Self Guided Food And Drinking Tour

Summary

So you don’t want to hangout with us. Our feelings aren’t hurt, we’re not crying. We’ll still be out there pounding pavement, dishing dope facts, drinking Old Fashions and enjoying our day. P.S. Your hair looks great.

Roaming aimlessly through the streets maybe an acceptable form of entertainment for a vagabond like Bradley Cooper, but not you. You’re special. We’ve put together our best recommendations of places to get some great food and drinks, and see all the interesting historical places Old Town has to offer.

Itinerary

All the stops with estimated time frames needed to fully experience each spot.

  • Barca Pier and Wine Bar (45min-1hr)
  • Waterfront Park (10 min)
  • Virtue Feed and Grain (30 min)
  • Captain’s Row (5 min)
  • Atheneum (5 min)
  • Coffee break! @Fontaine (15 min)
  • King and Rye (30 min)
  • Market Square (10 min)
  • Gatsby Tavern (5 min)
  • George Washington’s House (5 min)
  • Christ Church (5 min)
  • Village Brauhaus (30 min)
  • The People’s Drug (30 min)

 

The Immersive Experience​

Barca

When are you starting and how hungry are you? Barca opens at 11:30 am. You can start at any of the restaurants on this list, choose whatever speaks to you. We’d recommend starting with lunch at Barca (light tapas and drinks) and work your way up to People’s Drug. You could also start at The People’s Drug, eat lunch and work your way backwards if that’s the way you roll, you do you.

Barca Pier and Wine Bar

Just opened in 2021, Barca is a Mediterranean Tapas Bar and is a great starting point to explore the city. It’s right on the water and built from old shipping containers. If you are attempting this over the weekend you’ll probably need a reservation. Mediterranean Tapas at the waterfront? It gets busy. 

Recommendations: This isn’t the only spot you are going to enjoy on the way today, so don’t go crazy. It’s small plates which is a good start.

  • Tzatziki
  • Papas bravas
  • Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
  • Ham Croquetas

 

Drinks: Ramble & Rum, Either Sangria, the Grecian. Also Port City is a local brewery. So always feel free to try their beers if cocktails aren’t your thing or you want to fit right in as a local.

Waterfront Park

Alexandria became a city in 1749, at that time everything that is considered the waterfront now was under water. Tobacco warehouses, merchants shipping wheat and corn, G-Dubz selling his fish through local merchants. At one point, Alexandria was among the ten busiest ports in America and had been designated an official port of entry, allowing foreign shipping to land and unload without registering somewhere else first. Its bustling harbor teemed with brigs, schooners, and ships of the line, which traversed the high seas and engaged in international and coastal trade. (shout out Alexandriava.gov for the help)

Now a days, it’s green space with access to many hotel, restaurants and shops. Each year a new display of temporary public art is available for free at the base of King street. This year it is the Groundswell, which depicts the different depths of the water from the original topography of the Potomac Floor bed.

There is seating, including some covered available throughout the park. There is a turf grass installation for kids to enjoy and look out over the Potomac. If you look off in the distance you can see the MGM Grand and National Harbor. Recently the Old Dominion Boat club build a new boat house which is a really impressive sight.

Virtue Feed and Grain

I’ve written a lot about Virtue all over the site. You’ve either already had a base layer with some sips going and are looking to keep it going. So let’s get down to brass tacks. Ps. Your hair looks great.

If you didn’t eat yet or are just snacking along the way anything on the menu will be fine. It’s all pretty standard American fare. If duck poutine fries are wrong, I don’t want to be right.

The drink menu is really where Virtue shines, here you can taste some flights of alcohol. Get a mimosa, do our favorite Blanton’s old fashion. They will also have a wide variety of beers, many local, available.

Recommendations: Beer flight of your choice. Try a couple different samples without having to throw back a whole beer. They have bourbon flights as well, including one with some Pappy. (you little baller you) Port City local brews is also an option.

Captains Row

Dope ass cobblestone street where, apparently, all the Captain’s of ships lived when Alexandria was a bustling seaport. Doubt there are many sea merchants living there now but I haven’t gone door to door to find out. It gets great light in the morning for pictures and is a nice stroll anytime of the day.

Here is some nice research from a 1984 WaPo article.

