Best of NoVA 2013: Food & Drink

food & wine

Ray’s Hell Burger @ Ray’s to the Third (Photography by Kate Bohler)


Pizzeria Orso

Pizzeria Orso (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Pizzeria Orso
400 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church; 703-226-3460;

Specializing in Neapolitan pizza, Pizzeria Orso creates a casual environment to enjoy modern, Italian-inspired cuisine. Using a wood-fired brick oven, Pizzeria Orso prepares all pizzas in the traditional Neapolitan way, making all dough fresh in-house. To go along with its gourmet pies, Orso offers a number of seasonal small plates, including pork cheek ravioli and oven-roasted meatballs. The restaurant also features a number of Italian deserts including tiramisu and cannoli. –ZW


Haandi Fine Indian Cuisine

Haandi Fine Indian Cuisine (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Haandi Fine Indian Cuisine
1222 W. Broad St., Falls Church; 703-533-3501;

Incorporating traditional dishes from both the northern and southern regions of India, Haandi offers an expansive menu including entrees of lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetarian options. Haandi also serves a number of tandoori BBQ dishes—meats and vegetables charcoal clay oven—including chicken marinated in yogurt and fresh herbs, and marinated lamb skewered with tomatoes, onions and peppers. –ZW


L’Auberge Chez Francois
332 Springvale Road, Great Falls; 703-759-3800;

Originally opening in Washington, D.C. in 1954, L’Auberge Chez Francois moved to Great Falls in 1976, helping founder Francois Haeringer fulfill his dream of opening a inn-style restaurant, reminiscent of his native Alsatian countryside. Today, Chez Francois continues in that traditional sense, offering cuisine from across the regions of France, including grilled veal chops and red deer chops with wild rice. Still family operated, Chez Francois has set the standard for French cuisine locally. 332 Springvale Road, Great Falls; 703-759-3800; –ZW


Peking Gourmet Inn

Peking Gourmet Inn (Photography by Jonathan Timmes)

Peking Gourmet Inn
6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-671-8088;

Peking Gourmet Inn knows its specialty, and it is sticking to it. Opening in 1978, the restaurant continues to serve the best Northern Chinese cuisine in the area. Although specializing in Peking duck, served with pancakes and hoisin sauce made in-house, Peking Gourmet Inn serves a number of other dishes, including shrimp sauteed in a secret sauce with green peas and bell peppers and walnut chicken. –ZW


2250-A Crystal Drive, Arlington; 703-413-8181;

Specializing in a variety of tapas, Spanish small plates, Jaleo has become the place to go to enjoy authentic food in a casual atmosphere; the first Jaleo in downtown D.C. celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The extensive menu at Jaleo features everything from batter-fried shrimp with caper mayonnaise to Canary Island-style baby potatoes. For those with a larger appetite, the restaurant does serve larger portioned plates: rossejat, a traditional fried pasta with calamari in seafood broth and family-style paella. Jaleo also has a large selection of Spanish wines and sangria to compliment the variety of flavors in its food. –ZW


Bangkok 54 Restaurant & Bar

Bangkok 54 Restaurant & Bar (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Bangkok 54 Restaurant & Bar
2919 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-521-4070;

Keeping the food preparations as traditional as possible, Bangkok 54 is set to impress any guest in search of authentic Thai cuisine. Open for both lunch and dinner, Bangkok 54 offers small soups and noodle dishes, as well as large entrees of old and new recipes served family-style. Whether searching for yellow curry chicken, or pad Thai, Bangkok 54 is the perfect place to share dishes and taste the flavors of Thailand with friends and family. –ZW



Anita's (Photography by Anastasia Chernyavski)

Multiple NoVA locations;

For over 30 years, Anita’s has been a fixture in Northern Virginia. Centered around the family recipes of the founder, Anita, the restaurant has been preparing some of the best Mexican and New Mexican dishes. The menu is full of Mexican classics: burritos, enchiladas and stuffed relleno peppers. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Anita’s is great for dining in or grabbing on the go. –ZW


Honey Pig
Multiple NoVA locations;

Arriving in Northern Virginia only five years ago, Honey Pig has exploded onto the restaurant scene and become the premiere spot for Korean food. While specializing in Korean BBQ, Honey Pig embraces the modern restaurant feel with an array of colors and wall decorations throughout. The menu features a variety of meat choices. Pork belly, prime rib skirt and seasoned chicken are just some of the options for restaurant goers to choose from. Open 24 hours, the restaurant prides itself on being able to always serve the public. –ZW


Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant
Multiple NoVA locations;

Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant invites you to open your mind to a new way of eating. Striving to offer some of the healthiest dining options in the area, Sunflower has adopted a style of cooking and preparation that is not only health conscious, but tasty. The menu is inspired by Chinese, Japanese and Continental-style vegetarian dishes and spins on classic dishes like General Tso’s and orange chicken made with soy protein and cooked with the freshest herbs and vegetables available. –ZW



Best Frozen Treats

ice cream frozen yogurt gelato FROZEN CUSTARD
Ice Cream
Moo Thru
11402 James Madison Highway, Remington; 540-439-6455
Frozen Yogurt
Lava Yogurt
7500 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 540-439-6455
Boccato Gelato & Espresso
2719 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-869-6522
Frozen Custard
Dairy Godmother
2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; 703-683-7767
Made from fresh ingredients (milk comes from the grass-fed Holsteins from the owner’s farm), the ice cream is churned on premise and is combined with delectable additions; pineapple coconut anyone?
Must Try: Blackberry
Eight self-serve stations with 16 flavors and 60 different toppings. And, you can pile it all on brownies or cookies. Flavors rotate for season and offer holiday flavors (pumpkin, Irish Mint, gingerbread, etc.).
Must Try: Fudge Brownie Batter
24 flavors are available any given day (Elvis’ Pelvis: peanut butter and banana; salted caramel; dark chocolate sorbet), with 200 rotating throughout the year.
Must Try: XXX (Triple X: four kinds of chocolate with nugget, almonds and honey)
Chocolate and vanilla are staples at this frozen treat institution in Del Ray, but there are a plethora of flavors rotating throughout the week (Cherry Blossom, Maple Walnut, Crunchy Granola). Check their website for up-to-date offerings.
Must Try: Chocolate



Ray’s The Steaks
2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-841-7297;

Ray’s should be at the top of the list of anyone in Northern Virginia in search of a great steak. Guests will find a variety of specialty butcher cuts to go along with New York strip, rib-eye and a number of dry-aged cuts. Ray’s also offers a number of sides including lobster macaroni and cheese. What customers won’t find at Ray’s is typical steakhouse prices. While serving top-notch cuts, Ray’s manages to keep both the prices down and the atmosphere casual. –ZW


Springfield Butcher
6310-B Springfield Plaza, Springfield; 703-245-0111;

Springfield Butcher’s commitment to provide fresh meat is unmatched. Offering a variety of cuts of pork, chicken, beef, lamb, seafood and even venison, Springfield Butcher can accommodate just about any need. Serving the area for 30 years, Springfield Butcher still cuts all steaks by hand and makes its own sausage in-house. Along with fresh cuts and fine steaks, the shop also offers oven-ready meals for convenience. –ZW



Best Fries

casual shoestring dipping topping
Elevation Burger
Multiple NoVA locations
Great American Restaurants
Multiple NoVA locations
Lyon Hall
3100 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-741-7636
Melt Gourmet Cheeseburgers
525 E. Market St., Leesburg; 703-443-2105
Gluten-free, hand-cut (at each store) fries cooked in 100% olive and seasoned with salt Fresh, hand-cut fries (at Jackson’s Mighty Fine Food) seasoned with a secret mixture that includes sea salt, black pepper, garlic and onion salt Hand-cut fries seasoned with dill and garlic with dipping in a trio of house-made garlic aioli, béarnaise sauce and ketchup Pile of crispy fries with options of toppings: melted jack cheese and grilled jalapenos; Gorgonzola blue cheese and crumbled bacon; Tillamook cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon



Best Buns Bread Company
4010 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-578-1500;

As part of the Great American Restaurant family, Best Buns Bread Company strives to bring its customers the freshest breads and pastries around. More than just baguettes and croissants, Best Buns also offers a variety of cupcakes and donuts. Opening early in the morning, the Arlington bakery serves breakfast sandwiches on signature breads, and switches to a lunch menu including soups and sandwiches later in the day. –ZW


Multiple NoVA locations;

Specializing in Mexican and New Mexican food, Anita’s has been serving breakfast in Northern Virginia for over 30 years. While offering American classics such as pancakes and biscuits and gravy, Anita’s signature breakfast item is its breakfast burrito. Anita’s Famous Burrito is stuffed with scrambled eggs and chorizo, and smothered in red chile and cheese. With a number of burritos to choose from, guests will have no trouble finding a hearty burrito to start their morning. –ZW


4000 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-931-0777;

Few things are as enjoyable as the perfect brunch on the weekend. At Carlyle in Arlington, a rather large brunch menu leaves guests with plenty of tough decisions to make. Start with a signature mimosas or Absolut Peppar Bloody Mary, then move to an order of blue crab fritters as an appetizer. Carlyle has a variety of large plates to choose from including brioche French toast, and of course, steak and eggs Benedict. –ZW


