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Dining in Fairfax


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Does anyone have a recommendation for a good place to go for a casual dinner before a concert at the Patriot Center? Jlock and I are going to the Depeche Mode concert tonight and would love a suggestion. Thanks.

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The following posts were moved into separate threads:

Rafagino (Escoffier)

Artie's (Pete)

Bombay Garden (DrXmus)

Pelano's (jiveturk21)

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Jake, I live a mile from there and had no idea about this place!

If by "near" you mean within a mile, you're kind of SOL. Under no circumstances should you dine at Brion's Grille (pronounced Bry-uhns Grill-ee). You'd be better off eating any little morsels that might reside under your passenger seat.

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Brion's is only useful for wi-fi and beer.

Fat's is in the back of University Mall, next to the Kinko's. It's quite drab/dirty inside, and most of the food is OK or worse, but I do enjoy the red beans and rice, and there's usually good beer, not too expensive. And peanuts. But don't go if you want some level of comfort.

Elie's Deli, in the same shopping center, does OK by sandwiches, but no beer.

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Jake, I live a mile from there and had no idea about this place!

If by "near" you mean within a mile, you're kind of SOL. Under no circumstances should you dine at Brion's Grille (pronounced Bry-uhns Grill-ee). You'd be better off eating any little morsels that might reside under your passenger seat.

I agree, stay away! I stopped in there a couple of month ago and had the worst burger and fries.

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If you enjoy Thai food, there is a great restaurant in the same strip mall as Fat Tuesdays. I cant recall what the restaurant is called but it is the only Thai restaurant in the location. Last year I went to see the Beastie Boys at the Patriot Center and the table next to us were attending the same show.The food was great and afterwards walked over the Patriot Center.

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Thanks for all the suggestions.  We are definitely not limited to within a mile; only restraint is that we want to be on the other side of the majority of the rush hour traffic from DC (if there is any on this frigid day).

Chutzpah (deli), Minerva, Bombay Bistro. I'm given to understand that Temel is also a good choice, but I've never been there.

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Chutzpah (deli), Minerva, Bombay Bistro. I'm given to understand that Temel is also a good choice, but I've never been there.

I had dinner at Temel last week, and I thought it was perfectly fine, if not exceptional, Mediterranean/Turkish food (www.temelrestaurant.com). That said, when I have to go to court in Fairfax, I always try and get lunch at Cattleya, a Thai place right on 123 in the heart of Fairfax City (www.cattleyathairestaurant.com).

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Oh please, for the love of God, stay away from Fat Tuesday's.

If you find yourself eating there, make sure you're up to date will all your shots and vaccinations.

For Italian, Dolce Vita in the City of Fairfax does a nice job. The Bombay Club (obviously Indian) has a nice dinner buffet.

And of course, the Great American chain- with Arties in Fairfax Circle, and Coastal Flats in Fairfax Corner would be worth checking out.

Cheers, -j

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Oh please, for the love of God, stay away from Fat Tuesday's.

If you find yourself eating there, make sure you're up to date will all your shots and vaccinations.

For Italian, Dolce Vita in the City of Fairfax does a nice job.  The Bombay Club (obviously Indian) has a nice dinner buffet. 

And of course, the Great American chain- with Arties in Fairfax Circle, and Coastal Flats in Fairfax Corner would be worth checking out.

Cheers, -j

I only hesitated to recommend Coastal Flats because its waits are notoriously ridiculous and she's got a show to get to (DM! so jealous). If one calls well ahead, though, it may not be undoable.

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Thank you for all of your recommendations. We ended up calling ahead and getting a table at Coastal Flats. The margaritas were excellent, as were the breads. I had the lobster roll and Jlock had the crab cakes. Both were decent, but nothing extraordinary. I preferred the lobster to the crab cakes. We skipped dessert.

The concert was excellent!

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Hi all,

This is my first post, so I apologize in advance for my inevitable faux pas. I've been lurking on the board for the past couple of months, and I've really liked reading about people who enjoy food as much as I do.

On to my question: I'm graduating from George Mason in a couple of weeks (Masters program, nght school). The commencement ceremony is on a Friday night at 7 pm. I need a place to eat close to the campus, so I can drive out there early and miss the worst of the traffic.

There's going to be 8 or so people, all of whom like to eat well (no one's picky, but one is on dialysis, and his doctor told him not to eat Chinese food). Price can be anywhere from cash only to expensive (but not very expensive).

