Old Town Virginia’s home for Authentic Seafood
Located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, VA The Wharf Restaurant offers a cozy yet sophisticated atmosphere. Our menus capture a unique blend of innovative recipes and traditional Seafood dishes. For over 25 years our focus has been on providing exceptional hospitality to our neighbors and friends in Alexandria.
“The staff was a delight the food was beyond amazing and the prices considering that you are eating quality seafood was extremely good - we had their Rockfish Special & Lobster sampler dinners! So delicious - glad we didn’t miss this place in Alexandria - definitely coming back next time we are in town!”
"Honestly one of the BEST seafood meals I have had in years"
The history behind our building
In May 1749, the Royal Governor of Virginia signed a bill to create a new town along the Potomac River on 60 acres of land owned by John Alexander. Fairfax County surveyor John West Jr., assisted by a seventeen-year-old apprentice George Washington, laid out the streets and lots for the new town of Alexandria. The original lots were purchased by many historic notables, including Lawrence and Augustine Washington, John Carlyle, William Ramsey, George Mason, Colonel William Fairfax, and George William Fairfax. At the foot of King Street, the water’s edge was along Water Street, later named what we know today as Lee Street in honor of another famous Alexandria family.
Within a decade after its founding, Alexandria developed into an important seaport.
Its economy revolved around exporting the crops of the land (first tobacco, then wheat) and selling the vast diversity of goods that came into the port of great merchant vessels. By 1795, the value to Alexandria’s exports was $948,000 and the port was the seventh-largest in the new nation.
In 1785 the Virginia legislature appointed Colonel George Gilpin to resurvey the town and to grade and pave the streets. In regarding the streets, Gilpin cut down the steep bank that existed along Fairfax Street and used the excavated land on which the Wharf building and other warehouses along lower King Street were constructed.
Map of Alexandria showing the forts that were constructed to defend Washington during the Civil War
Creator: Robert Knox Sneden - Map from the United States Library of Congress's National Digital Library Program under the digital ID gvhs01.vhs00032.
Although specific construction dates are elusive it is believed that the Wharf building was built sometime in the 1790’s. One indication of the building’s age is the fact that the floor joints supporting the second floor were notched into the beams at both ends; this is a construction technique that was widely used before 1800.
One of the first businesses in the new building was the Miller Company, described in history books as “importers and dealers in crockery, china, etc…” The Miller Company installed an elevator, the lift of which can still be seen next to the bar next to the restaurant and the pulley wheels in the attic.
May 1865- Cargo ships at the wharf in Alexandria, Virginia from Pioneer Mill. Russell, Andrew J., photographer
In 1885 the owner was in debt to the State of Virginia and the building was sold at auction for $3,000. The building’s location at that time was described as “No. 27 King Street, 60 feet East of Water Street,” but in 1888 the street address was changed, with Julian T. Burke Jr., an ancestor of the family that owned Burke and Herbert Bank at King and Fairfax Street, to 119 King Street as a feed and grain warehouse.
In March 1997, The Wharf Restaurant was purchased by new owners interested in preserving the character of the 200-year-old building while providing an exceptional dining experience. The original columns and beams were preserved, and traces of a Civil War-era fire can be seen in the charred texture of some of the wood to this day. All of the original stone and brick interior was retained, with only sandblasting and sealing.
Today, we continue to embrace the historic nature of the building while providing our patrons with the finest seafood and service available.
Come by for lunch, a cocktail or order takeout - Open every day.
Monday– Thursday 12:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Friday 12:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Saturday 11:00 AM – 10:30 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM –9:30 PM
Brunch 11 AM-3 PM Saturdays & Sunday
Also Open for Brunch on Monday Holidays!
DINE-IN & OUTDOOR SEATING