Caffé Amouri

Caffé Amouri (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Coffee House
Caffé Amouri
107 Church St., Vienna; 703-938-1623;

Nestled in the heart of Vienna, Caffe Amouri is one of the very few small batch coffee roasters in NoVA. For the second year in a row, NoVA early birds have voted Caffe Amouri as their favorite coffee shop. Besides serving up coffee and tea, Caffe Amouri hosts open mic nights and charity events, making it a true community gathering spot. –LJ


Ah Love Oil & Vinegar

Ah Love Oil & Vinegar (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Specialty Grocery
Ah Love Oil & Vinegar
Multiple NoVA locations;

Ah Love Oil & Vinegar opened a new location in the Mosaic District, giving the NoVA community one more reason to shop at the specialty grocery store. With a Mediterranean country farmhouse interior, shoppers can find high-quality oils, aged balsamic vinegars, fresh fruit and unique culinary gifts for friends, family (or you) in the area with ease. –LJ


Lost Rhino
21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 142, Ashburn; 571-291-2083;

Lost Rhino has three flagship brews: Rhino Chasers Pilsner, New River Pale Ale and Faceplant IPA. The local brewery holds tours, serves appetizers to guests like crab-stuffed, bacon-wrapped peppers, but beyond the beer and the food, Lost Rhino is an over-all fun place to visit. On Friday nights, Lost Rhino hosts live music, with local bands and singers, and during the spring and summer months, they have a cornhole league with a six-week season. Beer, corn hole and good music; what more do you need? –LJ


Cheese Shop
Multiple NoVA locations;

With cheese and wine classes offered every month, a “Cheeselog” on its website, and fun events such as Marcheese Madness (a mock bracket dedicated to cheese, with customers voting favorites to the next round), Cheesetique has taken the NoVA cheese world by storm. Cheesetique has an impressive amount of cheese and cheese dishes, and its mac n’ cheese won awards and won the hearts of mac lovers in the area. If you’re looking for your basic, boring cheese, pick up a pack at your local grocery store, but if you’re in the mood for memorable, delicious cheese, you’ll find here. –LJ


Barrel Oak Winery
3623 Grove Lane, Delaplane; 540-364-6402;

When you’ve stopped ogling over Barrel Oak Winery’s sleek, rustic interior, go ahead and taste the wine. In 2008, Brian and Sharon Roeder opened up their first winery in hopes to not only sell great wine, but create a community gathering spot for both humans and their pets. The Roeders love their four-legged friends so much that they decided to hire one for their staff. His name is Birch. He is a friendly Hungarian Viszla, and he is just one of the reasons to step out to the country and enjoy your weekend. –LJ


Ray’s Hell Burger @ Ray’s to the Third

Ray’s Hell Burger @ Ray’s to the Third (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Ray’s Hell Burger @ Ray’s to the Third
1650 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-974-7171;

One cannot think of hamburgers without thinking of Ray’s. Though we lost a part of the Ray’s family early this year, we still have Ray’s to the Third, which serves NoVA foodies with the Hellburger classics: burgers, fries and milkshakes. The Big Devil, considered the original Hell burger, can be seared with a peppercorn crust and blanketed with a variety of cheeses, including bleu or brie. President Obama and Vice President Biden have been seen waiting for their orders at Ray’s, instantly making the burger joint a house-hold name and travel destination. You can enjoy the same burger as our nation’s leaders for under $7, and you don’t need a motorcade ride from the White House to get it. –LJ


Reston Kabob
11844 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston; 703-390-9070;

If you’re looking for a restaurant that serves Halal meat, look no further than the family-owned and operated kabob spot that has been serving the Reston area for over 10 years. Reston Kabob’s slogan, “It’s all about the kabobs,” says it all: beef, chicken, lamb and kobeedaare all traditionally seasoned to perfection, served with Basmati rice, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and baked bread for under $10. While Reston Kabob focuses on quality meat, they don’t skimp on quantity. –LJ



Hooked (Photography by Kate Bohler)

Sushi (tied)
46240 Potomac Run Plaza, Sterling; 703-421-0404;

Calling it “sushi” is a stretch, but Hooked’s play on a “breakfast sushi roll” with smoked salmon, a fried egg, asparagus, bacon chive cream cheese—and topped with corn flakes—is at least an adventure in raw fish. The unique combinations continue to lunch and dinner with an Inner Harbor roll of crabmeat paired with a spin on its classic partner, Old Bay turned into a mustard sauce. Hooked also includes luxe toppings of wagyu beef and truffle oil for sushi that refuses to conform. —SG


