Where to Eat and Drink on Columbia Pike

Sample empanadas, pupusas, Ethiopian bowls, scratch-made pies, Thai curries and more along Arlington's most diverse corridor.

Try empanadas with traditional or newfangled fillings at Mpanadas on Columbia Pike in Arlington (courtesy photo)

Long known to be Arlington’s most diverse corridor, Columbia Pike has a rich history as a culinary melting pot. The roughly 3-mile stretch that extends from Arlington into Fairfax County offers everything from Old Bay shrimp empanadas and plant-based Ethiopian fare to melty pupusas. (Fun fact: This is also where the globe-conquering burger chain Five Guys got its start.) Here are more than a dozen restaurants and bars to hit up and down the Pike. 

Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita

The doors are never locked at Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita. Open 24 hours a day, the kitchen turns out hearty tortas (sandwiches) on French bread topped with everything from steak to breaded chicken to tilapia—along with tacos that hug the $3.50 mark. There are 15 different taco options at this counter service spot, but you’ll want to take special note of the crispy-meets-cheesy beef birria taco that can be paired with consommé for dunking.  // 2911 Columbia Pike, Arlington


Whiskey-marinated filet mignon with bacon and fried egg at Rebellion on the Pike (Facebook photo)

Rebellion on the Pike

The name of this bar and restaurant references bourbon’s history in America (specifically, public defiance over Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s tax on distilled spirits). Fittingly, Rebellion on the Pike prides itself on serving over 275 types of bourbon and whiskey. The food is South-leaning, as seen in dishes like deviled eggs and buttermilk-fried chicken sandwiches. But you’ll find international touches, too, like a Cuban sandwich with confit pork belly or barbecue Bulgogi tacos as a special. // 2900 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Greens Teff

Plant-based Ethiopian toppings at Greens N Teff (Facebook photo)

Greens N Teff

The spice-packed menu at this Ethiopian storefront, which opened in 2021, is entirely plant-based. Adopting the fast-casual “build your own” model, the restaurant allows patrons to choose a base of basmati rice or injera bread, then layer on vegetarian options like lentil stew, mushroom tibs (portobellos sauteed with onion, garlic paste, and berbere spice), collard greens, beets and potato or green beans, all of which make for a very colorful plate. // 3203 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Abi Azteca Grill & Bar

Generations of Columbia Heights residents have grown up with Abi Azteca Grill & Bar, which opened in 1986 and is still serving Salvadoran and Mexican dishes three decades later. Pupusas are a bestseller, stuffed with fillings such as cheese, beans, pork or loroco (an edible flower that’s popular in El Salvador). This no-frills restaurant also turns out dishes that are more Tex-Mex, like fajitas, and specials such as Chilean sea bass. More proof that there’s something for everyone: look for karaoke nights on the weekends. // 3005 Columbia Pike, Arlington


Cookies and cream popsicles at Mpanadas (courtesy photo)


Opened in June 2023, this family-owned Bolivian empanada shop goes the extra mile, stamping each flaky pastry with letters that spell out whatever is inside. That filler could be something traditional, like ground beef with potatoes, olives and corn; or a newfangled combo like shrimp Old Bay, spinach and cheese, or cheeseburger. The eatery also serves a selection of frozen treats, including paletas (popsicles) and macaron ice cream sandwiches. // 2602B Columbia Pike, Arlington

The Cafe by Kitchen of Purpose

Avocado toast is on a mission at this casual eatery run by a culinary nonprofit. Kitchen of Purpose (formerly known as La Cocina VA) was founded more than a decade ago to help unemployed immigrants gain skills in the service industry. The cafe, which opened in 2020, provides an opportunity for trainees to gain hands-on experience in the kitchen. The laidback, loft-like space divides its menu into “cold” eats like pear balsamic salad and other leafy dishes, and “hot” items such as chorizo-stuffed breakfast burritos drizzled with avo crema, or roasted butternut squash sandwiches on sourdough. // 3507 Columbia Pike, Arlington

The Broiler

This long-running Columbia Pike landmark for cheesesteaks goes way back. It opened in 1959, and the dining room feels a bit like a time warp—in the best way. Load up a deluxe steak and cheese with banana peppers, and add a side of crinkle-cut fries and a drink with extra crushed ice. The Broiler’s melty options also include pizzas and cheeseburgers. // 3601 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Be Diner

