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Hobbits welcome to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ at Bilbo Baggins

Rachel Nania, wtop.com

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Most J.R.R. Tolkien fans know Bilbo Baggins as the main character in “The Hobbit,” but to many Northern Virginia residents, the name brings to mind a hobbit-themed, family owned restaurant in Old Town Alexandria.

Mike and Linda Armellino established Bilbo Baggins at 208 Queen St. 32 years ago.

“When Mike first found the location he felt like it was a place where hobbits would be comfortable to eat, drink and be merry,” says Linda Armellino, when explaining how the establishment, nestled on a quiet residential block, received its name.

“We’re off the beaten path a little bit.”

The restaurant, which serves dishes like Frodo’s French Toast, Gandalf’s Pie and Green Dragon Pizza, exudes a quiet, fantasy-like ambiance with low ceilings, dark lighting, a cozy fireplace and hand-painted hobbit murals.

And while Bilbo Baggins may appear off the beaten path, the Armellinos expect a big crowd to pack the space this weekend for the premiere of Peter Jackson’s film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Linda says the restaurant attracted large crowds for the three premieres of the “Lord of the Rings” movies. However, this year, the Armellinos are stepping up the celebration.

“We really kicked it into gear this year,” Linda says. “We’re making (the premiere weekend) a little more special than in years past.”

That’s because “The Hobbit” is all about the character Bilbo Baggins.

To do the character – and the restaurant – justice, the Armellinos will feature hobbit-inspired drink specials and will pass out house-made, gluten-free goodies for a weekend-long celebration.

Linda explains the special drinks – such as Ent-draught cooler, Miruvor Martini and Orc Vitality Shot – are “drinks that hobbits would have consumed on their quest.”

“Hobbit” fans looking to take the big screen celebrations a bit further are encouraged to dress up for the party, as some diehard customers have done in the past, Linda says.

“It’s not quite the