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Transplant from Oregon to Woodbridge, VA

hello all,

we've just moved from portland, oregon and made an offer on a house in woodbridge, va. we opted for the suburbs for affordable housing and a bit of a respite from the bustle of d.c. metro (my husband works at l'enfant plaza). as a prideful foodie, the only thing that really worries me about the location is the presence of a LOT of chain restaurants. i know i can head towards d.c. for more adventurous food, but need some options closer to home:

mom and pop diner food
anything ethnic that is good (chinese, thai, indian, italian, ANYTHING)
good coffee (NOT STARBUCKS)

anything not cookie-cutter would be great. i also want to support local eateries.

thanks so much for any suggestions!

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  1. I live in Manassas, in Prince William County, just west of Woodb ridge. I'm afraid you are moving into the land of chain restaurants. I am not terribly familiar w/ restos in Woodbridge, but for local ipzza, when I worked in the area Brothers pizza was pretty good. BistroL'hermitage is also highly rated in that area, although I have found it a bit over rated. In downtown Manassas there are a few independently owned one italian).Also, there is Okra's which is cajun and was recently visited by Michelle Obama and her daughter, I also like Columbus Grill which is chef owned and focuses on Portugese cuisine. City square cafe is also Ok in Manassas, but I have a problem w/ their attitude towards handicapped patron so I refuse to patronize them although their food is ok. Otherwise you need to look towards Fairfax, Alexandria,etc. My favorite resto for fine dining within 20 miles is 2941.

    1. Welcome! I, too, moved here from Portland in '03...

      I'll let others weigh in on your area (except to tell you that you have a Wegman's there - and I'm jealous!) - But let your husband know that many of the food trucks stop by for lunch at L'enfant - And to seek them out if he wants something other than the norm!

      L'enfant Cafe-Bar
      2000 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

      5 Replies
      1. re: tommyskitchen

        nice to here from a fellow stumptown transplant!

        do you have any more specific info about the food trucks (i.e where do they stop at l'enfant)?

        i have heard good things about wegman's and plan to visit. we went into a bloom grocery nearby this past weekend. kind of reminded me of qfc. it will definitely do in a pinch.

        thanks again for your input!

        p.s. any recommendations for good coffee? i am apparently not the only one on this thread seeking it out . . .

        1. re: capicksnw


          There are more it seems every day - Each use social networking to update on location. I don't normally use twitter but I set up an account with all of the food trucks loaded so I can check the locations on my iphone.

          QFC - they were so NICE there, miss that. Can't help you with coffee, if you find something let me know!

          1. re: tommyskitchen

            There's also an aggregator:

            And Best Bites Washingtonian blog is posting every morning, a bit easier on the eyes:

            1. re: hamster

              you are the greatest! thanks for the detailed info. i have passed it onto my hubby. i will try to find a few of the trucks myself.

              i think i am out of luck on non-starbucks coffee unless i head out of woodbridge in the direction of dc. but luckily, i have an espresso maker and can make do with good whole beans. however, i think i will have to go to whole foods (ten miles away) to get beans i already know i like . . .

              1. re: capicksnw

                Welcome to the area! Here are a few general comments (I live in beautiful Loudoun County, which adjoins PWC to the north and east, and I rarely get down to Woodbridge):

                1. You are very lucky to be near a Wegmans!

                2. Caribou Coffee is better than Starbucks.

                3. Try any "Peruvian chicken" place you can find. Look for words in the window like "pollo a la brasa." Order a side of yuca. Good yuca (such as at Guapo's on 28 just north of Manassas) is a real treat.

                4. Also try hole-in-the-wall kebob joints. There are a fair number of Afghanis and Pakistanis around here, so we have some very good places for kebobs.

                5. The DC food trucks are all on twitter and facebook because of a peculiar local law that prohibits food trucks from stopping unless there are people waiting. So they put the word out where they will be to give customers time to show up.

                6. If you are into wine you might be pleased to know that Virginia has a thriving wine industry. There are about 24 wineries in Loudoun County alone, and many more in Fauquier and the other counties to the west. Definitely worth checking out!

