Here Are the Best Places to Eat in Northern Virginia, According to Our Readers – Northern Virginia Magazine

From juicy burger joints to the perfect spot for date night, you’ll want to stop in and make a reservation at these restaurants.
By Editorial
Cuisine from every corner of the globe is stellar here, astonishing in both its scope and quality.
Winner
Ruthie’s All-Day
A brisket Benedict or apple pie pancakes paired with a house cocktail go beyond hair of the dog to a culinary event. Thank Chef Matt Hill, a recent semifinalist for a James Beard Award for his work at this Arlington newcomer; his dedication to deliciousness will make your Sunday. 3411 Fifth St. S., Arlington
Runner-Up
Ambar
Dishes like prosciutto Benedict, shrimp omelet, and cinnamon sweet sourdough prove that gustatory delights know no borders, even at the first meal of the day. For just one price, you can eat your way through the Balkan menu, with dishes whizzing to your table moments after you request them. It’s even better than a buffet. 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Winner
Kalypso’s Sports Tavern
You won’t have to go as far as Greece to get water views and a taste of the Mediterranean—here, you can indulge in fresh favorites like falafel and souvlaki from the patio, where views of Lake Anne set the mood and regular events like karaoke and trivia keep it interesting. 1617 Washington Plz. N., Reston
Runner-Up
Circa at Clarendon
The spacious patio, situated right in a bustling corner of the city, makes this restaurant and bar an ideal spot for an outdoor night on the town. The food menu is complemented by a vast list of wine, beer, and cocktails (even some nonalcoholic ones!), so you can always find your perfect pairing. 3010 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington
Winner
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe
Since 1975, this bakery has been providing authentic German cakes, pastries, and bread to the Arlington area. With a wide variety of flavors, these sweet treats are the perfect choice for your next big event. Try one of the traditional pastries, such as a linzerschnitten (a spice dough with raspberry jam) or a Bavarian cream–filled bienenstich. 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington
Runner-Up
Bakeshop
If you’re seeking out every flavor of macaron under the sun, your search might just end here. You can sample unique options from more than 50 flavors, including apple butter, Champagne, and even Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Check out the variety of cupcakes, cookies, pies, and pastries, as well as the plentiful vegan options. 1025 N. Fillmore St., Arlington; 100 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church
Winner
Mookie’s BBQ
The choices here include basics like brisket and ribs, but the specials are where real ’cue aficionados will thrive. Think smoked prime rib, beef ribs, and even house-brined pastrami, all served with fresh sides that range from healthy cucumber salad to indulgent mac and cheese. 1141 Walker Rd., Great Falls
Editor’s pick
Odd BBQ
Chefs Nick Giorno and Susan Sung, alums of Mokomandy, operate from a kitchen inside Hawaiian-themed Ono Brewing Company. Expect appropriately Asian-inspired rice plates with sides like house-made kimchi. But don’t miss the cheddar biscuits, filled with meats that could easily compete on the Texas barbecue circuit. 4520 Daly Dr., Chantilly
Winner
Five Guys
This chain is justifiably famous way beyond its headquarters in Lorton. Just one bite of a juicy patty (or better yet, a pile of them) is enough to convince doubters. Can’t handle the beefy onslaught of a full-size burger? There are little versions that offer a dose of moderation. Multiple locations
Editor’s pick
Charred
A local supplier brings in the beef, but this burger joint is in rarest form when it comes to toppings. Diners can crown their dry-aged patties with everything from truffle mayo to pickled ramps to brie. But don’t worry—it’s not all highbrow. Even the classic tastes better than your average grilled food. 13047 Worldgate Dr., Herndon
Winner
The Organic Butcher of McLean
With a collective 80 years of experience behind the counter, the staffers at this shop know their meat. Old-school English butcher shops provide inspiration for the service here, so customers can feel at ease getting their local meat cut to their specifications or even gleaning the best recipes for preparing the wares. 6712 Old Dominion Dr., McLean
Runner-Up
Oliver’s Corner Butcher Shop
Unusual cuts and preparations are specialties at this year-old store: Think along the lines of dry-aged, regionally sourced pork or duck, quirky sausages, and house-rolled porchetta roasts. Better still? On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Ham Bar serves up sandwiches you can’t help but crave. 9912 Georgetown Pk., Ste. 102-C, Great Falls
Winner
Falls Church Farmers Market
Every Saturday all year, you can take advantage of this sprawling outdoor market. Fill up your reusable tote bag with fresh, ripe seasonal fruits and vegetables that were grown right in the area. While you stroll, sip on fresh-brewed coffee from Catoctin Coffee, and take advantage of the local vendors serving ready-to-eat meals, such as pork breakfast sandwiches from Hog Haven Farm. 300 Park Ave., Falls Church