“The legend surrounding the cobblestones is as much a part of Captain’s Row as the multicolored, irregularly shaped stones themselves. Local folklore says the cobblestones were brought from England in ships as ballast and were laid by captured Hessians, the German mercenaries hired to fight for the British during the Revolutionary War…but most actually come from the Potomac River.” I like the other story better, anything to stick it to the Hessians.

Atheneum

Completed in 1852, was once the headquarters for Old Dominion Bank, then a warehouse for the apothecary, then a church, now a museum. It’s open from 12-4, Thursday through Sunday. It’s has a classic greek feel to it, reminiscent of the Pantheon in Athens, yeah I’ve been there no big deal. It’s at the top of Captian’s Row which made it well suited for merchants back in the day. It was a Union Headquarters during the Civil War, the bank survived the the war because they hid all of their assets in a hidden grave until peacetime. It was bought by Leadbeaters & Sons, one of the oldest of Alexandria firms, for their wholesale drug . They handled half of the drugs sold in Washington and northern counties of Maryland and nearly all of the Virginia trade with a radius of 100 miles.

 

Article

Coffee Break at Fontaine (if needed)

Stop get yourself some coffee. You deserve it you dreamboat. There is a little cafe attached to the main restaurant.

 

Market Square

We are going to get back to the drinking soon don’t you worry your sweet little heart. One more stop. Market Square has been a market since 1749 and is also the home of city hall. The earliest Town Hall-Court House from 1752 was paid for by lottery and was designed by builders, members of the local oligarchy, who were later participants in the American Revolution (John Carlyle, Richard Conway, William Ramsay). George Washington, Alexandria’s greatest citizen and benefactor, served as a justice in the Fairfax Court, which met in the early Court House; and was a town trustee before the Revolutionary War. When the building burned to the ground in 1871, the townspeople raised the money to pay for an exact replica of the Latrobe tower. On Cameron Street, the Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge and its museum contained memorabilia associated most especially with George Washington’s part in Alexandria’s history. It was here, in the Masonic reception rooms in 1824, that the Marquis de Lafayette was given a splendid and festive welcome to the city of his great friend, General Washington.(source)

The Old Town Farmers’ Market has been held year round each Saturday morning at the Market Square Plaza for more than 260 years; George Washington sent his produce from Mount Vernon to be sold at the market. In fact, Old Town Farmers’ Market is the oldest farmers’ market in the country held continuously at the same site. Today, the market offers residents of and visitors to Alexandria a way to reconnect to the past, while participating in an ongoing local and national tradition. During the peak season, more than 70 vendors sell an abundance of items, including fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, cheeses, breads, pastries, fresh pasta, pickled vegetables, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps, fabric art and paintings. (source)

King and Rye

They have a pop-up cocktail garden, (open Wednesday to Saturday: 4:30pm to 10:00pm) it is first come first serve, so you might need to get a little lucky depending on the time and day you show up. A spot at the bar is fine as well, they also have some outdoor seating in the front. They have extensive bourbon/whiskey list as well if you just want a delicious old fashion.

Recommendations:
Sippin Pretty- Sipsmith Gin | Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic | Fresh Grapefruit
Cucumber Gin Rickey – Hendrick’s Gin | Cucumber | Mint | Lime
COUNTRY HAM BISCUIT- Edwards Surryano Ham | Apple Butter | Ricotta
SPRING VEGETABLE “PAELLA”- Charleston Gold Rice | Goat Cheese | Morels | Pickled Ramps

The Gatsby Tavern

The Gatsby Tavern was the bees knees from when it was first built in the 1752 for the next hundred plus years. G-Dubz celebrated his birthday, like a boss, there each year and was known to frequent the tavern. His house city house is right down the street, so he probably stayed there after a gentlemen’s amount of partying and couldn’t make his way back to Mt. Vernon. Let’s not forget ladies night either

And for the benefit of the ladies, November 6: "Information is hereby given that there will be a dancing assembly this evening at Gatsby(sic), to which are invited the ladies of Alexandria and its vicinity on both sides of the river. Tickets for the gentlemen, without which none can be admitted, may be had at the bar."

