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Lunch in Ballston

I just started a temporary assignment in the Ballston area and I wanted to get some recs for the area (walking distance from Ballston Commons Mall). What would you recommend for lunch. Let me know your recs for both sit down and take out. One of the places I am looking to try soon is the sushi place in the mall with the conveyor belts. TIA.

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  1. Check out Rio Grande, Tara Thai, and Ted's

    1. Food Factory (Afghan). It's in an alleyway off Fairfax, just across the street from the Ballston metro. It shares it's space with another restaurant, whose name I can't recall offhand.

      I think there is much better Thai in the area than Tara Thai. What's Ted's?

      1. Try the Chicken Place (a Peruvian order at the counter establishment), next to the Shell station and the Ballston Mall.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Callisto

          Do you mean Super Chicken or Supper Pollo? I can never recall which is in Ballston and which is in Falls Church. If so, it's pretty good. They sometimes have a sign outside the door with specials, including tripe stew. I've never gotten it, though.

        2. The sushi place is the Ballson mall was a nice surprise for me and my boyfriend. Besides the movie theater, I have never had much reason to go to that mall and I was wary of a sushi restaurant being in it. However, it looked clean and had interesting specials posted so we gave it a try. The sushi is fresh and you can just see the sushi chefs take a lot of pride in their plating of it. The service has also been really great.

          1. I like Cafe Tirolo. It's located a little behind Tara Thai off of Fairfax. I think they have lunch specials there. It's an Austrian-Italian place with daily specials.

            1. Just had lunch yesterday at Aladdin's Eatery which just opened up in the old Flatop. It was quite tasty and the service was excellent. Nice addition to the neighborhood. Love Cafe Tirolo. Not thrilled with Tara Thai or Caribbean Breeze. We now have Teds Montana Grill and a PF Chang. Also, in the mall there is a mexican place downstairs called La Choza(?)...fabulous taco salad. Love the sushi place in the mall but I have to wonder how long the sushi stays on the conveyor belt? With that said though, the sushi I have ordered has been fresh and the service is good. Also, there is Mary's cafe in one of the office buildings. Food factory now has a buffet at lunch. Also, if you are a hockey fan, check the Caps training schedule, pack a lunch and go watch them practice in the new ice rink. Welcome to the neighborhood.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rHairing

                On top of that, come skate on Friday mornings at the rink- it's fun!

                1. re: rHairing

                  What kinda stuff is there at Aladdin's? Standard Middle Eastern stuff? How was the pita? It looks like they have a fridge stocked w/drinks, which leads me to believe they do carryout. Is that the case? And how pricy? (TIA for being patient w/all my questions!)

                  1. re: nicoleberry83

                    I just tried Aladdin's for lunch today. Yeah, kind of standard Middle Eastern stuff, but a pretty good sized menu. I had a "Rolled pita" with chicken that was fine. More like a burrito than what you get at your usual gyro shop. The stuff is wrapped in a piece of rather thin pita, then it's lightly grilled to toast it. I rather liked how it came out. And it was just the right size for a lunch, not a lunch and a half like you get at a lot of places. Prices for the rolls are $5-6 which is just my speed for lunch, too. I even found a parking meter right around the corner with enough time on it so I parked for free. That's sometimes a problem around Ballston.

                    I'll be back.

                2. You might want to try Tuttu Bene, an Italian restaurant, on Randolph Street across the street from the Mall. Tuttu is across Glebe Road from the local Harris-Teeter which has an excellent takeout section.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: BookGuy

                    If you work weekends, Tutto Bene does a Bolivian lunch on Saturday and Sunday. The owner is Bolivian, as I am to understand. Make sure that you ask for the Bolivian menu.


                    This is a real hidden treat of Arlington.

