Best of NoVA 2010: Cravings

Best of: Cravings

 

Chinese
WINNER
P.F. Chang’s
In the battle for best overall Chinese, it’s tough to beat tastemaker P.F. Chang’s, whose lettuce wraps and drunken noodles have become industry standards. Local competitors Peking Gourmet and Cheng’s got some love, no doubt, for their roast duck and tangy spareribs (respectively). Multiple NoVA locations, www.pfchangs.com—WR

RUNNER-UP
Peking Gourmet
6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-671-8088; www.pekinggourmet.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Cheng’s
20921 Davenport Drive, Sterling; 703-450-0439; www.chengsorientalva.com

 

Photograph by James Kim

Photograph by James Kim

Sushi
WINNER
Hooked
Hooked sushi chef Yoshi Katsuyama has carved out quite a name for himself among local sushi lovers. How does he do it? By sending out mountains of steamed rice fresh fish at a regular clip from behind his stylish sushi counter. Other raw-fish specialists include McLean’s Tachibana and Herndon’s Hama Sushi. Potomac Run Plaza, Sterling; 703-421-0404; www.hookedonseafood.com—WR

RUNNER-UP
Tachibana
6715 Lowell Ave., McLean; www.j-connections.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Hama Sushi
2415-B2 Centreville Road, Herndon; 703-713-0088; www.hama-sushi.com

 

Vegetarian
WINNER
Sunflower
Healthy, schmealthy. Eating at Sunflower is just plain delicious. The holistically minded restaurant specializes in vegetarian/vegan cuisine, but knows not about culinary boundaries. Mock sushi? They’ve got it. Faux fried chicken? The crunch will give you chills. Resplendent rice dishes? You better believe it. Multiple NoVA locations; www.crystalsunflower.com—WR

 

Burger
WINNER
Five Guys
Burgers remain big business in this area. And local powerhouse Five Guys—founded by Jerry Murrell et al in Arlington in the late ‘80s; currently contemplating global (Canada, Dubai) expansion—continues to get the lion’s share of everyone’s burger-buying dollars. But gourmet challengers Ray’s Hell-Burger (the artisan cheeses are awesome) and Elevation Burger (olive oil fries, heavy duty milkshakes make the meal) have developed steady followings. Multiple NoVA locations; www.fiveguys.com—WR

 

Thai
WINNER
Thai Luang
Herndon haven Thai Luang—a family-run retreat specializing in homemade dumplings, well-dressed noodles and as-zesty-as-you-can-handle proteins; they’ve also bottled their dumpling, crying tiger and peanut sauces for home cooks—took the top honors for favorite Thai. Local chainlet Tara Thai (oh, heavenly wings) scored some support as well. 171 Elden St., Herndon; 703-478-2233; www.thailuang.com—WR

RUNNER-UP
Tara Thai
Multiple NoVA locations

 

Organic
WINNER
Whole Foods
Multiple NoVA locations; www.wholefoodsmarket.com

 

Salad
WINNER
Sweetwater Tavern
Well-appointed greens are always in season at Sweetwater, the beer-slinging arm of the local Great American Restaurants family. Coveted toppings include the short smoked grilled salmon (a winner across the GAR empire), roast chicken (tender to a fault) and fresh goat cheese (tangy as all get out). Multiple NoVA locations; www.greatamericanrestaurants.com—WR

 

Mexican
WINNER
Uncle Julios’ Rio Grande
Multiple NoVA locations; www.unclejulios.com

STAFF PICK
Taqueria Poblano
Multiple NoVA locations; www.taqueriapoblano.com

 

Seafood
WINNER
Bonefish
Multiple NoVA locations; www.bonefishgrill.com

RUNNER-UP
PassionFish
11960 Democracy Drive, Reston; 703-230-3474; www.passionfishreston.com

 

Pizza
WINNER
zpizza
Multiple NoVA locations; www.zpizza.com

RUNNER-UP
Ledo’s
Multiple NoVA locations; www.ledopizza.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Flippin’ Pizza
Multiple NoVA locations; www.flippinpizza.com

 

French
WINNER
L’Auberge Chez Francois
For a proper French feast, folks don’t look much further than the highly venerated L’Auberge Chez Francois, an Alsatian kitchen boasting the talents of two generations of classically trained chefs (founder Francois Haeringer and his son, Jacques). Multiple courses, gourmet extras and perhaps a celeb sighting are all part of the prix-fixe experience. 332 Springvale Road, Great FallS; 703-759-3800; www.laubergechezfrancois.com—WR

 

Kabob
WINNER
Moby Dick’s House of Kabob
Fans of flame-licked meats continue to flock to Moby Dick’s, the champ in terms of primo kebabs. Signature offerings include: ground sirloin, chunks of white-meat chicken, seasoned lamb and shaved gyro meat. Multiple NoVA locations; www.mobysonline.com—WR

 

Late Night
WINNER
Amphora
Night owls take note: Amphora’s got your back. The round-the-clock bakery/diner boasts two locations (Vienna and Herndon) that stand primed and ready to roll out a signature breakfast (assorted Benedicts come to mind), hearty entree or homemade cake whenever you need it. Readers also gave high marks to Bob & Edith’s and IHOP. Multiple NoVA locations; www.amphorabakery.com—WR

RUNNER-UP
Bob and Edith’s
2310 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-920-6103; www.bobandediths.com

