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new places in arlington and falls church

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just a note to let you know about some new places or changes that i've seen recently.

just down from "deshi spice," on lee hwy near george mason drive, saran has opened a "saran indian cuisine" restaurant. driving by, it looked nice inside, with tablecloths and all. isn't this the place where people loved their kabobs? anyway, their menu is online here: http://www.sarancuisine.com/Menu.pdf
nice to see a variety of breads, and some dosai and uttapam, too.

second, i didn't see this till today, but the "old pancake house" has now become a "famous dave's bbq, " and this (tuesday) evening…on the way home from "mad fox," it was packed at 8 pm.

"mad fox" has half-price growler refills on tuesday tap days for the specified brew. get on their mailing list for the info/coupon.

"deshi spice" is not getting any business.

the pan-asian place (aka "the cursed location") next to "district taco" seems to be hanging in there.

has anyone tried the "tandoori" restaurant down from "ravi kabob" yet?

"thai terrace" has closed.

i presume you have seen the thread on the new chinese place (opened nov, 15) "hong kong pearl seafood restaurant," across from eden center in that strip mall facing rte. 50.

there is a "chick-fil-a" going in near target….where that terra y mar place used to be.

next to it is a taco/.burrito place "cafe rio." tuesdays $1.50 tacos. looked pretty busy at 8-ish. says it is home-made. looked cheerful inside. http://www.fcnp.com/arts/10606-restau...

there is a new place in an old building on columbia pike just east of thai square. it used to be ethiopian, and now it is…italian, i want to say. the building is a garish color. not a good sign. but…who knows….

next to "pasha cafe," the deli has changed its sign and is now "phil's cheesesteaks." i need to see if they are the same folks. they have (had?) good gyros..

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. Some of these look like very interesting possibilities.

    There are Cafe Rios in Olney and Manassas, so this is probably part of that 'empire.'

    Famous Dave's is best avoided.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve

      i sure wasn't impressed by the famous dave's in vienna.

    2. Thanks for the $1.50 Tuesday taco tip at Cafe Rio. Dammit, it's Wednesday - remind me next week. Their prices looked about a buck across the board more Chipotle so the quality better be darn good. I haven't walked that route since they opened.

      There's another fairly new Mexicanoid restaurant called Viva Tequila in Willston, just a few doors from Mark's Duck House. Haven't been there yet either. And Taco Baja, which has been there for years and years, is still hanging in. That place used to be the best cheap Mexican around, but I haven't been there in a long time, not since they blacked out the windows. That always makes me a little suspicious. ;)

      8 Replies
      1. re: MikeR

        yeah, wassup wit dat?

        is that the place next to goodwill? on the corner?

        ~~~~~~~
        café rio makes their own tortillas, which district taco doesn't even do. sounds like they have the same machine at café rio as they have at uncle julios/rio grande cafe in ballston.

        1. re: alkapal

          Freshly made corn tortillas and a buck off? If I had an iPhone 4S I would be scheduling that with Siri right now, as it is, I will do my best to remember! LOL
          And the half price growler night is definitely going into my old fashioned iPhone, even if I have to do it the hard way.

          1. re: Ziv

            Went to Cafe Rios last week and won't go back. 1) It just isn't that tasty. I had a wet burrito that was barely warmed up under a heat lamp. 2) What's with the staff yelling unintelligbly every so often when customers order something. I never figured out what they were yelling or why. It was just annoying. I feel sorry for the staff to have to do that. They do that at Homemade Pizza when someone gets a free pizza.

          2. re: alkapal

            Yes, Taco Baja is on the end of the strip with Goodwill. I don't know if the original owner is the current owner, but when it was new it was quite nice. This was a part time business for the owner. He was a computer specialist somewhere. I suspect, giving the neighborhood, that it may be Salvadoran-Mex now.

            1. re: MikeR

              yeah, but still weird on the black out. i noticed that too.

              what are you trying to do… hide your peeps?

              anyhow, this afternoon around three, close by of the new place, café rio, it smelled really savory meaty-y (i mean really good...really good!).

              i was **so** tempted to go in and order something, but i was not really hungry and we are also trying to eat out the stuff in our fridge (prior to new fridge).

              1. re: alkapal

                "still weird on the black out. i noticed that too.
                what are you trying to do… hide your peeps?"

                Well, maybe people who eat there like their privacy. Any suggestion of why would probably get this post deleted. ;)

                I'm going to check out the $1.50 tacos tomorrow if I don't get distracted. I usually walk past there before they open, so I don't smell anything particularly food-y.

                Whenever someone walks into Mo's, the staff is supposed to yell "Welcome to Mo's!" and it's often unintelligible though loud, and sometimes it sounds like they just had a bad day and can barely bring themselves to force a greeting out. Maybe that's what ChewFun heard at Cafe Rio.

