Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >
Jul 15, 2008 10:08 AM

Lunch Suggestions in Reston

I am meeting up with my cousin and her family next week for lunch in Reston. I don't get out to Reston much at all, so I don't have much knowledge of the restaurants around there. Based on my cousin's kids' preferences (the kids are 8 and 14 so they know how to behave in a restaurant), I think we're looking for either Thai or Italian food. Any suggestions for a nice, but not fancy, lunch option? Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thai Luang has some of the best thai in northern virginia and is a beautiful but not fancy setting. It's technically in Herndon, just on the Reston border (171 Elden Street).

    Cantina D'Italia is just across the street and is a solid neighborhood Italian restaurant. Both would be good options but between the two I'd pick Thai Luang. IMO either are better than the chain restuaurant options in Reston Town Center.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Meg

      Thanks for the suggestions, Meg. How long would it take to get to these places from Reston? You can see that I really don't know that area well at all. My cousin and family will be staying at the Westin Reston Heights, FWIW.

      1. re: cabster

        Either is only about 15 minutes to drive. I second Thai Luang, but would also add El Manantial, which is Mediterranean, and a bit easier to drive to. It'll be on the other side of the toll road from you.

    2. The BEST non-chain option in Reston is El Manantiel off Wiehle. They even have a brick oven for pizza for the kiddies, but the tapas are excellent.

      1. Reston Town Center- Paolo's is nice Italian at a reasonable cost. Outdoor seating and nice atmosphere....

        Big Bowl Has Thai options- not sure if it's a chain... also in RTC

        12 Replies
        1. re: Aphioni

          Hi, There's a newer, much better Italian restaurant in Reston Town Center called Il Fornaio. It's so much better than Paolo's, which is dreadful. If you go, reservations would be advised as it's quite popular. El Mantantail is good, but I don't care for the atmosphere. The dining room has a display case.
          Hope this helps,

          1. re: Martha

            FTW il Fornaio is a chain. but a very good one. i used to work a few doors from the SF location and we'd bring it in for clients. never failed (OK that was a number of years ago) but still...on my wage slave salary I'd splurge on their panini.

            1. re: Martha

              I agree - don't go to Paolo's. I had both awful service and food last time I was there.

            2. re: Aphioni

              Paolo's may be nice outside, but inside I rate it: 'extremely loud'

              1. re: lblau

                We've decided to go to El Manantial, but I appreciate all the great suggestions. My cousin and I decided that the menu would offer something to everyone, which was our main goal. Looking forward to my lunch, and again, thanks for all the suggestions.

                1. re: cabster

                  You won't regret it, and you'll go back often. Reston is Chain City, and El Manantiel is a breath of fresh air.

                  1. re: BigEats

                    I love the flan at El Manantail, if you're a fan.
                    Goods Eats,

                  2. re: cabster

                    I happened to try El Manantial today. I asked for sweetened iced tea, and the waiter said that while they didn't have any sweetened, that the tea was black currant flavored and very good. He was right.

                    I made the mistake of ordering their "crunchy and fried Thai chicken." While it was both crunchy and (over)fried, it was not, IMHO, Thai. It tasted like a poor imitation of sweet and sour Chinese food. Probably my fault for ordering something Asian at a place that bills themselves out as European.

                    The bread served before the meal was very nice. The service was attentive and pleasant. If I go back (this was my first time in Reston, and I don't have occasion to go... ever), I might try the pizza... but they should take that Thai dish off the menu.

                    1. re: chinkleDC

                      I went on Tuesday. I saw that dish and was amazed they put it on there. It's very out of place and I was extremely suspect it'd be worth much. As far as I can tell they're generally western Mediterranean. The salmon, for instance, is great.

                      I had the stroganoff on a whim on Tuesday, and it was the best version of that dish I've ever had. I haven't had too many, but it was so clear and away the best I've ever had that it's easy for me to say that.

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        So we finally went to El Manantial for lunch today. Overall I thought it was pretty good. I had blackened scallops over linguini in a creamy basil sauce. I'm not a huge fan of blackened meat or fish because I'm not wild about too much spice, but this wasn't too spicy (as requested) and the sauce was lighter than I expected (a good thing). My husband had the lobster bisque, which was quite tasty, and the crab cake sandwich, which he found to be pretty average. My cousin and her husband both had salads--one had avocado and crab and the other had mozzarella and tomato. My cousin didn't comment on her dish and her husband thought his was fine but it was a skimpy portion for an entree salad. My cousin's kids had the scallops (she loved it) and a cheese pizza (for the 9-year-old who was more interested in getting to the dessert). We did get a few desserts--a raspberry tart that was pretty good and a chocolate mousse that my cousin's daughter wasn't wild about. I think it wasn't very "moussey." Overall, a nice meal but not particularly memorable. I would also note that even though the restaurant was about half full, it seemed fairly noisy (or maybe I'm just getting deaf!). I very much appreciate the restaurant recommendation--my cousin's daughter was amazed at how many choices appealed to her! Thanks!

                        1. re: Dennis S

                          So we finally went to El Manantial today for lunch with my cousin and her family. Overall we all enjoyed the restaurant. i had blackened scallops over linguini in a creamy basil sauce. The sauce was lighter than I thought it would be, which was a good thing. The scallops were cooked beautifully. My husband had lobster bisque (very good) and a crab cake sandwich that he thought was nothing special. My cousin and her husband had salads--one with avocado and crab and one with mozzarella and tomatoes. My cousin didn't comment on her salad, and her husband's salad seemed a bit skimpy for an entree salad. My cousin's daughter had the blackened scallops and loved them, and her 9-year-old brother had cheese pizza, but he was more interested in getting to the dessert part of the meal. We had a few desserts--an adequate raspberry tart and a chocolate mousse, which my cousin's daughter didn't like--evidently it wasn't "moussey" enough. Overall a very nice lunch, although the place was pretty noisy considering it was only about half full--or maybe I'm just getting hard of hearing! I very much appreciate the recommendations from everyone. Thanks!

                          1. re: cabster

                            I almost went for the scallops the last time I was there. I'll probably get it next time thanks to your report.