Runner-Up
Old Town Farmers’ Market
At this market, you can buy your produce in the same place that George Washington is said to have sold his. With around 70 vendors, there’s no shortage of unique local products, from the classic fruit and veggie staples to fresh pasta, flowers, and cheeses—plus, some non-food vendors are there to keep it interesting with soap, jewelry, and art. The market runs every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon. 301 King St., Alexandria
Winner
Duck Donuts
Originally started in the nearby Outer Banks, North Carolina, this doughnut spot has spread to more than 100 locations for a reason. Indulge in fan favorites like the Beach Ball, a combination of rainbow sprinkles and chocolate drizzle, or the Bacon in the Sun, topped with maple icing and savory chopped bacon. Multiple locations
Runner-Up
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Started by two former Capitals players with a passion for American comfort food, this Falls Church restaurant is your one-stop shop for savory and sweet bites. Grab an order of the four-piece fried chicken while you snack on a crème brûlée or PB&J doughnut. 7511 Leesburg Pk., Falls Church
Winner
Peter Chang
Known for fiery Sichuan cuisine, Peter Chang’s Arlington location will impress even the most seasoned spice-lovers. Signature dishes and favorites include the crispy pork belly, deep-fried with dried chile pepper and Sichuan peppercorn. 2503-E N. Harrison St., Arlington; 1771 Carl D. Silver Pkwy., Fredericksburg
Runner-Up
Peking Gourmet Inn
This Falls Church institution offers a family-style dining experience that specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine. Try the Chef Fon’s Shrimp, featuring snow peas, bell peppers, and a housemade secret sauce. Looking to up the spice factor? Sample the spicy, and aptly named, five-spice beef, dipped in the restaurant’s unique batter and fried. 6029 Leesburg Pk., Falls Church
Winner
La Petite Auberge
Since 1981, this elegant family-owned spot has helped bring the romance to downtown Fredericksburg. It’s one of the few places in our region to offer an Alsatian tarte flambée, but when we’re really celebrating, we’re just as likely to order the foie gras torchon with lingonberry jam. 311 William St., Fredericksburg
Runner-Up
Clarity
If novelty is the key to romance, this is the place. Chef Jon Krinn always has something new up his sleeve. That could mean anything from a tasting menu stacked with goodies like venison tartare and A5 wagyu to a romantic lunch à deux featuring housemade pasta. 442 Maple Ave. E., Vienna
Winner
Anita’s
Visit Anita’s to branch out from a breakfast rut; the early-morning fare at this local New Mexican restaurant is spicy, smoky, and anything but boring. With an impressive list of 24 breakfast burrito options, you can try out anything from a classic chorizo, egg, and potato to a machaca option with shredded beef and chives. Multiple locations
Runner-Up
Chloez Cafe
For classic, homestyle comfort food to start your day on the right foot, Chloez has feel-good breakfast and lunch options with a cheery atmosphere to match. The smoothies are where the restaurant stands out, whether you choose to kick-start your day with a sweet and caffeinated mocha creation or a nutrient-rich green smoothie. 5622 Ox Rd., Ste. F, Fairfax Station
Winner
The Italian Store
With two locations in Arlington, this family-owned deli and shop has the kind of authenticity that you’d expect from a bona fide New York deli, a testament to the founding family’s Brooklyn background. While you’re there, take a look at the selection of Italian wines and other products available for sale, sourced from Italy and Brooklyn. 5837 Washington Blvd.; Arlington, 3123 Lee Hwy., Arlington
Runner-Up
The Sandwich Shop
This aptly named spot can take on any craving and deliver the solution between two pieces of bread. They’ve crafted a broad menu full of creative combinations, including a banh mi with panko-crusted pork loin, in addition to classics like a Cubano. Vegetarians can get in on the fun as well, with inventive meatless options such as the broccolini and sun-dried tomato sub. 132 Church St. NW, Vienna
Winner
Five Guys
You can never go wrong with some Five Guys fries. Grab a burger and a milkshake and dig into some of the classic boardwalk-style fries, cooked in pure peanut oil. Or, if you’re searching for a fry that packs a punch, choose the Cajun-style fries. Multiple locations
Runner-Up
Plaka Grill
With locations in Vienna and Falls Church, this is the place for authentic Greek cuisine in NoVA. Pair the fries with a lamb gyro or the shrimp souvlaki, and you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped off the streets of Athens, or go Plaka style and put the fries in your pita wrap. 110 Lawyers Rd. NW, Vienna; 1216 W. Broad St., Falls Church
Winner
Campbells Frozen Custard
