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Anita's, A Regional, Chantilly-Based Chain - "New Mexico Style" Mexican in Multiple Virginia Locations

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#1 monavano

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Posted 18 July 2009 - 08:59 AM

Lunch was a "Carnitas verde" burrito from California Tortilla. Dude. People who bitch about Chipotle would take it all back after trying this place. Tasteless meat, soggy rice, no discernible salsa (verde or otherwise), tomatoes that tasted like preservatives, and wan iceberg lettuce instead of the advertised romaine. Never, ever again.

I feel your pain. Last week, Mr. MV and I were in Vienna and I mentioned the Amphora Diner and Anitas for dinner options. Unfortunately, we went to the latter. In a word-disgusting. Stale chips, gross salsa (tasted of ketchup), slimy verde sauce drowning a burrito that was smothered in a "cheese" sauce reminiscent of some processed cheese product brought out of a nuclear bomb shelter from the 1950's. Yes, we ate, we paid, we tipped well. Never. EVER. again.



#2 DrXmus

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 11:03 PM

No replies in over a year to an old stand-by like Anita's? Either it's because everyone knows what to expect there, or it's not on anyone's list any more. Mrs. DrX and I usually hit Anita's 1-2 times a year, but only for breakfast. Is there anything better than chips and salsa for a breakfast appetitizer? I'm gonna say "no". I had the Chorizo Huevos this morning. The menus says it's made with house made chorizo. I enjoyed the flavor, but it was hardly spicy or exciting. It was quite edible, though, but that's hardly high praise. At least the chips and salsa were good. I didn't get any "ketchup" flavor in the salsa, and never have, but maybe it's just me. My primary complaint was that the "home fries" were deep fried! They've always been cooked on the griddle creating some crispy edges, but generally consist of soft and tasty cubes of potato. Today, they were cubed french fries! At least it helped me limit my portion, but I would've enjoyed the old standby much better.

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#3 Joe H

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:05 AM

No replies in over a year to an old stand-by like Anita's? Either it's because everyone knows what to expect there, or it's not on anyone's list any more. Mrs. DrX and I usually hit Anita's 1-2 times a year, but only for breakfast. Is there anything better than chips and salsa for a breakfast appetitizer? I'm gonna say "no". I had the Chorizo Huevos this morning. The menus says it's made with house made chorizo. I enjoyed the flavor, but it was hardly spicy or exciting. It was quite edible, though, but that's hardly high praise. At least the chips and salsa were good. I didn't get any "ketchup" flavor in the salsa, and never have, but maybe it's just me. My primary complaint was that the "home fries" were deep fried! They've always been cooked on the griddle creating some crispy edges, but generally consist of soft and tasty cubes of potato. Today, they were cubed french fries! At least it helped me limit my portion, but I would've enjoyed the old standby much better.

It's been two years or so but I've always loved Anita's green chili breakfast burrito. I should also mention that the original Anita's (once a "Donut Dinette?" from the early '70's) always seemed better than any of the others especially when she set up chairs and tables in the parking lot. It had a lot of "character" that her other Vienna place never captured. Sometimes food tastes better eaten in a dump. Especially when the owners drive a Cadillac with steer horns mounted on the hood. And a Rolls Royce.

She had good carne adovada, too. At least then.

#4 Bob Wells

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 08:32 AM

It's been two years or so but I've always loved Anita's green chili breakfast burrito. I should also mention that the original Anita's (once a "Donut Dinette?" from the early '70's) always seemed better than any of the others especially when she set up chairs and tables in the parking lot. It had a lot of "character" that her other Vienna place never captured. Sometimes food tastes better eaten in a dump. Especially when the owners drive a Cadillac with steer horns mounted on the hood. And a Rolls Royce.

She had good carne adovada, too. At least then.

We're fans of the breakfast burritos too, and I've never had a problem with the chips and salsa (and I've had some BAD chips and salsa in this area).

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#5 SeanMike

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:50 AM

I'll be honest: the biggest reason I avoid the one in Ashburn is the cheap cutlery. I feel like I'm going to bend/break the silverware every time I use it. I can't concentrate on my meal or on anything else other than the stupid forks.
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#6 DonRocks

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:53 AM

I'll be honest: the biggest reason I avoid the one in Ashburn is the cheap cutlery. I feel like I'm going to bend/break the silverware every time I use it. I can't concentrate on my meal or on anything else other than the stupid forks.

