Northside Social Coffee and Wine (Arlington, VA)

While I may have mentioned this before, one of the things I generally don’t like when I’m traveling is free breakfast in hotels. I have several reasons for this, but the big reasons are that (a) hotel breakfasts generally suck, especially for the price, and (b) one of the perks of the otherwise dismal life of the business traveler is the ability to try new places to eat. So, like most every time my schedule allows me to try a local place for breakfast instead of having bland waffles at the hotel, I try to do so, even if it requires getting up early. This time, I decided to walk several blocks from the hotel to Northside Social Coffee and Wine in Arlington.

Well, the first time I did this, they were closed (apparently repairs planned for Columbus Day weekend needed an extra morning’s work), but my second morning in Arlington Northside Social was alive and humming.

Located just about a block away from the Clarendon Metro station (within sight of the previous night’s Kabob Bazaar) at the wedge formed by Fairfax and Wilson, Northside has a nice location, with that wedge providing a nice outdoor patio (Didn’t this used to be the Arlington location of Murky Coffee, of “I’ll punch you in your dick” fame? Wow, it is! I barely recognized the place with the new decor…).

Run by the same folks that run the nearby Liberty Tavern, by day, Northside is a coffee shop, with pretty much the perfect combination needed for a coffee shop. They’ve got a pleasant space that’s good for both the individual like me having a solitary breakfast with their paper, as well as having several larger tables and spaces for people having their morning coffee while socializing. The coffee itself is quite good, with them having several bean varieties to try, either as drip coffee, espresso drinks, or French-pressed. The staff is quite friendly and pleasant as well, which is always a good way to start off the day. At night, they open up their upstairs for wine tasting as well, which I’ll have to come back and check out at some point.

But while the coffee is good (actually, it’s great, they serve coffee from Counter Culture, and my pot of French Press Ethiopian was a lot more pleasurable than the slightly stale Starbucks coffee that the client I was visiting had), the real gem at Northside was the breakfast menu. They’ve got a rather extensive breakfast menu going beyond the usual muffins that coffee places usually having, with items ranging from steel-cut oatmeal, to quich, to scones, to breakfast sandwiches. I did note several places where Vermont Cheddar was mentioned, however. I’m always a little surprised when a place like this tries to get some semi-local ingredients going, like Polyface eggs, but then goes and makes it a point to get cheddar from Vermont. Don’t get me wrong, I like VT cheddar, but doesn’t Virginia have any cheese?

Looking over the options, I settled on the egg and bacon breakfast sandwich. While at most places this usually means a limp egg and some sad bacon on an English muffin, here it was a substantial sandwich, with a nicely poached egg served up with maple butter, nicely cooked thick bacon, and frisee on nice Italian feather loaf bread toasted in a panini press. The bread was particularly nice, since it was obviously made by a pastry chef with some talent, and not one of your more normal leaden muffins or ciabatta rolls. This was a perfectly toasted, delicious, and substantial breakfast sandwich. I’d be thrilled to have this again. And more than happy to avoid another hotel buffet breakfast.

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