Breakfast at B&E’s (press photo)

Bob and Edith’s Diner

If you’re craving pancakes and coffee at 3 a.m., it’s got to be B&E’s. This 24/7 outpost for a classic diner breakfast (or comfort foods like burgers and tuna melts) is now part of a growing Northern Virginia chainlet. But Columbia Pike is where it all began, with roots in the neighborhood stretching back to 1969. “The Original,” as it’s known, is exactly what you’d expect of a dive-y diner with faux-wood booths and lots of tile and neon signage. // 2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington

The Celtic House

With Michael McMahon—a native of County Clare, Ireland—at the helm, The Celtic House is a true Irish pub, all the way down to its house-made corned beef and cabbage. The bar is a favorite among regulars for the food as much as the stouts. (Stop by Mondays for a “Pies & Pints on the Pike” deal on shepherd’s pie and a pint.) Live music is another draw, on weekends and during the traditional Irish sessions on Thursdays. // 2500 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Boru Ramen

This slurpy emporium arrived in 2016 with more than a dozen variations of the Japanese noodle dish, from traditional tonkatsu with pork bone broth to a seafood-centric option flavored with crab. If you are vegetarian, try the version studded with fried tofu-edamame balls. Finish your meal with a green-tea ice cream for dessert. // 2915 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Acme Pie Co. (courtesy photo)

Acme Pie Company

You might have seen Acme Pie Co.’s tempting desserts in various coffee shops around town, but Columbia Pike is where the baking magic happens. Stop by pastry chef Sol Schott’s retail storefront for a slice, a mini pie or a whole 10-inch shebang in flavors such as key lime, pumpkin with candied ginger, coconut custard or chocolate chess with a smidge of espresso.  Schott also makes a Meyer lemon chess pie based on a recipe dating back to Martha Washington’s era. Another must-try option here: pie milkshakes. // 2803 Columbia Pike, Arlington

The Red Setter pizza at Lost Dog Cafe (courtesy photo)

Lost Dog Cafe

This locally grown chain is a fan favorite, both for its food and also its commitment to helping homeless dogs and cats find forever homes. The Pike location serves a mind-boggling assortment of packed sandwiches, salads and pizzas, sporting fun names like Classy Lassie (a spinach salad with grilled chicken, bacon and avocado),  the K-9 (smoked turkey, melted brie, tomato, lettuce and pesto mayo on a croissant) and Dog Collars (beer-battered onion rings with zesty horseradish sauce and ranch dip). // 2920 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse

One of the Pike’s most distinctive landmarks, this historic art deco theater stages live comedy shows, movie screenings and kooky holiday-themed events. Best of all, you can have a snack and whet your whistle while you are entertained. Order pitchers of Yuengling or local brews from Solace Brewing Co. or Aslin Beer Co. Or go all out with dinner and a show. The menu choices include flatbreads, salads, nachos, meatball sliders and Bavarian pretzels. // 2903 Columbia Pike Suite 101, Arlington

Café Sazón

Proprietor Adriana Torres grew up on Columbia Pike, and her goal for this homey Bolivian cafe was to create a space for the community to enjoy salteñas, empanadas and other Latin American-inspired fare. Catering is a core part of Café Sazón’s business. And don’t skip dessert. Check out the goodies in the sweets case at the register. // 4704 Columbia Pike, Arlington

Raw oysters at William Jeffrey’s Tavern (courtesy photo)

William Jeffrey’s Tavern

Looking for a proper cocktail? This congenial watering hole is a solid bet for a classic Old Fashioned, a salty Paloma, a boozy house-made soda concoction (try the Pickle Soda with gin and lemon) or a Frozen Patio Pounder in an ever-changing rotation of fun flavors. The bar is also equipped with 16 taps offering a rotating section of craft brews. And the approachable menu has everything from a raw oyster bar to Peruvian half chickens for dinner or Dutch apple French toast for brunch.  // 2301 Columbia Pike Suite 101, Arlington

Bangkok 54 

This beloved Thai restaurant opened on the Pike more than two decades ago, serving up classics like Panang curry, crispy duck and mango sticky rice. The family-owned restaurant is connected to a market where you can shop for Asian ingredients, ready-to-eat Thai meals and three different kinds of noodle soup. // 2919 Columbia Pike, Arlington

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Categories: Food & Drink