No but you can do a hell of a Kreskin imitation.

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#7 brian robinson

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:07 AM

I worked at Anita's in high school as a dishwasher. Sure, the salsa is a bit watery, but i have an addiction to the #2 Bugerito smothered with Green Chile.
Haven't been there in a while, but even months ago, it was the same as it was back then.
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#8 SeanMike

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 11:42 PM

No but you can do a hell of a Kreskin imitation.

It's my magnetic personality. It pulls the cutlery to me, and often sticks it to me.

No, wait, that's me spilling stuff on myself.

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#9 lggl

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 08:52 AM

Common conversation in the high school parking lot in the late 80s -
"old or new?"
"stupid question - old"
"front or back?"
"back's ok if front too crowded"

Everyone new you were talking about Anita's and whether to go to the shiny new one or the original. And whether sit in the crowded front or in the tent out back. It was reliable and relatively decent back then - for our tastes and wallets. Now, I would only go for the breakfast burritos. And probably only to the Herndon location. I was in Tyson's a few months back and jonesing for the chicken and cheese crisp (no longer on the menu BTW). Got a number 3 in a basket instead and my god, did I pay for it the next day. I think I will stick with El Paso Cafe or El Ranchero for my old school mexican from now on.

Fond memories of that place in our formative years though. And the rolls royce fitting in the tiny back lot!

#10 B.A.R.

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:27 AM

Cara and I had our rehearsal dinner in the "old" Anita's in Vienna. We wanted the complete antithesis of the over the top wedding the next day. On a cold, damp night in February, they wanted $800 Food and Beverage minimum to rent the place. I remember the catering manager somewhat perplexed why we wanted to have the dinner in the "old" when the new was just up the street and "so much nicer". The new just had no soul. Whereas the "old" was the perfect mix of dumpy and cool!

With $50 worth of sombreros, pinatas, and various other crap we wrestled up at the Party City, we had a kick-ass party. And although the wedding at the Ritz the next day was very nice, everyone remembers how much fun the rehearsal dinner was, and how you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom.

Although I live within 15 minutes of 3 Anita's current locations, I really miss the "old" and haven't been back since it closed.

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#11 DonRocks

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:35 AM


Cara and I had our rehearsal dinner in the "old" Anita's in Vienna. We wanted the complete antithesis of the over the top wedding the next day. On a cold, damp night in February, they wanted $800 Food and Beverage minimum to rent the place. I remember the catering manager somewhat perplexed why we wanted to have the dinner in the "old" when the new was just up the street and "so much nicer". The new just had no soul. Whereas the "old" was the perfect mix of dumpy and cool!

With $50 worth of sombreros, pinatas, and various other crap we wrestled up at the Party City, we had a kick-ass party. And although the wedding at the Ritz the next day was very nice, everyone remembers how much fun the rehearsal dinner was, and how you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom.

Although I live within 15 minutes of 3 Anita's current locations, I really miss the "old" and haven't been back since it closed.

 

The old 24-hour Anita's drive-thru was awesome at 4 AM for their late-night specials (and if I recall, their breakfast burrito was, tragically, not included as one of them); it's been downhill ever since. smile.gif


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#12 Al Dente

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:59 AM

Not my choice, but I went to the Anita's in Herndon last night. I had a platter with what appeared to be a tamale, enchilada, and rice drowning in thin re-fried beans and cheese with a beef taco on the side. The food would be fantastic if I had smoked a Cheech & Chong sized joint beforehand. My dinner would have been just as "good" if they dumped it all in a blender and served it in a tall glass with a straw.


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#13 DonRocks

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 10:04 AM

Not my choice, but I went to the Anita's in Herndon last night. I had a platter with what appeared to be a tamale, enchilada, and rice drowning in thin re-fried beans and cheese with a beef taco on the side. The food would be fantastic if I had smoked a Cheech & Chong sized joint beforehand. My dinner would have been just as "good" if they dumped it all in a blender and served it in a tall glass with a straw.

 

You'd be surprised how many people I've met that say they "miss" food like this.


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#14 Bob Wells

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 12:24 PM

The breakfast burritos are still one of the only decent morning options in Chantilly.


