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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

One of my favorite local restaurant groups was started in 2007 by Mark and Stephen Fedorchak, along with Brian Normile, in Arlington. They own Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, and Northside Social in Arlington.

They’ve also expanded to the city of Falls Church to include Liberty BBQ and the new Northside Social (affectionally referred to as NOSO).

The new NOSO is located on a side street in Falls Church with tons of outdoor seating and 2-levels of seating indoors. It’s great for a cup of coffee and pastry, or their full blown breakfast, lunch and dinner menu.

My favorites include the cookies, pop tars, egg sandwiches (salmon and egg!), quiches, grilled cheese (with bacon), charcuterie plates, brussels sprouts and French fries. The food is really, really good, and it helps the staff is friendly and eager to help. In addition, the owners are really nice guys that makes you want to support them.

The have special events like half price wine nights on Monday, date night on Sunday nights (salad & pizza for 2 & a bottle of wine for $45), brunch is every weekend 10 a.m.-3 p.m., but the second Sunday of every month is jazz brunch with live music singer Vanessa Ralls (11a.m.-1 p.m.). They often have dinner with a winemaker night (4 course meals with wine pairings), beer dinners and seasonal events.

I personally hope to see them continue growing both because their food is good, the atmosphere of their restaurants is fun and I love to see a good local business owner succeeding. Well done guys!

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Morning Notes

Valentine’s Day Options in McLean and Tysons — “With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you don’t want to be stuck trying to find a last-minute dinner reservation… We’ve got a few suggestions for restaurants around McLean and Tysons, including those offering special dining options on OpenTable.” [Patch]

Inca Social Officially Open in Merrifield — “Inca Social just brought Merrifield a colorful new getaway for Peruvian comfort foods that are designed to be paired with a long lineup of Virginia craft beers.” [Eater]

A Local Teardown Story — A local man who grew tired of his five-level townhouse in McLean decided to pursue a new home but, unsatisfied by the options, decided instead to buy and tear down a “distressed” house in Pimmit Hills and build his dream home in its place. [Washington Post]

Keam in the Times — “Asked about the state of the government, Delegate Mark L. Keam, a Democrat from Fairfax County, replied with one word: ‘Uncertain.'” [New York Times]

McLean Mansion Offered for Sale — “Buyers will be able to bid in person and online when the mansion in McLean, Va., known as Whispering Woods goes on the auction block on Feb. 27. The 15,000-square-foot mansion at 8305 Alford St. rests on three acres behind fences and gates.” [Washington Post]

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Like the nearby Agora in Tysons, Archontiko had ambitious plans to bring Mediterranian cuisine to the area around mid-November last year.

And like the nearby Agora in Tysons, trouble with permitting means the restaurant won’t be opening until March.

Archontiko will be a Greek restaurant focusing on modern cuisine from restaurateur Theodoros “Ted” Theodorou, who owns Delia’s Pizzeria and Mediterranean Grille in Alexandria and restaurants in Sterling and Springfield.

The restaurant is under renovation at 1313 Old Chain Bridge Road at what was once the Evo Bistro.

Theodorou said when the restaurant was applying for permits and received inspections from Fairfax County, there were problems with the building design left over from previous tenants that will require additional time to fix.

As a result, Theodorou said he’s had to push back the opening of the restaurant to opening at the end of March, if construction continues as scheduled.

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Agora, the Mediterranean restaurant planned for a 26-story apartment complex behind Tysons Galleria, has on a sign on the building proclaiming “opening 2018” — these days, while the restaurant is still opening, there’s a strip of tape covering the 2018 part.

It isn’t the first delay for the restaurant, which last year was forced to push the planned opening back to December. Ismail Uslu, owner of Agora, said the restaurant has struggled with a slow permitting process currently entering its 11th month.

“We’re planning on opening sometime in March,” said Uslu. “We’re building a mezzanine, which is more of a challenge [for permits].”

Inside, the building is designed with split levels, and while it’s still under construction the bare bones visible, Uslu said he hopes to bring in decorations from Turkey.

When the restaurant does eventually open, the menu will feature small plates and cocktails similar to its trendy Dupont Circle location.

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In the middle of an interview with Tysons Reporter, a woman walks up to Stomping Ground owner Nicole Jones and introduces herself as “Steve’s mom.”

Jones immediately recognizes Steve by name and “Steve’s mom” said she was just running errands in nearby McLean and wanted to stop by and say hello. It’s a small moment that’s a testament to the kind of community building that the new Stomping Ground in Tysons Galleria will live or die by.

Stomping Ground isn’t just one of the restaurants in the new Taste of Urbanspace that opened in December as part of a quick turnaround to replace Isabella Eatery — as the shop closest to the entrance, it serves as a gateway into the new dining hall.

Stomping Ground is perhaps best known for their buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken, both of which are available at the Tysons Galleria location. The eatery’s wide variety of hot and iced coffees, averaging around $3 per cup, seems like their most popular item on the Tysons Galleria third floor.

