Jump to content

Dining in Northern Virginia


Recommended Posts

Not sure exactly where to put this....and polls are not common on this site, but it strikes me that with the closing of Gypsy Soul, we could use use some sense of the community as to the best restaurants in the Virginia suburbs right now....

(A Maryland list would be helpful as well, but that's not happening in this thread....)

I'm going to set aside Inn at Little Washington as being in it own category, because it's not in the immediate suburbs. I'm looking for mostly Loudon, Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria here.

My Top 10 list?

Clarity

Trummer's on Main

Restaurant Eve

Willow

2941

(Whatever kitchen Peter Chang is in today)

L'Auberge Chez Francois

Vermilion

Ray's the Steaks

Villa Mozart

And then there's Maple Avenue Restaurant, Liberty Tavern, Water and Wall, Amoo's, soon-to-be-potentially-awesome Neyla, Nostos, Brine, Me Jana, and my personal Springfield fave Monty's -- not a bad 'honorable mention' list....

I would be interested in any other opinions....and I think it's not a bad idea for a community like this one to have a few "top whatever" lists from time to time.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never lived in Northern Virginia and don't have a breadth of knowledge about the restaurants in Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria, but I really enjoyed dinner at Mokomandy in Sterling a couple of years ago -- hopefully it hasn't gone downhill since then. I'm not sure if it belongs on this list, but I wanted to throw it out there.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dined at two of Kibbee Nayee's top 10 just this past weekend -- Villa Mozart on Friday and 2941 on Saturday, and I can enthusiastically endorse both. I've been to Villa Mozart countless times, and have already gushed over it on its own thread. I've dined at 2941 far less frequently, but twice now in a few weeks, and I find it very impressive. It may be more casual than formerly, but the service is generally superb, and not at all what I would call informal. The kitchen seems to be firing on all cylinders. My dinner on Saturday started with spaghetti nero with lobster, which was lovely, and then a honking great plate of softshell crabs done in a sort of tempura slash perfection manner. On this most recent visit, I and my companions were tremendously impressed by the charming and enthusiastic sommelier, a surprisingly young chap, given his obvious expertise, who turned us on to the best Cava I have ever drunk.

I don't dine in Nothern Virginia enough to suggest my own top 10 list, but these are my top 2. (I haven't dined at Restaurant Eve in an appallingly long time; it would undoubtedly be on my top 3, otherwise.)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are Orso and Vermilion on y'all's lists based on cooking by the current chefs? I'm curious, because I liked both very much under the former chefs, but heard negative things about the replacements and haven't been back.

I'd definitely have Willow, Rays the Steaks, Water & Wall, Restaurant Eve (though I haven't been in a long time), and Me Jana.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've dined at 2941 far less frequently, but twice now in a few weeks, and I find it very impressive. It may be more casual than formerly, but the service is generally superb, and not at all what I would call informal. The kitchen seems to be firing on all cylinders.

Could not agree more. A few years ago, my boss instituted casual Friday's. I showed up in khahis, a nice pair of loafers and a nice collared shirt. He showed up in his usual suit and tie. I asked him why he did not dress for casual Friday, and he raised his arms so that his shirtsleeves were exposed from his jacket and said, "I am casual...I'm not wearing French cuffs."

2941 is the same kind of "casual" and I really think we should update the thread title.

ETA - Save for a few Lickety Splits, I have not eaten at Eve in years. I eat at 2941 more frequently, as it is the best restaurant closest to my house.2941 isn't better than what I remember Eve serving, but it's as good.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Genevieve, I've eaten at Pizzeria Orso around 10 times in the last 3 months (really!), and I can state with complete confidence that the food (pizza and non-pizza alike) is excellent. If there was any drop-off after the change, it's been corrected. Strangely, it's the service that is inconsistent.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you! That's good to hear.  I will head back. (My other concern right after the change had been that it seemed like the most interesting items had been taken off the menu and it was looking dull to me, but their latest menu looks significantly more appealing.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Genevieve, I've eaten at Pizzeria Orso around 10 times in the last 3 months (really!), and I can state with complete confidence that the food (pizza and non-pizza alike) is excellent. If there was any drop-off after the change, it's been corrected. Strangely, it's the service that is inconsistent.

I haven't been quite as many times, and only for lunch, but my experience has been the same. Actually, the service hasn't really changed, it was extremely inconsistent before the change. Also, at one lunch I did spot Chef Chemel on premises, so I think he's had a more active role of late. We've enjoyed the food there so much recently, that we decided to give 2941 a try for dinner tonight, for the first time.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seems like Bangkok Golden (the original Thip Kao) should make any top 10 list.

Have you been there recently?