HONORABLE MENTION
IHOP
Multiple NoVA locations; www.ihop.com

 

Breakfast
WINNER
IHOP
Multiple NoVA locations; www.ihop.com

RUNNER-UP
Silver Diner
Multiple NoVA locations; www.silverdiner.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Amphora
Multiple NoVA locations; www.amphorabakery.com

 

Chili
WINNER
Hard Times Cafe
At Hard Times, Texas chili comes any way you like it: Cincinnati-style, Terlingua red, atop smothered tater tots and hotdogs, swimming in cheese, onions and tomatoes, or washed down with any one of the dozens of draft beers the establishments keep on tap. Multiple NoVA locations; www.hardtimes.com—SA

 

Italian
WINNER
Maggiano’s
When the family absolutely must mangia, readers apparently make their way to Maggiano’s—a corporate eatery best known for in share-worthy, “family-sized” portions and readily available banquet halls. 2001 International Drive, McLean; 703-356-9000; www.maggianos.com—WR

 

Indian
WINNER
Rangoli
A dining hot spot in South Riding, Rangoli offers its diners not only colorful decor (Rangoli is Indian for colorful murals) but a culinary team that whips up favorite Indian dishes—Garam masala-caked lamb (lean chops, enormous spice) and beans foogath (interweaving steamed green beans, firm yellow lentils, piquant chili pods and shredded coconut). 24995 Riding Plaza, South Riding; 703-957-4900; www.rangolirestaurant.us—WR

RUNNER-UP
Haandi
1222 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-533-3501; www.haandi.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Angeethi
Multiple NoVA locations; www.angeethiva.com

 

Cupcake
WINNER
CakeLove
Having just opened their Fair Oaks location last spring, CakeLove now has more Northern Virginia shops (they also have locations in Tysons Corner and Shirlington) than in either neighboring Washington, D.C., or Maryland. ¶ More batter (served at room temperature, per founder and owner Warren Brown’s urging, and not a smidge cooler) for us. Our summer flavor picks include: Raspberry Buttercream, Lime on the Coconut and Strawberry Lemonade. Multiple NoVA locations; www.cakelove.com—SA

 

Calamari
CO-WINNERS
Carlyle
A sturdy link in the long chain of Great American Restaurants, Carlyle’s salt-and-pepper calamari is studded with fried onion bits and flanked by flavor-enhancing sauce options, garlic-butter cream and tomato. 4000 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-931-0777; www.greatamericanrestaurants.com/carlyle—SA

CO-WINNERS
Clyde’s
Although Clyde’s multiple locations’ menus are not carbon copies of each other, the restaurant group’s NoVA establishments all choose to list their $9 calamari on the starters lineup, and with good reason. The crisp and lightly breaded squid is served under a dusting of parmesan cheese and with a mayo-based sauce for dipping, nudging the bar up a notch for finger foods the region over. Multiple NoVA locations; www.clydes.com—SA

 

Hot Dog
WINNER
Vienna Inn
While Vienna Inn offers all manner of typical American bar food, the famous recipe they’ve been serving up for almost 50 years that keeps patrons coming back for more is the chili cheese dog, all the way. A dog kept warm in a bun blanketed by a slathering of chili, cheese, onions and mustard—all for $1.95. 120 Maple Ave. E., Vienna; 703-938-9548; www.viennainn.com—LN

 

Coffee
WINNER
Starbucks
Multiple NoVA locations; www.starbucks.com

RUNNER-UP
Dunkin’ Donuts
Multiple NoVA locations; www.dunkindonuts.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Caribou Coffee
Multiple NoVA locations; www.cariboucoffee.com

 

Ice Cream
WINNER
Cold Stone Creamery
Multiple NoVA locations; www.coldstonecreamery.com

RUNNER-UP
Dairy Godmother, Del Ray
2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-683-7767; www.thedairygodmother.com

HONORABLE-MENTION
Milwaukee Frozen Custard
Multiple NoVA locations; www.milwaukeefrozencustard.com

 

Doughnut
WINNER
Dunkin’ Donuts
Multiple NoVA locations; www.dunkindonuts.com

RUNNER-UP
Krispy Kreme
Multiple NoVA locations; www.krispykreme.com

 

Greek/Mediterranean
WINNER
Lebanese Taverna
Think of it as the house that hummus built. The Abi-Najm family laid the foundation for their unqualified success three decades ago when they opened their first shop in Arlington, and now have nearly a dozen properties under their belt. Multiple NoVA locations; www.lebanesetaverna.com—WR

 

French Fries
WINNER
Five Guys
Each to-go order of fries at Five Guys comes in a grease-blotched brown sack. Within, the bounty: salty spuds cooked in peanut oil and seasoned either “Five Guys” or Cajun style. Though franchises have now expanded to 35 states, Northern Virginians are proud to have the makers of these crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside specimens call this region home. Multiple NoVA locations; www.fiveguys.com—SA

 

BBQ
WINNER
Red Hot & Blue
From its humble beginnings, Red Hot & Blue’s no-frills menu and devotion to good, old down home flavors have made it one of the most popular ’cue restaurants. Multiple NoVA locations; www.redhotandblue.com—CJ

RUNNER-UP
Rockland’s BBQ
Multiple NoVA locations; www.rocklands.com

HONORABLE MENTION
Willard’s Real Pit Barbecue
4300 Chantilly Shopping Center Unit 1A, Chantilly; 703-488- 9970; www.dcbbq.com