Blue Arbor Cafe


Don Rockwell Review

“Service was attentive and caring”:

Tidal water has a presence, a cadence, a palpable feeling of being. You know the moment you arrive, without looking, that you’re there. The water pulse is in the air, and it’s more than witnessing the sudden drop off landscape behind a row of buildings. You can feel it. The enduring rhythm, ions, and humidity are also nature’s sedative. People residing in a small seaside town live several steps lower on the anxiety scale. Shallow life worries are replaced by the constant reminder of nature and the broader world, with an ever-present hum of liquid life bigger than ourselves.

Occoquan lived for me on a recent Friday morning. I arrived around 9:30, early for a breakfast appointment, and walked the empty, main drag on Union Street. Damp, chilly, counter-intuitively dense air embraced me, emanating from the river as a thief of the heat. Union Street is the stuff of my wish-for-the-world business dreams. The avenues showcase small mom and pop shops, cafes, boutiques, and services, many with hand-painted signs and the other personality tells of an owner carefully expressing the hopeful art of selling. I considered each storefront, made a quiet wish for prosperity and happiness, and sent virtual smiles to any new patrons who would enter their doors that day.

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The Blue Arbor Cafe, tucked away on Union and Mill streets, was my destination. Recommended by a friend, the website seemed promising of a good experience, reinforced by the enthusiastic reviews on FourSquare. I opened the door to perhaps a dozen tables, via two small rooms, and greetings from nearly every staff member. My dining companion had chosen a table adjacent to a bay window. It encompassed a stained glass interpretation of the building, providing a cozy, sunny environment. I received an attractive menu of surprisingly enticing soups, sandwiches, and breakfast fare, a good-value price range of $4 to $12. The daily specials board indicated a lobster roll option, and at least one soup of the day.

Paralyzed by good choices, I wound up mirroring my companion’s selection, berries and cream crepe ($5.95). I dined lightly with the intention to order a couple of sandwiches for takeout. Unfortunately, our lively conversation ran overtime, and I was unable to do that, so I must return in the near future to try the French Orchard (ham/apple/brie/pepper jelly) and the Not A Reuben (which read very much like a Reuben, there must be a story there). The crepe was immensely delicate and flavorful, graced with honorably treated fruit and rich, whipped cream. Split this as a dessert when you go, if you can look past the homey options such as Bourbon Street pecan pie and peanut butter bomba.

Service was attentive and caring. The friendly owner shared his smile with us, and every table, halfway through the meal to ensure complete satisfaction. We lingered far longer than we should have for such a small repast, and business was picking up dramatically by 11:30, but we felt zero pressure to “turn the table”. And the thoughtful server literally ran out to my dining companion’s car with alarm when she realized he left his phone on the table. These are signs of authentically caring hospitality, leaving each patron a bit more relaxed than when they arrived.

I noted the small town lull only goes so far. On the quiet street, no strangers passing by made eye contact nor uttered “good morning” as they focused intently on their destination or data devices. The pulse, ebb, and flow of the calming river tide followed me to my car, out of the area, and evaporated back towards its source as I merged onto the crowded highway to return to the city.

– KMango on March 2, 2013

Blue Arbor-95

Yelp Reviews

“Original, and very tasty little dishes”

Oh, I love this place for so many reasons… nice nice nice people working there. Original, and very tasty little dishes. Like places have sandwiches and crepes, but they have totally original sandwiches and crepes. After taking about 20 minutes to figure out what to get, my mother and I mapped out a strategy to each get 2 things that the other didn’t, so we could try more items. Then we planned to come back when it got cooler and try 4 more.

My mom got the French orchard sandwich, which is ham, tart sliced apple, brie, and mixed greens with apple-pepper jelly on sourdough. YUM! I got some kind of sandwich with avocado. I just look for something with avocado on any menu and get it, it’s my rule. I got coleslaw which was so good, but different. For dessert we got crepes. Everything was yummy. Service was great. We had the most adorable sweet waitress. I would go here every time I go to Occoquan, there is no reason to go anywhere else.

– Melissa M. from Herndon, VA on November 11, 2010

“Give it a try; you’ll be glad you did”

New to the area and discovered this place while exploring the town. Really like it: small, quaint and non-pretentious. It is what it is. However, my 9-year old son who rarely lives outside his computer games and really doesn’t try to relate to the ‘real world’ of his parents loves this place and has insisted we make it a weekly tradition, and we have: three weeks in a row now.

The meals are reasonably priced and sized. You won’t find large or American portions here; just enough to meet the expectations of a standard meal, enjoyed for the tastes each selection provides without becoming gluttonous. Give it a try; you’ll be glad you did.

– D.B. from Woodbridge, VA on January 23, 2013

“The food is awesome, and I love the little picnic tables outside!”

I love, love, love this place! The people there are soooooooooo friendly! The food is awesome, and I love the little picnic tables outside!

I got the ‘not a reuben’ and it was simply delicious! The food is so good, and I like when I order it to go I can see it being made. I also love that the owner, is always there too- makes me feel as if only the best can come out of their kitchen.