Dudes, such as, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, George Clinton, Benjamin Franklin, Braddock, the Byrds, Grymeses, Fitzhughs, Lees and Washingtons are among those who came here. One fine old tale has it that in 1777, in the old tavern courtyard, John Paul Jones met two bewildered Frenchmen in a dreadful dilemma–strangers in a strange land, speaking a strange tongue, unable to make themselves understood and doubtless very cross. By his knowledge of French, our brave privateer was enabled to smooth the way for these gentlemen, none other than Baron de Kalb and the Marquis de la Fayette, and the tale goes on that this assistance was so gratefully received that a friendship lasting a lifetime resulted from the encounter. The two taverns housed and fed most of the important persons visiting the country from 1752 for the next hundred years. (source

George Washington House

508 Cameron St. Alexandria, VA 22314

G-Dubz purchased the lot in 1763 and finished building in 1769. It passed to his wife and then to some other family members. Eventually it was demolished after falling into a state of disrepair in 1855. Ouch G-Dubz. Eventually it was rebuilt as a replica of the original house. There some interesting letters of G-Dubz whining like a little B about rent and repairs on this home which I think is interesting given the mythology built up around him. He was just a normal dude like everyone else trying to get his fence fixed or get some measurements of his house. Looks like even the first president can’t escape contractors.

 

Thomas Green's account of the dimensions of the Rooms in my house in Alexandria is so confused and perplexed, that I can make neither head nor tail of it. The length, breadth and height of each, with the distance from the washboard to the Chair board, and the number of doors and windows in each room, was all I wanted; instead of these he has attempted to draw a plan which no one can understand, and has given, an explanation of it that is still more incomprehensible.

Writings, GW to William Pearce, Philadelphia, April 27, 1794. Tweet

Christ Church

G-Dubz church, built in 1773, homeboy bought a pew for the fam to come and do their thang, apparently a common practice to support the church back in the day. It was referred to as the church in the woods when it was first built because of how far it was from the rest of the town. Now it pretty much directly in the center of Old Town. There is a plague that commemorate Washingtons pew if you go inside. I am not sure if you can just go in but you can see it from the windows.

On January 1, 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill worship at Christ Church for National Day of Prayer following U.S. entry into World War II. A host of president of Presidents have attended service (Truman, Eisenhower, Carter, the Bushi (Bushes?)) over the years, as well as Rosa Parks.

Village Brauhaus

Wow! You’ve made it pretty far here. Now for the final food and drink portion of our tour and a farewell.

Austrian and Bavarian fare with a great beer menu, a enough high noons to keep the party going.

Recommendations: Get the pretzel. Cheese, mustard, pretzel. Done. You’ll probably need it at this point.

Gold rush – Bourbon | Housemade Honey Syrup | Lemon
Orange and Stormy – Our version of a dark and stormy. Austrian Stroh 160 Proof Rum | Ginger Beer | Fresh Lime
Stiegl Radler Bucket- Raspberry, Lemon, and Grapefruit Stiegl Radler 5 x 16oz Cans, Stiegl Radler is a blend of juice with Stiegl Goldbrau Lager

The People's Drug

The People’s Drug was a pharmacy founded in 1905. By the 1970s there were over 500 towards over 8 different states. You could head to the local People’s Drug and get your medicine laced with alcohol, cocaine, morphine or a nice “Chloroform liniment”, aka the good ole days. Some stores had a soda fountain, deli and a cigar counter. Eventually they acquired by some names and I don’t recognize but eventually by CVS.

Today, the People’s Drug is a cocktail bar that serves a wide variety of quick bites and snacks, including many friendly vegan/vegetarian options. They recent opened some excellent outdoor seating.

Recommendations: Parmesan Truffle fries, Chimichurri Potatoes, Crispy Brussel and Cauliflower, the People’s Burger if you still need to eat.

Any of the Old Fashions, Smoked Apple Cider Margarita

Shoutout this site for the research: http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2011/11/once-ubiquitous-peoples-drug-stores.html

Farewell

I hope you enjoyed your time and learned a little bit about the town and had some drinks and nom noms along the way. Get home responsibly. If you enjoyed the banter here, you’ll especially like our in person tours. Feel free to check out what we have available here. Hope you enjoyed Alexandria and hope to see you soon.

Make it rain,
Alexandria the Great Tours