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Mar 9, 2000 09:59 AM

HELP needed in Northern VA

  • j

Ok, here's my problem _ I'm visiting for the weekend from NYC to see my Aunt, who was just in a bad car accident. I came last weekend, too and ate such horrible food that it made everything that much worse. (Let's just say Chef Boyardee makes better pasta than I had last time.)

I'll be staying in Sterling, VA. and the hospital is in Reston. (Falls Church, I recall, is also close by.) I'm a vegetarian, but I'll eat just about anything; Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, American. I'm willing to travel, too (Heck, if it gets really bad I'll go into DC where I know I can get good chow.)

PLEASE! Help me, fellow chowhounds! Save me from the terror of Denny's and Taco Bell!!!

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  1. There's plenty of tasty food in Arlington, in the Rosslyn/Clarendon/Courthouse area, near the Metro. For Vietnamese, you could go to Queen Bee (on Wilson Blvd, I think, maybe)or the recently re-opened Pho 75, or Nam Viet (in Rosslyn, not far from Key Bridge). I haven't eaten at the Blue and Gold brewery in Arlington, but there's that. Crisp 'n' Juicy, on Lee Highway, is supposed to have terrific Peruvian chicken. Let us know what you find....

    10 Replies
    1. re: Jessica

      Oooo ... this sounds much better than Denny's!! I'll be driving; can I just get into the middle of town in Arlington and find some of these spots?? I'm pretty good with a map.

      1. re: Jennifer

        If you have a map, you should be fine. If you have a phone book, you'll be even more fine. If you were to drive to, say, the Clarendon Metro stop, park, and walk around, you'd find some non-Denny's food, definitely. Wilson Blvd. is a good bet, probably. This week's Washington Post Food section had an article on chicken that mentioned Crisp 'n' Juicy and gave the address - you can still read the article on - just click on "weekly sections."

        1. re: Jessica
          stephen kaye

          in arlington, hit 1-red/hot/and blue bbq. also hot #2-appetizer plus for sushi

          1. re: stephen kaye

            Blue 'N Gold is long gone, so you can skip that one. Ningaloo, 2001 Clarendon, has sushi, which I expect you can get in a vegetarian version, and Bardo beer. To get to the Clarendon strip from Sterling, get on I-66 East and get off at the Glebe Rd exit. This puts you at a light, which you should go straight through. You're now on Fairfax Dr. Drive 6 or 8 blocks and turn right whenever you feel like it. In a few blocks you can go left on Wilson. this runs you straight onto Clarendon Blvd, which is one-way, with Wilson a block to the left, also one-way.

            Back out by Sterling, check out the Tortilla Factory on Elden St in Herndon. Great stuff.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch

              Arlington is definitely a good choice--it is one of the oldest Vietnamese communities in the country and has long supported lots of restaurants (I wonder if the old standbys like Queen Bee are getting faded by now--I don't know, but they've become such the "destination ethnic" spots for DC folks that I have to wonder). But poke around there (Wilson Blvd, court area) and you should do well. Also, there used to be a wonderfully fresh, tasty Cambodian restaurant called Angkor Wat in McLean, I think on or near Lee Blvd (could be wrong). It is probably gone or radically changed in the 12 years since I've gone. Very dated tip, I know, but you sound desperate.

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                One more idea--your post got me scanning the DC/Balmer boards, and I noticed that there are at least 2 recs for Ethiopian places in Crystal City, which is basically Arlington: Addis, and Skyline Cafe. No addresses given. That's a little bit east of where you are, but tasty veggie stuff might be worth the drive, if those posts are correct and the places still exist.

                1. re: Mary

                  With my fascination for Ethiopian culture, I should know more about the restaurants. A quick phone book scan reveals:

                  Skyline Cafe, 3821-A S George Mason Dr, Falls Church, 703.824.0240. (Note: you need to dial all 10 digits locally; we just got a new overlay area code.) This makes more sense than Crystal City, as this is the area known locally as Skyline. To get there from Sterling, I guess I'd take I-66 East to 110 (you can only go one way here), then go to I-395 South to Rte 7 West to George Mason Dr, which is maybe 4-5 lights.

                  In the local Ethiopian Yellow Pages there are listings for Hanna's Exotic Market & Restaurant, a small grocery/restaurant in the Landmark area of Alexandria, 4701 N Chambliss St, 703.354.4646, and Happy Eatery, 6521 Little River Tnpk, Alexandria, 703.354.9002. I've eaten kitfo and tibs from Hanna's. It was my first time w/Ethiopian food, so I can't really comment on it. To get to these places, take I-395 South to Duke/Little River Tnpk (Rte 236) West. Turn right at the first light, and left at the next one to get to Hanna's. Happy Eatery must be close by, back on 236.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    I had a late lunch at the Skyline Cafe in Falls Church today. Good kitfo. The server eyed me up and down and told the kitchen to make it medium-hot, and this worked out about right for me. When she brought out the food, she explained that there was some raw meat and made sure that was okay with me. (I had ordered kitfo leb leb, which is cooked rare rather than served raw in the traditional way.) It was good. The iced tea seemed a bit watery, but I was given an entire pitcher, which was especially nice on this abnormally warm spring day.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      Oops, forgot to mention that Hanna's in Alexandria no longer runs a restaurant. The market is still there, but not the restaurant.