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#15 ulrath

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 08:05 PM

Try the ones at El Fresco on route 50.  They don't have the green chili offerings but if you order a breakfast burrito with chorizo in it you will actually notice the chorizo in it.



#16 Joe H

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 08:46 PM

What are the dumps of today?  When I wrote about Anita's above it was because, in the '70's, it was worth the drive from Silver Spring.  The alternative was Spoeedy Gonzalez on N. Hudson street in Arlington which was an old frame house a block or so from Red Top cab but had seriously good basic Tex Mex.  Anita's in Vienna was similarly excellent and also had great character.  

 

My comment about character is the most important one:  Anita's really WAS a fast food walk up stand in the '60's.  She really did drive a cadillac with steer horns on its hood.  She really had two top tables in the parking lot (with the line for the car wash snaking nearby) and, after a couple of years, erected a canvas awning over them.  She parked her Rolls Royce within five feet of one of these tables.  Over time she and her husband opened another Anita's on route 29 in Fairfax (next to another car wash) and near Old Town Herndon.  To this day I think I've been to each one time.  Perhaps the same food but it never tasted as good as it did in the remodelled Donut Dinette in Vienna.

 

Character.

 

When you walked into a room in Speedy Gonzalez the floor creaked.  Loudly.  It felt like with each step a different board would break underneath your feet.    For all of the world this was a frame house in a border town with a wire fence and Mexico outside the back door.

 

It had character.

 

Where do I go for character today?



#17 B.A.R.

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 06:37 AM

Funny you mention that. We had our Rehearsal Dinner at the Anita's in Vienna (where Maple Ave Restaurant is today) precisely for that reason. Our reception was at the Ritz Carlton and we wanted a completely opposite experience for the rehearsal dinner. When I told them our plans, they tried to steer us to the Anita's up the road, which had a large catering room. We declined, and rented the whole restaurant because we loved the character of the place!


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#18 DaveO

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 11:04 AM

Funny you mention that. We had our Rehearsal Dinner at the Anita's in Vienna (where Maple Ave Restaurant is today) precisely for that reason. Our reception was at the Ritz Carlton and we wanted a completely opposite experience for the rehearsal dinner. When I told them our plans, they tried to steer us to the Anita's up the road, which had a large catering room. We declined, and rented the whole restaurant because we loved the character of the place!

 

Good choice.  I shoulda done that as I got married at a similarly fancy place.      Meanwhile between chicken enchiladas, spanish rice, refried beans and the breakfast burritos I'd eaten at Anita's probably a 100 plus times over so many years.  

 

Not my choice, but I went to the Anita's in Herndon last night. I had a platter with what appeared to be a tamale, enchilada, and rice drowning in thin re-fried beans and cheese with a beef taco on the side. The food would be fantastic if I had smoked a Cheech & Chong sized joint beforehand. My dinner would have been just as "good" if they dumped it all in a blender and served it in a tall glass with a straw.

 

You'd be surprised how many people I've met that say they "miss" food like this.

 

Ate there at least over 100 times over the years.  Ate the types of meals described above.  I have to admit to being one of those described by Don and Al Dente. What can I say?  It hit the spot. Admittedly it is anything but high quality food, but in my experience it was infinitely better than fast food, unknown dives or restaurants, etc.  I'm glad I got to know Anita's a couple of decades ago.  

 

Come to think of it for about 2 decades I went to various meetings all over the region in every county, sometimes with colleagues, sometimes on my own. At some point I discovered Anita's. It was probably my favorite local medium priced chain of restaurants. If I had an end of the day type meeting in Virginia, and for one reason or another I wasn't going to eat at home or had a dinner arrangement I'd probably stop for a meal at Anita's.  Being from the NorthEast it was probably my main first introduction to SouthWest styled cooking.  My usual choice was an enchilada meal w/ rice and refried beans. It did have a "blender" quality to it.  Regardless, I liked it and it introduced me to a new style of cooking and better alternatives.  

 

In fact I can recall ending the work day in Northern Montgomery County or Southern PG or elsewhere in Md and being disappointed there wasn't a nearby or accessible Anita's. As the afternoon hours rolled on toward evening and issues with regard to my stomach took precedence over other issues, my mind often wandered toward Anita's. I guess I'm one of those "blender" kind of people.  ;)







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