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Lunch near Fort Belvoir -- a culinary wasteland or am I missing something?

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I work for an agency on Fort Belvoir right off the Fairfax County Parkway but grew up near Fairfax. I never thought much of Springfield then and in the seven years I've been working on post, not much has changed my mind restaurant-wise.

I've been to a lot of bad lunches at mediocre places but there are a few go-to places I've enjoyed such as Thaibox (Thai/Cajun) on Telegraph, KongChong on Backlick for great Korean/Chinese, two decent Thai places, two decent Indian Buffets and a good Vietnamese place right outside the gate. Once I even ventured to A&J's in Annandale (I know the back way to get there from work ;-). it was good but the whole no credit card thing doesn't work for some and next time I go it really, really need to bring a co-worker who could read the menu for me....

Next month my boss is taking the team out to lunch to celebrate my promotion. Any chowhounds have a fave place in lunching distance from Belvoir that I might have overlooked all these years?

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  1. El Costalilla is about 15 minutes away from you, if that isn't too far. Counter service.

    Do a search on this board for discussion and specific items to order.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      Second El Costalilla. La Mexicana Bakery is not that much farther, but their tortas are well worth the effort, particularly the ahogada. Although the sopes at Costalilla aren't too shabby. Hunan Deli nextdoor to Thaibox has excellent Korean (the soups are substantial). Kinda small (just like Thaibox) so if you're going with a group, try Kimchi House on Route 1. Two little old Korean ladies who use the vegetables that grow  in their garden. Can't get much more locavore than that. Su Pollo does some pretty kickass Peruvian chicken; blows El Pollo Rico out of the water. 5 Ten Food Mart does obscene amounts of pho for next to nothing. You can kill yourself for $9 in there. Definitely not formal dining, though. It's a sandwich/fastfood kinda breakfast joint that also does tacos. Cosmopolitan Grill does solid Balkan fare; good sevapcici and pleskavika on fresh baked bread. 

      1. re: monkeyrotica

        A big second to Hunan Deli, Kimchi House, & 5 Ten, I didn't mention them because they're not really group places (maybe Kimchi House), but they're solid lunch picks. The only one I haven't tried yet on your list is La Mexicana, I don't seem to be able to make it past El Costalilla.

        1. re: thistle5

          The tortas at La Mexicana are outstanding, which makes sense since they make their own bread, which is half the battle. Their tacos are great, but you really want their sandwiches.

          1. re: monkeyrotica

            I'll try to make it up this week, I also really like the sopes at el Costalilla, although I'm trying to limit my carbs (PITA)-every time I'm at my local bakery (Family Bakery & Mrs. Donut), I see lots of folks buying the rolls & baguettes in bulk -I asked when I first moved here if they did banh mi, they would clean up, I think....

    2. I work right near you and we've had several nicer team lunches at Monty's Steakhouse on Old Keene Mill at Rolling Road. About 7 miles.

      I tend towards the types of places you list, mainly along Backlick, but for a group of diverse eaters, Monty's is a nice place with plenty of options in the steak, seafood, burger range. I've had lamb chops, sea bass, and burger and all were good.

      http://montyssteakhouse.com

      1. I work near there off Edsall Rd. There's always Mike's American on Backlick. I like Gamsamot for Korean in that shopping center off Backlick across from the VRE station next to El Grande market. There is a bunch of Asian and Latino places in that plaza. Sugar Palm Thai off Edsall on the east side of I-395 is pretty good.

        1. Osteria Marzano & Kumo Asian Bistro (opposite sides of the Beulah/Manchester intersection) are both good; I like ThaiBox, too, but it's a small space-don't know how large your group is.

          3 Replies
          1. re: thistle5

            I second Kumo Asian Bistro

            1. re: Milocat1

              thistle5 and Milocat1 Thanks! Kumo Asian Bistro and Osteria Marzano sound very interesting, Kumo Asian Bistro might be good for my team but I owe a lunch to a dear friend so Osteria Marzano might be perfect for that.

              OTOH we all love, love Thaibox, yes we can fit in there :-) So we might end up back at an old favorite.

              1. re: HokieAnnie

                Osteria Marzano is new & a little hard to find, but I had lunch w/ a friend a week ago & it was great-I had a lunch special of a salad & sm meatball panini, it was delicious.
                Kumo has a lot of variety, if you like Asian food-sushi, Thai, generic Chinese, good service & it's an attractive place, w/ plenty of parking.

          2. I'm going to guess the other Thai places might be Thai Ghang Waan (off Backlick) & Thai Nakorn (Cooper Rd., off Rt. 1), but what's the Vietnamese restaurant? The only one I can think of close to Belvoir is Le Bledo Bakery on Backlick, for pho & banh mi.