From a friend who lives out that way, I've heard that the choices aren't very good, and I may want to look at Sweetwater Tavern. Any opinions on that? I live in Arlington, and almost never venture that far West, so any help would be great.

Thanks

Josh

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Hi all,

This is my first post, so I apologize in advance for my inevitable faux pas. I've been lurking on the board for the past couple of months, and I've really liked reading about people who enjoy food as much as I do.

On to my question: I'm graduating from George Mason in a couple of weeks (Masters program, nght school). The commencement ceremony is on a Friday night at 7 pm. I need a place to eat close to the campus, so I can drive out there early and miss the worst of the traffic.

There's going to be 8 or so people, all of whom like to eat well (no one's picky, but one is on dialysis, and his doctor told him not to eat Chinese food). Price can be anywhere from cash only to expensive (but not very expensive).

From a friend who lives out that way, I've heard that the choices aren't very good, and I may want to look at Sweetwater Tavern. Any opinions on that? I live in Arlington, and almost never venture that far West, so any help would be great.

Thanks

Josh

Congratulations on graduating, Josh. I think there are several decent options in that area. I attended GMU myself, and also worked at the Fairfax Court not too long ago.

My personal favorite in that area is the infrequently-mentioned Il Lupo. It is on 123 across from the courthouse. I am a big fan of their gnocchi.

I also like Cattleya for Thai food. There is a new place, Le Tire Bouchon, that I've heard good things about. If you feel like splurging and can get a table, I've always been curious about the Bailiwick Inn.

Good luck.

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Well a big HOWDY to both of ya' newbies and congrats on the new degree. I live near GMU and other than ethnic, the place is fairly blighted for restaurants. Rather than Sweetwater, I would suggest Artie's, still a GAR restaurant but seemingly the least homogenized of their outlets. And it is closer.

Never been to Il Lupo, so cannot comment. I have had two good meals at Le Tire Bouchon in the last two years. Bellissimo in downtown Fairfax has it's supporters on the board, but I was less than impressed with my only meal there a year and a half ago.

Wait! Rafagino's in Burke. 10 minute drive. Small little Italian restaurant in a shopping center. Call today.

You could also just keep posting and I am sure Rocks will chime in and announce that in the last 72 hours he has eaten at, and reviewed, every establishment with a foodservice license within 2 miles of Fairfax circle. :)

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Well a big HOWDY to both of ya' newbies and congrats on the new degree. I live near GMU and other than ethnic, the place is fairly blighted for restaurants. Rather than Sweetwater, I would suggest Artie's, still a GAR restaurant but seemingly the least homogenized of their outlets. And it is closer.

Never been to Il Lupo, so cannot comment. I have had two good meals at Le Tire Bouchon in the last two years. Bellissimo in downtown Fairfax has it's supporters on the board, but I was less than impressed with my only meal there a year and a half ago.

Wait! Rafagino's in Burke. 10 minute drive. Small little Italian restaurant in a shopping center. Call today.

You could also just keep posting and I am sure Rocks will chime in and announce that in the last 72 hours he has eaten at, and reviewed,  every establishment with a foodservice license within 2 miles of Fairfax circle. :)

Is that 10 minute drive gonna turn into 30 with rush hour? That's my biggest concern.. with all the family in town, I don't want to end up stuck in traffic and showing up late for the ceremony. BUT.. I also don't want to eat crappy food.

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Is that 10 minute drive gonna turn into 30 with rush hour? That's my biggest concern.. with all the family in town, I don't want to end up stuck in traffic and showing up late for the ceremony. BUT.. I also don't want to eat crappy food.

Congratulations, Josh, and welcome to DR.com!

Mapquest puts it at 12 minutes, but rush hour in the vicinity of GMU can be BRUTAL. With graduation on a Friday evening at 7, I would suggest that it could take 3 times as long, which isn't practical.

Better to stick closer to the campus, IMO. I've eaten at Il Lupo once and enjoyed it. Le Tire Bouchon is also very good, if a bit pricey.

There's also Auld Shebeen (?) up at the intersection of 123 and 236, but I've not tried that place. It's an Irish pub, so probably more casual and less expensive, but might be smoky.

San Vito is in the Kings Park shopping center, on Burke Lake Road at Braddock Road, but even that might be pushing the envelope to enjoy your meal and get to graduation on time.

Hope you have a great meal, and please report back after the event!