                  2. Tutto Bene does fabulous saltenas on the weekend. What I like is they have both menus on the weekend so I order saltenas and a salad. Perfect! As for the Aladdin questions. Just had lunch there again(didn't know we were doing a group thing today). Yes, standard Middle Eastern but they also have regular fare like tuna pockets and such as well as vegetarian options. There were several of us and everything we had was good. The meats were grilled perfectly and they have this hot sauce that I would take home in a bottle if i could. They have carryout and can have it ready in minutes. The prices are excellent. You can get a decent lunch for under 10 dollars. I really hope this place flies because I like variety at reasonable prices within walking distance of my office. Now if we could JUST get a pho joint!!!!

                    1. If your temporary job keeps you there until the warmer weather returns, Smoothie King is across the street from Ballston mall.

                      And I second the mention of Food Factory, though they're crazy busy at lunch time. I'd skip the salad place that's opened up on the front side of it. While the salads are good, they're really expensive for what little you get.

                      1. There are a couple of places that ought to be added to your list, although they're probably 5-10 minutes walks away from Ballston Mall.

                        Sangam, a pan-Indian restaurant in the Comfort Inn at the corner of Fairfax and Glebe, has excellent Indian food, including standards like vindaloo, curries, and biryanis and some more unusual dishes (at least to me) like lamb and chicken roganjosh. I haven't had the 7.95 lunch buffet, but my son tells me it's very good.

                        The other nearby restaurant worth walking to is Ravi's Kabob House, on Glebe at the corner of Pershing. I think you can walk there in 10 minute if you're a fast walker. This is one of the best Pakistani restaurants around, very popular and sometimes very crowded.

                        Neither Ravi's nor Sangam has the slightest trace of "atmosphere," so if you like paying for that these aren't the places.

                        I can't second the recommendations for Rio Grande (loud, mediocre food, very crowded), the Food Factory (a sad shadow of what it once was and not nearly as good as Ravi's), the mall sushi place (Asahi Kaiten, I think), P.F. Chang's (less than average chain food but lots of atmosphere to pay for), or Ted's Montana Grill (Ted Turner's new chain, featuring American comfort food, including some buffalo dishes).

                        If you want sushi, Matsutake is a chain but a pretty good chain. For a slower lunch, I've enjoyed the Latin fusion restaurant Caribbean Breeze, but can't claim that it's outstanding.

                        Finally, in March 2007, Rocklands is opening a branch on Washington Boulevard across from the Giant. This would be a longish walk, maybe 15 minutes, but Rocklands has far and away the best barbecue in DC (some of the best in the country in my opinion, and I've eaten way too much barbecue in my time).

                        1. Thanks for all the recs. I've been so busy I haven't done a lunch yet outside of the little place at in our building and a group lunch at Chevy's. I'm definitely looking forward to trying some of your recs, I'll post how how things go.

                          1. Interesting how perspectives can differ. I like Matsutake ok, but I think the sushi at Ashai Kaiten is quite good. I agree that Rio Grande is loud but I would characterize the food as decent rather than mediocre - but in any event, as good as it gets for Tex Mex in the area so I put up with it every once in awhile. I think Sangam is mediocre but then I have not been impressed by many Indian restaurants in the DC area. I also think Ted's is pretty good for a chain - inexpensive, decent food, nice atmosphere. I think Tara Thai is fine for an undemanding meal. Thai Terrace, however - not so much. And P.F. Changs - triple yuk.

                            I can't wait for Rocklands to reopen - it's a little pricey, but decent, and I hated the prior location in that bar by the funeral home. Hopefully they'll have a decent seating area and will get it together by the time the weather warms up!

                            1. I went to Matsutake for the lunch sushi buffet when it first opened. WAY too much rice for the sushi and signs on the wall saying you would be charged extra if you ditched the rice. Never went back as I found perfectly good sushi in the mall. As for RIO, I like the lunch specials with the fruit..just don't make the mistake I made with the sweet cream. Well... it looked like sour cream...

                              1. 1 Gen Thai restaurant in Ballston (same building as Ted's, and Chiptotle, facing Glebe) is very good. I don't like asian food that much, but thier spicy basil friend rice is excellent and also the marinated BBQ steak and chicken platter.