Archives for Off Campus

Grocery Heaven

grocery-storecropAs a new college student, you might find the task of shopping for groceries on your own a bit daunting. If you’re living away from the supervision of your parents, you now have the freedom to buy want you really want to eat instead of discreetly hiding your not-so-healthy purchases in the back of the pantry away from disapproving eyes. Where you go to buy those items goes hand in hand with figuring out how to budget your spending. Luckily for you, the City of Fairfax has a wide selection of supermarkets from the ordinary to the upscale within 13 miles of campus.

The nearest supermarket to campus is Giant in University Mall. There you can find most of your basic meal ingredients. You won’t find Wal-Mart-priced items here, but you’ll save a couple bucks on gas if you drive or shave off a few hours commute since it’s in walking distance. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Three miles away down Braddock Road in Courthouse Plaza is Safeway. It’s a little less pricier than Giant and a farther walk (carpool anyone?), but you get quality items that won’t drain your bank account and it’s open from 5 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore the City of Fairfax, catch the Green 2 CUE bus and head down to Trader Joe’s, your “neighborhood grocery store,” located in Pickett Shopping Center on Route 236. In addition to the usual grocery suspects, shopping patrons can find organic produce and products like Organic Super Crunch Cereal and Tea Tree oil every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. If you’re looking for a more conventional store, try Shoppers Food Warehouse in Fair City Mall. It’s just across the street from Trader Joe’s and offers an impressive international food aisle, as well as kosher items and colossal-sized doughnuts. Shoppers is open Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight. If traveling by CUE, be sure to find out what time the last bus runs back to campus before leaving to avoid getting stranded.


Amity Halal Meat & Grocery
10372 Lee Hwy
Sun.-Thurs.: 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
CUE Green 2 Rt. 65
1181-A Lee Hwy
6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
10653 Braddock Rd.
6 a.m. – 12 a.m.
CUE Green 1 Rt. 106
9622 Main St
6 a.m.–12 a.m.
CUE Green 1 Rt. 108
Super H-Mart
10780 Fairfax Blvd.
703- 273-0570
8:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
Gold 2 Rt. 68-A
Trader Joe’s
9464 Main St
9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Green 1 Rt. 106
11620 Monument Dr.
6 a.m.–12 a.m.
Whole Foods*
501 Market Commons Dr.
8 a.m.-9 p.m.
10350 Willard Way
5 a.m.–12 a.m.
Sun.: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
CUE Gold 1 Rt. 152
*Locations not accessible by CUE bus.


Bloom, a refreshing new supermarket based out of North Carolina, and specialized markets such as Amity Halal Meat & Grocery and Super H-Mart are other great options for all your grocery needs. Each store is accessible by CUE on Gold 1 and can be found down the Lee Highway/Fairfax Boulevard corridor. While Bloom is not exactly ethnic, this division of Food Lion has a lot to offer. The store was created with your shopping needs, expectations and behaviors in mind in order to give you a unique shopping experience while providing you with superior service and great prices. Bloom is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Amity Halal Meat & Grocery is a local Halal meat dealer. At Amity, the meat is prepared using Zabihah, the method of ritual slaughter according to Islamic law that says a prayer must be said before the animal is ritually slaughtered.  The store also offers Middle Eastern dish favorites from ful medames (fava beans) to za’atar (thyme & sesame spice mix). Amity Halal Meat & Grocery’s hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, they’re open between 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

At Super H Mart, a popular local Asian grocery, exploring and trying new things is half the fun. Vivid advertisements mingled with the addictive sounds of Asian pop music blaring from the speakers make you want to dance through the aisles while you shop between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday. While passing through the produce section, you lose count of how many new fruits and vegetables you’ve just encountered. You can have your choice of seafood ranging in freshness from dried to still kicking and if its kimchi you’re after, H-Mart has a whole kimchi bar offering samples to shoppers.

You’ll need a car to get to the next two places, but the journey will definitely be worth it. Located in its own citadel and purveying the maze of townhomes around it is Wegmans, the mammoth mother of all supermarkets. A word to the wise: it’s best to avoid shopping on an empty stomach at Wegmans. Your taste buds won’t be able to handle it. Once you’re inside, you’ll be compelled to buy every little thing you see because it all just looks so good. Wegmans has a kosher deli, sushi bar, sub shop, several self-serve carryout stations, and a patisserie where you can find every baked good imaginable, prepared fresh daily.

In addition to being able to find almost everything offered at all the other shops in the area, you can also have custom meals prepared for you at the Market Café located inside. You’ll leave the store with a feeling of satisfaction, a trunk full of groceries, and probably a lighter wallet. Like Bloom, Wegmans is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
The last stop on your grocery adventure is Whole Foods Market, Wegmans’ closest competitor. Tucked away off of Fair Lakes Parkway in the East Market Shopping Center, Whole Foods provides an almost overwhelming amount of food options. Upon entering the store, you’re struck with quite possibly the largest produce section to ever inhabit a supermarket, featuring both locally and organic grown produce. The further in you walk, the more you find. Whole Foods has four restaurant venues, an Italian café, a wine tasting room, two salad bars, a sushi bar, an extensive baked good section featuring European breads baked fresh daily and a variety of meat and seafood options that are prepared in-house. Stop in anytime between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Try the gelato; it’s fantastic.

