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Dining pre-theatre in Shirlington VA

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Shirlington, just across the river from Washington, has a lot to offer movie and theatre goers. The Signature Theatre has been highly successful in presenting a variety of musicals to Washington and Northern Virginia audiences. The AMC Loew’s Shirlington movie theatre at 2772 S. Randolph St. offers first run films in its theatres.

Campbell Avenue, which ends at the Signature Theatre, is replete with restaurants: Thai, American, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Indian and Mexican. It’s all there and some of it is very good.

In the talented hands of Thai chef Aulie Bunyarataphan,T.H.A.I. Shirlington (the sister restaurant of Bangkok Joe’s at the Washington waterfront in Georgetown) at 4029 Campbell Ave. serves very good Thai dishes, including the traditional pad Thai. But beyond the usual, T.H.A.I. serves such dishes as squash potstickers, smoked duck wontons, sea bass with pan Asian sauce and chicken in curried peanut sauce. Seasonal dishes, such as long noodles, are specialties.

A recent addition, open for about six months, is Copperwood Tavern, located at 4021 Campbell Ave. The restaurant is attractive, with an open, rustic atmosphere. (Water is served in mason jars.) The food offers a twist on contemporary American cuisine. Excellent short ribs and scallops with a tiny slice of foie gras are small plate winners. A bison chop is tender and tasty, but expensive at $31. Good macaroni and cheese, risotto, grilled asparagus, and a dish of red and yellow peppers stuffed with quinoa are good vegetarian choices. Nutella ice cream is a specialty, as are oysters.

Around the corner at 2900 S.Quincy St. is the Curious Grape, a restaurant, cafe and shop selling cheeses, wines and other gourmet items. The cuisine is excellent, containing fresh local ingredients in such dishes as fiddlehead salad, mushroom couscous, a chicken roulade, lamb chops and pork ragout. The restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The pre-theatre menu is priced at $29 for a half entree, and $39 for a full entree, along with a starter and a dessert.

A local favorite is the Carlyle Grand Cafe at 4000 Campbell Ave. The menu is eclectic with such dishes as Tex-Mex egg rolls, tuna tacos, blue crab fritters, pecan-crusted trout, fresh grilled fish and Ne Orleans shrimp and grit cakes, as well as steaks,and lighter dishes. ext door is the restaurant’s bakery, Best Buns, which the best raisin pecan bread is one of the specialties, among a number of artisan breads, muffins, bagels and sweets. Sandwiches, soups and salads are also available.

For a quick dessert, steps from the Signature Theatre, there’s Cakelove, at 4150 Campbell Ave. where you can snack on slices of cake, cupcakes and cookies as well as taking whole cakes home.

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