Jones knows coffee. On sight, she can tell what type of milk was used in a beverage based on the consistency of the separation. For her, coffee is more than a beverage.

“Coffee culture is a comfort place,” said Jones. “We take that old school southern hospitality and bring it to the mall. We’re genuinely interested in your name, your dietary restrictions and where you work. We want regulars. We want to be the ‘Cheers‘ of breakfast.”

It’s been four years since Jones opened the first Stomping Ground in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. The destination proved so popular it was name-dropped in a Wall Street Journal article explaining why Amazon came to Northern Virginia.

“In Tysons, there is less of a town square, but we’re learning that [Taste of Urbanspace] can serve as that,” said Jones. “People can come and hang out.”

That’s certainly the case among the restaurant owners on the mall’s third floor. In their downtime, managers from Stomping Ground, Andy’s Pizza and others regularly converse and hang out in the lavish seating area. Jones said all of the restaurant staffers had to work together through a hectic, quick turnaround during the holiday season and emerged as friends.

While several of the customers around Taste of Urbanspace are familiar faces day after day, much of the expansive food hall remains underpopulated.

It’s too early to say if the “town square” idea will catch on. Beyond just owner Mike Isabella’s public fall from grace, the Isabella Eatery (whose shell Taste of Urbanspace inhabits) collapsed in part due to low sales.

Jones and other restaurant owners expressed hopes that expanding the dining hall’s nightlife options will help draw in the after-work crowd, which currently has few options outside of the Tysons Biergarten.

Like their neighboring Andy’s Pizza, Donburi and Sen Khao, Stomping Ground is currently working through the Virginia ABC permit process. While Andy’s Pizza and Donburi plan on bringing in new beer options to the Galleria, Jones said her focus is going to be on wine and a variety of custom cocktails.

The cocktails, currently not available in Del Ray, are one example Jones points to of how the new location allows Stomping Ground to try new things that, if they work, might make their way back into the Alexandria location. Jones said she is also currently working on the restaurant’s new proper dinner menu, saying it will have Stomping Ground’s signature fried chicken with a mix of vegetables in keeping with southern tradition.

“The nighttime is where we will grow and spread our wings,” said Jones.

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There’s no shortage of food options in Tysons Corner Center mall, but if you’re looking for some stir-fry, the new Go-Stir Fry Express offers a variety of Japanese dishes.

The restaurant is located in the third-floor food court next to the AMC Theater. The restaurant offers chicken, rice and beef stir-fry bowls with either rice or noodles for around $8. Side dishes include spring rolls and fried dumplings.

Go-Stir Express also has a wide assortment of teas, from classic milk teas to bubble tea with fruit.

EJ Hong, manager of the Tysons location, said the stir fry location opened less than a month ago and is the third location for the New Jersey-based Go-Stir Fry.

Hong said the Tysons location is off to a good start and suggests first-time visitors try out the chicken stir fry.

Go-Stir Express isn’t the only new location in the third-floor food court. On the opposite side on the floor, the recently opened Dabke offers Lebanese cuisine like falafel wraps and chicken shawarma at around $9.

Staff at Dabke said the restaurant opened less than two months ago.

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Admittedly, the new Donburi in Tysons Galleria is a little smaller than the Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle locations.

But, for owner James Jang, this smaller location in the Taste of Urbanspace food hall allows him a special opportunity: he can try something new.

With two established locations in D.C., Jang said he’s hesitant to change the menus too much. But soon, Jang says he plans on trying out adding udon, a type of thick Japanese noodle dish, to the Tysons location.

“We’ve just opened here,” said Jang, “so we can be a little more creative with what we try out.”

Like the nearby Andy’s Pizza, the restaurant has also filed for an ABC permit in hopes of being able to serve Japanese beer and sake.

“We’re looking to get the beer on draft if we can,” said Jang. “We might do cocktails as well.”

Jang has owned and operated Donburi for six years and jumped at the chance to join Taste of Urbanspace, a collection of new locations from regional favorites that filled the void left by the high-profile collapse of Isabella Eatery.

For Jang, the opening in Tysons is also a homecoming, though he also said moving back into the area has been a rediscovery of how much it has changed since he grew up in nearby McLean.

“I used to live here,” Jang said. “I went to McLean High School, so this is more of a hometown than D.C.”

The most popular dishes on Donburi’s menu are the karaage salad, a soy sauce marinated chicken with mixed greens, and sakedon, a salmon sashimi that Jang says is the restaurant’s signature dish.

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One month after opening, Andy’s Pizza is the go-to spot in Tysons Galleria for a slice of New York-style pizza.

But now that the holiday rush has settled, the restaurant aims to expand its ambitions and become a go-to spot for a craft beer.

“We’re going to have wine, but we’re really excited about the craft beer,” said Emily Brown, who co-opened the restaurant with her cousin Andy Brown, the co-founder of D.C.-based Eat Pizza. “Mostly it’s from the east coast and particularly local places.”

