Moving to Herndon
I'm relocating to Herndon from Philadelphia in a month or two. I've been to Herndon a few times, and have enjoyed meals at Supper Club of India, TurCuisine, and Rubino's, but I'd like to have a wider repertoire. I'm open to most cuisines, although I don't dig Ethiopian.
Also, is there a good farmer's market in the area?
I moved to Herndon about 7 months ago and have been exploring the restos.
Some places I have liked:
Viet Crystal in Chantilly-there are some decent Vietnamese places around like May Saigon and Pho New (for extensive menu and not just pho-house) but Viet Crystal stood out for me because their grilled meats (for bun or com plates) actually taste smokey and chargrilled. Very delicious meat.
I liked Chutneys in Clocktower for dosa and other South Indian snacks.
I like Manhattan Pizza in Woodland Park Crossing above all the other nearby pizza places (preferred it to Rubino's). I order it extra thin and well done and it comes out very flavorful and greasy in the right way.
I like Tipicos Gloria on Elden Street for pupusas. The pupusas always come out crisp and well seasoned. I preferred there to El Dorado in the same shopping center, but both are good. El Dorado has a nicer sit-down atmosphere, but Tipicos Gloria pupusas were crispier on the outside. Pollos Inka is also worth checking out...they have a combo Peruvian and Salvadoran menu (full menu, not just chicken).
I have tried a lot of Peruvian style roasted chicken around I I find that I prefer Guapo's, which claims to be vaguely Mexican, but make no mistake, it is pollo a la brasa. But their chicken is just somehow smokier and more flavorful than others.
Foster's Burgers has a good hamburger.
I like Charcoal Kabab for Afghan.
Another chowhound recommended Angeethi's Indian food to me. I haven't made it there yet, but thought I would mention it.
For Chinese-American delivery I usually call China Gate. The Chinese options in and around Herndon are bleak-greasy, gloppy, gristly meat, soggy veggies, etc., I have tried a handful of Chinese delivery places (it seems I order in Chinese at least 3x/month), and I have found that China Gate uses large pieces of non-gristly meat, and some of their dishes are really good. I particularly liked the Beijing Shrimp (shell on salt and pepper shrimp) and Chef's Special Seafood Combo (white sauce seafood medley, including a 1/2 lobster tail)...somehow the seafood is not overcooked even though it has sat in a take-out box and gotten an extra steaming. I also really loved their orange beef and beef chow fun.
There is a farmer's market around but I have never been to it. My favorite places to shop are Lottes Plaza and Shoppers because every other place is super expensive.
Over all I haven't found that Herndon is a foodie paradise of any sort...but above are the places I have enjoyed and gone back to multiple times.
LuckyFatima started a decent list except I protest and boycott Tipicos Gloria for ruining Teocalli Tamale (and I've never gotten good service there or when they bought Teocalli).
Near there is Euro Bistro, which while they have other things, the German dishes are what you want to order.
Second Charcoal Kebab and Angheethi. For a righteous deli sandwich, The Deli in that same KMart strip is solid - and know that if you order regularly, they give double meat portions, so you can ask for single portions at a reduced price. The Hot Sicilian is outstanding.
Also good in that strip is Three Thai Sushi. Their Tom Yum is the best I've ever had.
There are a few small but good markets in this strip as well; Russian, Middle Eastern, and Indo-Pak. A small Asian market is over near Reston Glass, and a larger one is up on Rt 7 just west of Dranesville Road.
There is pho 75 in that strip, but I prefer Pho Reston 75 in the Tall Oaks center in Reston. They also have a full Vietnamese menu.
Up the road from there is Lake Anne, which has a Saturday farmers market during the summer months. Cafe Montmarte is also there and is a fantastic place for al fresco dining. The escargots are great!
The other farmers market I know of is at Reston Pkwy and Sunrise Valley on Wednesday afternoons.
Getting back to the Rt 7 Dranesville Rd area, there's a good Thai place called Thai By Thai. Also, Betty's is under the clock tower and makes arguably the best saltenas in the area. The Lebanese place is supposed to be good, but I haven't been yet.
