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Moving to Columbia Pike...seeking all kinds of recs

I'm moving near Bob & Edith's. I already love Bangkok 54 and Lost Dog. What else is on the pike that's worth my time, and what should I avoid? Very adventurous eater, enjoys all types of food etc.

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    1. re: Steve

      ballston/falls church...i currently live near eden center.

    2. I'm not too familiar with that end of the Pike other than Matuba and Attilla's, but closer to Bailey's Crossroads you have Flavors (the best fried chicken and other "soul" foods), Meaza (Ethiopian), Malibu Grill (Brazillian All-you-can-stand meat on skewers, not as good as the high priced ones, but a lot cheaper).

      1 Reply
      1. re: MikeR

        And if you keep heading south/west on the pike until you get to Annandale, you're in the korean zone with many good places; I just enjoyed Vit Goel the other day but there are lots of options.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598746

        Also, the German Gourmet market is a nice place for a german sausage fix. On Columbia Pike near Rte 7.

      2. Near Bob & Ediths there are a bunch of places, BKK 54 is pretty good but their grocery store is fun to prowl through, I got a can of Thai Curry paste there that was excellent and the premade meals look good as well. There is a really hit or miss Thai place up on Columbia Pike near Glebe Road. Thai Square has the best Thai food in the DC area when they are on their game, and when they are not, it can be worse than the Thai food at Ballston Commons Mall. Their crispy duck, their pork with basil, their calimari, their chili soft shell crabs all are some of the best I have ever had. Down the road a bit is an old Arlington standby, the Broiler. It is serving a pretty good steak and cheese sandwich. If you search this sight you will get a good idea of the level of fanaticism some of the Chowhounds have for steak and cheese sandwiches. This is one of the 3 best in the Arlington/Alexandria area. They also have an odd but kind of fun pizza, it is more like a meat pie than a New York style pizza but it is ok. Further down the Pike, Pike Pizza has pretty good Saltenas, though not the best they are definitely worth trying out. Near Bailey's Crossroads I kind of like Jerusalem for their lunch buffet, rich and tasty!
        I have heard good things about Rabieng, Matuba and Aby's, but I haven't been in so long that I would be of no help there.

        1. At Bailey's X-Roads; Jerusalem, Machu Picchu, Mirage.

          Mirage has a limited menu, but sometimes they make a really good dibi (they have different specials every day), so ask for that if you don't see it listed. If you ask for the tah-deeg (bottom of the rice pot), they might not have any, but at least they will know you are serious.

          At Machu Picchu, go for the squid in its own ink, ceviche, lomo saltado, fish corellano, and sometimes as a special they have recolte relleno (stuffed hot pepper).

          At Jerusalem, go for the makluba, makuhsan, and the om ali for dessert. Exceptional.

          I notice you didn't mention Thai Square, so I have some sapecific recs for there: The tile fish appetizer, the crispy catfish appetizer, and the pig knuckle stew (don't be put off by the name, this is just a really good pork stew) They also have a secret Thai language menu, which I can't read, but if you ask for it, it will have on it a really great duck noodle soup, a sour curry, and a fish maw salad. All great. Like me, you'll probably have to ask for help with this.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            If you're up as far as Bailey's, Raga on Rt7 is a pretty good white table cloth Indian place. Pollo Campero on the pike just past the Bailey's shopping center has great fried chicken and sides. Full Kee in the shopping center has a good, extensive Cantonese menu; I also get take away noodle soup from there from time to time. There's a pho place next to it that I haven't tried.

            1. re: Henry Spencer

              The pho place is perfectly acceptable. Other offerings there are good as well. Full Kee here is not as good as the Chinatown location, but serviceable. Mostly I save my Full Kee calories for when I am downtown.

              1. re: Steve

                I haven't tried that pho place but have become a phan of Pho Golden Cow at Baileys Crossroads center east of Columbia Pike on Rte. 7.

