Best of NoVA 2019: Food

From morning’s doughnuts to midnight’s ice cream, here’s where to find your favorite things to eat.

Ice Cream

Winner: Campbells Frozen Custard
Campbells Frozen Custard plays it both ways. The Woodbridge shop spins out flavors for the kid in us all, starring Frosted Flakes and Almond Joy, but also caters to the Goop-ified with on-trend essential oils—ginger, peppermint, lemon—swirled into creamy, cool custard. There are also sundaes, Italian ice and affogato, with espresso from Fredericksburg’s Rick Roasters Coffee Company. // 4125 Merchant Place, Woodbridge

Cone or cup? Go for the cone this summer at Campbells Frozen Custard, Best of NoVA 2019 Ice Cream winner. (Photo courtesy of Campbells Frozen Custard)

Runner-Up: Moo Thru
Hand-scooped ice cream is summer’s greatest contribution to life, and Moo Thru delivers with frozen treats made from dairy cows just a few miles down the road. // 11402 James Madison Highway, Remington


Winner: Ford’s Fish Shack
When a cool, casual fish shack, decorated in enough seashore kitsch to keep it fun, opened in Ashburn almost 10 years ago, it instantly found its crowd. Ford’s Fish Shack combines New England favorites (Ispwich clams, lobster rolls) with Chesapeake gems (puffer fish, soft shell crabs) with a booming happy hour audience. Don’t sleep on brunch either, especially the campfire trout and eggs, with bacon. // Multiple locations

Runner-Up: Blue Ridge Grill
All the usual suspects appear on Blue Ridge’s menu, from calamari to salmon to crab cakes, and if you need some turf, find a ribeye, strip and filet. // Multiple locations

Alfresco Dining

Winner: Clare and Don’s 
Who wants to people watch in a crowded city when Clare and Don’s built a beach vibe in downtown Falls Church? With festivals, live music and a doggy-welcome policy, it’s the best of casual, outdoor feasting. // 130 N. Washington St., Falls Church

Editor’s Pick: Trattoria Villagio
Come for the big bowls of pasta, stay for the dreamy outdoor patio with year-round twinkle lights and lounge-worthy couches under the stars. // 7145 Main St., Clifton

Noodle Nation


Winner: Jinya Ramen // 2911 District Ave., Suite 140, Fairfax
Runner-Up: Marumen // Multiple locations 


Winner: Pho 75 // 1058 Elden St., Herndon
Runner-Up: Pho Sate // 2814 Graham Road, Falls Church


Winner: Pazza Pomodoro // Multiple locations
Editor’s Pick: Ciao Osteria // 14115 St. Germain Drive, Centreville


Winner: Peking Gourmet Inn // 6029 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church
Runner-Up: Peter Chang // Multiple Locations

Food Truck

Winner: Pho Wheels
Pho Wheels made impossible possible: soup is now a street food in Northern Virginia. This Vietnamese food truck also cranks out pork belly banh mi, tacos decorated in Viet garnishes and egg rolls, natch. //

Runner-Up: Meggrolls
Meggrolls proves if something can be fried, it will be. And the crowds will come. Imagine the contents of a loaded burger wrapped inside an egg roll and dunked in hot oil. For more outrageous combinations, visit the Meggrolls shop in Old Town Alexandria. // 107 N. Fayette St., Alexandria


Winner: Italian Store
Perhaps there is no greater attraction to Virginia than the Italian Store: loaded rolls stuffed with multiple types of meats, peppers and cheeses; large, New York-style slices; and enough Italian-imported provisions to make a proper feast at home. // Multiple locations

Runner-Up: Celebrity Delly
This delightful, old school deli keeps the classics with whitefish salad, burgers, grilled cheeses and a slate of sandwiches starring pastrami, corned beef and brisket. // 7263-A Arlington Blvd., Falls Church

Modern American

Winner: Sweetwater Tavern
Great American Restaurants (read about the founders here) knows how to please Virginians, and it’s with consistent, unfussy cooking: pasta, salmon, steaks and deep-dish apple pie. // Multiple locations