      2. Tough one in Woodbridge. My favorite Salvadoran place was there and closed (although the chains like Buffalo Wings are still next door). A pretty good Pakistani place is Medina Kebab. It's close to the Potomac Mills Mall but tucked in a strip across from it, in a little corner. Very easy to overlook and it's kind of a hole in the wall but freshly ordered food is very good. They have a buffet but while inexpensive, I'd pass on it.


        For special occasion, I love Bistro L'Hermitage. They have the best baguettes (though not made in house) I've had. The duck with Israeli couscous is amazing--crispy skin w/ just the right amount of fat, nice cherry reduction. The roast chicken is cooked w/ a slight flavor of bacon and the fries cooked in duck fat. Skip in the desserts.

        I've tried quite a few places in downtown Occoquan and would give them all a pass from Mom's apple pie to Virginia Grill to Mdigan's Waterfront to the little coffee and ice cream shops on the water--they're all fairly touristy, pricey and food fair at best.

        For a change of pace, it's fun to go to Tim's Rivershore in Dumfries. It's on the water, people drive their boats near and take a shuttle in, or it's a 3 mile roundabout route by car. It's not the best seafood you'll ever get but it's the best in the area for deep fried, or crabs, or frickles. You can sit out overlooking the water and there's a little beach w/ an outside bar and chairs.

        For Italian, head to Lorton to Pane e Vino's. They also have a deli next door, for Italian cold cuts, wine, sandwiches, gelato. They have very good lunch special, nice warm rolls w/ assorted olives, herbed olive oil to start. If they have a ravioli special, get it. I had a pheasant ragu ravioli that was excellent. My husband recently had another hand made ravioli (can't remember what it was) that was also very good. Pizzas are wood burning stove.

        And, really, you can't beat the $3.99 meatball special at IKEA for the price. I'd love to find a great coffee shop in that area. If you go to www.delocator.net, you might be able to find one. If you do, please let us know. There are a handful of Caribou Coffees, but I put them possibly a step higher than Starbucks, if that. For Chinese, you'd have to go up to Fairfax County and even then, there are only a handful of places worth going to.

        1. I'll join in on the recs for Pane e Vino, Okra's and Tim's. You should also add Taste of Tandoor (indian) to your list to try.

          1. thanks all for your recs - you pretty much confirmed my suspicions re: chains, etc. but i will definitely seek out your picks.

            1. I'm just across the river from you, near Ft. Belvoir. I'm lucky enough to have (within 1 mile) pretty good Mexican-El Paso,Taco Jalisco, Thai-Thai Nakorn, Peruvian chicken-Su Pollo & a bakery-Family Bakery & Mrs. Donut. I don't make it down to Woodbridge alot, but I've had good meals at Siam Bistro & Dixie Bones BBQ (&I love IKEA & their meatballs). I, too, am jealous of Wegman's (waiting for the Telegraph Rd. store).
              Once you get used to this area & the traffic patterns, you can find LOTS of great food-also check out the Don Rockwell forum for other local recs....

              1. I have lived in Woodbridge a few years now. I usually venture outside of Woodbridge, but here are a couple places I eat at in Woodbridge:

                -Dixie Bones - our local bbq joint
                -Jangko's - small sushi place but cheesy decor. And they play karoke music in the background.
                -Thomas' Pizza & Subs - chicken steak and cheese
                - Guapo's - For fast, good mexican
                - Silver Diner - they have a new menu using fresh local ingredients. They are a chain but I think they are a good place to go to for breakfast or a light lunch.
                - Cracker Barrel - good, filling, cheap breakfast. Wait can be 30 mins on weekends
                -Masala Magic - they have good Indian food. Better than Taste of Tandoor. Lunch buffets on weekdays and weekends. Decent decor.
                -Ariana Afghan Restaurant - good afghan food
                -Hunan Delight - when Im in the mood for Chinese which is not often
                -Milwaukee Frozen Custard
                -Wegmans for groceries. Love, love, love it here. Im glad I live across the street. Weekend mornings they do the samples. Their sandwhiches are awesome. So is their pizza. Their buffet food is ok. But if I want Indian or Chinese, I would rather go to a restaurant.
                -Uncle Julio's - a chain Mexican place. But the place is really nice and I like the food.
                Thats all I can think of for now.


