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Jun 5, 2008 12:44 AM

Nearest decent food to Dulles Airport?

Any bright ideas greatly appreciated.

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  1. The clocktower in Herndon is south of the toll road at the Elden St. exit (second from the airport) has a few options. Sweet Basil Cafe, Minerva for Indian (and apparently those folks have opened an Indo-Chinese place near Sweet Basil as well). Skip the Thai place there. The pho place is okay.

    Worldgate is at the same exit but north of the toll road. There's an Indian Supper club there, a passable Japanese place, and a number of other options such as pho, wings, etc in different places.

    Just a bit further north from Worldgate on the right is another Indo-Chinese place next to a new outlet of Foster's Grille. If you continue north through the light that's right there, and dip behind the Chipotle you'll find Tarin Thai which is my favorite Thai in the Herndon/Reston area. Except for lunch their business is mainly carry-out even though the dining room is welcoming.

    These are probably your best options if you're indulging a long layover or something. If you're picking up and heading off somewhere, then you've got many more options - but you might want to indicate the direction in which you'll be heading.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      Thai Luang at 171 Elden street is arguably the best Thai restaurant in the Reston/Herndon area; their specialty is duck with basil. (Still prefer Thai Square in Arlington overall, however.)

      1. re: Joe H

        It's an extremely close second in my book. To each his own. TL is equally, if not moreso, hard to find than TT.

        1. re: Dennis S

          I will match "#56, Penang Jumbo Shrimp" against any curry in the United States: this is a GREAT dish, equal to any Thai curry on this side of the Pacific. This is not about "authentically hot," rather it is about complex non compromising flavors that have depth and are extraordinarily delicious. Honestly, I have not been to the Thai place you mentioned; still, I have been to Thai restaurants all over the U. S. and there are several dishes at Thai Luang that are simply, equal to any I have had anywhere. The Penang Shrimp is one. This is not a "good dish." This is a "great" dish that I would be honored to serve in my home.

          1. re: Joe H

            Deal - I'll try that one. If you get to Tarin Thai I recommend the Pad Ped Pah - a northern style dish (they're shifting up the menu and it's either not on it anymore, or they changed the name, but you can still ask for this dish and they'll make it readily).

            To clarify a couple of points, really in my mind the two are tied for first in the Herndon/Reston area and serve some slightly different purposes. Tarin unfortunately suffers from location, and has ended up more of a take-out place, which is really a shame. Luang probably had that problem at one time and so I hope Tarin can overcome the location obstacle similarly. Unfortunately so many are drawn to the travesties like Thai Palms, Busara, and the one in the clocktower.

            Almost like our chow-off years ago btwn Reston Kabob and Shamshiry, I wouldn't consider TT and TL purely apples to apples at this time - there are some considerations for each in the total package. If you eat in during the evening, TT doesn't have the life that TL has - which again I hope changes for TT.

            It's a much closer match, but in my mind TT delivers more toward "street food Thai", where TL aims for the more refined, higher space. But, those are just My perceptions.

            And probably at bottom, to be honest with myself, when my wife and I think Thai near home, it's only ever a choice between the two, and I end up supporting TT more often because I want to keep the choice, rather than shrinking back to only one good Thai option in our area.

            1. re: Dennis S

              At $22.99 the Penang shrimp SHOULD be the best Thai curry I've had!

    2. Taste of burma in Sterling is good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chaofun

        seconded. also thai by thai in sterling is putting out some of the best thai in the area and has been consistently better than recent trips to thai square.

      2. We are going to drop off family to Dulles today, and we always use that as an excuse for excellent Afghan food at Kabul Kabob in Springfield. Usually it takes us 10-15 minutes after we get off the Dulles Airport Road. The restaurant has a large, yet empty seating room and the decor is lacking, but the food is excellent. Try the vegetable dishes like their kado (pumpkin) and be sure to get their white sauce.

        Kabul Kabob
        6802 Commerce Street
        Springfield, VA 22150

        24 Replies
        1. re: bmorecupcake

          Gee, I sure wouldn't think of Springfield as close to Dulles!

          A recommendation I'd add to those above is Thai Basil, in a shopping center on Rt. 50 just west of Rt. 28 in Chantilly. There's also a Minerva (same chain as the one in Herndon) in that shopping center. And, if you like barbecue, Willard's BBQ, just east of 28 on Willard Rd. (also in Chantilly), is excellent.

          1. re: chriscatva

            And Szechuan Village is down there, too! That might be the stop to make!

              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                Huh? Not unless there's an accident or something. According to Google Maps, it's "7.2 mi – about 12 mins". I worked very near that shopping center for 18 years and made countless trips to and from the airport; I doubt it ever once took as long as 35 minutes.

                Oh -- I think you mean Springfield is only 35 minutes away, not Chantilly! Sorry, I was confused about what part of my message you were responding to!

              2. re: chriscatva

                Rawal Kabob is also in there -- it's somehow related to Ravi Kabob, which gets lots of good reviews.

                There's another kabob place in the plaza at Centreville Rd and McLearen Rd, which is very convenient to the airport (it's right off 28). I haven't tried it since it changed from the prior incarnation as Madina Kabob, which was Afghani-run and pretty good.

                1. re: Bob W

                  Wegman's supermarket is just a bit north on Rt.28 and has a dine-in section and you can shop for stuff not easily found elsewhere.

                  1. re: Bob W

                    For Kabobs there's also Charcoal Kabob in Herndon, much like Kabob Palace in CC (though not quite to that standard), and Reston Kabob, even closer to the toll road. The latter isn't good for atmosphere, the former barely is. Both are good for food.

                2. re: bmorecupcake

                  I use a trip to Dulles as an excuse to go to Haandi for some of the best Indian in the area. Definitely highest rated for butter chicken and eggplant bhartha (at least in mine and my husband's opinions).

