, serves Afghan cuisine and is owned by a Kabul native. Elephant Jumps on Arlington Blvd near Merrifield is regarded as one of the best Thai restaurants in the region.

The famed French establishment L’Auberge Chez Francois has been in Great Falls for close to 50 years. Springfield’s Marib is perhaps the centerpiece of a booming Yemeni food scene in Northern Virginia, while Mama Chang is one of several very popular area restaurants by former Chinese embassy chef Peter Chang.

Elsewhere, Arlington County placed four restaurants on the 2023 list. Plus, the magazine included a number of restaurants in Alexandria and Falls Church City included as well.

Read more on FFXnow…

The upcoming Wolf Trap season will include a tribute to Studio Ghibli fillms by the National Symphony Orchestra, led by composer Joe Hisaishi (photo by Dan Aulsebrook)

A preview of summer at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has arrived.

More than 50 artists have been scheduled for the upcoming season at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road), the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced today (Tuesday).

“The shows we’re announcing today are quintessentially ‘Wolf Trap,’ with extraordinary artists spanning genres and generations,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Now is the perfect moment to call your friends and family, and make plans to hear your favorite artists live in one of the most beautiful settings in the country. We can’t wait to see you.”

Kicking off on May 25 with The Avett Brothers, a regular presence at the park, the season will be highlighted by pop singer John Legend, guitarist Kenny Loggins’s farewell tour, and a two-night tribute to Studio Ghibli movies, including “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.”

This summer will also feature Wolf Trap first-timer Jason Mraz, a two-day Out & About Festival dedicated to LGBTQ artists on June 24 and 25, and a variety of orchestral, opera and dance performances, including the Richmond Ballet’s debut for “Carmina Burana” on Aug. 30.

In addition to the Studio Ghibli tribute on July 14 and 15, which will be led by composer Joe Hisaishi, the National Symphony Orchestra’s schedule includes screenings of “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi” and “Jurassic Park.” The group will also play Brahms and Tchaikovsky with violinist Hilary Hahn on Aug. 4 and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” alongside NASA footage on July 7.

For musical theater fans, Arlington’s Signature Theater will return on June 16 for its third annual “Broadway in the Park” concert, this time featuring Lea Salonga, the Filipina actor who originated the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon” and provided the singing voices of Disney’s Mulan and Jasmine.

The full schedule of announced shows can be found on Wolf Trap’s website. Tickets will go on sale for the general public at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, though presales began today for members who donate $80 or more to the foundation.

Additional performances, including artists at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, will be announced in the coming months, according to the foundation.

Read more on FFXnow…

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

The 2023 Wolftrap Schedule is out and some shows are already sold out, but otherwise some tickets are going on sale in February.

If you’ve never been, here are some of my tips:

  1. Parking is free, but if you take the Toll Road, you’ll pay a toll (see what I did there)
  2. You can get in up to 90 minutes before the show and lawn seats are first come, first serve. Bring a blanket to sit on! If it has rained in the days leading up to your concert, bring a tarp to set under the blanket so any mud/moisture doesn’t seep through.
  3. Covered seats open up 30 minutes before show time
  4. Bring your own food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are all OK, just no kegs). They also have concession stands to purchase food and beverages.
  5. Remember that the show goes on regardless of rain! So bring your poncho or smaller umbrellas (anything under 6 ft in diameter).
  6. No athletic equipment (think little kids throwing a ball or frisbee) or dogs are allowed (unless they’re service animals!)
  7. No wagons or carts to carry your stuff, coolers on wheels must not exceed 18″ x 16″ x 12″
  8. Each person can bring in up to 2 bags, but that doesn’t include blankets to sit on
  9. If you want back support, bring a little chair. This makes my old back happy!

Kidz Bop is coming in July! We took our kids to this a few years ago and it was a great first show for younger kids.

Have fun!

The preceding sponsored post was also published on FFXnow.com

A proposed redevelopment of the West Falls Church Metro station property (via Fairfax County)

The nearly 24-acre, mixed-use development planned for the West Falls Church Metro station will come with at least a few upgrades to the surrounding transportation network in Idylwood, if it’s approved.

Developers EYA, Rushmark Properties, and Hoffman & Associates — known collectively as FGCP-Metro LLC — have agreed to construct a shared-use trail along the north side of Haycock Road over I-66, according to a draft proffer agreement in Fairfax County’s Jan. 24 staff report on the development plans.

The proposed trail would replace the road’s existing asphalt sidewalk and one of its westbound lanes. It would be at least 10 feet wide — exceeding the 8 feet recommended by a county study of the area’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

A concept plan shows the trail being separated from the road by a 3-foot-wide jersey barrier on the I-66 bridge and a guardrail and buffer strip to the east of the bridge. With the trail, the developers would also add a crosswalk across Turner Avenue, where the trail would begin.