The next time you find your fridge to be lacking, just grab you wallet or purse and visit any of these supermarkets.  You might be surprised by what you’ll find.

Do You Want Fries With That?: Cheap Eats

PrintFreshmen, we hate to break it to you, but after the first few months here, you’ll probably get tired of the food choices on campus. It’s like anything else, really—variety is the spice of life. The Johnson Center food court can lose its charm pretty quickly; the traditional chain restaurants available around the City of Fairfax can get boring, and honestly, how many Dollar Menu combinations can you create before your insides are McFried? While Southside is Dining Services’ ‘pride and joy, all the food options will eventually begin to repeat themselves.

With many students living off of their meal plans or Freedom money, budgets for off-campus meals are limited, leaving a lot of well-known restaurants out of the question for regular consumption.  So, in order to better enhance your stomach’s and wallet’s collective happiness, here is a comprehensive list of well-priced dining establishments, all within reasonable driving distance or bus accessible.

Potbelly  Sandwich Works

img_7687Closest to campus and reasonably cheap, Potbelly Sandwich Works in Old Town Fairfax will do the job just right for those looking for an excellent hot sandwich. All of their sandwiches are priced exactly the same, so for a little over five bucks you can get their popular “wreck sandwich,” which is comprised of every type of meat you could imagine between two slices of bread, a traditional roast beef or turkey sandwich, or even a pizza sandwich—which tastes just as good as it sounds. To top it all off, most employees will make a combination sandwich on request, such as a roast beef/turkey combo, or an Italian/meatball fusion. They also have excellent soups and cookies available on a day-by-day basis—go for the broccoli and cheddar soup, which is served on Sundays and Mondays.

Five Guys

In the mood for more traditional American fare? It doesn’t get much more traditional than burgers and fries. If that’s your bag, then Five Guys is the place for you. Located about two and a half miles away from campus on Route 50, this burger establishment is not one to be messed with. Their burgers are juicy and their fries are delicious, with the potato skins still on them for an added touch of authenticity. Plus, you customize these $4 to $5 burgers on a list for the cooks to follow, so you know you’re getting exactly what you want.

Mamma Lucia Ristorante Italiano

Mamma Lucia Ristorante ItalianoSandwich and pizza marathon, anyone? This reasonably priced pizza joint will provide huge slices of Italian-inspired goodness for your dining pleasure. Even though it’s a couple bucks per slice, it’s well worth it for the hearty portions they provide.

They also offer other Italian fare, namely their calzones.  Be careful though, this $6 monstrosity of cheese will give you a run for your money in trying to finish it. Really, what more do college kids want than unreasonable food portions?

Bombay Café

Speaking of more than you can handle portions, if all-you-can-eat is your preferred method of consumption, then Bombay Café on Route 29 may be the answer for you. Monday through Thursday, Bombay Café offers an encompassing buffet of three meat and vegetarian entree choices like tandoori chicken and butter chicken, along with rice, naan and potatoes, all for around five dollars.

Hunan West

If you prefer Chinese food, go with Hunan West, located in Kings Park Shopping Center down Braddock Road.  Though they don’t deliver to campus (unfortunately, we’re just outside of their delivery radius), it is well worth the drive to pick up an order from the restaurant itself. The portions are huge and their chicken dishes are absolutely scrumptious.

Brasa Roja

If you’re looking for other cultural cuisine, you’re in luck; the best pupuseria joint in the City of Fairfax, Brasa Roja, is in Main Street Shopping Center down the road from campus. They offer awesome authentic pupusas and other culinary delights for a very low price.

The next time your stomach’s growling and your wallet is too, get out of your dining-funk and take a trip to one of these nearby establishments for a cheap meal that will leave you full and satisfied.  After all, there’s nothing better than eating delicious food and knowing you’ll have enough money for the next time hunger strikes you.

David Lapidus | Staff Writer

Hunan West
8938 Burke Lake Road
Mon.-Thur. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sun. 12-10 p.m.
Five Guys
10940 Lee Highway
11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Gold 2 Rt. 68-A
Mamma Lucia
Ristorante Italiano

9650 Main Street
Mon.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
CUE Green 1 Rt. 108
Bombay Café
11213 Lee Hwy Ste E
11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
CUE Gold 2 Rt. 79
Sandwich Works

3955 Chain Bridge Road
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sun. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
CUE Green 1 Rt. 117
Brasa Roja
9984 Main Street
Sun.-Thur. 11 a.m.-
10 p.m.,
Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-
11 p.m.
CUE Green 1 Rt. 112


Dating around Fairfax


The weekend is fast approaching and you finally asked out that someone who has caught your eye in class. Now you just need something fun to do! Your date options are virtually endless in the City of Fairfax. We all know that Washington, D.C. is definitely a hot spot for dates, but if you live on or near campus, venturing to into the city can seem like a hassle, especially if you don’t have a car.

