Started a new job in McLean. Looking for some decent lunch spots of any variety - maybe off of the beaten path, nothing at mall. Suggestions?
I searched this board for restaurants in McLean, but unfortunately, most were Tyson's Corner locations.
I grew up in and around "Downtown" McLean. Is that what you're talking about? If so...
The Italian Deli is an average sandwich spot. The Milano is a nice Italian-American hoagie type sandwich. The steak and cheese is good too.
The Gourmet Basket has to-go Lebanese food. Its overpriced but some stuff is pretty good. I like the pumpkin kibbeh.
Weekday specials at Moby Dick can be good. I like the Ghormeh Sabzi and Bagala Polo.
Tachibana is an excellent Japanese restaurant in old town McLean. Arguably the best sushi/japanese in VA.
Three pigs is ok BBQ. Strangely, NoVA doesn't have much great bbq, but it is all right once in a while here.
Balduccis has chickens and sandwiches amongst some other prepared food as well as a salad bar.
In the same strip mall as Three Pigs is a Marvelous Market if you are a fan of those. There is also a Russian (I think) grocery store behind the BBQ place which might have some prepared foods. Certainly, some taramasalata and herring and bread.
There is an Italian place across from Safeway, but I haven't been in there. It looks pretty kitschy, but you never know. Maybe Coco has been there.
If you are in old McLean you aren't that far from Lee and Glebe and near that intersection there is a lot. You can do bread and artisan cheese at Arrowine with a pastry afterward from Randolph's. There is a pollo a la brasa place called Crisp and Juicy, good chicken, but no interesting sides to speak of. There is also a little French cafe in the same strip mall as the other three I just mentioned. It is decent, nothing that will knock your socks off, but something a little different in the area. The New Zealand themed restaurant in this same strip mall should be avoided, we had a dreadful meal here.
Headed the other way (west on Lee from Glebe) is a new find to the board which a lot of people are raving about, myself included. One of the best Indian restaurants I have found in NoVA for sure. It is a little cafeteria attached to a Indian grocery. It is called Minerva Express (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/681622).
Cafe Tati is good and unpretentious, their Monte Cristo sandwich is a classic. Asian Corner is better than OK. Pucinelli's has good Italian food and great pizzas. House of Fortune is touting a new executive chef--we were there last week and it is improved with much better wait staff. The McLean Family Restaurant is the power breakfast spot and quick and cheap the rest of the day. All of these are in downtown McLean and reasonably priced.
As a McLean resident for many years, I echo Geezer's comments above. Pulcinella (next to Moby Dick) has excellent wood fired pizzas along with a number of modestly priced and wll prepared luncheon specials. They also do a buffett lunch on Thursdays. Avoid Joe's Gourmet Burger and Cafe Oggi - mediocre and over priced.
I am not a fan of Kazan but friends like the Turkish cuisine. Cafe Taj has a very good daily Indian buffett lunch of nice quality and reasonably priced. If you want cheaper, Chicken Out (next to McLean Hardware) and Moby Dick have fresh and frenzied lunches, MD particularly good kabobs and pita sandwiches. Wok and Roll is inexpensive and so so Chinese takeaway. I am told Sweet Leaf, next to Rocco's, is surprisingly good and a nicely landscaped side patio to sit outside during your lunch break. I have not been but I do see it is well patronized during the lunch hour.
Finally, I suggest you check out the Star Nut on the ground floor of the Palladium. A very pleasant place inside and outside - soups, sandwiches, salads, a few specials, good gelato and excellent coffee. The staff is extremely friendly and the place stays busy. The food choices are limited but the quality is good and the setting is a welcome relief during lunch hour.
One of the best Thai in NoVa (IMHO) is Pasa Thai. Very good food but expensive. Next door is EVO Bistro which has tapas but the food does not resonate w/ me (wine for me).