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Hi all,

Graduation was Friday night, and I just wanted to post what happened.

I finally called the school, and found out I was supposed to be there at 6 pm, and family at 6:30. So we skipped dinner before hand, and had a late dinner (10 pm) at Hunan #1 in Clarendon. Not one of the best restaurants around, but a staple as a local, late night Chinese place, in my opinion (I live in Courthouse, and parents were staying at a hotel in Ballston).

Josh

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I just moved out here from Arlington. My wife and I just had a baby and we needed a bigger place. I have done China Star and Minerva which were both good, , and Wegman's is obviously a great. Are there any gems I'm missing in Fairfax, and is there anything halfway decent in my area (near the government center and Fairfax corner)? Thanks.

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I just moved out here from Arlington. My wife and I just had a baby and we needed a bigger place. I have done China Star and Minerva which were both good, , and Wegman's is obviously a great. Are there any gems I'm missing in Fairfax, and is there anything halfway decent in my area (near the government center and Fairfax corner)? Thanks.

Have you already perused the Dining Guide?

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I just moved out here from Arlington. My wife and I just had a baby and we needed a bigger place. I have done China Star and Minerva which were both good, , and Wegman's is obviously a great. Are there any gems I'm missing in Fairfax, and is there anything halfway decent in my area (near the government center and Fairfax corner)? Thanks.
There's Passionfish in Reston, American Flatbread just across the border in Loudon... 2941 if you go back in time a couple years... Coastal Flats is probably your best chain option...

Oh, and my kitchen :D

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It's my home, so that's kind of redeeming :D . And the schools are great as well.

On the food front......Tippy's Tacos at the corner of Germantown road and Lee Highway is good, cheap eats.....Blue Ocean for Sushi in the Trader Joe's shopping center...Sakoontra and Panisa Thai for, well, Thai......Woodland's and Bombay Bistro for Indian......Raffagino's in Burke for Italian, and La Dolce Vita isn't great, but is a fun an moderately priced Italian.....Burger and a beer at Artie's bar (the last still good GAR restaurant).....Two must do's, however: Lunch at the Wegman's seafood bar- $2.50 pints of Dogfish 60 minute IPA and $11 scallop entree with veg. And if you've ever wondered where those restaurant's are that appear on the American version of Kitchen Nightmares, may I recommend Vinnie's Steakhouse. Have several cocktails first....be prepared to spend lots of money.....don't get angry, just soak in the madness.

Like any suburb, there is plenty of crap to wade through, but dive right in and let us know what you've found.

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Are you looking in Fairfax the city or the county? Here are some ideas for the county which is huge:

If you are looking for more refined dining:

Inox

Evo

2941 (it's ok now, but not what it once was, and not what it was the short time Scott Bryan was there either)

Passionfish (mmm get a soup they are great)

Four Sisters

The Palm

Present

Tachibana

Less refined-

Metro 29 Diner

Artie's

Honey Pig

Nizam's

Rose

Shamshiry

Lebanese Taverna

Monterey Fish Grotto

Wildfire

Dolce Vita

Short list to add to what is above. You will be getting Michel Richard here soon too! There is also a good deli a little north of George Mason that I forget the name of... will try to remember. I work in Fairfax, but they chain me to the desk so I don't leave for lunch. In Fairfax the city there is less, but still some stuff.

And the shrimp diablo at Uncle Julio's is decent.

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Please name that deli! I have found no redeeming deli's in my 'hood.

Just went to Bernie's for the first time for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Not much open on GMU's campus during the summer and parking has been tough recently. Bernie's is walking distance from my office and we got our order to go.

Overall, it wasn't too bad. I don't have a burning desire to make a return trip, but I think it is better than Elie's Deli in University Mall.

Had a regular turkey, cheese, & avocado on sourdough. If the sourdough bread wasn't so gummy, it would have been a good sandwich. Coworkers had the veggie, hot pastrami, corned beef, and a grilled chicken salad. The only dud in the group was the grilled chicken salad. It was already pre-boxed and looked like it had been sitting for a while. It had iceburg lettuce in it - the only kind of lettuce I hate with a passion. No one thought it was fabulous, but they didn't think it was bad - with the exception of salad man. :D

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Thanks everyone. I tried Chutzpah yesterday. Not bad. Corned beef was a little dry.

I'll try to work on my spelling in the fyoocher.

