Who’s in, who’s out and whatever else there is to say about Northern Virginia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants

The November issue hits newsstands this Thursday.

The chocolate cake at Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Imperial Chinese cuisine in an Alexandria strip mall? Yes, find it in all of its regal, white-gloved glory at Chef Guo.

Of course, Northern Virginia is where exquisite dishes hide on Duke Street near 395 and across the highway from where Landmark Mall used to be.

That’s the charm of eating in the suburbs. Curb appeal means nothing.

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Want to find a great hunk of steak and your new favorite chocolate cake (see above)? Tuck into Randy’s Prime Seafood & Steaks off Route 7 in Tysons Corner. But what’s more surprising than the location, is the team behind it. Great American Restaurants, the mid-priced, always reliable pack of places to eat, turned out two new titles this year. Patsy’s is a replay of greatest hits, but Randy’s is where the brand expands to high-end dining. Will its loyal followers swallow a triple-digit bill for $42 scallops and $84 New York strip?

I’d say yes. Chef Guo and Randy’s are two of the new places on Northern Virginia Magazine‘s 2019’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

MORE | The 2019 In – Out List

The biggest open in Northern Virginia this year was no doubt Mama Chang, Peter Chang’s latest concept in an open, minimalist space with new, dazzling dishes. It’s a treat, and not just for those craving spice.

I’m always on the hunt for great Indian, and this year, I found it at Agni, a South Indian spot in Sterling that reverberates warm, friendly service and nails it with fiery, fantastic food. Korean barbecue is always a fun time, and with Meokja Meokja‘s mod sensibility and focus on prime meats, it was easy to slot it into the list.

As soon as I walked into Thompson Italian, I told my friend, “This is my new favorite restaurant.” There is so much to fangirl over this modern American-slash-Italian restaurant. I loved the relaxed vibe that feels cool in an authentic, not studied, way. Plus, I am always ready for a bowl of handmade noodles.

One of my personal favorites is Malaysian Kopitiam, which used to operate in downtown DC, just a few blocks from where I used to work. A year ago, it opened back up just a few minutes drive from where I work now (and has become a fast favorite of my coworkers). I like it so much it appeared in all three of this year’s food cover stories (previously: Comfort FoodsCheap Eats).

Of course, all these new places means we had to say goodbye to some oldies. Ray’s the Steaks closed in Arlington, which was a gut-punch for those who love glorious steaks in an unfussy setting. Michael Landrum, what are you up to my friend?

Others lacked some of the showmanship from previous years, but that means you can still love it. The list is created by two mouths, Rina Rapuano and me, Stefanie Gans. And you certainly don’t have to agree with us (definitely let me know what you think), though I do hope you’ll try our picks.

One on the “out” list I want to talk about is B Side. It’s still the best place to eat and drink in Mosaic District, and I’d still recommend slipping in for those amazing garlicky fries and smoked pimento cheese dip and all the slinky ribbons of meat and maybe a glass of lambrusco or a moody cocktail or some wild, sour beer. It was a hard call, and this one hurt. Maybe I’m due for some retail therapy with a side of charcuterie.

Northern Virginia Magazine‘s November issue, 50 Best Restaurants, is on newsstands Thursday, Oct. 24.

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