            2 Replies
            1. re: thistle5

              Well our go to Thai have been the place in the strip mall in the Springfield Mall lot off of Loisdale Road and Rice and Spice in the Kingstowne shopping center. In the same shopping center as Rice and Spice there's Pho place that thought was decent and tasty but I'm not as familiar with Vietnamese to know with confidence.

              1. re: HokieAnnie

                I like Thai Cafe, too, & a recent COC ceremony was catered by Rice & Spice Thai (a welcome change from Panera & Red Hot & Blue)-you might also like El Paso (standard Tex-Mex) & Su Pollo (Peruvian grilled chicken), they're casual, cheap, & close alternatives. Tacos el Costalilla has wonderful ceviche- you can skip the tostada & just spoon it up. For lunches that will please folks that don't want anything different, Cosmopolitan & Mamma's Kitchen have good lunch specials.

            2. Off Beulah, past Manchester Lakes, is Walker's Grille, locally sourced if they can, LEEDs certified. It's along the lines of Mike's, smaller portions but a little more unusual.

              1. I agree with Kumo and Marzano being good. House of Dynasty is excellent too.

                1. Recently I've been enjoying Baytna in Landsdowne shopping center, right across from the some-day Wegmans @ Telegraph and Beulah. Mediterranean modeled after Chipotle. At off-peak hours, the falafel are fried when you order them so they are fresh and really good. Counter service with eat in space.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tcamp

                    Colleagues at work have eaten here and gave it praise. Love, love falafel, so I need to get there soon.

                    I think the effects of the BRACing to Belvior has finally attracted more good eats to the area.

                  2. I'm a big fan of Peking Duck on Rt. 1.

                    Fantastic Peking Duck carved table side, great dumplings and lots of other tasty items. They have a non-standard lunch buffet too........soup, egg roll, another app (dumplings, or fried wontons, or temupra, etc) and then 4 dishes to choose from. They change the offereings daily (?), but they don't have a buffet table. THey cook the stuff fresh and bring it out when you want more.

                    I wish I worked closer!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Bart Hound

                      Where on Route 1, may I ask? Sounds pretty good.

                      1. re: flavrmeistr

                        7531 Richmond Highway, just south of La Mexicana. The Peking Duck is excellent, I think better than Mark's Duck House, but a LOT of the other dishes are hit or miss. I like the ma po tofu because they still put ground pork in it, but the wings were corn mealey and bad. Some of the non-Peking duck duck dishes were drowned in the usual Americanized Chinese syrupey sauces, but the sizzling rice and hot and sour soups were good. The interior hasn't been updated since 1975, but I like it that way.

                        http://www.pekingduck.com/

                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                          Good to know. I love Peking Duck. Mark's duck tends to be dry from sitting around under those heat lamps and Peking Gourmet is just getting a bit too expensive. Duck Chang's was surprising good last time I was there a few months back. Nice to have another alternative, especially with good dumplings as an extra bonus.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                            Duck Chang and Peking Duck are owned by the same family so if you're closer to Duck Chang, it might not be worth the trip.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I live in Frederick County MD and work mostly in Balt/AA with only occasional forays into DC, so none are especially close. Mo' options, mo' better.

                          2. re: monkeyrotica

                            Had opportunity to have the mapo dofu at PF Chang's last week.
                            Theirs is a vegetarian dish
                            Boo hisss.

                      2. HI! Great question since I drive in the area all the time and often ended up at Roy Roger's!. For a quick pizza, Vinnie's is pretty good on Route One in Gunston Plaza. For nice Indian dining, I like the buffets at Aditi in Kingstowne (across from the movies) but closer to you is Aroma (in the Lorton Market Shopping Center across from the Amtrack station.(they have another in Shirlington)

                        1. There's a new place (open less than a year) in the Hollin Hall shoping center called Riverbend Bistro. I've been there twice and wasn't thrilled either time. I like what they're trying to do and I'm trying to support them, but both times I had dishes that were devoid of any seasoning at all. I had to salt my dishes be able to eat them and that's something I NEVER do.

                          On both occasions, both my wife and I prefered the apps to the entres.

                          I really home they find their grove because they had "weird" things on the menu like sweet breads and shad roe which you can't get anywhere else around there.

                          They also have a little wine bar.

                          In spite of my luke warm review, it's proably worth checking out.

                          http://www.riverbendbistro.com/

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Bart Hound

                            I'm glad you've tested it (so I don't have to)-I've read about it since it opened, & just haven't been tempted to try it out (& I would really love a great lunch spot that's close by).

                            One place that I've eaten at a few times recently that exceeded expectations was the Mount Vernon Inn-miles better than when I ate there a few years ago, maybe I just got lucky.

                            1. re: Bart Hound

                              Second the apps over the entrees at River Bend. A better deal and better flavor. Apart from the steak, the entrees were underseasoned.

                              I've been twice and although I want to come back more often, their menu doesn't change much and a lot of it I can't eat for medical reasons. Still, it's a nice place for a glass of wine and a few apps and gets quite crowded on the weekend.