Under the proffers, which are conditions tied to the development, the Haycock Metrorail Connector Trail must open before the county issues a 40th residential-use permit for the townhouses planned on the Metro station site, though the deadline can be deferred if needed to get required approvals and easements.

Other improvements that the developers say they’ll provide include:

  • Falls Church Drive: pedestrian crosswalks, installation of pedestrian-actuated signalization, and modifications to the existing median, including an eastbound left turn lane
  • Haycock and Great Falls Street intersection: an exclusive left-turn lane and a single shared through/right-turn lane in each direction along Haycock
  • A right-turn lane along Grove Avenue at its intersection with Haycock Road
  • An extension of West Falls Station Blvd through the Metro property, with $2 million offered to help pay for the new road’s construction in Falls Church City’s nearby West Falls development
  • On-road bicycle lanes on both sides of West Falls Station Blvd
  • Up to four bus shelters
  • A concrete pad for a future Capital Bikeshare station

The developers have also agreed to conduct a traffic signal timing analysis and contribute $20,000 that the county can use to install traffic signal preemption devices on traffic lights within a 5-mile radius of the development site.

The development’s traffic impacts have been a top concern for many in the community, who argue that the existing infrastructure is insufficient even without the over 1 million square feet of residential, office and retail space that FGCP-Metro hopes to build on the Metro station’s parking lots at 7040 Haycock Road.

Another 820,000 square feet of development has been proposed on Virginia Tech’s adjacent Northern Virginia Center campus.

Metro’s West Falls Church redevelopment will bring up to 810 multifamily units, 90 townhomes, and a 110,000 square feet office building with up to 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

The developers intend to build the project’s eight blocks in four phases. Individual plans have been submitted for the grid of streets, townhouses, the office building and one multifamily building, along with two proposed parks, but the blocks could be completed in any order under the proffer agreement.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust’s office will hold a virtual community meeting on the project at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday). The application is set to go to the Fairfax County Planning Commission for a public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

A cyclist on a trail in Reston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

See Vienna’s Ilia Malinin Win Ice Skating Title — Ilia Malinin, an 18-year-old Marshall High School student, became the U.S. men’s figure skating champion on Sunday (Jan. 29), even after missing the quadruple jumps planned in his free skate program. Known as the “Quad God,” he became the only skater to ever land a clean quad axle in competition last fall. [WTOP]

Flu Activity Still Higher Than Usual — “Among children ages 0-17 years, influenza-like illness (ILI) activity in Fairfax remains higher than usual. While visits to emergency departments and urgent care centers for ILI are lower than they were in the late fall, pediatric flu activity is still above average and respiratory illnesses continue to circulate in the community.” [FCHD]

Man Sentenced in Skyline Overdoses — Michael Vaughn, a 28-year-old man from Dumfries, was sentenced to 30 years in prison yesterday for distributing fentanyl that resulted in six overdoses during a party at the Skyline apartments in Bailey’s Crossroads in 2021. One person died after overdosing on the drug, which was mixed with cocaine. [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Arrest Made in Fairfax City Carjacking — “City of Fairfax Police arrested a 31-year-old Maryland man early Sunday morning for a carjacking that occurred in the parking lot of a local convenience store, according to a release. Officers were called around 2:40 a.m., to the 7-Eleven located at 3910 University Drive for the report of a carjacking in progress.” [Patch]

Residents Skeptical of Possible Rollins Drive Closure — In response to ongoing safety issues, the Virginia Department of Transportation has proposed temporarily closing Rollins Drive at Fort Hunt Road so it can add a pedestrian refuge in a crosswalk. But many attendees at a recent community meeting opposed the project, suggesting other options such as a four-way stop or allowing right turns only onto Fort Hunt. [On the MoVe]

Public Art Projects Planned in Vienna — “A sunrise mural later this year may grace a tan-brick wall at the Vienna Community Center, and three other Vienna Public Art Commission projects also appear to have the Vienna Town Council’s support…If the Council grants its assent, the commission likely could begin painting the wall in September or October.” [Sun Gazette]

County Appoints New Code Compliance Director — “Gabriel M. Zakkak has been appointed director of the Department of Code Compliance (DCC). He succeeds Jack Weyant, who retired this month…The Department of Code Compliance investigates neighborhood quality of life complaints involving most zoning, noise, property maintenance, building, fire, blight and grass.” [Fairfax County]

County Libraries Introduce Learning Tablets for Kids — “Launchpads are now available for checkout at 23 FCPL branches! These are durable, kid-friendly learning tablets with pre-loaded apps, stories, and videos and are designed to give kids the tools to learn the way they learn best.” [FCPL/Twitter]

It’s Tuesday — Light rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 51 and low of 34. Sunrise at 7:17 am and sunset at 5:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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An FCPS employee gets vaccinated against COVID-19 at an Inova clinic in January 2021 (photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools)

Fairfax County is looking for artists to contribute to a COVID-19 memorial.

