Busboys and Poets

American
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Busboys and Poets photo
Jay Paul/For The Washington Post
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Editorial Review

It took Busboys and Poets just two years to become a U Street institution. Yet Andy Shallal, the 52-year-old owner of the eatery, bookstore and performance space, was worried that the establishment's particular charms wouldn't survive expansion to a second location. Drawn by Arlington's progressive leanings, educated populace and support of the arts, Shallal set his concerns aside and three weeks ago opened his second location. "It was an opportunity to branch out without going too far," he says.

Even a short visit to the new space, across the street from Signature Theatre, reveals that much of the charm remains intact. The interior has a sophisticated, modern design; the space is set up to accommodate those looking for dinner with friends, conversation at the bar, or films, performances and poetry readings in the back. The menu is full of simple, reasonably priced and delicious food (try the Poet pizza with portobello mushrooms, red pepper and mozzarella).

Nate Stevenson, 52, an Arlington resident and a longtime patron of Busboys on U Street, reckons he has visited the new digs almost every day since it opened. "It has the same great service, quality and atmosphere," he says. "It's a great place to unwind, relax and socialize."

Dana and Filipe Monroig, also of Arlington, originally visited because of a co-worker's recommendation and the promise of free WiFi. But the ambiance, conversation and crab cakes drew them back. "We've been here twice now," says Filipe, 31, "and we are definitely coming back."

-- Justin Rude (Sept. 16, 2007)