                Guapo's Restaurant
                4515 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

                1. I forgot to mention our Farmer's Market in Dale City. Absolutely love it here. Info below:

                  Located at the Dale City Commuter Lot, between Center Plaza Shopping
                  Center and the Comcast Building on Dale Blvd, this popular open air
                  market features a large variety of local 'producers only" products. Fresh
                  fruit, vegetables, herbs, home-baked breads and rolls, honey, roasted
                  nuts, fresh roast coffee and kettle korn are delicious temptations too
                  good to pass by. Fresh cut flowers, bedding plants and eye-catching
                  hanging baskets are available for purchase. Refrigerated products such
                  as meats (some organic), cheeses, salsa and sorbet are also available to
                  round out your marketing day.
                  Dale City Farmers Market is open every Sunday, beginning at 8:00am
                  and runs to 1:00pm, now until November 21st.

                  1. Oh and only about 15 minute drive from Woodbridge is Springfield where Mikes American is. Its part of the local Great American Restaurants chain but their food is wonderful.


                    1. I feel your pain. I used to work for an Oregon Congressperson, took many trips out to PDX back in the 1980s and early 1990s. There is just nothing like the food in the PNW! We had a huge office celebration because the first Starbucks opened in DC. We all were happy for Starbucks -- but we also knew that the PDX coffee carts serve better brew. Speaking of brew, micro brews and even Henry's were hot commodities around the delegation. Another Oregon Congressperson kept a full sized refrigerator stocked with Henry's in his office in the Cannon Building. On balmy Friday evenings, we would climb out the window to the roof, set up beach chairs and have a little beer fest and enjoy a gorgeous view of the Capitol dome until the Capitol Police ran us off. Most times the Congressman would join us and try to talk the cops into letting us stay a while longer, but they never did. Be sure to join the Oregon State Society here in DC. They have a great dinner every year featuring Oregon foods and wines. The Klamath Tribes supply the salmon. http://www.oregonstatesociety.org

                      As far as food places around here, I second the recommendations posted by others and add the following thoughts:

                      There are some pretty decent Pho places - one of our favorites is in Ashdale Plaza off Dale City Blvd near I-95. It always seems to change owners and names, I think it's now called Pho Saigon. Even with the changes the Pho has been pretty consistent and the summer rolls are pretty decent too. Don't know about the other menu items there.

                      There is a really good Brazilian Churrascaria called Charbroil Grill -- definitely for meat-lovers. http://www.charbroilgrillsteakhouse.com

                      There are several ethnic supermarkets around as well -- Global Food off Smoketown Road is a good one. http://www.theglobalfood.com

                      1. Woodbridge is not bad but if you'd don't mind driving 20 minutes you can find good stuff, especially ethic. Check out tyler cowen's ethnic guide. Go explore annandale for korean, eden center for vietnamese, and all over arlington for peruvian chicken.

                        1. I've been IN Woodbridge many times. Just there last week. Bought a new GMC there and got a sweet deal and met nice people.

                          THOMAS'S PIZZA .... it's on Jeff Davis Hwy...excellent NY style pizza.

                          MR HUNAN.... Chinese food on that same road. It's a NASTY decor. Clean, but just neglected totally. Also, I wouldn't go at night as it's dark with little traffic.

                          But in the daytime, it's a great place. Delicious food.

                          There's some bad reviews online of these two places.

                          But, I've gone to Hunan for 10 years, and Thomas's for 4 years and have only had great food each time.

                          1. One more came to mind.

                            MY KARMA INDIAN BISTRO....excellent Indian food. My Wife is from India and loves the food from this place. It's pricey in my opinion but great stuff. Sometimes they want to steer you to the buffer and that's fine if that's your thing, but the menu is too good so I just go a la carte.