Editor’s Pick: Clarity
Clarity makes the case for not fighting traffic for dinner in the city. It’s on trend without being trendy. It’s delicious, most of all, showing cheffy bona fides without a twee sheen. And diners can watch the action from a seat at the open kitchen. // 442 Maple Ave. E., Vienna

Enjoyable Errands

From chardonnay to sangria, Arrowine has the wine (and cheese) you need to fine-dine at home. (Photo courtesy of Arrowine)
Farmers Market

Winner: Falls Church // 300 Park Ave., Falls Church
Runner-Up: Leesburg // Virginia Village Shopping Center, Leesburg

Cheese Shop

Winner: Cheesetique // Multiple locations 
Runner-Up: Arrowine // 4508 Lee Highway, Arlington

Wine Shop

Winner: Arrowine // 4508 Lee Highway, Arlington
Runner-Up: Vienna Vintner // 320 Maple Ave. E, Vienna


Winner: Springfield Butcher // 6310-B Springfield Plaza, Springfield 
Runner-Up: The Organic Butcher of McLean // 6712 Old Dominion Drive, McLean


Winner: Heidleberg Bakery // 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington
Runner-Up: Swiss Bakery // 5224 Port Royal Road, Springfield


Winner: Pupatella
Chewy, charred rounds layered with translucent strips of prosciutto, dotted with creamy mounds of mozzarella and finished with torn basil, Pupatella is a reminder that Naples is the birthplace of pizza. The company’s expanding with another Arlington location and one in Reston. // 5104 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

No time for a quick trip to Italy? NoVA readers head to Pupatella for a slice, instead. (Photo courtesy of Pupatella)

Runner-Up: Tony’s
The New York slice never gets old, and Tony’s has been slinging cheesy, meaty pies since the ’90s. // Multiple locations


Winner: Meaza 
Meaza is more than a restaurant, it’s a one-stop shop for a round of stews, gently cooked meats and lentils any which way. Plus, next door at the market, find spices, legumes and extra injera to scoop up any leftovers. // 5700 Columbia Pike, Falls Church

Runner-Up: Enatye Ethiopian Restaurant
Hidden in what should be considered one of the better food-focused strip malls—Wooboi Hot Chicken, Weird Brothers Coffee—Meaza is Herndon’s answer for spicy kitfo, rich shiro and, upon request, all-teff injera. // 275 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon


Winner: Sunflower Vegetarian
In the meatless game before cauliflower was the new steak, this has always been the spot for a reprieve from the relentlessness of burgers, barbecue and bacon. // 2531 Chain Bridge Road, Vienna

Runner-Up: True Food Kitchen
More than just catering to the veg-forward crowd, True Food Kitchen makes it easy to abide by a host of dietary choices and obligations. // Multiple locations

Carnivore Carnival


Winner: Glory Days Grill // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: Buffalo Wild Wings // Multiple locations


Winner: Ray’s The Steaks // 2300 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Runner-Up: Ruth’s Chris Steak House // Multiple locations


Winner: Moby Dicks // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: Kabob Palace // 2315 S. Eads St., Arlington


Winner: Five Guys // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: Melt // 525 E. Market St., Suite J, Leesburg


Winner: Mission BBQ // Multiple locations
Editors Pick: Liberty BBQ // 370 W. Broad St., Falls Church

Korean Barbecue

Winner: Honey Pig // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: SO Korean Barbecue // 5728 Pickwick Road, Centreville


Winner: Passion Fin
Passion Fin lists almost two dozen pieces of sushi, and that’s not including its extravagant rolls, like the one with “epic” in its name, featuring scallop tempura, shrimp, crabmeat and lobster salad finished in a sweet chili sauce. // 42780 Creek View Plaza, Ashburn

Editor’s Pick: Tachibana
This longtime standby is best when serving from the specials menu, especially a hefty, rosy slice of tuna belly. // 6715 Lowell Ave., McLean