The project is spearheaded by ArtsFairfax, the county’s official arts agency, after planning started nearly a year ago.

“The selected artist/team will design, fabricate, and install a permanent work of art that will commemorate the suffering of people in the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the heroism of the people who responded to the emergency,” ArtsFairfax said in an email.

The memorial commemorates the approximately 1,743 deaths from Covid in the Fairfax Health District, where there have been approximately 264,451 cases. The district includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

“This scale of disease and its impact to the communities of Fairfax County, as well as the impact to a County workforce that responded to the public health emergency, are worthy of memorialization,” ArtsFairfax said in a release. “The County has identified a location for a significant public artwork that will commemorate the suffering of people in the pandemic as well as the heroism of the people who responded to the emergency.”

The memorial will be located at the center of the plaza at 12055 Government Center Parkway.

The application is open to all artists living and working in the area — meaning anywhere between Richmond and Baltimore, according to the release — and eligible to work in the U.S.

A $200,000 artist fee includes design, materials, fabrication, insurance, travel, packing, shipping, installation and a maintenance plan for the artwork, the release said.

Admission opened on Jan. 23. An online information session is scheduled for Wednesday (Feb. 1) at 3 p.m. The application deadline is April 12.

Read more on FFXnow…

Big Buns Damn Good Burgers is now open in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Big Buns Damn Good Burgers has arrived in McLean.

The regional burger chain opened its newest location at 1336 Chain Bridge Road on Jan. 16, a spokesperson told FFXnow.

“We are so thrilled to bring Big Buns [Damn] Good Burgers to the discerning diners of McLean! This is our 8th location in Virginia, and with McLean’s diverse professional community it’s a perfect fit for our next Big Buns,” said Warren Thompson, president and founder of Thompson Hospitality, which owns the brand.

Also behind the recently opened Milk & Honey Cafe in Fairfax, the restaurant group confirmed in September 2021 that it had subleased space for Big Buns and a Matchbox Pizza from Lidl, which launched its McLean store on June 1.

Combined, the two restaurants occupy 6,200 square feet of space. Initially, they were both expected to be finished in the second quarter of 2022, but durng the pandemic, supply-chain and permitting delays have slowed down retail build-outs across Fairfax County.

Matchbox is currently scheduled for a Feb. 6 opening, but Thompson noted that the date is “subject to change.”

Started by Craig Carey and chef Tom Racosky in 2007, Big Buns opened its first restaurant in Ballston that June and has now expanded to a total of nine locations, including one in Florida. The Fairfax County sites have all arrived within the past two years, starting with Reston and followed by Vienna and Herndon. There is also one in Fairfax City.

In addition to a variety of burgers, the menu features chicken sandwiches, vegetarian bowls, fries, milkshakes and alcoholic drinks, including craft beer and cocktails.

Read more on FFXnow…

Singer Brandi Carlile will headline Wolf Trap National Park’s first-ever Out & About Festival (courtesy of Wolf Trap)

A music festival celebrating LGBTQ artists is coming to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts this summer.

In its first programming announcement for the upcoming season, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts said today (Monday) that it will host a family-friendly, two-day Out & About Festival headlined by folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile.

The festival will take place across three stages on June 24 and 25, coinciding with LGBT Pride Month.

“The Out & About Festival captures the spirit of Wolf Trap — we are a community where music and nature are for all to enjoy,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said in a statement. “Brandi is an inspiration to artists and audiences, both for her unmistakable sound and for standing proudly as an icon of the gay community. We are really grateful for the chance to collaborate with Brandi and all of the guest artists to realize a shared vision.”

Carlile has performed at Wolf Trap regularly over the past decade, starting as an opener for the Indigo Girls in 2008 and most recently during the park’s 50th anniversary season in August 2021.

A total of 11 artists are scheduled to perform at the inaugural festival, including singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, British soul singer Yola, who appeared in the movie “Elvis,” electric indie pop band Lucius, and spoken-word artist Celisse.

