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Sep 28, 2010 05:12 AM

Help me figure out what to do in 3 hours between North Bethesda/Rockville and Dulles?

I have 3 hours or so between the end of a conference and needing to be at Dulles. I have browsed the board way too much, but am at a loss.

I need a casual dinner as i have my toddler with me. Relatively inexpensive ($15 or under for entrees) preferable but would consider more. Need to be able to cater to gluten-free, but doesn't need to be a gluten-free restaurant. Would like something that DC area does particularly well, but is somewhat convenient to the route.


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  1. It will help to know when you're leaving the conference. If it's between 3 and 6 on a weekday you'll need most of that time to make it to the airport.

    A couple of ideas - instead of the beltway, go out 28 North/West out through Darnestown, catch White's Ferry across, turn left on 15 and eat in Leesburg or the area. There's a Windy City RedHots truck along Rt 7 that is fun, and my girls love (ages 3 & 5).

    Search Leesburg and Ashburn for other ideas.


    If going the beltway, and with enough time, I'd generally avoid Tyson's, which is a logistical nightmare unless you're well versed. That sort of leaves Reston and Herndon as easiest to access. There's good Indian, Kabobs, American pub food, Peruvian rotisserie chicken, pho, and thai. Really none of these are the stand-outs for the whole metro region, but all have good representatives. Let me know if you're interested in any of those and I (or someone else) can give a better run-down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dennis S

      I need to be to the airport at 8 pm.

      Might do Lilit cafe but not sure if there are better options.
      Red hots won't work since I can't eat gluten as the buns are pretty integral to the hot dog experience.

      We have really good Indian where I am from (silicon valley San Francisco area).

      Lilit Cafe
      7921 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814

    2. If you have time to get to Reston, about 10 minutes from Dulles, there are many choices.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nickdanger

        The only place I'd send an out of towner to at RTC is PassionFish. Possibly Mon Ami Gabi. Otherwise the only other worthwhile things there are for lunch (Chipotle, Counter Burger, etc). But both PF and MAG fall above the stated price point.

        Coming from SoCal, I would think the Peruvian Chicken might be a good winner, in that it would be something new most likely, inexpensive and the toddler could have some chicken and yucca. Pollos Inka and Guapo's are the best bets in the Reston Herndon area.

        However, jsaimd said they need to be at Dulles at 8pm, which doesn't bode well in terms of traffic and timing. I'm assuming that means you'd be leaving at 5pm jsaimd?

        Mon Ami Gabi
        7239 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814

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

      2. How about Addies in North Bethesda? I have taken my kids there for lunch.

        1. here's how i'd advise a friend in the same situation: get down out of maryland as soon as your conference is over and get near-ish to dulles somewhere along that access road and environs. that would mean tyson's, herndon, reston.

          the traffic between 5-8 pm is possibly the WORST for congestion and very often unanticipated delays on the beltway (the route you'll pretty much have to take). even with very good conditions, it would take you at least 45 minutes to get from point A to point B (dulles).

          tyson's usually has a good access to the dulles access road on rte 7, but that intersection is messed up from rte 123.

          i like carrabbas, albeit a chain; and there is one in reston:

          i also like another chain, bonefish grill
          Bonefish Grill - Ashburn‎
          16 reviews
          43135 Broadlands Center Plaza
          Ashburn, VA 20148
          (703) 723-8246
          this is not too far from the airport.

          here are directions from there to the airport:
          Driving directions to Washington-Dulles International Arrivals
          Suggested routes
          11 mins
          VA-267 E
          9.0 mi
          17 mins
          VA-625 E/Waxpool Rd
          9.6 mi
          17 mins
          Shellhorn Rd/State Route 643 and VA-267 E
          9.7 mi
          This route has tolls.

          43135 Broadlands Center Plaza
          Ashburn, VA 20148
          1. Head southeast on Broadlands Center Plaza toward Broadlands Blvd
          0.2 mi
          2. Take the 1st right onto Broadlands Blvd
          0.2 mi
          3. Take the 1st right onto Claiborne Pkwy
          0.1 mi
          4. Take the ramp onto VA-267 E
          Toll road
          6.5 mi
          5. Take the exit onto Dulles Airport Access and Toll Rd
          1.4 mi
          6. Continue onto Saarinen Cir
          0.3 mi
          7. Slight left to stay on Saarinen Cir
          Destination will be on the left
          0.2 mi

          Washington-Dulles International Arrivals
          Washington-Dulles Int'L-Arrivals, Saarinen Circle, Uninc

          in vienna (not too far from tyson's corner is cafe rose, for kabobs; but traffic there on rte 123 can get really, really bad.

          bottom line: best to get close to the airport as soon as possible.