                  1222 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA 22046

                  1. re: KWynn

                    Haandi is NOT "some of the best Indian in the area." It was ten years ago but we have grown quite a bit since then.

                    1. re: Joe H

                      nor is it close to dulles.

                      btw, what is the resto in the clocktower area that gets rave reviews? i've lost any thread with info on it. thanks.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        You're probably asking about Sweet Basil Cafe (SBC), I'm guessing.

                        1. re: Dennis S

                          that might be it! it may have come up with my query on po-boys? thanks dennis!

                      2. re: Joe H

                        It seems if you're "allowed" to praise the Thai restaurant you cited on the basis of one dish, this poster is "allowed" to praise Haandi's cooking on the basis of the two specific dishes he/she cited. Frankly, I love Haandi's eggplant bhartha. If you know a better version, I'd be happy to learn about it.

                        While I'll concede Haandi isn't close to Dulles, it certainly may be a convenient stop on the way for the KWynn family. Hop on Rte. 66 for one stop. Exit for the spur to the Dulles Access Road. Or head to Great Falls Street (one block away from Rte. 7) and take that directly to the entrance to the Dulles Access Rd. at Dolley Madison.

                        1. re: Indy 67

                          Haandi just doesn't compare to a number of restaurants in D. C. and even Bethesda. At one time this was considered very good Indian-for the D. C. area. But not anymore. Heritage India, Rasika, several others are FAR superior.

                          I'm not praising Thai Luang for one dish; actually for many with one particular stand out that I've ordered a number of times. At this point I've probably had twenty or more different dishes off of their menu.

                          1. re: Joe H

                            I've heard very good things about an Indian restaurant called Rangoli in the South Riding development -- a few miles west of Rt. 28 on Rt. 50 -- but haven't been there myself. It has had excellent reviews in the local media.

                            1. re: chriscatva

                              I'd recommend Rangoli. Their food definitely has a kick -- even something like butter chicken, which I found to be impressively complex.

                              Interestingly, Rangoli is about 1/4 mile from the southwest corner of the Dulles Airport property.

                              1. re: Bob W

                                I've been wanting to give it a try -- have to do that soon!

                                I think I read somewhere that Dulles is the largest US airport in terms of acreage. Whether or not this is so, the property is larger than one would realize. (However, this doesn't mean it's 1/4 mile drive from the airport to the restaurant -- probably 9-10 miles, I'd guess.)

                                1. re: chriscatva

                                  Purely FYI: Dulles is not the largest US airport in terms of acreage any more. I don't know what is the largest, but I know that Dallas-Fort Worth, when it was built (and it was built since Dulles), became the largest in the North America. Not long after that, the "new" (at the time) airport in Montreal was bigger than Dallas-Fort Worth for largest in North America (but not U.S.).

                                  1. re: Potomac Bob

                                    I think the new Denver International Airport (DIA) has them all beat in terms of area. The airport property is bigger than the island of Manhattan. But back on topic, I'll say either Chantilly, Herndon, or Reston as the nearest places for a bite. Sichuan Village on Rt 50, near 28 is a good choice if you like authentic sichuanese food.

                                    1. re: Potomac Bob

                                      The acreage that DFW occupies is much larger than Montreal ( )( althought I think you are right about Denver) where I spent last night at the new A Loft from Starwood's W group-it is an outstanding hotel and the first of its kind anywhere. I cannot say the same for the Montreal airport where there is ongoing major construction. While it is a large airport, it is congested with lengthy serpentine walks from one point to another. Also, perhaps remarkably, some of the worst food I have seen in any airport on either side of the Atlantic. From my perspective (and note that four flights that I was booked on cancelled because of weather in the D. C. area Tuesday night) one of the most poorly conceived airports anywhere. For comparison, I really like Munich's which is the best I have found anywhere.

                              2. re: Joe H

                                Thanks for the backup, Indy. And yes, I said "in mine and my husband's opinion". I like Rasika too--definitely more convenient for us as we live in Penn Quarter--but not traditional Indian. I've raved in other postings on their Chicken Makhani, Palak Chaat, and Black Cod, but many of their dishes (including Palak Chaat and the Cod) are not available on more traditional indian menus. We do like Heritage but prefer Haandi. Again, just our 2 opinions here. We like Haandi's butter chicken since it is all white meat and doesn't have any skin. And yes, the VA outpost of Haandi is enroute to Dulles from my place.

                                1. re: KWynn

                                  Why does there need to be a debate? One of you likes it, the other doesn't. I happen to agree that the butter chicken at Haandi is very good; I've never had better anywhere. But if I were going to Dulles, I would never go to Haandi - it's in the opposite direction for me. I notice Joe H. responded to Indy 67 but did not answer the question - who has better eggplant bhatha? And I'd like to know, in your opinion, who has better butter chicken?

                                  1. re: Potomac Bob

                                    butter chicken should never have skin.

                                    raaga's ctm is better than haandi's butter chicken, which is very mild, mild, mild. no character, imo.

                                    btw, baingan bharta is so easy to make well, esp. in summer when eggplant is almost free.

                                    btw, while this is not a recipe board, this will easily make you swoon:

                              3. re: Indy 67

                                I use to sample bhangain bhartha as the test of an Indian restaurant but i gave up after being disappointed too many times in this area. Udupi Palace in Takoma Park, MD makes a good version -- don't know how it compares to Haandi...

                        2. My favorite has got to be Taste of Burma, right off Route 7/28 in the Countryside Shoppng Center. I have always had excellent service & delicious, different meals there. Friends that I drop off at the airport are always impressed! The desserts are wonderful.

                          1. Pollo Inka in Herndon, right off Elden and very close to Dulles