Ice cream nachos are just one of the innovations that bring in devoted fans to this sweet stalwart. The monthly flavor calendar allows guests to plan their trips at the just the right time, whether it’s for a taste of blueberry muffin, peaches and cream, or banana nut bread flavors. 4125 Merchant Plz., Woodbridge
Editor’s pick
Mimi’s Handmade Ice Cream
Rollin Amore is making the most of his retirement with an ice cream shop that serves up intense flavor. Even scoops that sound exotic aren’t novelties here. Go ahead, order that Sichuan Spicy Girl. Not tempted? Every flavor from mint to banana to ginger is made from carefully curated fresh ingredients. 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington
Winner
Celebration by Rupa Vira
Indian cuisine is often vastly flavorful or vibrantly colored. Thanks to chef Rupa Vira, here, dishes are equally flavorful and visually pleasing. Order the tandoori salmon for a meal that includes two mango sauces, a piece of beautifully blistered fish, and an aesthetic appeal that’s worthy of an art gallery. 44260 Ice Rink Plz., Ste. 120, Ashburn
Runner-Up
Bansari Indian Cuisine
Chef Deepak Sarin, also owner of Bhai Sahab in Leesburg, is the force behind some of our region’s most flavor-forward Indian dishes. Think butter chicken is boring? You’ll think again, especially when you bite into his bone-in version, a Delhi specialty that’s as tangy, creamy, and spicy as you could have ever dreamed of. 2750 Gallows Rd., Ste. H, Vienna
Winner
Pazzo Pomodoro
This Italian restaurant serves up fresh, authentic fare in a casual and welcoming atmosphere. The chefs here utilize seasonal ingredients from local gardens to make sure each and every bite stands out. Meanwhile, the handmade pasta is sure to give you a true taste of Italy. 19825 Belmont Chase Dr., Ashburn; 118 Branch Rd. SE, Vienna
Runner-Up
Thompson Italian
Beyond its craveworthy dine-in options, this restaurant also sells everything you need to make meals at home, from fresh, uncooked pasta to beef Bolognese. If you want to eat in the comfort of your kitchen without putting in the work, you can pick up family-sized take-home supper trays, either served hot and ready to eat or cold so you can heat it up when you’re ready for it. 124 N. Washington St., Falls Church
Winner
Moby Dick House of Kabob
This DMV-based chain provides a Persian-inspired menu complete with beef, chicken, and lamb kebabs. They’re prepared with rich spices and served with creamy yogurt sauce, and the pita bread the restaurant is famous for. Guests can also choose from a variety of vegetarian and halal options. Multiple locations
Runner-Up
Arlington Kabob
This kebab shop will have your mouth watering before you’ve finished reading the menu. Choose one of the chargrilled kebabs or the gyro platter, and pair it with the daily freshly made naan, hot right out of the tandoor. 5046 Lee Hwy., Arlington
Winner
Gogi 92 Korean BBQ
As a newcomer to the scene in spring 2021, Gogi 92 quickly made a name for itself with fresh meats and a friendly atmosphere at their DIY dining experience. Choose from one of five combo options so you can try a little of everything, and don’t overlook the spicy cold noodles for a side dish. 1603 Village Market Blvd. SE, Ste. 112, Leesburg
Runner-Up
Kogiya Korean BBQ
This family-run KBQ restaurant got national attention when it was featured on the new HBO Max travel food show Take Out with Lisa Ling for its authentic food and connections to the area’s culture. The menu features fixed combos, an all-you-can-eat menu, and à la carte choices to suit any level of hunger. 4220 Annandale Rd., Annandale
Winner
Clarity
This restaurant boasts a different lunch and dinner menu every single day, but the locally sourced ingredients and innovative recipes mean that guests will always be satisfied. And don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you. Upon stepping into Clarity, guests are welcomed into an elegant atmosphere to enjoy a unique dish, available for one night only. 442 Maple Ave. E., Vienna
Runner-Up
Trio Grill
For a sophisticated night out, visit this Falls Church location to sample the plentiful surf and turf options. Highlights include soy-glazed Chilean sea bass topped with a carrot ginger purée, and beef carpaccio drizzled in truffle aioli. Try out one of the signature cocktails, such as Patience is a Virtue, a mix of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. 8100 Lee Hwy., Falls Church
Winner
Jinya Ramen
This national chain serves authentic, slow-cooked ramen across the country. The tonkotsu black and spicy chicken ramen are great go-tos, while the Tsunami White Pearl uses meatless broth and Impossible meat to keep it vegan-friendly. Not in the mood for noodles? You can mix it up with rice bowls or even mini tacos. 2911 District Ave., Fairfax; 11964 Market St., Reston
Runner-Up
Boru Ramen
This isn’t the ramen you remember from your college dorm—the broth is thick and rich, the noodles are fresh, and toppings like pork belly, seaweed, and bamboo shoots keep it interesting. Before slurping soup, dig into takoyaki (doughy octopus balls) or juicy sausage made from kurobuta pork. 2915 Columbia Pk., Arlington
Winner
2941