I haven't, but each of my previous three or four visits were less special than the one before. The best visit was soon after Tom's review and every time after that was less good or special or unique. I hope they get the spark back but with Thip Kao vying for the chef's attention, I wonder if the slide has continued?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No particular order (numbering is arbitrary):

1. Brabo

2. Del Ray Cafe

3. Yamazato

4. Vermilion

5. Light Horse

6. Hong Kong Palace

7. RT's

8.Gypsy Soul (gone but definitely NOT forgotten)

9. Rays (in all of it's many permutations)

10. Willow

(and at times) Rustico just because.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No particular order (numbering is arbitrary):

1. Brabo

2. Del Ray Cafe

3. Yamazato

4. Vermilion

5. Light Horse

6. Hong Kong Palace

7. RT's

8.Gypsy Soul (gone but definitely NOT forgotten)

9. Rays (in all of it's many permutations)

10. Willow

(and at times) Rustico just because.

Finally, someone to back me up on the RT's love.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No particular order (numbering is arbitrary):

1. Brabo

2. Del Ray Cafe

3. Yamazato

4. Vermilion

5. Light Horse

6. Hong Kong Palace

7. RT's

8.Gypsy Soul (gone but definitely NOT forgotten)

9. Rays (in all of it's many permutations)

10. Willow

(and at times) Rustico just because.

I was going for a general consensus on best restuarants in the close-in Virginia suburbs, but what you list are some of my personal faves, like Yamazoto and RT's. I happen to prefer your list to the one I came up with....

Finally, someone to back me up on the RT's love.

Definitely, and I'll throw in Blue Iguana which is a cousin. Again, between you and Escoffier, I'm torn between a "best" list and a "favorite" list....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was going for a general consensus on best restuarants in the close-in Virginia suburbs,

I like this idea too.

Places like the Inn at Little Washington, Patowmack Farm and the Ashby Inn (not mentioned here) seem more like destination places to me that would require more planning and more of a commitment and maybe need their own thread.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll keep the topic going!

The list is fluid and ever changing....

No particular order:

Brabo

Del Ray Cafe

Evening Star Cafe

Vermilion

Peking Duck

Hong Kong Palace

RT's (Underrated, forgotten gem!)

Rays (Any way Michael Landrum want to present it)

Willow

Reserve 2216 (Del Ray small joint. Chef Eric Reid's new joint)

I'm looking forward to Jamie Leeds new place Hanks Pasta Bar!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quite a few good mentions since the thread was started, all worthy -- Pupatella, Pizzeria Orso, Water and Wall, RT's, Four Sisters, Peking Gourmet, Yamazoto, and many more....

But curiously, not one additional shout-out for Trummer's on Main...?

The original intent was to define a "sense of the Rockwell community" top 10 for northern Virginia, but I concede that 10 is too confining, and that's good news.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am glad to see RT's getting some mentions.  About a month or so ago, my wife and I, on an all too rare babysitter night, got to out to a restaurant.  We had an array of "top" whatever lists of restaurants, hip and hot places, heat maps and the like to choose from, and in the end went to RT's. We used to go there regularly when we lived closer, and while we could of gotten more cool points for some other choices, I don't know if we would have enjoyed the meal much more.  It is nice to have a place that solid to go to.  After I left, I meant to post to the RT's thread and just let it slip- I don't appreciate places like this enough. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am glad to see RT's getting some mentions.  About a month or so ago, my wife and I, on an all too rare babysitter night, got to out to a restaurant.  We had an array of "top" whatever lists of restaurants, hip and hot places, heat maps and the like to choose from, and in the end went to RT's. We used to go there regularly when we lived closer, and while we could of gotten more cool points for some other choices, I don't know if we would have enjoyed the meal much more.  It is nice to have a place that solid to go to.  After I left, I meant to post to the RT's thread and just let it slip- I don't appreciate places like this enough. 

Love, love, love RT's. It's my secret for surviving the wretched food at the Birchmere, across the street.

Jim Cernak, the longtime chef at RT's, is working the kitchen at Blue Iguana in Fair Lakes, which is one of Fairfax County's underrated restaurants. Serious Cajun-Creole food is being dished out at Blue Iguana, in the same tradition as at RT's.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally, someone to back me up on the RT's love.

7. RT's

RT's (Underrated, forgotten gem!)

I am glad to see RT's getting some mentions.  About a month or so ago, my wife and I, on an all too rare babysitter night, got to out to a restaurant.  We had an array of "top" whatever lists of restaurants, hip and hot places, heat maps and the like to choose from, and in the end went to RT's. We used to go there regularly when we lived closer, and while we could of gotten more cool points for some other choices, I don't know if we would have enjoyed the meal much more.  It is nice to have a place that solid to go to.  After I left, I meant to post to the RT's thread and just let it slip- I don't appreciate places like this enough. 

Love, love, love RT's. It's my secret for surviving the wretched food at the Birchmere, across the street.

Jim Cernak, the longtime chef at RT's, is working the kitchen at Blue Iguana in Fair Lakes, which is one of Fairfax County's underrated restaurants. Serious Cajun-Creole food is being dished out at Blue Iguana, in the same tradition as at RT's.

Just to make sure I'm clear on this, RT's is the place that's been open since about 1726, right? It has the sign with the big letters on it?

I honestly don't recall ever going here, but I've raised it substantially in the Dining Guide based on all these comments.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It has been open since at least 1987, which is probably the last time we dined there prior to our move out to the western hinterlands (Hunter Mill Road) from Fairlington.  I am glad to hear it is still a favorite, and need to go back!  Thanks also, Kibbee, for the tip on Blue Iguana, another place that I haven't been for quite some time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quite a few good mentions since the thread was started, all worthy -- Pupatella, Pizzeria Orso, Water and Wall, RT's, Four Sisters, Peking Gourmet, Yamazoto, and many more....

But curiously, not one additional shout-out for Trummer's on Main...?

The original intent was to define a "sense of the Rockwell community" top 10 for northern Virginia, but I concede that 10 is too confining, and that's good news.

As to Trummer's on Main.  I must admit to not having dined there but on the urging of a grad of the bar school who was behind the rail  I visited when the bar was full as he suggested.

I'll add, this terrific restaurant (so I'm told) does indeed have a great bar "scene"   fun people, busy, interactive, good drinks and good bar food.  Its been a while, actually.  I've been negligent on getting back there for the "real deal"...but for a very well regarded restaurant, located somewhat out of the main stream, it also has a great bar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To survive the atrocious food at the Birchmere, but acknowledging that the Birchmere is a *must* for some serious music....hit RT's early, around 5-ish, for the Crawfish Etoufee, Oysters Nezpique, Death by Gumbo and/or Smothered Catfish, accompanied by a Sazerac and a couple of RT's special drafts....waddle over to the Birchmere around 6:30-ish and grab some nice seats along the sides, and settle in with a $21 pitcher of Shiner Bock or Fat Tire Amber Ale....after the show, around 10-ish, head back to the bar at RT's for Crawfish and Shrimp Beignets or Jack Daniels Shrimp with Lump Crab, or else a nice dessert like their specialty Caramel Custard with Frangelico or else some serious Pecan Pie, accompanied by a Cajun Martini (for the savory dishes) or a Vieux Carre.

(Oh, yeah, Buddy Guy is playing on Sept. 28th!)

Now....THAT's a night out in Alexandria...!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I am going to state right now that I have a bias in my definition of Northern Virginia.  I live in Arlington, to me Northern Virginia is: Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax (Clifton I don't even REALLY consider NOVA although it's in Fairfax) and Loudoun...I guess.  I know everyone has a different definition which is why I wanted to state that up front for my personal top ten in no order:

Restaurant Eve

Italian Store

Green Pig Bistro

Ray's

Water and Wall

Clarity

Lyon Hall

SER

Brabo

Momo Sushi

Gypsy Soul would be at the top of that list if it hadn't closed, Neyla could bump something off as soon as I go, because well... Will.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

RT's is my special place, my number 1 in Alexandria. The service at the bar is always on point. The food is always fantastic. I always have a tough time deciding what to order because you can not go wrong. Tend to always order the Shrimp Norman and She Crab Soup. RT's was always my parents "date night" "special occasion" restaurant. I love recommending RT's when people ask where to eat in Alexandria.

*if I didn't say it enough, ALWAYS

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In no particular order:

Restaurant Eve

Namaste

Momo Sushi

Thai Ghang Waan

Seoul

Le Refuge

Su Pollo

Pupatella

Vermillion

Cosmopolitan Grill

I guess I'll pile on the RT's love. Although I prefer the Leidenheimer po boys at Bayou, and the crawfish at Thaibox, the fry cook at RT's knows what he's doing.

I'll also add Southside 815 for the low country cuisine; nothing fantastic, but always consistent. Good greens.

Having had wildly inconsistent pies at both Red Rocks and Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town, I find myself returning to Faccia Luna which has never let me down.

For Mexican, it's a tossup: La Mexicana Bakery for the sopes; Tacos el Costalilla for the tacos. They're also one of the few places that still does a torta ahogada; I just wish it was on La Mexicana's bread.

---

Seoul (TheMatt)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...