            2. re: Steve

              Got a chance to try Jerusalem yesterday for lunch but didn't get the makluba (looking forward to going back to sample that and explore the menu more). Was not impressed by the tahini dip with the falalfe (it really need a shot of lemon juice and some yogurt)l, but otherwise I enjoyed the food. Got the Damascus-style shawerma (basically a tortilla wrap presentation) and no pickled turnips, but the meat was nicely prepared/spiced. I thought the falefel themselves were tasty and nicely crumbly inside although should have been pulled out of the fryer a few seconds sooner. Thanks for tipping us off to this place.

            3. I used to live across the road from B&E - the little house by the church. The info I'm providing is for a few places not yet - or barely mentioned, but my info is old, so it's potentially changed.

              Attila's (mentioned) is pretty decent. The falafel used to be quite good. Kitchen is the same for the take out and sit-down portions, but donner kebab was only served in the sit-down side.

              Around the corner from Attila's was a pizza place that used to get some mention on this board. It's just on the other side of the corner frame shop (if still there). No real room for sitting, but a great take-out pizza. Sort of the Greek style with thin crust.

              El Puerto is an interesting Peruvian place behind 7-11 - they serve mainly seafood IIRC, and a lot of it is fried, but I liked the place. Being able to speak Spanish is helpful - otherwise service can be spotty. On weekend nights, the place will turn into a dancehall of sorts that I learned to avoid, since I was there for the food (so I just went other times).

              Abi is the place next to El Puerto, I believe. Good breakfast's and decent all-around Mex type fare. Not a destination place, but if you live there, a good place to have nearby.

              Aclacatl is next to B&E 2, and used to be really really good Salvadoran fare. There was one report a couple of years ago that it wasn't what it used to be and there've been no reports that I've seen since, but it used to be a real destination place.

              The taco truck nearish the Popeye's around Mason drive is passable - but with TECC nearby, who cares? There used to be one near Weenie Beenie that was good, and of course the WB itself.

              Also down the hill is Shirlington - Bungalow Billiards for wings.

              Oh, and this is an odd one. There's a building in the parking lot of CVS. No place seems to last there long, but oddly enough almost all entities that set up shop there that I tried were good (and many were referenced on this board by others - including Steve and Joe H IIRC). The last one I knew was a Mexican shop with chorizo tacos that - while different - actually somewhat rivaled TECC.

              Enjoy the hood - I loved that place - and was SO glad I lived there during the last blizzard - Pres Day of 02, where I could walk to so many good places.

              And what better place to watch certain movies than the draft house cinema, being able to walk home.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Dennis S

                Thank you Dennis. Were it not for your original TECC rec, I may still weigh 100 pounds :) I'm so glad to hear about a good new taco joint and to see that I could potentially be moving into a neighborhood with passable Mexican food...I've been so disappointed with the offerings in this area (and I'm a huge Mexican-food snob) that it overjoys me to hear I may soon be in a hub.

                Speaking of the drafthouse -- how's the food there? I've never eaten there...usually just focus on drinking :-p

                1. re: littlew1ng

                  Do NOT get the food at the draft house - stick to beer or wine (and the wine is probably best to avoid).

                  There are a couple of hole in the wall places on the other side of Washington I always wanted to try - one was Ethiopian I believe and the other is a sandwich place, IIRC. There is Lalibela II, now at Walter Reed and Glebe - it used to be good, but again I haven't been in a while. I forget what went into their original location on the Pike - the white building on the North side btwn Walter Reed and Glebe.

                  1. re: littlew1ng

                    The great chorizo taco is no more, unfortunately. This place was originally an Ollie's Trolley in the middle of the parking lot near the CVS. It has changed hands several times. My last visit was only ok, definitley not for a Mexican food snob.