Back in Herndon, in old town Ice House cafe is good for a upper-mid level meal and on many nights they have a live jazz band. Across the street is Jimmy's which has above level american pub food. The Friday fish fry is great there.
That will help get you started.
To clarify a few things:
There are two "clocktower" buildings in the vicinity of Herndon. One is in Herndon, the other is in Sterling. Minerva and Hama Sushi are in the Herndon Clocktower plaza, while Betty's is in the Sterling clocktower plaza.
We have some very good Indian food in the area. In addition to Angeethi and Minerva, Paradise on Elden Street, near the K-mart plaza, makes huge, tasty dosas and has an Indo-Chinese section on their extensive menu. There are several less formal Indian places where you can get a good, cheap meal as well, such as Hot Breads and Chutneys.
Our Vietnamese restaurants are second-rate in comparison to what you will find if you go to Eden Center. That being said, May Saigon is okay, and we eat there often for the convenience factor. For Korean, Edoya offers a limited menu of Korean dishes along with a bigger sushi menu. Staff there are really trying (the place is new), but I'm not sure if they are going to make it. There is some very good Korean to be found where 28 and 29 intersect, but that's a good drive from us.
I'm a fan of Mikuku and Ariake for Japanese; we have several other places (Hama Sushi, Nippon) that are okay, but the first two are a clear cut above in quality.
If you go for wide noodle dishes and fried items, it is hard to beat Thai by Thai. Someone in the kitchen really knows how to wok. Ask for the Thai menu, and go for the Chinese broccoli with fried pork, the fried pork ribs, the pad see eww, and the chinese chive cakes.
Sahara, the Lebanese place in the Sterling Clock Tower, is also very good.
Wow, thanks for all the great responses, and for clarification on the two clock towers. I'm planning a house-hunting trip in a week or two and will start checking some of these places out. I like the recommendations for Salvadoran and Peruvian, which are pretty new to me, but is there any straight-ahead Mexican?
No hay nada de nada de comida mexicana en Herndon. Some mediocre American style Tex-Mex, including the usual chains. Some Salvadoran places that advertise as Mexican to attract a multi-ethnic clientele who might be more familiar with Mexican food, but they are actually Salvadoran owned and their best dishes are Salvadoran (like El Dorado). I found a divy Mexican place in Manassas (they had good tacos de barbacoa) but it wasn't worth the drive (it isn't that far but the traffic is horrid in that direction). Far away in Alexandria, Arlington, and DC you can find some places (search this board for recs), but in Herndon and immediately nearby, nothing.
There are a couple of other farmer's markets that Dennis missed. During the summer there is one right by the caboose on Thursday mornings. Frying Pan farm has a summer market on Thursday afternoons I believe. I saw what looked like a sign for an indoor market there now, but didn't get a chance to stop and check it out. And if you are further afield, there is a Sunday morning market in Cascades (near the library).
Reston isn't Herndon, but don't miss Cafe Sano in the South Lakes shopping center. It's a small, counter service Mediterranean place with fresh food and a small outdoor seating area.
I'm just back from my successful apartment hunting in Herndon and wanted to thank all of you for the suggestions and information.
I had a terrific dinner at Paradise -- actually, the samosas weren't anything special, but my entree, chicken maharaja, was so yummy I carted the leftovers home to Philly to enjoy. They were extremely friendly and accommodating, and I was sad to see the place was virtually empty. I plan to support them often and look forward to working my way through the menu.
I liked the pizza at Manhattan Pizza -- good crust and fresh toppings, although it suffered from the too-common problem of not being reheated all the way through. Next time I'll tell them to leave it in the oven longer.
I also sampled the kubideh at Moby Dick in the same shopping center. I wasn't that impressed, but I can see myself winding up there frequently anyway due to proximity. I'll probably find one item I like and stick with that.
My dinner at Euro Bistro was just average and seemed overpriced. The service was friendly but not overly efficient. I will say the coffee was fabulous.
Lastly, I had breakfast at Virginia Kitchen, which was very disappointing. Loved their spicy sausage, but the pancakes were tough, the hash browns greasy and undercooked, and I hate breakfast places that don't use real butter.