        2. re: Jessica
          Robert Van Rens

          Just had to put in my two cents, a bit late...Crisp and Juicy in Arlington (Lee Highway) is superb...two other places in the same Lee Heights shopping center are Pica-deli and Cafe Parisienne Express (avoid the steak frites; otherwise, everything I've eaten there has been excellent).

        3. Not much right in Sterling, but Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg isn't too far away. Very interesting menu. By far the most popular restaurant in Leesburg.

          Reston: a new place called Saint Basil is getting a lot of buzz. Fortune is a good authentic Cantonese restaurant. Very popular for dim sum.

          Herndon: wide variety of ethnic restaurants. Pollo Inka is good for latino chicken. I think this one is Peruvian. Thai Luang is one of my favorite Thai joints.
          A Taste of the World has authentic Filipino dishes, as well as Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Cajun! Something for everyone! There's also a Bertucci's in Herndon, which is very dependable.

          1. Thank you everyone!!

            Unfortunately, everything was so crazy at the hospital I didn't get a chance to stray too far. I did see the Tortilla Factory that someone mentioned and I'll give that a shot next week!

            But _ I did find an Indian place that was quite good in Herndon. I was buying no-slip socks at the K-mart when I spied Harvest of India. (On Edlen street, near the Herndon Parkway.) A quick peek inside revealed a buffet table, loud Indian music, and five, count em, five other solo diners. (always a good sign, I think.) Everyone was eating the buffet, so I joined in.

            The food was excellent (you'll forgive me that I don't recall all the proper names): a nice, mild and sweet tomato-based dish with veggies and almonds was the perfect counterpart to a firey yellow lentil/veggie dal. And there was this roasted okra, tomato and onion dish that was smoky and rich. My favorite _ that cilantro dipping sauce _ was sublime (some places, I think, use too much heat, which kills the subtle mellow flavor.)

            The nan was also good and there was this really unusual chopped salad with tomatoes, onions, green peppers and honeydew melons. (!) There was a shrimp dish which I didn't try and a so-so potato dish in a yoghurt sauce.

            The bill came to $10 with a soda and I left fat and happy.

            I also had a pretty good pizza another night; also nearby on Elden street at a place called Venus. Almost like a half-pan pizza (crust not too thick like Chicago pan, but not thin, like NYC pizza.) Rich sauce, not too much cheese and plenty of toppings.

            Again, thank you all _ I've printed all your suggestions for future tips! You helped make a bad weekend a bit more tolerable!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jennifer

              Hey, glad everything worked out for you in northern Virginia. Thanks for the information about Harvest of India. That could come in very handy someday for myself or my loved ones...

              1. re: Jennifer

                If you go to the Tortilla Factory, try the carne machaca, a great shredded beef dish. If you ask for it 'the old way,' you can get it with the tortillas on the side instead of having it stuffed in a burrito.

              2. I've noticed people have been recommending Ningaloo - went with my boyfriend about two weeks ago. They were still learning to use their cash register. I personally liked the atmosphere and they have a goofy little stream on the back of the bar that they float boats with candles down (actually I had been under the impression that they floated sushi to you which I thought was so strange I had to see it. That turned out to be too good an idea to be true - I mean do you really want sushi floating past all the customers). Anyway, i thought that the sushi was passable, but not as fresh as I like. If you go, order the specials, you can get about 25 pieces for $40.

                My real recommendation if you're interested in Sushi is to hop on the metro and go to Faragut West (2 stops from Rosslyn). Walk 4 blocks to Cafe Asia (1911 19th ST I think - check that in the phone book). If you're there from 5:30 - 7:30 they have sushi happy hour - $1 a piece for most sushi and it's very fresh.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cap Hill

                  I'm not knowledgeable on sushi, and in fact I recently fessed up to trying my first sushi (outside of the veggie stuff) at Ningaloo, so I'm not qualified to comment on it. However, I believe the alpha hound and I agree that the Bardo beers at Ningaloo are pretty special. Speaking of which, Bardo beers are now available in DC at the Big Hunt, and I think one other place, as well as at Bardo cousin Chamdo in Herndon, VA.

                  Nonfunctioning sushi boats are no surprise at a Bill Stewart place. He's always trying things, and not all of them work out as planned. I love the decor at his places, and am particularly pleased with the juke at Ningaloo, housed in a grundy tank (an old British beer tank), with a plexiglass cover on the manway, so one can see things moving about inside the CD player. Continuing the beer theme, he sawed off the top of the old Bardo grain silo and used it to enclose a seating space at Ningaloo.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    Yep, by dissing the sushi I did not mean to diss the beer. For my money Bardo's makes the best micro-brew in the DC area and it's a shame you can't get it at more places, but I'm pleased that the Big Hunt gets it now.

                    As for getting truly great sushi, might be worth shelling out some bucks and going to Sushi Taro in Dupont or (slightly less recommended but with an immensely friendly staff at the sushi bar, Toro Sushi in Dupont.

                2. gosh, Jennifer, you're in trouble: all your recommendations are gone! Blue and Gold lasted about six months, if that; the beer was imported; the food was defrosted; and the crowd was cigar-friendly goombas from the b's and t's (ask a New Yorker).

                  For edible stuff, you need to go the Eden Center, at Seven Corners, and try some *real* Vietnamese (my fave is the Five Sisters, but they're all good). Queen Bee is old and tired, and too many mentions in Washingtonian; Red Hot & Blue couldn't possibly hold a candle to the jukiest joint in Memphis. Go native!