Bars in Old Town

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Growing up, Chakra Café’s owner Monisha lived two different lives. At school, she was known by her given name and spent lunch hours twirling spaghetti on a fork. But at home, Monisha’s Bengali parents only referred to her by her nickname, Hashi–or laughter–and mealtimes meant scooping up lamb curry with a piece of luchi. The duality of Monisha’s two worlds–and the food she was exposed to–left a lasting impression and is the driving force behind the Café’s menu.

Inside Chakra Café’s kitchen, chefs marry Indian flavors with culinary traditions from around the world, using recipes adapted from Monisha’s mother, according to a Patch.com article. Traditional Bengali dishes such as begun bhartha–roasted eggplant flavored with green mango–are served solo or stuffed inside quesadillas with smoked fontina cheese, roasted pine nuts, and raitha yogurt sauce. Other Indian staples are also Americanized, from the tandoori chicken that tops flatbread pizzas to spaghetti paired with lamb meatballs and a whisper of ghee. Each item on the menu is clearly marked as halal, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making it easy to decipher the dishes without meat and the ones that require each bite to be chewed 32 times.

600 Franklin St
Alexandria,
VA
US

Food and wine make for a great tag-team duo, assuaging stress while filling the belly with scrumptious sustenance. At GRAPE + BEAN, patrons can sample wines, small plates, and large plates to satisfy the pickiest of sippers and tasters. A knowledgeable staff helps customers pick out palate-soothing drinks and eats amid an inviting atmosphere that features original brick walls, exposed beams, and rustic wood finishes. Sample tasty bites off the lunch, brunch, or dinner menus, which offer selections such as the rosemary ham with melted aged gruyere ($11), truffled egg toast ($12.50), and duck confit with white-bean casserole ($22). Or, opt for smaller plates, such as artichoke with pecorino, fresh mint, and basil ($9) and organic heirloom tomato with serrano ham ($9).

118 S Royal St
Alexandria,
VA
US

Situated in a Federal-style mansion, The Grille at Morrison House's historical exterior belies its distinctly modern cuisine. Drawing on produce and meats sourced from Virginia farms, executive chef Brian McPherson and his staff translate classic French dishes into distinct, American iterations. Lavish appetizers feature foie gras pastrami torchon, scottish salmon tartare with american caviar, escargot, and selections of cheeses and charcuterie. Entrees include red-wine-braised short rib beef bourguignon, crispy duck breast in a port reduction, and Pineland Farms ribeye with cashel blue cheese butter. Conscious of diners' varying dietary needs, cooks tailor the menu to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free specifications on request. Two distinct dining areas give guests a choice of atmosphere. The Dining Room boasts airy windows and summer tones, contrasted with The Grille's rich woods, red leathers, and piano brunches on Sundays. The venue earned accolades from the Washingtonian for its meticulously plotted wedding dinners, which invite brides to toss escargot to the next lucky lady.

116 S Alfred St
Alexandria,
VA
US

A renovated colonial warehouse, Union Street Public House evokes a sense of history while spoiling diners with a fresh selection of signature entrees and 15 on-tap beers. A cavalry of potatoes roasted with oregano vinaigrette holds new york strip steak prisoner ($27.95); grill-fellow barbecue pork belly cavorts with risotto, dixie bell tomato, and garlic ragu ($21.95). Customers can order a half-dozen oysters on the half-shell ($10.50 for locals; out-of-towners pay market price) to share as they await a serving of tipsy mussels in steamed riesling with lemongrass and coconut ($18.95). Craft beers such as Yuengling Lager ($4.25) and Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale ($4.95) help troubled pint glasses overcome existential feelings of emptiness. Happy hour runs Monday - Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., ensuring that parched mouths are watered at half price.

121 S Union St
Alexandria,
VA
US

Inspired by early 20th century chili parlors, Hard Times Cafe aims to preserve the tradition of delectable, hearty fare served in a friendly, lively community eatery. Elevate taste buds to new heights with an order of legendary grilled wings in one of five flavors, including original Texas, chili-lime, honey-barbecue, and eternity ($8.99 per order). Hard Times Cafe serves four distinct varieties of chili. The authentic chili mac is served over spaghetti with your choice of accouterments ($7.49–$8.89). Burgers, sliders, and chili dogs are easily transportable by hand or hovercraft, and savory steaks and other suppertime favorites provide more refined nourishment options. To reward you for your literary prowess, every Groupon reader who texts HTCGRP to 59925 gets an additional coupon good for one order of bar nachos. Combine this offer with a Groupon, or save it for a subsequent visit.

1404 King St
Alexandria,
VA
US

Zikrayet Lebanese Restaurant & Lounge isn't just a restaurant. It's a tiny slice of Lebanese life, distilled down into a dining room, covered patio, and lounge. Guests dine on Lebanese favorites such as succulent lamb laced onto kabobs, pitas dunked into pine-nut-studded hummus, and flaky slices of baklava. As the evening turns to night, the lights lower and the entertainment begins. Belly dancers recreate the sensual scenes and moves of their homeland as they weave through the crowd to the hum of live bands. Afterwards, DJs spin popular music while crowds swap out plates for flavorful fruit hookahs. Parties go late into the night, or until hookahs finish working their full eight-hour shift.

2006 Eisenhower Ave
Alexandria,
VA
US