In praise of Annandale

It's one of the smaller NoVa communities and it has a coherent downtown.  For me it has a useful frame shop, tennis club, dentist, a Western Union branch, Giant (easy in and out), and it has one of the best public libraries around, all within walking distance on a single strip and one side road.  Natasha gets her massage there.  There are plenty of small shops, ethnic and otherwise.  It has the best food of any single locale in the D.C. area, including a Korean porridge shop, Korean barbecue, gloopy, disgusting Korean noodles, Korean fried chicken, a Korean tofu restaurant, a Korean bakery (the best hangout around, period, plus the best bakery around), a Korean restaurant specializing in pumpkin dishes, non-disgusting noodle houses, a Korean crab and fish and chips place (with kimchee too), at least two restaurants with "Korean-Chinese" food, and a bunch of 24-7 Korean restaurants, with varying emphases but with Yechon as having the best late night or early morning crowd.  Many of the other places stay open until 2 or 3 a.m. (you'll find many reviewed here).  The town has over 900 small businesses run by Koreans and catering mostly to Koreans.

On the strip is also the area's best Afghan restaurant, a good Peruvian chicken place, and just off the strip is an excellent Manchurian restaurant, A&J.  There is a decent community of antique shops, including a place with some good Afghan textiles.  South of 236 you can find a colony of contemporary homes, rare in most parts of Fairfax County.  Annandale has the central branch of a 60,000 student community college.  The traffic is bearable for the most part, the rents are reasonable by NoVa standards, and you have easy access to the major arteries of 495 and 395.  The schools are well above the national average.

Exxon/Mobile has a base on the edge of town.  The first (third, according to some sources) toll road in America, ever, ran through Annandale.  Mark Hamill once lived there.  It has a lovely Civil War church and a rustic barn.  Its history dates back to 1685 and it is named after a Scottish village.  Many of the people in Annandale are very physically attractive.

What's not to like?

West Annandale is more of a cultural desert than is East Annandale, though it has some Korean cafes and billiard shops.  All of Annandale is ugly, with a vague hint of unjustified pastel in the central downtown area.  The Into the Wild guy grew up there.  They did fight on the wrong side in the Civil War but that has little relevance to the current town.  The used CD shop has closed up.

The pluses outweight the minuses.  You get all that — and more — for only 50,000 people or so.  Boo to Annandale naysayers.  Hail Annandale.

From the comments:

I was thinking about the interesting contrast between Annandale which is ugly but is very livable and has wonderful services, vs. some small towns abroad I've visited which had a beautiful town square but limited and overpriced services and few really good or interesting restaurants, with everything being very expensive. Undoubtedly, some tourist visiting the latter towns and spending "summer money" in the busy clubs and cafes would feel the latter superior, and might think Annandale a wasteland. But they may not want to live in said quaint town, especially if salaries were below Virginia standard.

Comments

There's far too much spontaneous order and voluntary exchange for most people's taste.

And to think that when I grew up there there were mostly fast food restaurants, gas stations, and barbershops. Oh, and a K-Mart shopping center with Tom Weston's restaurant where Mary Chapin Carpenter used to play before ten to twenty bar patrons.

When I graduated from Annandale High School, there were 2,500 students. It's ethnic population consisted literally of five blacks and five Asians, give or take one or two from either ethnicity. Today it's just 31% white.

Tyler's correct, Annandale has truly transformed into an interesting and diverse area with lots to offer many people of different tastes and talents. Isn't that what globalization is all about?

I remember
35 sweet goodbyes
When you put me on the Wolverine
Back to Annandale

village? VILLAGE? I'll have you know that Annan is a Royal Burgh.

As a recent graduate of Annandale High School (Class of 2007), I'm getting a kick out of this.

I'll be happy to field any questions.

Having just recently moved to Annandale, where we bought our first house, I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised with how livable it's been. I'm not a big fan of suburban sprawl, but I've convinced myself that it's worth being so close to so much great food: I've spent half my life in Japan, where I was irreparably spoiled by the quality of ingredients, and still find myself disappointed more often than not when I eat out, Japanese cuisine or otherwise. Annandale has been a nice change; all it needs now is a halfway decent robataya or izakaya to make it near perfect.

I would like to put in a plug for Cafe Miso, near the Safeway on 236. It's a Japanese-Korean fusion place with some of the best tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) I've had anywhere. Their takoyaki is also pretty good.

What is this world coming to when people will praise Quentin Tarantino yet naysay on sweet Annandale? Verily I tremble for this country when I reflect that God is just.

I was thinking about the interesting contrast between Annandale which is ugly but is very livable and has wonderful services, vs. some small towns abroad I've visited which had a beautiful town square but limited and overpriced services and few really good or interesting restaurants, with everything being very expensive. Undoubtedly, some tourist visiting the latter towns and spending "summer money" in the busy clubs and cafes would feel the latter superior, and might think Annandale a wasteland. But they may not want to live in said quaint town, especially if salaries were below Virginia standard.

you can't walk anywhere.

What are all these disgusting noodles you keep referring to?

And does this post immediately proceed the previous one because you want to prove your multicultural and cosmopolitan bona fides after linking to explicitly and rabidly anti-Semitic and racist sites like The Occidental Quarterly?

The impossible-to-overrate Chug notes that the portrayed church in the image is probably a 1899 church, not a Civil War church. It seems Annandale may have two good 19th century churches. Chug believes that the Civil War church burnt down and there is a reconstruction of it from 1879.

What are all these disgusting noodles you keep referring to?

Click the link above to the same post on TCEDG and there is a link to gloppy noodle sauce place.

Thanks for the great memories! My first two rented townhouses after college were in Annandale. The location choice was almost entirely predicated on the desire to be "near major arteries". When I moved in I wanted to be near the highway (495 or 66) so that I could get to everywhere else easier. As it turned out I fell in love with Annandale and spent much of my time there instead. You CAN walk to many places. Plus you can run everywhere too. I trained for two marathons while living there. There's a great pedestrian bridge that crosses 495 into Wakefield park for tennis, swimming, technical single trail bike riding and a super running trail around Lake Accotink.
If you still think you can't walk around Annandale try moving to suburban Philadelphia, where I live now. You'll appreciate the paths and sidewalks of Fairfax County much more, even the older parts.

It seems that every large metropolitan area has at least one suburb that fits the description: vibrant, terrific ethnic foods, good massage/manicure/pedicure, great prices, and ugly. New York has Flushing; Toronto has its new and better Chinatown in the suburb. It seems that only a large metropolitan city could give birth to such a unique offshoot. Lower cost suburban land can host lower income immigrant populations; and enough employment opportunities can keep the area growing. The urban dwellers and the residents of higher income areas can "free-ride" on the valuable goods and services the area provides while not living in the middle of the unsightly sprawl. It is very hard to compare such an urban offshoot with a quaint little town in the middle of nowhere. Without DC, there will not be Annandale. For someone who chooses to live in Annandale, her first decision is to live in the DC metro.

The enterprise is formally known as Exxon Mobil, without any letter E's.

"I was thinking about the interesting contrast between Annandale which is ugly but is very livable and has wonderful services, vs. some small towns abroad I've visited which had a beautiful town square..."

Why would one contrive such a vague and straw-man comparison except to support non-walkable urbanism?

All of you are newcomers.

Annandale hasn't been the same since the demise of Topp's on Columbia Pike. It was THE hangout for Annandale High kids in the mid 60s.

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