A buzzy bistro is dishing up captivating seafood at reasonable prices on Richmond Highway, just south of Alexandria. Its chef-owner Ghazal Amir is a self-taught cook who loves creativity and disdains recipes. Some 10 years ago, after working front-of-the-house jobs in local dining spots, she started a food truck business focused on high-quality, fresh fin-fare. Last year, she tapped into her savings and smarts to open this inviting brick-and-mortar spot.
The cleverly crafted menu offers her original shrimp and crab preparations in intriguing combos. Crispy egg rolls, tacos, po’ boys, and loaded fries are filled or topped with these flavor-packed inspirations. Grilled smoked salmon and fried chicken tenders tempt more conventional appetites.
Combo platters offer generous samplings of Amir’s specialties. The Dominator features a top-quality lump crabcake sandwich. On the side, the lively “firecracker” shrimp is dolloped on a well-composed salad (fresh greens, dried cranberries, dates, tomatoes) with a sprightly balsamic dressing. The third component — meaty, crispy fries — is topped with “loaded” shrimp and crab mélange. Adding zest is a yellow-pink sauce that, she explains, is on the “sweeter side” but sparked with a pleasant dash of spice. You can add a housemade tartar sauce with a “garlicky twist” to the platter. That sauce also dresses the salmon.
Generous happy hour deals that run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday offer seafood combos in an eggroll, taco, or quesadilla format.
The intimate space — you have to look for the entrance! — hums with a Motown soundtrack and would feel just as at home in a big city as it does on Route 1. Even the restrooms are notable for their playful, mod touches. A lively bar runs the length of the dining room, and a friendly bartender (often Amir’s daughter Imahn Bates) whips up the colorful cocktails you see on most tables. Beer is also available. Keeping the dining room bustling in a welcoming yet efficient manner is Amir’s other daughter, Dunia Davis. Amir’s two sons are a part of the business, too, and she hopes to “build a legacy” for her children. 6328 Richmond Hwy., Ste. A, Alexandria, crab-cab.com
Photo by Rey Lopez
This story originally ran in our June issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.