Saturday, June 24

  • Brandi Carlile (Filene Center)
  • Yola (Filene Center)
  • Rufus Wainwright (Filene Center)
  • Jake Wesley Rogers (Meadow Stage)
  • Bad Moves (Meadow Stage)
  • Alphabet Rockers (Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods)

Sunday, June 25

  • Brandi Carlile (Filene Center)
  • Lucius (Filene Center)
  • Celisse (Filene Center)
  • Brandy Clark (Meadow Stage)
  • Oh He Dead (Meadow Stage)
  • Jazzy Ash & The Leaping Lizards (Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods)

The festival will mark the first time in decades that Wolf Trap’s three stages — the Filene Center, the Meadow Stage, and Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods — will all be used on the same day, according to the press release.

Each day will open with the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performances, which will start at 10:30 a.m. and require separate $12 tickets.

Gates will open for the main festival at 3 p.m., with Meadow Stage performances running from 4-6 p.m. and Filene Center performances starting at 6:30 p.m.

Festival tickets will range in cost from $75 to $345, with VIP tickets for prime orchestra seats and added amenities going for $498. Tickets will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, though a presale for Wolf Trap members and the VIP ticket sales will start tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10 a.m.

Additional Pride Month activities are expected to be announced in the future.

Read more on FFXnow…

Vienna police SUV (via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

Police from three different jurisdictions are on the lookout for suspects in an armed carjacking reported in Vienna Saturday night (Jan. 28).

An individual told the Town of Vienna Police Department around 10:30 p.m. that their vehicle was rear-ended about half an hour earlier near the intersection of Park Street and Moore Avenue SE, according to a news release published yesterday (Sunday).

The citizen exited their vehicle to make contact with the striking vehicle. The occupants of the striking vehicle exited their vehicle, presented a firearm and demanded the citizen give over control of their vehicle. One suspect entered the victim’s vehicle; the second suspect got back into what was described as a black Dodge Challenger and fled the area. The victim’s cell phone was left in their vehicle, preventing them from calling 911.

No injuries were reported, and the firearms weren’t discharged, according to police.

The Vienna police department says it alerted other jurisdictions to the stolen vehicle, which was ultimately found abandoned in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department provided assistance in locating the vehicle.

VPD’s criminal investigations section is now working with D.C. and Baltimore police to try to identify the suspects.

“Vienna Police Department asks for the public’s assistance to locate any eyewitnesses or video of the incident,” the department said. “Please call 703-255-6366 and ask for MPO Juan Vazquez to provide information.”

Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook

Read more on FFXnow…

Morning Notes

Vehicles turn off Route 123 into Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Vienna’s Ilia Malinin Impresses at U.S. Skating Championships — “Even before his leading score of 110.36 was announced, the fans in the arena knew they were seeing something special on the opening day of the men’s competition. They stood almost as one and roared for the 18-year-old from Vienna, who has named his Instagram account ‘Quadg0d’ and has quickly announced himself as America’s next great male skater.” [The Washington Post]

Fairfax County Firefighter Gets Support in Cancer Fight — “Fire engines, a ladder truck and ambulances from Fredericksburg to Fairfax County, along with about 50 of the people who operate them, gathered outside Stafford Hospital last week to support one of their own as he headed inside for cancer surgery. Tyler Pennington, 30, is among a growing number of firefighters diagnosed with occupational cancer — the leading cause of death in the field, according to the International Association of Firefighters union.” [The Free Lance-Star]

Impact of Delayed Honors on College Prospects Minimal — “The matter at the core of this drama — a delay in delivery of letters of commendation for standardized test scores at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and elsewhere in Northern Virginia — in all likelihood will have zero effect on the college admission prospects of any high school student or access to financial aid, according to experts in the field.” [The Washington Post]

Emergency SNAP Benefits Near End — “The extra food assistance benefits put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic will end nationwide in February, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service…The emergency allotments have already ended in 17 states…For the remaining 32 states, [including Virginia,] plus Washington, D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the extra funding will end with the March benefit.” [Axios]

Dental Practice Coming to Belvoir Square Apartments — “Property management company KLNB recently signed Gentle Dental Care to a 2,132-square-foot space adjacent to Juleps Nails & Spa. A representative from Belvoir Square’s leasing office said interior construction is getting underway, and they anticipate the dental practice will be open by fall.” [On the MoVe]

The Water Mine Now Hiring for Summer — “The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole offers a wide range of opportunities to earn some cash this summer! Although the pool season is a few months away, FCPA has started its search for the more than 200 team members it takes to run the popular splash park in Reston, Virginia.” [FCPA]

Tysons Startup Seen as One to Watch — “RegScale spun out of D.C.’s C2 Labs Inc. in 2021 and raised $1.5 million in its first year. The young company continues to raise funding as cybersecurity becomes a prominent focus for companies, no matter the industry.” [DC Inno]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 56 and low of 41. Sunrise at 7:17 am and sunset at 5:28 pm. [Weather.gov]

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