Winner: Taco Bamba
The arrival of Taco Bamba jolted the taco game, letting insane cross-culture mashups, from a fine dining chef, lure purists into a world where brisket suadero is blasted with a poblano ranch dressing, decorated in shishitos and named after Will Ferrell’s character in Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby. // Multiple locations

You’ve (probably) never had tacos quite like this before. NoVA readers chose Taco Bamba as their 2019 Best Taco Shop. (Photo courtesy of Taco Bamba)

Runner-Up: bartaco
Bartaco feels breezy, airy, like a day on vacation. Tacos are streamlined, but on trend—cauliflower, falafel, roasted duck—with influences from California to South America. // Multiple locations


Winner: Sweetgreen
Sweetgreen is not a fast-casual salad spot. It’s a way of life. What started in Georgetown is now a bi-coastal company disrupting the way we think of fast food: it’s now full of greens, grains and seasonal gems. It’s the new happy meal. // Multiple locations

Runner-Up: Chopt
There is a bowl for everyone at Chopt: Caesar spruced up with chipotle chicken, spicy braised pork in a Korean barbecue bowl and the flavors of the Mediterranean with tahini, feta and crispy chickpeas. // Multiple locations


Winner: Five Guys
Brown-bagging takes on a new meaning when it’s filled with Five Guys fries: long, Idaho-grown spuds, crispy, creamy, salty and with just enough peel to keep it real. // Multiple locations

Editor’s Pick: Streets Kitchen & Bar
Tucked inside the grocery store of the same name, the fries here are mega crispy (thanks to getting dunked in the fryer from a frozen state) and make the perfect accompaniment to the bar’s rotating, always-interesting beer list. Any issues? Ask for Angie. // 3108 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria


Winner: Jaleo
Before small plate-grazing took over restaurant culture, Jaleo was where to find tapas. The Spanish dishes—gambas al ajillo, patatas bravas, croquetas de pollo—are meant for snacking and sharing over a glass of tempranillo, and no one does it better than José Andrés’ flagship restaurant, which more than 25 years later is still recognized as one of the best in the country. // 2250 Crystal Drive A, Arlington

Runner-Up: Barcelona Wine Bar
Named after the intoxicating Catalan city, Barcelona Wine Bar features jamon, queso and, not escaping the brassica-of-the-decade, Brussels sprouts decked out with serrano. // 12023 Town Square St., Reston

Fine Dining

Winner: Nostos
This upscale Greek restaurant takes a  timeless approach to its storied cuisine: from fresh-from-the-Mediterranean whole fish to hearty staple moussaka, Nostos remains one of the area’s best choices for a night out. // 8100 Boone Blvd., Vienna

Runner-Up: Trummer’s on Main
Dazzling displays of kitchen artistry meets genteel service in charming Clifton’s most prized possession: Trummer’s on Main. // 7134 Main St., Clifton


Winner: Bollywood Bistro 
Chicken tikka masala, daal makhani, lamb vindaloo: the go-to Indian items shine at Bollywood Bistro, a destination for proper cooking for the last decade. // Multiple

Editor’s Pick: Agni Restaurant & Bar
With a strictly South Indian menu, find joy in spicy cauliflower, crispy dosas, or better yet, try a little bit of everything from the lunchtime thali: a mix of curries, tastes and textures (Want to know more? Read the full review here). // 46005 Regal Plaza, Suite 140, Sterling

First Feast


Winner: Stomping Ground // 2309 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria
Runner-Up: Mason Dixon // Multiple locations


Winner: Wilson Hardware // 2915 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Runner-Up: Founding Farmers // Multiple locations 

Doughnut Shop

Winner: Duck Donuts // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: Sugar Shack // Multiple locations

Dim Sum

Winner: Hong Kong Pearl // 6286 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church
Runner-Up: Mark’s Duck House // 6184-A Arlington Blvd., Falls Church


Winner: Silver Diner // Multiple locations
Runner-Up: Metro 29 // 4711 Lee Highway, Arlington 

Our Best of NoVA 2019 issue is on stands now. Pick up a copy to find all of this year’s winners, across multiple categories, including Arts & Entertainment, Shopping and Family & Kids.

Loading cart ...