          1. I've been thinking about this because there are a few problems involved. First being the traffic at 5-8pm on a Friday. You can find good restaurants in your price point in the Bethesda/Rockville area but mostly I go to there are Chinese which you can get far better in the Bay area. Because of that, I'd head towards the airport. The biggest problem w/ the Beltway (and I'm not trying to get too far away from good food) is it'll be stop and go and if you get off at Tyson's which is on the way and where you can find some good restaurants, it might take forever to get back on.

            The next is once you get on the Dulles Toll Road, you can get off but there's only Reston off the bat where the only place I think worth trying is Passionfish but out of your price range. So, your only option is getting as close to Dulles and then seeing how close you are to your time. I assume you can get decent pho in the Bay area but Pho 75 is pretty good in Herndon.

            With a toddler, I'd also consider Amphora's Diner. It's fun, though the menu can be overwhelming, Skip the desserts, as good as they might look. I always get suckered in because they look good but am always disappointed. Try the basic Greek food, like moussaka, or basic diner foods. I don't think it's representative of what DC does best but, given your restraints, not a bad option.

            4 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              This is all why I rec'd going the White's Ferry route, or even Point of Rocks. I lived in Ashburn and worked in Rockville. While the beltway/toll road *could* be faster, it usually wasn't at rush hour and certainly could easily be longer. The other route was a nice country drive with a breather at the ferry, and was always the same amount of time (about an hour IIRC).

              Tack on a little more time for more traffic these days and that the OP is going a bit further, but it's a safe bet. If it's raining the day of the flight the OP is SOL. Or heavier construction. Or an accident. Or any combo of those.

              Here's a new one - have a couple of options going the White's Ferry route. Sweetwater Tavern up on Rt. 7 near Rt 28 if there seems to be time for a good sit-down meal. Windy City Redhots or something else quick if time is pressing. Where is the Might Midget anymore and is it anywhere near as good as it used to be? Also - is there still that little German stand in Leesburg?

              1. re: Dennis S

                Much prettier drive. In fact, if she went that way, she could go do Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville. That's definitely what I'd do with a toddler. Call ahead and tell them that you're coming with a child. The owner has invited us to stop by before our meal, if we call ahead, and bring our children to enjoy the farm first (assuming they have the time, I'm guessing). They grow their own vegetables, and source as locally as possible. Dinner in the conservatory is very elegant and yet down to earth. It can be pricey but a la carte, especially the vegetarian dishes are very reasonable. Most of the entrees for September seem to be gluten free.


                I just mapquested this to see. The direct route from Beltway to Dulles Toll Road takes about 40 minutes, no traffic. But, at that time of day, it could easily be twice that, possibly even longer. There is major construction going on right now, especially near Tysons. Your way, through the backroads takes just over 1 hour, 30 minutes, prettier drive. Both will be tough Friday evening. I think it's worth driving to Patowmack and we drive over an hour to get there.

              2. re: chowser

                Everyone is right to encourage you to make your choice from among the Reston/Herdon area restaurants. I hope the moderators will understand that the driving instructions that follow are only designed to enable an out of towner to get her to dining destination with time to eat and sanity intact!!!

                Here's a strategy for shaving some time off the drive to get to your restaurant choice. When driving on the Beltway, take the first exit in VA; do not continue around the outer loop to the usual exit for either the Dulles access road or the Rte 7 exit to Reston. This first exit is jointly marked GW Parkway/Georgetown Pike (Rte 193) exit.

                Be very, very careful to stay to the left once in the exit lane so you aren't forced to use the GW Parkway exit. Then, move to the right to take the Georgetown Pike exit so you aren't forced to return to the Beltway. At the top of the exit ramp, turn left onto Georgetown Pike. Go to the first intersection which is Balls Hill Road. Turn right. (You'll know you're there because you'll see Cooper Middle School) Continue until the first traffic light which is Old Dominion Drive. Turn left onto Old Dominion.

                Stay on Old Dominion until you reach the major intersection of Rte 123/Dolley Madison. Turn right. Continue on Rte 123 until the right-hand entrance onto Toll Road/the Dulles Access Road and the Beltway north. (Make sure you cross to left at the first opportunity or you will be heading back onto the Beltway in the opposite direction from which you came.) Now, stay on the toll road for access to Reston and Herndon restaurants.

                Incidentally, I think I've accurately explained this but other locals should double check my directions since my post is intended to help.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  If going the beltway route this is key. There are a couple of other similar routes, but this is probably the easiest to get down. I'd have this route and the 28 route in mind. If it's raining or you can access reports and find out about any accidents, I'd still avoid the beltway.