6715 Lowell Ave., McLean; 703-847-1771;

While McLean is home to some of the area’s best shopping, the neighborhood notoriously lacks an equal number of good restaurants. Luckily, there’s Tachibana. For 30 years sushi lovers have packed into the winding upstairs dining room, complete with two sushi bars. Rolls—there are over 30 of them—feature combinations of favorites like salmon, tuna, avocado and cucumber. Besides raw fish, other Japanese offerings include a silky black cod, broiled and marinated in sake and miso, plus a range of dishes: noodle soups, shrimp tempura, pork dumplings and fried oysters. —SG


Pho 75
1721 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-525-7355;

There is no shortage of pho restaurants in the Northern Virginia and no shopping center is complete without one. Pho 75 in Arlington is a great example of why we all love pho. The restaurant is not your typical pho spot; they don’t serve spring rolls or vegetarian dishes but that’s why the beef broth is high-quality: it is getting extra special attention. –LJ



Make a Good Impression

Stone’s Cove KitBar
2403 Centreville Road, Herndon; 703-434-3615
2941 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church; 703-270-1500
The kitchen is where everyone gathers, and so it is at Stone’s Cove with the bar and tables surrounding the centered, open kitchen {Events} Gone are the white table clothes, undersea setting at 2941, who revamped its aesthetic and menu last year; new space allows for larger group dining, fireplace spots and a separated, and bigger bar area
Casual {Attire} Dressy Casual
Small plates and libations; modern American {Menu} Formal dining; French and Mediterranean
$$ {Pricing} $$$
Yes {Reservations} Yes
Yes {Special Requests} Yes



Dim Sum
Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant
6249 Seven Corners Center, Falls Church; 703-538-3333;

Dim Sum as a general rule is a great idea: sit at your table, have food carts buzz by you with different meal options, and be handed a check that won’t break the bank. At Fortune Chinese Seafood Restaurant, the dim sum keeps visitors coming back for more. With pork Siu Mai dumplings, vegetarian options and mouth watering pineapple rolls, you will be Thanksgiving-day kind of full, without the sleepiness. –LJ


Alfresco (tied)
Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro
11750 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston; 703-234-3550;

A massive 70 people can find room on Vinifera’s spacious outdoor patio. Vinifera’s patio entertains the senses with handcrafted Hawaiian fire pits custom made specifically for the colder months, and an assortment of plants and trees (tomato and pepper plants growing from three-feet-high cement vessels) executive chef Bo Palker planted line the patio. Whether you’re enjoying an entree or sipping on wine, Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro has the best environment for outdoor dining. –LJ


Willow Restaurant
4301 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington; 703-465-8800;

Co-owners Tracy O’Grady, a New York native, and Kate Jansen, born in Iowa, met one another while working at a local catering company and eventually combined their love for French and Italian cuisine to create Willow Restaurant, which opened in 2005. Willow has a number of dining experiences: The Cave, The Club Room and The Willow Room; but the outdoor patio is what sent Willow to the top of our list. Along the brick layered patio are lanterns, cozy chairs with pots of colorful plants and flowers, perfect for brunch on a cool summer day. –LJ


Stone's Cove Kitbar

Courtesy of 5STONES Holdings LLC

Stone’s Cove KitBar
2403 Centreville Road, Herndon; 703-434-3615;

“Which one?” asked manager Shawn Zekanis when told that Stone’s Cove KitBar won best martini in the area. The Herndon hot spot has five feisty martinis: the Pom Cosmo (olives, pomegranate vodka, patron citronge), Lemon Stick (absolut citron, limoncello, lemon syrup, peppermint stick), Pear Flower (absolut pears, elderflower liqueur, pear puree, lemon juice, sparkling wine), Cucumber Basil (gin and dry vermouth, muddled cucumber, basil, lime) and the Dirty Deed (vodka, dry vermouth, olive juice, lemon, tomato, horseradish, gorgonzola-stuffed olives). –LJ


Bloody Mary
Multiple NoVA locations;

Finding a bloody mary on a brunch menu is a given; finding a bloody mary that consecutively quenches your early morning thirst is harder to find. Garnished with a lemon wedge and gritty ground pepper the house-made drink uses beef bouillon and celery salt which gives the cocktail its particular flavor– it could be the best $6 you spend all day. –LJ


Wine Shop
4508 Lee Highway, Arlington; 703-525-0990;

This Arlington wine shop stocks almost 600 wines per month from all over the world and sets trends in the wine world with quality personal service and direct communication with vineyards. On top of providing wine, Arrowine has wine tastings every Friday and Saturday, occasionally with winemakers, importers and distributers in attendance to answer questions and share insights with guests. –LJ



(June 2013)