The tree-filled trails that lead up to the 15-story office building in which this modern restaurant is contained are nature’s introduction to an intricate beauty. A koi pond and waterfall out front capture a diner’s eye from inside the bar area, while stunning light fixtures and art command attention in the dining room. 2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church
Runner-Up
Barca Pier & Wine Bar
Here, a pier on the Potomac subs in for Spain, where beachside chiringuitos serve small bites to sun worshippers. A stone fruit sangria, perfumed with orange blossom water, will be just the trick to get you into the mood for tapas like pan con tomate and serrano ham croquettes. 2 Pioneer Mill Wy., Alexandria
Winner
Yume Sushi
For the Japanese-style omakase (which translates to “I shall leave it up to you”) dining option at Yume Sushi, guests hand over creative control of their dinner menu to the chefs, and the entire meal is prepared and explained before their eyes. With Chef Saran Kannasute at the helm, no two of these meals are ever exactly alike. 2121 N. Westmoreland St., Ste. A-2, Arlington
Runner-Up
Noku
This quaint Leesburg restaurant is the perfect casual stop for all your sushi cravings. Along with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura rolls, the ramen, topped with braised pork belly, vegetables, and a marinated soft-boiled egg, is a guest favorite. Also try out one of the wide variety of poke bowls, from tuna to tofu. 1607 Village Market Blvd. SE, Ste. 108, Leesburg
Winner
Taco Bamba
Yes, there are locations of this taqueria from Fairfax to Alexandria, with more to come, but don’t expect to eat the same thing at each of them. Founder and Chef Victor Albisu makes sure that his menus represent every neighborhood in which they’re served, with unique international eats inside a tortilla. Multiple locations
Editor’s pick
La China Poblana Taqueria
Birria tacos are the flavor of the moment, and no one does the dippable beef-and-cheese specialty better than this Manassas restaurant. But the tortilla-wrapped glories don’t end there. Get your tacos on a platter or a la carte and filled with everything from pork al pastor to shrimp. 9792 Center St., Manassas
Winner
Bann Thai
Pad thai, panang curry, drunken noodles—it’s almost impossible to choose what sounds best, but there’s no wrong answer here, especially if it ends with steamed custard over sweet sticky rice. In historic Old Town Occoquan, this cozy spot is home to flavorful Thai food that won’t disappoint. 416 Mill St., Occoquan
Runner-Up
Sisters Thai
The stunning floral décor and book-lined walls make the perfect backdrop for your meal, no matter at which location you find yourself. The food is fresh and satisfying, and you can customize anything you order to suit your chosen spice level—don’t forget a Thai iced tea to wash it all down. Multiple locations
Winner
Rupa Vira’s The Signature
There’s nary a shred of meat at the Ashburn chef’s first restaurant. But she goes beyond that for different dietary restrictions. For example, a special menu is packed with dishes that omit garlic and onion. The main bill of fare travels across India with heaping thalis and features Indo-Chinese fare that attracts fans of its own. 21760 Beaumeade Cir., Ste. 120, Ashburn
Runner-Up
Zenola
This Lebanese restaurant serves meat, but it’s easy to avoid both animal products and gluten thanks to the efforts of chef and founder Samer Zeitoun. Spreads like muhammara and hummus skip the meat, but so does the popular vegetarian lasagna with truffle béchamel sauce. 132 Branch Rd. SE, Vienna
Winner
Nam-Viet
You can get pho anywhere. At this Arlington classic, skip it in favor of the signature dishes, mostly named for the restaurant’s owners, listed at the top of the menu. Don’t miss the fried Can Tho–style baby back ribs, named for the family’s southern Vietnamese place of origin. You won’t find them anywhere else in NoVA. 1127 N. Hudson St., Arlington
Runner-Up
Hai Duong
A dill-bedecked sizzling platter of turmeric-marinated fish comes your way, steaming. That’s cha ca thang long, a Hanoi-style dish that’s rare in the United States. There’s bun cha Hanoi, which Anthony Bourdain shared with Barack Obama, too. Eat the pork patties and rice noodles under the chandelier here. 6795 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 7-9, Falls Church
Winner
Arrowine & Cheese
For the perfect glass of wine at the best price, visit this hand-selected wine shop in Arlington. With wines that are “precise, focused, and terroir-driven,” Arrowine has the perfect selection for your next wine night. The shop also offers a wide range of both domestic and international cheeses and charcuterie. 4508 Langston Blvd., Arlington
Runner-Up
The Wine House
This wine bar and bistro offers more than 500 wines from around the world. Started by New Zealand–born sommelier Michael Pearce, the bar combines influences from New Zealand and Napa Valley in its wine selection. While you sip on one of the boutique wines, enjoy the extensive dinner menu, with everything from filet mignon to pan-seared duck breast. 3950 University Dr., Ste. 212, Fairfax
This story originally ran in our June issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.
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