By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano
Evening Star Cafe & Front Porch
Alexandria | Modern American| $$$&$
Though it’s been a neighborhood staple for more than two decades, Evening Star Cafe shapeshifts according to who’s in the kitchen. The Del Ray restaurant always attracts interesting talent, letting personalities sway the menu, most recently from Southern to modern American with a Hawaiian touch.
This is thanks to Jonathan Till, a Hawaiian-born chef who weaves together a menu of mainland staples, like burrata with peas and carrots and housemade gnocchi with mushrooms foraged by the chef himself, and Asian-leaning dishes, like Korean barbecue fried cauliflower with miso mayo and a clever play on poke, using hot pink doppelganger watermelon instead of tuna, tossed with peanuts, shaved cucumber and watermelon rind.
Many of Till’s dishes (plus a roster of casual plates) are also offered next door at Front Porch, an outdoor-only, seasonally open spot that is probably the hardest restaurant to get into on Mount Vernon Avenue: Order the mushroom bruschetta, some funky sour beer and understand the enduring appeal of Evening Star. // 2000 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria