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Dining in Fair Lakes


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So my wife and I just settled on our first house, and who would have thought I'd have my dream kitchen so soon in my life?

The only downside is that I seem to have plopped us down in the middle of a culinary wasteland (I don't think we're in Alexandria anymore, Toto).

We're in a little development just north of Fair Lakes near where 50, 66, and 7100 (sort of) converge (called Fair Woods), and the only bastion we have against encroaching suburban culinary mediocrity is the 3 minute drive to Wegman's and the new uber Whole Foods.

Don't get me wrong, some of these chains are guilty little pleasures for me, especially the gleaming, clean and new chain hubs of the retail power centers of Fairfax Corner and the like.

So tell me, DR community, what's good out here in this exurbian outpost at the edge of civilization? Where's the Ray's the Steaks of Fairfax? Where's the local gastropub? Who has forty beers on tap? What transplanted Michelin chefs have taken up residence with top mixologists and James Beardians to create a culinary commune? Where does the wine flow like water, and the sweetbreads like wine? Whose leg do you have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

There's no place like Citronelle, there's no place like Citronelle, there's no place like Citronelle...

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Ha! At least you are closer in! You aren't that far from Vienna, so Bazin's is always a choice. In Fairfax there is Dolce Vita, which I feel has very decent Italian. Saravana Palace is right around the corner. There is no place like Citronelle, but you are still very close to Restaurant 2941 and Maestro which some may argue for either that they are comparable and some will argue better.

I had a topic over a year ago addressing the same issue, believe me, just drive in or take the connector to the metro!

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Dan, I feel your pain, I really do. I moved to Fair Oaks when I was 6 years old and lived there until I graduated from high school when I was 18. Since then, I was at UVA for 4 years and then in Arlington for 5 years before moving back to the area almost 4 years ago. Those 5 years in Arlington, from a food perspective, were awesome. So close to the city, able to take advantage of every hole in the wall place that existed, etc. But now, out in our area, it is a new challenge every day to find somewhere good to eat. And, I am going to tell you one thing, it is not pretty.

I still eat 90% of my dinners out in the city or close by (Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda), but I still need places to eat at on a Tuesday night as well. And, while Vienna (Bazin's) and Tysons (Maestro) and Merrifield (2941) are not quite as far away as the city, during rush hour during the week, they may as well be.

Anyway, back to your original question, there really aren't any hidden treasures. Tony's NY Pizza in Fair Lakes is good and the pizza at Pomodoro in Fairfax Town Center is almost on the same level, but neither deliver. Chutzpah (better here than in Tysons) is in that same shopping center as Pomodoro, you can also find Moby Dick's House of Kabob there as well, so it not a bad little shopping center for that type of food. And, I may get skewered for this, but I have been to Blue Iguana in Fair Lakes a bunch of times and have never been disappointed (especially for lunch and brunch). It isn't amazing, but they try, which is all that I can ask for some days. As you get closer to Fairfax City, the food, surprisingly, does not get any better. I will second the Dolce Vita vote from above, but not Saravana Palace. Honestly, I am not an Indian food expert, but I have been there three or four times already and I don't see what the big deal is. I don't find it much better or worse than any other vegetarian Indian place. Le Tire Bouchon is OK as far as traditional French cuisine goes, but can be pricey for what it is. Then again, out here, beggers can't be choosers. You could also try Rain in downtown Fairfax, although I haven't been there yet, so I can't vouch for it. If you travel west, which I don't often, there is a place called Hot Breads in Chantilly which has some interesting Indian sandwiches and snacks. I also haven't ventured much out to Centreville, but there is a Rosemary's Thyme Bistro there, off of Union Mill, that is good, I would recommend that place.

So Dan, sorry that I couldn't be of much help, but there are a few ideas for you to check out. Let us/me know if you find anything else, I sure could use a few more places to check out during the week.

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Congrats on the first house. As someone who used to live in the Fairwoods community up until this summer, below are a few options that are all within 10 minutes of your place:

-Flame Kabob: Over in the Greenbrier shopping center. Good for takeout kabobs and the naan and rice are excellent. You will probably get coupons for them in the many mailers that will start showing up at your door.

-Buffalo Wing Factory: Also in the Greenbrier shopping center. Go for the obvious, which are decent but not spectacular.

-Sakoontra: Over in Fair Lakes in the same shopping plaza as Home Depot and Costco. It is probably the best Thai food in the immediate area. It is great for dining in and possibly for carryout. If I remember correctly, they have a 2 mile delivery range and the Fairwoods community is just on the edge of it. Sometimes they would deliver to us and sometimes they wouldn't.

-Willard's Real Pit BBQ: In Chantilly near the Expo Center (a couple of blocks from Rte. 28 and Rte. 50). Decent BBQ for the Washington, DC area. I like the pulled pork and the baked beans. They give you enough food to feed a small horse.

-Tony's New York Pizza: Located in the Fair Lakes Shopping Plaza that has Best Buy. Tony's is located in a little strip of stores over near Michael's (Bagel Buddies is in the same strip of stores and is not bad). Hands down the best pizza that I have found in the DC area. If you grew up in New York or New Jersey like me, then this place is nirvana. Both their Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas are excellent (ask for a corner piece). Pastas have been OK, but not spectacular. Their cannolis are terrific.

-Chutzpah: Located in the Fairfax Town Center Shopping Plaza. I can get a nice, big pastrami sandwich on good rye bread with a Dr. Brown's black cherry soda and a very tasty potato knish. Breakfast is also pretty good there as well. I was not a fan of their Matzo ball soup, though. One of my favorite sandwiches is the Bucko 46, which is roast beef, grilled onions, and mozzarella cheese on toasted garlic bread. They also make a very respectable Weiner Schnitzel. Deli meats can be purchased by the pound, but I have never ordered them.

-San Vito Italian Restaurant: Over in Franklin Farm. Decent red sauce Italian. I think Monday's are half-price wine night. There is a Chinese restaurant in the same shopping center (Shiang Yu?) that we used to get both takeout and delivery from.

-Mikaku Sushi Taro: Located in Herndon on Centreville Road near Franklin Farm Road (across the street from Cox Communications). Sushi was always fresh and they have a large selection of appetizers (Japanese Tapas per their menu). It is never busy, but always good.

You have the luxury of Wegman's (which now has a seafood "restaurant" that is open a few days a week) and the new Whole Foods for other dining (and grocery) options. Paula and I used to make a routine of dinner and groceries at Wegman's every couple of weeks. Obviously, there is not much in the way of fine dining in the area, but as others have noted, you are not too far a drive from Tyson's, Fairfax City, and Falls Church. You are out of luck for trying to get a decent steak in the Fair Lakes area. Therefore, drive down route 50 just past the intersection of 50/29/236, stop into Super H. Once you brave the parking lot buy yourself some "Hanging Tender" steaks for $4.99/pound, grill them up, close your eyes, and pretend that you are at Rays The Steaks. Best of luck!

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Great post Pete. As a 15-year (!) resident of Centreville, Chantilly (Fairfax) and now Chantilly in Loudoun (not South Riding, despite the Post Office's best efforts to make that our address), I'm familiar with pretty much everything around here.

I will second all of Pete's recs except for Flame Kabob (got a pitiful takeout order there once, haven't been back) and Buffalo Wing Factory (haven't been).

I'll also second jiveturk's rec of Blue Iguana, on Shoppes Lane, right off Fair Lakes Pkwy: The bar area can be pretty smoky, but sit in one of the booths and you'll have a good meal. This is one of the very rare non-chain, non-ethic, even moderately adventurous restaurants out here. We'll also back his rec of Rosemary's Thyme. A good place to carb load (they have excellent bread). Try one of their wraps.

Here are some more for you to consider:

Just west of 28 on 50 is Chantilly Park Center, a nondescript plaza with no less than four eateries you should check out: Thai Basil, Picante! The Real Taco, Minerva (Indian), and Rawal Kabob.

Immediately to the west of that plaza is a new plaza with several eateries including Pho 98 (very good) and Paesano's for takeout subs and pizza (haven't tried it, but one of my colleagues raves about it).

Heading east on 50, back on the other side of 28, on the north side of 50 is Sully Plaza. There you'll find, among others, The Bungalow (fka Bungalow Billiards), which has high-level bar food, including weekend barbecued rib and prime rib specials ($11.95, I think) that are pretty much unbeatable. Also in Sully Plaza is a new Thai joint called Cila Thai, which we haven't tried yet but someone over on Chowhound says is really good. Another possibility in there is Golden China, which has respectable AYCE Mongolian barbecue, and right next door is Buon Appetito, which is very much like Tony's in Fair Lakes.

Across 50 is old standby Anita's -- the breakfast burritos are still just $0.99, and on the other side of Walney Rd in the Lee-Jackson Center (aka the red roof plaza) along with Hot Breads (worth a visit) is Sichuan Village (very good and authentic, but the buffet is more quantity than quality), and Il Mee/Yil Mi for Korean barbecue.

Welcome to the neighborhood! You won't go hungry.

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*perk*

Decent, but it is not that good and surely not worth a trip across town.

So my wife and I just settled on our first house, and who would have thought I'd have my dream kitchen so soon in my life?

Enough of the restaurant talk, what is in the dream kitchen? Aga, Viking, rollout pot drawers, wine fridge?...Details man!

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Decent, but it is not that good and surely not worth a trip across town.

But Bagel Buddies next door might be (maybe not "across town," meaning from NW DC or Maryland, but certainly from elsewhere in NOVA). Everyone knows this is not a great bagel area, but BB's are some of the best. The proprietor is an ex-New Yorker (and a big Yankees fan), but I overlook his decor because his bagels are good. Bialys too!

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I pretty much think that almost all bagels in this area are awful, but I agree that Bagel Buddies is as good as it gets for this part of the metro area. I will have to say, however, that I almost never go there because the line is painfully slow. I have no problem with places being slower because they are packed, but they are the most inefficient counter service/fast food place that I have seen in quite a while. I generally see four or five people behind the counter, but it always seems like only one person does anything at one time.

And, since I am a business process guru in real life, this bugs me to no end!

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Man, we came within hours of signing a contract for one of those townhouse condo's near the new Whole Foods. Fairlakes is a very nice area. Being a new homeowner myself, I would advise you cut back on eating out for the first three months. :o I like the Blue Iguana for drinks and hot wings!

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Man, we came within hours of signing a contract for one of those townhouse condo's near the new Whole Foods. Fairlakes is a very nice area. Being a new homeowner myself, I would advise you cut back on eating out for the first three months. smile.gif I like the Blue Iguana for drinks and hot wings!

This is a most encouraging thread! My wife and I are relocating to the DC area from Omaha within the next few months. I KNEW this website would help us find a place to live.

The office I'll be working in is in Chantilly, so we're trying to find somewhere we can afford that isn't in a complete culinary wasteland. Sounds like we're picking up some good information here.

So, I would also like to hear a description of this dream kitchen. Mine (here in Omaha) isn't exactly my dream kitchen, but is close. A 36" gas cooktop, double wall ovens (one convection, both self cleaning), a huge LG fridge with French doors, and a super-quiet Asko dishwasher.

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Bagel Buddies is good. Blue Iguana is steady. Rosemary's Thyme Bistro is steady. Picante is steady. None of these compare to Ray's the Steak, Citronelle's, Palena;s, Corduroys, Komis etc. They are all good local joints but you could do better at home with Whole Foods and Wegmans nearby. If you don't feel like cooking, sure go to them, they are not bad, but don't expect any wow factors. You have the beautriful kitchen and great groceries nearby. Lower expectations and you won't be dissapointed.

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So my wife and I just settled on our first house, and who would have thought I'd have my dream kitchen so soon in my life?

The only downside is that I seem to have plopped us down in the middle of a culinary wasteland (I don't think we're in Alexandria anymore, Toto).

We're in a little development just north of Fair Lakes near where 50, 66, and 7100 (sort of) converge (called Fair Woods), and the only bastion we have against encroaching suburban culinary mediocrity is the 3 minute drive to Wegman's and the new uber Whole Foods.

Don't get me wrong, some of these chains are guilty little pleasures for me, especially the gleaming, clean and new chain hubs of the retail power centers of Fairfax Corner and the like.

So tell me, DR community, what's good out here in this exurbian outpost at the edge of civilization? Where's the Ray's the Steaks of Fairfax? Where's the local gastropub? Who has forty beers on tap? What transplanted Michelin chefs have taken up residence with top mixologists and James Beardians to create a culinary commune? Where does the wine flow like water, and the sweetbreads like wine? Whose leg do you have to hump to get a dry martini around here?

There's no place like Citronelle, there's no place like Citronelle, there's no place like Citronelle...

In case you haven't figured this out in the past 8 1/2 years, your best options are in Chantilly, just a few miles west on Route 50 - you have an abundance of places there worth trying (see the Dining Guide, and by all means *do* go to Taste @ Hong Kong). There's also a brand new Chinese restaurant there that opened within the past month, and it looks very promising - I haven't been, but I'll be going there soon (it's not in the same shopping center, but it's in the same mess of retail, and if you drive around that cluster for five minutes, you'll find it).

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Interesting revival to this thread after 8+ years....but hold on. Fair Lakes has a few reasonable options.

The much under-rated Blue Iguana has some of the best Cajun-Creole fare this side of RT's in Alexandria. Tony's NY Pizza is pretty good, not great, but a better combination of subs and pizzas, plus a few NJ-style Italian dishes that isn't bad for this area. Chutzpah Deli off Monument Drive is a pretty decent place for a fresh bagel or a piled-high pastrami on rye.

Granted, there aren't many more options, but Fair Lakes is not entirely barren.

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