Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Draper’s Steak & Seafood, at 3936 Blenheim Blvd. in Fairfax, is in a location steeped in history. Next to Fairfax City’s Old Town Square, it was built on the former site of the super-popular Fairfax Surf Shop, which – after 43 years – moved to nearby Courthouse Plaza to make way for this restaurant.
Adorned with a colorful and eye-catching mural extending greetings from the City, it also stands in front of the Draper House. Constructed in 1821, this local landmark is the second-oldest home in the Fairfax Historic District. So it was with great excitement that the restaurant recently held its official ribbon cutting on its one-year anniversary.
“This day has been a long time coming,” said Economic Development Authority (EDA) Commissioner Dawn McGruder. “Years ago, when I came here to get soccer cleats for my son, never could I have imagined such a beautiful place. The EDA helped develop a new, elevated concept in the heart of Old Town Fairfax. The Draper name is rich in City history, and the mural on the back of the building’s exterior is a fitting welcome to Fairfax as drivers round the bend from Main Street West onto Blenheim Boulevard.”
Also congratulating Draper’s on its anniversary was Old Town Fairfax Business Association (OTFBA) Executive Director Tess Rollins. “They let us use their parking lot during our Asian Festival and will participate in Rock the Block, so they’re already an active member of our community,” she said.
“We started working on this project in 2017, and we’re excited and proud to have been here a year now,” said owner Aaron McDade. “And we look forward to being here many more years to come.” He said Fairfax City was involved in the name, and that was fine with him: “They sent me 12 names to consider, and Draper’s was the name that most resonated with me because the Draper House is behind us.”
When it came to the vision for his restaurant, however, McDade knew exactly what he wanted to do. “As a City resident for 15 years, I wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant for people to come to and not have to travel far to enjoy a great meal,” he said.
Serving lunch and dinner, Draper’s is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. It’s closed Mondays, but offers brunch, Saturday-Sunday, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. And happy hour, Tuesday-Friday, 3-6 p.m., has its own menu, separate from the restaurant’s regular offerings.
Draper’s focuses on steaks, such as filets, ribeyes and New York strip, a variety of signature seafood dishes, plus pasta entrees and chicken dishes, as well as salads and vegetarian offerings. “There’s something for everyone,” said McDade. “And we change our seafood dishes every couple of months. Some of our most popular are our shrimp and scallop risotto, our salmon entrees, branzino and an Asian ahi tuna dish.”
It also features a Deluxe Angus Burger with caramelized onions, crispy bacon, white cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, Draper’s sauce and French fries. And the crabcake sandwich made from jumbo lump crabmeat comes with lemon aioli and fries. Sides include salad, grilled asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts and crisp fingerling potatoes.
Among the decadent desserts are a chocolate torte, blueberry sour cream pie, white chocolate bread pudding, Key Lime pie, and Banana Cream Dream – an inventive concoction of deep-fried banana cheesecake, cinnamon-sugar, a tortilla wrap and vanilla ice cream.
McDade said business has been good, especially on the weekends. Reservations are available via Open Table or at the restaurant’s Website, drapersrestaurant.com. The sleek, black-and-white interior boasts large windows and high ceilings which give it a spacious feel. And an already-popular highlight is the inviting, outdoor seating on Draper’s roomy, covered patio overlooking the Kitty Pozer Garden next to Old Town Square.
“We’re excited to be here,” said McDade. “We love how the building turned out and the neighbor-friendly ambience we’ve created. We have delicious food and a great bar in a cozy place that also has an upscale, modern feel. It’s like a slice of D.C. in Fairfax City.”