I shouldn't put down Fairfax, I grew up out here. It's just feels somewhat sprawling and bland.

I feel for you. I grew up in the country then moved to the city and I have many of the same feelings about Suburbia. But I have a few friends who have spent pretty much their whole lives in Fairfax and they have taken me to some good places... You just gotta keep trying places and being adventurous and you will find places you like and then it wont seem so bland.

Also forgot to mention Dogfish Head Ale House, it's in Falls Church and I never know what part of that is Fairfax or Falls Church...

I am pretty sure Lost Dog is in Falls Church or worse... Arlington. La Caranquena is in Falls Church but notably good and cheap. There is a good thread on CH about restaurants in Vienna you might paruse, it was up again recently so it is probably on page 1 or 2 of the DC board. I don't spend a lot of time in Fairfax County so I can't give you more recs wish I could but I don't go out for lunch that often although I should.

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Grate. Deaf-lee eggsecuted.

Gneiss!

I second the Blue Ocean rec. There's been some chatter lately about Indian City Grill on Main street in Fairfax City, but I haven't been yet. In that same plaza there was a great little papuseria - haven't been in ages, but it served a wonderful, greasy product cut with tart yellow cabbage slaw. I like Pad Thai on Lee Highway across from the K-Mart plaza - great little mom and pop (well, brother and sister, I think) Thai for when you don't feel like driving back to Arlington. A&J is THE place for all the time Taiwanese (my mom even likes it! Says it reminds her of home. Which is Taiwan.) snacks. The Vina bakery has incredibly crappy bubble tea and rude service, but their asian pastries (both savory and sweet) are pretty spot on. There are usually snacks to try at Super H and you can take out a variety of foods from there, including Korean fried chicken if you don't feel like going to Annandale. Give it a chance! There's lots of good things if you hunt around.

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Just went to Bernie's for the first time for lunch a couple of weeks ago.
I'll have to try them again. I stopped in around the holidays to get some wine and cheese for a party I was heading to. Quite literally, the cupboards were completely bare. Aside from mass produced plonk and frat boy beers, there was nothing in the store worth drinking. And there was no "gourmet food" anywhere in sight, save for Route 11 potato chips. The gentleman working there explained to me that they "Just ran out of a lot of things" as if four tour busses had departed as soon as I pulled in the parking lot. I figured they would be out of business soon, and never went back. I'll have to poke my head in there this weekend.
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I'll have to try them again. I stopped in around the holidays to get some wine and cheese for a party I was heading to. Quite literally, the cupboards were completely bare. Aside from mass produced plonk and frat boy beers, there was nothing in the store worth drinking. And there was no "gourmet food" anywhere in sight, save for Route 11 potato chips. The gentleman working there explained to me that they "Just ran out of a lot of things" as if four tour busses had departed as soon as I pulled in the parking lot. I figured they would be out of business soon, and never went back. I'll have to poke my head in there this weekend.

I went a while ago (when I first got my job and was still allowed to leave for lunch because I wasn't as useful as I am now) and haven't been back. I am trying to think what I had it was either a rueben or hot pastrami and was pretty good. Maybe they have gone downhill, or I was there on an off good day? It wasn't packed with gourmet foods either as I recall, but I just really wanted a decent sandwich. I might have to try it again now too... just to see.

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Gneiss!

There are usually snacks to try at Super H and you can take out a variety of foods from there, including Korean fried chicken if you don't feel like going to Annandale. Give it a chance! There's lots of good things if you hunt around.

Technically, Annandale is Fairfax, no? As are vast swaths of "Alexandria", also vast swaths of "Falls Church", not to mention Tyson's Corner, Reston, Herndon, Chantilly/Centreville, Burke, Springfield, not to mention portions of Fairlington?
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Technically, Annandale is Fairfax, no? As are vast swaths of "Alexandria", also vast swaths of "Falls Church", not to mention Tyson's Corner, Reston, Herndon, Chantilly/Centreville, Burke, Springfield, not to mention portions of Fairlington?

For that matter, if Fairfax County proceeds with the contemplated decision to become a city, not only the above but also the cities of Falls Church, Vienna, and Fairfax City will all become parts of Fairfax . . . . City?
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For that matter, if Fairfax County proceeds with the contemplated decision to become a city, not only the above but also the cities of Falls Church, Vienna, and Fairfax City will all become parts of Fairfax . . . . City?

Wouldn't that mean it would become it's own separate city? They are already separate entities.