                1. re: MikeR

                  I went into Taco Baja a few years ago, after it put in the blacked out windows. I'm willing to eat in some pretty sketchy seeming places, but I felt instantly uncomfortable in there. It felt like one of those movie scenes where someone walks into a room and everything screeches to a halt while everybody stares down the newcomer.

                  There was no one at the counter to take orders, and after a couple of minutes of standing there while being ogled by half of the men there, I left without ordering. It seems like it's now just a skeezy bar that serves a bit of food.

                  Even if I heard the food was good, I probably wouldn't go back as a female alone. And I was there at about 2 pm on a Sunday.

                  From a quick glance at the Yelp reviews, it seems like I'm not the only one who had that experience.

                  1. re: jumpingjack

                    I've eaten there, though not recently. I was not impressed and never went back. More Salvadoran than Mexican, IIRC.

        2. Any fans of Deshi Spice out there? If so, any dishes you particularly liked? I have been a couple of times and enjoyed the Curry, Karai, and Haleem (admittedly my only tasting of the latter).

          1 Reply
          1. re: hokieto

            it seems to be limpijng along, but i recently heard (from a pakistani) that bangladeshi food is supposed to be spicy (which i never knew). guess we will have to give it a try soon….

            i'd like to try saran too (needing some dosai); but it seems pricey for vegetarian.

          2. the cheesesteak place is "billy's" not "phil's" http://www.arlnow.com/2011/09/30/bill...

            i have to stop in and see if they still have the good gyros….

            10 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              still good gyros.

              place is nicely spiffed up, less cluttered with sports and other photos, big caps poster.

              music not too loud.

              $6.50 for most subs (one with bacon, too, is a little more). reasonable price is same as for gyro.

              1. re: alkapal

                Is the the new version of the place in Cherrydale that you were recommending for gyros a while back? I tried one and thought it was so-so.

                Did you ever try a gyro at Food Corner (Annandale)? That's the best one I've found in the area and the bonus is that Shilla's Bakery is next door. I can have a free dessert from the samples there, and take something tasty home for later.

                1. re: MikeR

                  yes, it is the same place -- then "cherrydale deli" -- where i recommended the gyro.

                  i ate at the food corner in vienna and had kabobs, and they were okay. they are afghanis, so i didn't think to order a gyro there.

                  i don't go to annandale much. i wasn't aware there was a food corner there, too.

                  ~~~~~~~~
                  REMINDER TO MIKE -- it is $1.50 TACO TUESDAY at the new cafe rio.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Just came back from a two-taco lunch. I'll start a new thread for Cafe Rio since there have been some comments about it mixed in with this thread.

                  2. re: MikeR

                    Agree with Mike R's "so-so" assessment of Billy's gyro. The sandwiches looked good, though, and I will go back to try one.

                    1. re: shortorder

                      Has anyone had the cheesesteak at Billy's?

                      1. re: Dennis S

                        my husband thought it was ok (i thought it looked skimpy for the price), but actually we both really liked the cheesesteak at whitlow's. it is good quality meat and cheese -- and not skimpy. plus it comes with a side.. ALSO it is half-price all day on wednesdays, and everyday before 11:30 ( i think 11:30). it is not a "pat" or "ginos" type of "philly cheesesteak" from what i have seen on TV, but it is a *very good* steak and cheese….

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Thanks for the report! Maybe I'll try Whitlow's version soon, then. Sounds similar to Jimmy's in Herndon, which has the best one, imo, that I've had in the DC area.

                          1. re: Dennis S

                            yes, we were quite surprised, actually, about the level of the dish.

                        2. re: Dennis S

                          Still need to get by Whitlows for a cheesesteak. Might be able to do this tomorrow.

                          However I did stop by Billy's two nights ago. And again last night. Pretty damn solid Philly! I added jalapenos to mine. It's now in the rotation, for sure.

                2. the place on columbia pike is called "padrino's" http://www.arlnow.com/2011/05/25/ital... .

                  1. bangkok blues is gone.

                    1. has anyone had the stromboli or pizza at paisano's in falls church on broad street ?

                      i'm excited to see someone featuring stromboli!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alkapal

                        I popped in the door shortly after Paisano's opened, but they don't have anything lunch-sized (and priced) - at least not MY lunch size, which isn't very big. They don't have pizza by the slice.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          paisano's pizza and stromboli were quite good. american style pizza, so crust is not as chewy or yeasty as neapolitan. lots of toppings. like a thicker version of pie-tanza crust -- i.e., crispier as opposed to chewier. well-executed.

                          garlic knots -- which were offered to us gratis -- were terrific (not something i usually eat). the marinara sauce is really the best i've had in a very long time.

                          nice people. big takeout business. one table and a window counter seating in-house.

                        2. new place in strip with caribbean grill and saran indian cuisine and deshi spice: jawab (?) kabob and FRIED CHICKEN.