I am heading south permanently in about 2 weeks and will happily continue my explorations then.
Thanks for the report. I am curious as to what you ordered at Euro Bistro. I haven't ever been in the evening, but the German dishes have always been great, imo.
I probably need to give Moby Dick another chance, but if I'm not mistaken, the closest one is at Dulles. They really let me down at other locations a few times in a row some years back. I still stand behind Reston Kebab, Charcoal Kebab, and even the one that's in Dulles Town Center (they have a location near Foster's in Herndon).
I do like Manhattan though it's been awhile, but yes, I've learned to always ask slice places to go extra crispy, which usually works out. Flippin' Pizza handles that request well, and I think I've had the same success at Manhattan. Oh, and actually the pizza place in the Herndon Clock tower center does this nicely as well. And in the same parking lot, in the corner, is a place that specializes in flat bread. Stoney's Cove or something. It's worth at least one visit.
Welcome to the area, and please keep posting. There really are a lot of little gems - it's just that you need a car for most of them.
re: Dennis S
I started with the shrimp bisque with crabmeat. It had good flavor but wasn't hot, and there was only a speck of crab. For entree I had sauteed pork loin with brown sauce and mushrooms, which came with spaetzle. It was . . . fine. I didn't love it or hate it. For dessert I went with German chocolate cake, which was unlike any I ever had before. I daresay it was more authentic than the version I'm used to, but it was dry and too sweet. The best part was the smear of tangy raspberry sauce and the homemade whipped cream that came with it. As I said earlier, the coffee was great, strong and dark. But all of this, without alcohol, including tax and tip, ran me about $40, which is more than I would expect to pay for a meal like that. I guess it wouldn't bother me so much if I had enjoyed it more.
Your main entree sounds like the one I usually get. Different strokes perhaps. Though I agree that generally for what you get it's a tad high in price, which is why I mainly go at lunch for the reduced price point. On the other hand, $40 for a dinner that includes tax, tip, app, and dessert is pretty average to good for a mid-level restaurant around here.
Please keep reporting back, though. Enjoy your last bit of time in Philly and again welcome to the area.
re: Dennis S
Dennis, the Dulles Mall kebab place has a location near Foster's? Thanks for that info. I've been really happy with their mall food.
There is a Moby Dick in the Wood(something) center on Sunrise Valley Drive (the Harris Teeter plaza near the clocktower shopping center).
There is also a small Indian place in there that I've enjoyed. Wish I knew the name to tell you.
Nobody has yet mentioned Zeffirelli, in the old downtown area of Herndon. It's a superb Italian place in a charmingly restored old building. Zeffirelli has superior service, an excellent wine selection, and a veal chop that you really won't believe. Zeffirelli is not inexpensive, but as a fine dining option (for, say, a birthday celebration) it's a wonderful place.
Zeffirelli's matched all my expectations (but didn't exceed them). It's definitely old-school. I imagine it had updates and probably hit its "formula" in the 80s, with a few cosmetic updates in the mid 90s (just guessing). Classic Italian-American fare, comfortably presented. The service adapted well to my pace, and I never felt ignored (I was a solo diner). Great wine list, but pricing seem heavily engineered. For every amazing bottle that was overpriced, there were at least two lesser ones that were good values.
The veal chop: a tender juicy pound (after cooking) of love. Heavy on salt and fat, but that's just the way it's done. Paired okay with the recommended Amarone, but better with the slightly fruitier Barolo. Clam appetizer was disappointing.
I'd visit again, because I'm old enough to have a fondness for that "classic" vibe. But they're going to face a needed "freshness" menu upgrade to serve the next generation of foodies.
Still, not a bad place for a quiet birthday indulgence.
Last night I tried the Chicken Rico on Elden st in the Giant plaza. Have to say this rivals my favorite Pollo Inti. The chicken (both white meat and dark) was moist and spicy. The green sauce had great heat and texture and the yuca was crispy and soft inside. I saw fried plaintains and beans as well, but didn't try them. The salads didn't look great, but who goes to a Peruvian chicken place for salad?