Then, the City of Fairfax would be surrounded by a separate, different Fairfax City? :rolleyes:

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Wouldn't that mean it would become it's own separate city? They are already separate entities.

Then, the City of Fairfax would be surrounded by a separate, different Fairfax City? :rolleyes:

These are questions we must leave to greater men of science. :huh:
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These are questions we must leave to greater men of science. :rolleyes:

Virginia is unique within the United States in that its cities are completely independent of its counties. Fairfax City is completely surrounded by Fairfax County, and is indeed the county seat of Fairfax County (the county courthouse is in the city), but is not part of the county. Fairfax County surrounds no other city. It abuts Falls Church and Alexendria cities. Vienna is not a city, just a town that is part of Fairfax County. If Fairfax County were to become a city, which in some ways makes sense, it would continue to surround the current Fairfax City, unless some new arrangement were contrived. What they would call this new city is problematical. The typical formal name of cities in Virginia is "City of X", and there is already a City of Fairfax, so the new city couldn't very well be called that, unless they somehow merged with the currently existing City of Fairfax, which I think the City of Fairfax would very much object to. This could be a wonderful opportunity to come up with a zippy new name, such as the City of the Sex Kitty, or the City of Kool Kats, or the City of Brotherly Incest, or the City that Time Forgot. (I guess that last one would really have to be the City of Forgotten Time to fit the pattern.)

To return to the topic, try Villa Mozart in the City of Fairfax. This place gets very little buzz, but I ate there a couple of weeks ago and was impressed. The carpaccio della mare, if I've got the name right, was a beautiful presentation, with mosaic-looking paper thin slices of delicious octopus and somewhat thicker slices of scallop, with a tasty topping on the scallop whose pineapple wasn't at all as off-putting as it sounds. Then came a rack of wild boar, with a beautiful reduction sauce and some sort of ravioli whose filling I can't remember, but they were delicious. Gracious and attentive service. I really liked the place. It's right in the middle of the old town.

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Are you looking in Fairfax the city or the county? Here are some ideas for the county which is huge:

If you are looking for more refined dining:

Inox

Evo

2941 (it's ok now, but not what it once was, and not what it was the short time Scott Bryan was there either)

Passionfish (mmm get a soup they are great)

Four Sisters

The Palm

Present

Tachibana

Less refined-

Metro 29 Diner

Artie's

Honey Pig

Nizam's

Rose

Shamshiry

Lebanese Taverna

Monterey Fish Grotto

Wildfire

Dolce Vita

Short list to add to what is above. You will be getting Michel Richard here soon too! There is also a good deli a little north of George Mason that I forget the name of... will try to remember. I work in Fairfax, but they chain me to the desk so I don't leave for lunch. In Fairfax the city there is less, but still some stuff.

And the shrimp diablo at Uncle Julio's is decent.

NB: Metro 29 Diner is in Arlington, on Lee Hwy/US 29. Tastee 29 Diner(definitely in the less refined category) is on 29/50 in Fairfax, which I think is Main St at that point b/c it's in Ffx City.

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NB: Metro 29 Diner is in Arlington, on Lee Hwy/US 29. Tastee 29 Diner(definitely in the less refined category) is on 29/50 in Fairfax, which I think is Main St at that point b/c it's in Ffx City.

Main Street in Fairfax City is an altogether different road, one known as VA 236, and Little River Turnpike in Annandale, and Duke Street in Alexandria. The section of US 29/US 50 where the Tastee 29 sits is officially Fairfax Boulevard, although I think it was called Lee Highway until fairly recently.
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I just moved out here from Arlington. My wife and I just had a baby and we needed a bigger place. I have done China Star and Minerva which were both good, , and Wegman's is obviously a great. Are there any gems I'm missing in Fairfax, and is there anything halfway decent in my area (near the government center and Fairfax corner)? Thanks.

We've had one potentially significant restaurant opening in the last few days in Fairfax County. Trummers on Main in Clifton shows a lot of promise. This place is brand new. I wrote a report from during the soft opening, and someone else visited it after the official opening. Our findings are similar. From where you are, go south on Clifton Road (SR 645) until you run head-on into the town of Clifton. You can't miss it because if you do, you'll end up in the creek. They now have a functional Web site at http://www.trummersonmain.com.

While it's clear that this is a new restaurant, especially in the staff timing, the food is well executed.

Wayne Rash

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