Of late, the densely populated South Arlington strip has become synonymous with the county’s debate over whether the area should have streetcars. But the community’s real narrative is best told through its family-owned businesses as well as its havens for artistic and spiritual expression.

Bangkok 54. Photo by Kris Coronado

Bangkok 54
2919 Columbia Pike

Owned by the second generation of the Sookmeewiriya family, this Thai restaurant swells with the tantalizing aromas of soy and garlic. Curries are the house specialty, as well as seafood. Fans of the restaurant's adjacent Asian grocery can rejoice; the market reopened in September after renovations because of a fire.

Sarah Lynn of Journey Yoga. Photo by Kris Coronado

2501 Ninth Rd. South, Suite 95

Yoga entered owner Sarah Lynn's life in 2000, when she began accompanying her mother - who had recently been diagnosed with a precursor to osteoporosis - to yoga class. "One day, the teacher didn't show up for class, and everyone's like, 'Sarah, you should teach,' " recalls Lynn. Today, the former family and consumer sciences teacher is celebrating her seventh year in business. The studio offers dozens of classes a week, from prenatal programs to power hours.


Columbia Pike Artist Studios. Photo by Kris Coronado

Columbia Pike Artist Studios
932 S. Walter Reed Dr.

On the second floor of this nondescript building is a labyrinth of ingenuity: studio spaces for about 20 artists who paint, sculpt and creatively contemplate. The studios aren't just a place for area artists to work among their peers. It's a supportive community in which an impromptu chat can lead to helpful critiques of one another's work. "We have wonderful conversations about art," says artist Margaret Panas. "It's a constant nourishing environment."


Bob&Edith's Diner. Photo by Kris Coronado


Bob & Edith's Diner
2310 Columbia Pike

This is where diets go to die. Griddles are constantly sizzling, and a bell announces the arrival of piping-hot plates bearing omelets, cheeseburgers and other diner fare. Started by Bob and Edith Bolton in 1969, the 74-seat spot is now run by their 51-year-old son, Greg Bolton, who is working to open another Bob & Edith's in Springfield. He hopes many more will follow. "We believe we have something unique."


Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse
2903 Columbia Pike

Dozens of tables and cushiony chairs face a movie screen that plays second runs of films not long after their box-office debuts. The venue also features comedians, but it's the discounted movies ($6.50; $2 on Mondays and Tuesday) paired with adult beverages that keep a loyal following.

 Correction: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect address for Columbia Pike Artist Studios. The article has been updated with the correct address.

For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at wpmagazine@washpost.com.