Thanks, everyone, for keeping the thread going. I have now relocated to Herndon and am settling in. Haven't had much chance to explore, but I did get to Charcoal Kebab, as was recommended. I really enjoyed the kubideh and spicy spinach curry, and they sure give you a ton of food. Is the Harvest of India in that shopping center related to the Supper Club of India, which I liked?
Another question: I was going to make my foray into Salvadoran food at Tipicos Gloria, but chickened out because the menu is only in Spanish and I'm not familiar with the cuisine. Any hints as to what I should get there?
Try pupusas. They have rice flour (harina de arroz) and corn flour (masa harina) (you would say pupusa de arroz or de maiz) but the default is corn flour. I love bean and cheese stuffing (queso con frijoles). I don't eat pork so have not tried this one, but I have heard the national fave is the 'revuelta' which has beans, cheese, and pork. There is also loroco flower which is a slightly tangy flower usually had with a soft grainy cheese...sounds good but actually wasn't my favorite (though I have never had it at Tipicos Gloria), but since eating flowers is kind of a fun novelty for many people (such as myself) you may want to try it, it is called loroco con queso on the menu. Have no idea what the 'loca' is, but guessing it means pupusa with everything. The pupusa comes with a red salsa and pickled cabbage (curtido) which you put on top. There is no one way to eat it, at home people use one hand to tear into it (kind of like Indian food) but I have seen people pick it up slightly folded, or use a knife and fork. I usually add a dash of El Yucateco hot sauce (or whatever bottle is on the table) for a little heat, too.
I have been meaning to try their sopa de mariscos (seafood soup), which I heard is good. I have never tried any of their platos...I am wary of stuff like that since that kind of thing is very often much better tried at someone's home. But you can't go wrong with pupusas or tamales.
I also had their taco de lengua (beef tongue) and it was OK. The meat was good and tender, the corn tortillas factory fresh, but their salsa, which quite good, just doesn't match up to Mexican salsas I would usually put on that kind of taco...maybe just my prejudice. Other stuff to try: yuca frita (fried cassava/tapioca root) which is a boiled and then deep fried wedge, not a fried mass of yuca mash formed into a wedge like in the nearby Peruvian places...it is yuca con chicharron on the menu (though I have not had it with chicharron.) Also, I have not had Salvadoran tamales at Tipicos Gloria, but I love Salvadoran tamales. They are similar to Southern Mexican style, wrapped in a banana leaf with a noticeably soft, almost creamy masa and stuffed with chicken/pork plus stuff like chickpeas and potatoes.
The sign on the door says 'tenemos gallina india" which means 'We have free-range chicken' but I didn't know if that means they sell it for home use or that is what they use in their dishes.
On principle alone I really implore everyone not to go to Tipicos. When they had their first location service was completely awful. Food was good once you got it but how long does it take to make a taco?
Second, they ended up buying Teocalli, which was around the corner, changing the menu and degrading the service. Why? I don't know. Then they closed it down. A sad day for Herndon.
I don't understand why they are still in business. If in Sterling, Betty's is the place. In Reston, it's been a bit for me, but the market in the parking lot of Lake Anne as well as the Pharmacy in Lake Anne both had places that were at least decent.
Again, principle alone forces me to warn about Tipicos.
One more cool place in nearby Ashburn (near to Wegmans) is Ford's Fish Shack. I tried my first lobster roll there. Quite good (though I had to add a dash of salt). My husband had the fish and chips, also good: light and flaky fish that was creamy inside the crisp batter and had no trace of a fishy taste whatsoever (in a good way). They have a big menu...I want to try the crab cakes which I heard are great. They are packed on weekends and still crowded on weeknights for a reason. I am not at all from this region so this style of seafood and other items on the menu are very new for me...it was very exciting to get to try them and not have to drive to Maine or some trendy DC place.
Hi Fatima, being from New England (RI, with many summers in Maine), I am always leery of places that claim to offer New England-style seafood (just like "Yats" are always dubious of New Orleans restaurants east of Slidell), but Ford's is very good.
I would be interested to hear how the crabcakes are.That's a Baltimore thing, not a New England thing, but if they use good-quality crabmeat and minimize the filler, the crabcakes should be good.