Brown said the idea of using primarily local beers is in keeping with the theme of Taste of Urbanspace, a food hall that opened in early December after the high-profile collapse of the Isabella Eatery. The core concept of Taste of Urbanspace is opening new locations for local favorites.

Andy’s Pizza offers pizza by the slice, from simple cheese pizza at $3.49 to whole pies loaded with a variety of toppings for $18.99. The restaurant also has caesar salads with croutons borrowed from the Stomping Ground eatery next door.

Brown said her cousin’s passion is for pizza, but her true love is the craft beer scene. Her focus is going to be on maintaining a regularly changing menu, bringing in the newest and highest-profile beers from throughout the area.

She compared the beer scene to the sneaker scene, where people regularly line up to check out the newest release. Brown said the same is true in the beer scene, where connoisseurs congregate outside Richmond breweries to get a sampling of the latest batch. It’s that level of expertise and hipness to the zeitgeist that Brown said she hopes to bring to the bar-side of Andy’s Pizza.

Tysons has something of a chronic nightlife problem, and Brown hopes that some of the new drinking choices at Andy’s Pizza and other spots across the Taste of Urbanspace can help turn the mall’s food court into a social scene.

“If you’re coming in for lunch and you’re into beer, we want to have the kind of menu that will have you coming back in after work,” said Brown.

When the new bar comes online is dependent on when the licenses are approved by state regulator. Andy’s Taste of Urbanspace neighbors Donburi, Sen Khao, and Stomping Grounds are all also applying for alcohol licenses.

When you do come in for that first drink, Brown suggests a crisp pilsner would pair well with the pizza.

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There’s plenty of acclaimed restaurants around the Tysons area, but the selection for vegetarians or vegans are a little more slim.

Chains like Cava and &pizza have vegan options and several locations across the Tysons area. Honeygrow, a stir-fry chain with vegetarian options and a vegan dish, recently opened at 8409 Leesburg Pike.

Happy Cow, a website that lists vegetarian-friendly food options, lists a handful of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area. Most are in Vienna or Merrifield.

So if you’re a lifelong vegetarian or someone trying out Veganuary, here’s a look at some vegetable-heavy dining options around the area.

Vienna

Amma Vegetarian Kitchen (344 Maple Ave E) — A quick service restaurant featuring South Indian cuisine like dosa, chole bhatura and uttapatham. Happy Cow notes that the restaurant uses dairy in some products, but still has vegan options.

The Pure Pasty Co (128 Church St NW) — This British pies and pastry shop in downtown Vienna is not vegetarian focused but has vegetarian hot and frozen options and frozen vegan options.

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant (2531 Chain Bridge Rd) — An Asian cuisine restaurant with extensive vegan options.

Merrifield

Spice 6 Modern Indian (2674 I Avenir Place) — An assembly line-style Indian restaurant that serves meat but has vegan options. The menu has several vegetarian meals and curries, and the whole wheat naan is vegan.

Lost Dog Cafe (2729 Merrilee Drive) — A restaurant with locations throughout the region that features a large selection of sandwiches. The menu marks items that are vegetarian and has vegan options for sandwiches.

Puree Juice Bar (2905 District Ave) — A juice bar with organic produce, vegan smoothies and salads.

True Food Kitchen (2910 District Ave) — The menu changes seasonally at the True Food Kitchen, a national chain of restaurants with another location in Ballston Quarter, but always includes vegan and vegetarian choices. Options include tofu bowls and cheese-less pizzas.

Jinya Ramen Bar (2911 District Ave) — A casual Japanese food and ramen chain, with a new location opening soon in Vienna. Vegan ramen options are available, with vegetable-based sides and salads.

Oath Pizza (2920 District Ave) — A pizza restaurant with vegan cheese and some vegan toppings.

Tysons

Mixing Bowl (7949 Tysons Corner Center) — A Korean tacos, wraps and bibimbap restaurant on the first floor of the Tysons Corner Center mall with vegan options.

Earl’s Kitchen (7902 Tyson’s One Place) — A restaurant near the Tysons Corner Center mall with vegan options, including sushi, salads and bowls.

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Inca Latin Kitchen, a new South American restaurant at 2670 in Merrifield, is hosting a series of pre-opening events this weekend and next week before its grand opening on Feb. 1.

Today (Friday) and tomorrow, the restaurant will host its final Machu Pisco tasting. No reservations are required and the event is free to attend. Parking is also free after 6 p.m. in the nearby Metro station lot.

“We will be featuring our Machu Pisco collaboration beer that can only be drank at Inca or Crooked Run Brewing,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post. “You will also be able to enjoy our Pisco Sours as well as some of our classic Latin American cocktails like a Chilcano and our tasty sample menu for you to taste many of our menu items like Lomo Saltado, Inca Balls, Ceviche and so much more!”

The restaurant will have a soft opening Wednesday (Jan. 9) from 4-9 p.m.

Inca Latin Kitchen is also currently open to applications for positions from bartenders to managers.

Photo via Facebook

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