                2. Thanks everybody. I'm moving January 1, so I'll be sure to report back on any finds.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: littlew1ng

                    Best of luck, Little Wing (great name, by the way). I've been down here a short ways from the diner myself for about a year and have to agree that your better options are a bit of a drive (or Metrobus ride) west on the Pike. But Thai Square and Bangkok are good, and sounds like you're already familiar with my personal favorite, Lost Dog. In fact, I've probably seen you there and not known it — I'm there quite a bit.

                    1. re: DonaldGately

                      I don't like conveyor belt pizza. Lost Dog is a step up from delivery, but not a big step.

                      1. re: Steve

                        Eh, no one ever claimed it was haute cuisine. It's a pizza joint, and a cozy, fun one at that (the large variety of irregular ales doesn't hurt).

                        And it's way better than delivery (if by delivery we're talking Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, et al).

                  2. question: have any of y'all been to this rincome thai restaurant? i see it alot, and there are always people in it...but i've never heard anything about it.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: littlew1ng

                      That's the one in the brick strip across from Giant, right? I went there a couple of times early in the decade. To the plus side, that was one of those death locations, so the fact that they're still there is one thing.

                      Generally I gave it a pass - especially back then in the heyday of Thai Square and B54 - there was no reason to go to Rincome. However, we were there once when a party of four came in and got a soup where they added ingredients to the bowl at the table - and that looked interesting (though I never pursued this).

                      Oh - and maybe you're thinking of the place in the hotel? It was good, above average in general (and the hound that turned me on to CH liked it a lot), but again, with B54 and Thai Square on the same block I had a hard enough time deciding between those (usually came down to ambiance), so the place in the hotel worked its way off our list.

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        I don't think that's where the Little Wing means, as Rincome has a primo location just up the block from Lost Dog ...

                        Without getting too crazy-specific here, I'll just say Rincome's OK — nothing to write home about, esp. with Bangkok 54 and Thai Square repping Thailand more admirably, and all within easy walking distance of this joint.

                        Still, the price is right, and what I've had hasn't been bad at all, plus the space itself is pretty appealing.

                        1. re: DonaldGately

                          Neither of the places I described? One's in the hotel, across from B54, the other across from Giant? Thinking again on a different day, I thought Rincome was the one in the hotel and Manee Thai was the one across from Giant (if still there).

                          1. re: Dennis S

                            Oh, I'm sorry, I misread you. Yeah, Rincome's across from Bangkok 54. And Manee Thai is indeed the place across from the Giant under construction. Don't even get me started on that place, though ...

                      2. re: littlew1ng

                        I ate at Rincome last night with some friends who had all moved out of the area more than a decade ago. We had a really really good meal and I will be a regular again. I used to eat there when I lived in Arlington and it was always good, consistent and reasonably priced. This is the one attached to a motel across Columbia Pike from Bankok 54.

                        We had yum voon sen and yum pla krob, red curry with chicken, and pla lad prig. Everything was good, fresh and properly spicy. They will not dumb down the spices unless you ask them to. The yum pla krob had a bit of sweetness to it that I am not used to but it was still very good and I'm always happy to see it on the menu. The whole deep fried flounder with basil and chilis was as good as I've ever had- a nice big very fresh flounder, although we were surprised at the $45 price tag on that one. Overall, however, the prices are reasonable and the service is good. I still need to get to B54 but folks should not write off Rincome. We are lucky that there is such good Thai in the area. OTOH, I ate at Duangrats a few weeks ago after not doing so for 15 years and not much has changed since I stopped eating there last- overpriced and mediocre.

                        This is such a great thread as I just moved back to Arlinton and am getting back in the groove. Now I need to find that Indian restaurant in Arlandria that was so good. It was in a tiny strip mall next to a dry cleaners under an apartment building and i can't remember the name. They made the best bel puri I ever had, along with killer tandoori chicken wings and complex birianis. I think it was on Glebe but it may not be there any more. If anhyone knows if its still there and the name I'd appreciate it.

                        1. re: Ellen

                          are you thinking of Bombay Curry Company on Mt. Vernon just north of Del-Ray/ south of Glebe, in the Calvert condo building?