                          1. in falls church, the lebanese place that is in the strip mall near rite-aid…(the one that went through several ownership issues a couple years back) seems to be open -- still. "z lounge lebanese café -- pita wraps." http://pita-wraps.webampdesign.com/

                            a/c to their less than stellar website (hours please?) is this:

                            >>""About the Owner

                            Open for business since May 2010, Pita Wraps Lebanese Cafe & Z Lounge is owned by Ezzat M. Zein. Ezzat came to the United States in early 1970 at the age of 27, working at the Watergate Hotel and then Pisces, a private club. In the following years, he owned and operated a number of food-related establishments prior to opening Pita Wraps & Z Lounge.

                            Samadi Sweets Café - 1986-1996

                            Ezzat owned and operated the first US franchise of Samadi Sweets Café in Falls Church, Virginia. Starting and running the business was a challenge, but the Café was very successful even during its first three months. The business soon expanded from local to nationwide, and even to Canada…..""">>>+++

                            1. caribbean grill has expanded in its current location (lee hwy and geo. mason dr.) , and is now offering empanadas and salteñas.

                              asian bistro (?) at the cursed location (lee hwy and lexington, next to district taco) is still carrying on, and i've heard good things about their chinese (!). they offer ½ price sushi on wednesdays and thursdays. (the ½ price sushi must've been so popular when they offered it every day that they had to scale back).

                              the halal asian grocery near caribbean grill has just opened and is pretty nice. very clean and tidy. big selection of masala mixes, basmati rice, pastes, and it looks like they will offer some fresh meat and fish. didn't really examine their refrigerated/frozen offerings. no produce that i could see.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: alkapal

                                I tried the "beef" saltena and though I think I got a chicken one, it was fairly good. Not as good as the excellent ones that La Union used to buy from a baker up in Maryland(?), but pretty good. They were almost as good as Luzmilla's.
                                And the Carib Grill pork burrito is still a messy but tasty feast. It is nice to see the Grill expanded like that.

                                1. re: Ziv

                                  i think they are selling tostones now. i have to go see (love me some tostones).

                              2. I want to give a shout-out to the new Kite Runner Cafe in Arlington, across the street from Cherrydale Hardware on Lee Highway. Great, fresh Afghani food...baba ghanoush, falafel, chicken kabobs, eggplant entrees.

                                Also a lot of buzz for Masala Express on Pershing Drive, which I intend to try sometime.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Mulan

                                  hey, good to know. we saw some activity there the other day with people eating outside at tables, but didn't know what it was as we drove by.

                                  1. re: Mulan

                                    Three of us were very disappointed in kite runner. Dry, overcooked kabobs and other items bland.

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      Sorry to hear that. I wonder if they are having consistency issues. The first time I went, I had baba ghanoush and chicken kabob sandwich, both excellent. Second time, baba ghanoush was good but chicken kabob bland. Similar experience for my neighbor: first time great and spicy, second time bland. On our neighborhood listserve, a few people were complaining it was too spicy for their kids, so I wonder if they are "dumbing" it down.

                                    2. re: Mulan

                                      Don't know about kite runner, but Masala Express is pretty decent Indian Food. Takeout only. Also, Asian Kitchen has pretty good sushi and they deliver. I think they may finally be able to make it at the cursed location.

                                    3. has anyone tried the new pan-asian (including sushi, thai and indonesian) place on glebe, nearish fairfax drive? i saw a groupon, but forget the name.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        I think you are referring to the Red Parrot. I have not tried it yet. It is a local chain from Maryland. The premise is that it takes the most popular dishes of all Asian cuisines. It is very expensive for what they offer. I'm wondering if it is worth it to go there when we have such great and cheaper Asian places in the area.

                                        1. re: rappel75

                                          yes, that's it. i do recall when i glanced at the menu from the groupon link that i thought it was expensive, too. with a groupon it would be reasonable, but that's not a recipe for long-term success.

                                          1. re: rappel75

                                            I go to the Red Parrot in Arundel Mills occasionally for lunch. They have nice fresh sushi, but it's kind of pricey. The other dishes are nothing special, but sort of okay if you're in a hurry. Given the density of outstanding Asian food options in Northern Virginia, I wouldn't waste my dinner-out money there. It's sort of pan-Asian-themed Greene Turtle.

                                        2. recently opened --> "arlington kabob" in the *new* cursed location next to linda's café (was "big pappa's pizza" last, after being a tex-mex, after being a pizza place….etc.). 5050 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA

                                          will report back when i try it this week.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            finally got there. it is a winner. PERSIAN kabobs and stews. i loved my lamb chops and the yogurt sauce was something i could drink, it was so delectable. lovely, fresh-hot-from-the-oven bread.

                                            modern, open space, with granite counter, tastefully executed. sleek furniture, nice colors and fresh flowers everywhere. impeccably clean.

                                            what a great transformation from before. the caterpillar has turned into a butterfly.

                                            very lovely people -- mom and daughter -- running it.
                                            free hot cardamon tea and coffee.

                                            full report with photos later. go. go today!

                                          2. UPDATE on Leek's location (Ballston) -- driving by, noticed lights on and paper on glass, looks like they'r renovating. So…watch that space.