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Sweetwater Tavern – Falls Church, VA

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Nothing sour about it.

Sweetwater Tavern – Falls Church, VA
3066 Gatehouse Plaza
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 645-8100
Hours: 11a-10p(Sundays)-11p(Tue-Thu)-12p(Fri-Sat)
Website: Sweetwater Merrified

Now and then in Chewru-dom, we come across a truly great place to eat and aren’t ashamed to tell you all about it (after all, that’s how we earn those shiny pennies in ad revenue). While on a weekend excursion to our nation’s capital, we went the cheap route and stayed in Virginia as opposed to downtown DC. It was an easy choice given the lodging rates, but what surprised us was just how much we enjoyed dinner at Sweetwater Tavern. SPOILER ALERT: it was better than the Smithsonian Cafeteria!

We found Sweetwater using our hotel’s intranet restaurant-o-matic selector thing. In short, it wasn’t a far drive from where we were staying (Marriot Dunn Loring) and we thought the menu online was pretty decent. The building itself (both outside and inside) really made me feel like I was in a Texas Roadhouse, but the comparison is only skin deep. The real draw for Sweetwater appears to be their in-house microbrewery which offered dozens of great homegrown choices for beers. I’m not typically a big beer drinker, but I was in the mood and saw a low-calorie ‘Naked River Light’ beer that seemed to call my name. For the casual drinker that I am, it was far superior to Miller Light or anything you’d get in the mainstream. Autumn’s malibu and diet coke was sufficiently potent.

For our main course I ordered the fresh fish, which for the day was a type of rockfish ($22), and Autumn tried the jambalya pasta ($18). Everything on the menu sounded good, so it was extremely difficult to decide. Especially delicious was the freebie fresh bread – out of this world! I can’t remember the specific name of the bread, but it was as close to a doughnut as a non-doughnut could be. Our waiter asked if we wanted a second basket, but we declined as we knew we know we’d feel guilty for all those glorious carbs. Prices were fair but leaning on the moderate side; Sweetwater definitely isnt the cheapest, but you’ll get a much better meal than cheaper competitors.

Our food was delivered with surprising swift, with excellent presentation by the chef. My fish looked mouth-watering even before I tasted it, laying over a bed of portobello mushrooms, spinach, and roasted peppers. Fried leek strips adorned the top of the perfectly cooked, 10oz whitefish. It was flavorful, tender, and just unbelievably good for a ‘retail’ chain. Better than fish I’ve had at most pure ‘seafood’ restaurants, that’s for sure. Out of all the places we’ve reviewed, I’d say this fish and the tilapia from the Melange Cafe are the best I’ve had. Autumn’s jambalaya was a concoction of sauteed shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, tomato, scallions, and penne pasta in a spicy creole cream sauce. If you love pasta, and Autumn does, it won’t get better than this. The sauce was a real treat, being loaded with flavor without being too heavy. There were ample portions of the meats, a decent serving size (she couldn’t finish it), and an excellent blend of all the ingredients into one delicious bowl.

For some reason, the waiter thought that the fish was so big (including the veggie portions) that I wouldnt need anything else to eat, so he told me that if I finished it (easy!) he’d provide us a warm flourless chocolate waffle on his dime. I was pretty skeptical of his intentions, but hey, why not follow up on it. Sure enough, after finishing my fish, he delivered us a no-charge ooey-gooey chocolate waffle with vanilla ice cream. It’s hard to describe, but it’s kind of like half-baked cake batter with a chocolate center with a scoop of ice cream melting alongside. In other words, it was really, really good. We were extremely tempted to order another one.

The service was excellent. Our waiter obviously got a big tip for the freebie dessert, and upon leaving, no less than (4) Sweetwater staff told us to have a good night and thanked us for coming. It was kind of strange, actually, which made me realize how much appreciation we’re not getting in other restaurants. I give credit to the management for creating a very friendly, efficient environment, and give a lot of credit to the chefs for preparing excellent food. This isn’t a bargain-basement eatery by any measure, but if you’re in Falls Church, check this place out and you won’t be disappointed.

Pros:

– Excellent service
– Excellent food
– Comfortable seating
– Ample parking

Guru’s and Autumn’s Score: 4.9 Chews
★★★★★
Subjective rating: Top rated.

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