The City of Fairfax has plenty of restaurants and events that are romantic and entertaining and they cater to any college student’s budget.

Maybe the charming classmate you’ve had your eye on all semester is a fun-loving person you want to have a few laughs with. You’ll probably want to go somewhere fun to keep them entertained. Junior Mala Kabir enjoys recreational activities to keep things exhilarating during a date.

“I really like taking nature walks and going on adventures in the woods,” said Kabir.

If you and your date could use a little fresh air and blue skies, you should visit Van Dyck Park. There you can escape the hustle of busy traffic off of Lee Highway, to a green getaway you can make your own. Take a leisurely stroll along the trail, or even go for a ride on your bikes. If you want to be a little more active, the park has courts for volleyball, tennis and basketball, as well as soccer field. Once you’ve worked up a strong appetite, there are picnic shelters where you can share a homemade meal with your outdoor companion.

If you’re not fond of working up a sweat, but still want to keep things moving, then consider the Fairfax Ice Arena on Pickett Road to test your skate skills. You might fall and make a fool of yourself, but that’s all part of the fun. You can always use the bad balance excuse to do a few laps around the rink hand-in-hand—just in case you fall again, of course. A day at the ice rink is a reasonable $10 per person—totally worth it for the laughs and the full body workout you’ll get.

After all of the falling and fumbling, you’ll need to relax and laugh at your clumsiness over a nice meal. Old Town Fairfax is close by and has some of the best restaurants in the Metropolitan area.

“Eating around Main Street and the court houses is a nice place to hang out with your boyfriend [or] girlfriend,” said junior Alicia Tarancon. “They have delicious restaurants… and at night the little shops are all lit up.” Dining in Old Town Fairfax can be pretty pricey. However, Courtside Thai has delicious cuisine at affordable prices with attentive service. Take your date out front to enjoy your meal al fresco in a floral garden and overlooking the historic buildings of Old Town. What could be better than enjoying the company of your date while surrounded by lilies and rosebushes?

The Sweet Life Café offers tasty deli sandwiches and salads if you’re dining on a budget, but we recommend taking your date there for dessert. Sweet Life has a variety of treats—cakes, ice cream, fudge and chocolate—you can enjoy on their wrap-around porch.

If you and your date are interested in enjoying some good tunes, you should check out one of the restaurants around Main Street that offer live music or karaoke. Picture the twinkle in your date’s eyes as you impress them with your vocal skills; either that, or they’ll be doubling over in laughter as you bust a move onstage. Don’t worry, as the night plays out you’ll be having a fantastic time. Keep in mind that if you’re going the karaoke route, you should probably practice your high notes at home in the shower beforehand.

holding-handsFor a more casual atmosphere, you can visit popular Irish pub, Auld Shebeen on Chain Bridge Road. They have  karaoke on Tuesday nights, live music on Fridays and an Irish Jam session on Saturdays. Right down the street, Potbelly Sandwich Works offers free live music with local musicians. You can also check out P.J. Skidoos Restaurant on Lee Highway for karaoke on Sunday nights and a DJ onTuesdays and Fridays.

Want something a little more upscale? Vespucci, an Italian restaurant located just five minutes from campus on Fairfax Boulevard has live acoustic guitar on Fridays and Saturdays and an open mic night on Sundays.  Not only does Vespucci have a fun atmosphere, but their food is some of the best in Fairfax, and they are “the first and only trans-fat free restaurant in the Washington Metropolitan Area,” according to their website.

If you prefer to keep things low-key, you could always go with the classic dinner and a movie combo.

“I like to keep it casual, so dinner and a movie is always the ideal date for me,” said Tarancon. “It gives us time to talk over dinner and then relax together and watch a movie.”

If pasta is the way to his heart, Bellissimo Ristorante offers exceptional Italian cuisine in an environment that sparks romance. It comes at a price, however. Entrees range from $19.95 to $25.95.

Now for the movies: George Mason University shows late releases in the Johnson Center Cinema on weekends. Movies are free with a Mason student I.D. and only $3 for guests. If you’d rather escape campus for a night, maybe opt for the Cinema Arts Theatre. Just minutes from campus on Main Street, you can view independent and non-mainstream movies for a unique film experience.

Top off your dream date with something sweet. You could always stop at a Starbucks, or you could try something found only in the City of Fairfax. Head back to Sweet Life Café for homemade ice cream, all of your favorite coffee drinks or one-of-a-kind sweets.

You got all of that? Good. All you need to do is gather up the courage to ask your special someone out. With what you know now, you’ll be sure to have a blast. Fun daytime activities, movies, dinner and dessert can all be found just around the corner.

Nicole Ocran | Managing Editor, Editorial

Chanel Dority | Staff Writer

Where's the best places to eat? VoxPop finds out for you!

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