Excellent job! I’ll be back for more!
– Savannah T. from Alexandria, VA on May 24, 2012

“I will definitely keep this place in mind next time I’m down in Occoquan”

I had a fantastic lunch here last weekend. The cafe entrance is actually in the courtyard off Union Street, but there are signs guiding you the few steps off the street. I had the Orchard sandwich-granny smith apples, ham, brie and honey on toasty sourdough bread.

It was amazing! I opted for the vegetable chip side (they were Terra brand chips, which I love!) and had one of their homemade italian-style sodas (caffeine free!). My friend had the turkey avocado sandwich with the coleslaw side and enjoyed it. I will definitely keep this place in mind next time I’m down in Occoquan!

– Emily B. from Oakton, VA on March 30, 2011

“It’s a cozy quaint restaurant”

The owner of OFF THE BEADING PATH in Occoquan VA highly recommended this. So after buying beads, us 3 girls went to the Blue Arbor. It pays to ask locals for recommendation because we had a great time! It’s a cozy quaint restaurant. We had BLT sandwich and Chicken Sandwich in croissant.

You can opt to make the sandwich into a salad. They have a choice of the yummy coleslaw in raspberry vinaigrette or veggie chips (yum – reminds me of Hawaii). They open 10:30 – 4:00 in the weekends and serve breakfast too. Next time I go – we’ll try the deserts – tiramisu, new york cheesecake.

– H.T. from Lake Ridge, VA on July 24, 2010

Trip Advisor Reviews

“Quaint, wonderful, great experience”

“Quaint, wonderful, great experience” All of Occoquan is amazing, you can’t really go wrong. But definitely try the Blue Arbor Cafe, and if you’re a fan of basil, try their basil vinaigrette dressing for your salad (promise you won’t regret it!).

Its a nice view, and great friendly quiet environment, tucked away in a private setting. A++++

– Roland P. from Falls Church, VA on January 21, 2013

“Great value and always consistent appetizing specials”:

“Niche Eating” What a golden opportunity to eat at this little tucked away gem. Great value and always consistent appetizing specials. Great value and terrific service.

– Jane M. from Fairfax, VA on January 12, 2013

“Highly recommend the French Orchard sandwich”

“Great Lunch!” Highly recommend the “French Orchard” sandwich. Blue Arbor has a simple, non-fussy menu – salads, soups, and sandwiches, and everything is very well thought out, creative / imaginative. Oh, and the whole place is very clean, cozy, inviting, the service is friendly and attentive.

– Anna U. from Alexandria, VA on July 20, 2012

My favorite Occoquan secret”

“My favorite Occoquan secret” Each of my twenty-something kids thinks this is our special lunch spot! I take my friends of all generations here too. A pleasurable experience on many levels, dining at Blue Arbor is always a treat. I was disappointed showing up one Monday when they were closed :( The menu is mainly soup, salad, sandwiches, all with a modern and delicious twist on a classic.

A variety of breads is available for the sandwiches. The salad dressings are homemade and unique – try the basil ranch!! Care is taken in the preparation and presentation of the dishes, and although portions are on the smaller side, the meal is more than adequate with the interesting side dish choices. Service is super friendly and trivia cards on each table keep the conversations flowing. The decor is just plain quaint and worth the visit alone. Can’t say enough about this place, but would prefer not to so I can keep it my own special private place for lunches with my kids.

– Lace Ace from Burke, VA on July 16, 2012

Service is great and quick and you can order nice beverages and flavored sodas”

“Great Cafe”If you’re in Occaquan for a browse around the area, I would highly recommend the blue arbor cafe. They’re tucked right around the back of a few shops next to the post office. They have excellent sandwiches, with very unique titles and ingredients. It’s pretty fun to eat a sandwich here (and I don’t usually eat sandwiches). Service is great and quick and you can order nice beverages and flavored sodas.

I think their strength is the sandwiches– their breakfast is decent too though. They have two tables outside, and maybe a dozen tables inside. It’s a pretty small and cozy kind of restaurant inside, and it is right next to an ice cream shop.
It’s a good price and great quality, and I usually come here with a friend or my sister to have an afternoon lunch. If you’re an out-of-town visitor, don’t forget to go by the wharf area. Nice view, and lots of ducks and geese!

– Lara John from Fairfax, VA on May 3, 2012

“Both sandwiches were excellent each with its own unique flavor and very tasty”

“What a good find” Heading South from DC on I-95 we exited the hwy at Occoquan (exit #160) just by chance looking for a lunch spot. Someone on the street recommended the Blue Arbor Cafe. What a great find. It was a beautiful fall day so we decided to eat outside. The service was fast and the food was excellent.

I had the “Not a Rueben” and my wife the “Chicken Salad” made into a wrap. Both sandwiches were excellent each with its own unique flavor and very tasty. The prices were very ordinary but the service and sandwiches were not. Please give this place a try. We’ll surely be stopping by at our next opportunity.

– Jwkinggaic from Cincinnati, OH on October 13, 2010

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