                          1. re: weezycom

                            That could be it. The name completely escapes me. I know it was just off Glebe under a big apartment building. It may have been condos but I never noticed. Is it still there?

                            1. re: Ellen

                              still there. I had dinner there about a month or so ago. Didn't check out the biryanis. Had ..... kadai chole, I think it was. Nice and very spicy.

                      3. Also, and I think this was mentioned in this thread somewhere or other but am too lazy to go back through and find it, Matuba is pretty good. I finally gave it a shot the other night and was pretty happy with the sushi — nothing amazing, but for what you pay ($15 for three six-piece maki rolls, which was enough to fill this guy up), you could do much worse. Plus they have dirt-cheap specials on Monday night, I'm told. And the service is incredibly friendly and swift (perhaps they've taken a cue from their next-door neighbors at Bangkok in that regard).

                        1. I moved from Columbia Pike & S. Walter Reed Drive about a year ago, so my comments may all be out of date :)

                          Matuba used to be really good, and was in a few Washingtonian "Best Of" lists, but then it kind of lost it. The sushi is good, but nothing special.

                          Attila's had (and still has, was just there) great gyros, and some of the best pita bread I've ever had.

                          El Puerto and Abi's are both good, although Abi's is better. They used to have the best pupusas ever, but then something happened....maybe they changed the grease? My Family probably has the best pupusas in the hood.

                          I will echo the other posters' comments about the Cinema 'n' Drafthouse. Absolutely abysmal food. I've eaten pizza that tasted like Velveeta on cardboard, and theirs made me miss it.

                          I have to disagree with Ellen...I had one meal at Rincome and it was the worst Thai food I've ever had. They had obviously used exactly the same sauce on every dish, and the sauce was horrible and bland. Sounds like they've improved considerably since then!

                          But I'd still go for Bangkok 54....great food.

                          -R

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: spoon99

                            Nice rundown. I think you're the only other person here EVER to mention El Puerto. I'm interested in your take on it, and experiences with it. To sum up, I found it interesting and a nice place to have. I also found it hard for service and language, and lastly I found it interesting on weekend nights when dining was - at a certain time - forced out by music and dancing.

                            All of these facts actually endeared me to the place.

                            1. re: Dennis S

                              I only went to El Puerto twice, so bear that it mind. The first time it was almost completely deserted (only one other table occupied) and the service was very attentive. The second time was probably on a Friday or Saturday night and it was packed, and as you mentioned, very loud and not terribly pleasant.......although it certainly felt like a real cultural experience. Sometimes it's nice to feel like a stranger in a strange land, two blocks from your home!

                              Agreed about the language barrier, but I can still get by on my shaky college Spanish. It's like the old cliché about traveling abroad, but a few words in their native language really does seem to endear you to restaurant workers (hopefully that didn't sound condescending.)

                              -R

                              1. re: spoon99

                                Ha! Yeah, that sounds similar to my first two experiences, though I think my second started quiet and ended rowdy - and I knew from then on. My wife (fiance then) knew enough Spanish to endear. Prior to that I actually had mediocre service, but the food and ambiance kept me coming back.

                                I have so many places in that area I want to eat at when I have the chance, but this is putting EP enter the list again.

                          2. Manee Thai's food is HORRENDOUS, but their drinks are strong. There isn't anything exemplary from the Joyce Street peel-off west to Glebe, but the Salvadorean/not-quite Mexican shack near Cleveland & Columbia Pike east of the CVS is surprisingly tasty, with homemade tortillas and all. I also particularly like Abi's for the atmosphere, sopa de gallina (weekends only) and sopa de mondongo, which is delightfully unctuous.

                            1. I used to live on S. Veitch street back in the day.

                              My top neighborhood recommendation is Matuba, in the same block as the cinema and drafthouse. The agedashi tofu is so good. Do try the red bean sauce on your green tea ice cream. Mm mm.