Minerva

Minerva, web site, 10364 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA, 703-383-9200 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Washingtonian | City Paper | food-plan | openlist | Citysearch]
Other locations:

The best. Amazing buffet for lunchtime, weekend lunch is when you should go. Real Indian food, north and south. Truly spicy. The best are the dishes that look weird or unusual. Use the chutneys. Use the curd rice. Experiment. One of the best places on this list if you know how to choose from the buffet properly. Buffet spicier, and more interesting, on the weekends. (Non-buffet) dinner is also excellent, though sometimes a bit slow. Opt for their unusual dosas and south Indian specialties. Great for people-watching, especially at lunch.

You’ll notice they have some Chinese dishes, which mimic how Chinese food is served in India. The peppered chicken is best. Indians love these, they are evidence of how authentic the restaurant is, not the contrary.

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This entry was posted in Fairfax, Herndon/Reston/Ashburn/Chantilly / Dulles Airport, Indian, Southern Indian, The Best, Virginia. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Minerva

  1. Lewis says:

    Based on Tyler’s recommendation, I had lunch at Minerva the last time I visited Northern Virginia. I think I sampled most everything that looked interesting. I was very impressed. Good service and good selection. I already have a trip planned for DC in the summer and will be going back to Minerva.

  2. mapgirl says:

    I love this place! I’m only sad that the last two times I went, (Fairfax and Herndon locations) they didn’t have my favorite Butter Chicken on the buffet.
    They’ve been around for at least a decade on Lee Highway and still going strong. Every single Indian developer at my old firm ate there, which just goes to show you how authentic it is.

  3. Tandoori Nights

    Tandoori Nights, web site (Flash), 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-248-8333 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Wash Times | City Paper | Yelp] Well, it was better than I had expected, given the neighborhood it sits in….

  4. Tony says:

    I’ve been eating at Minerva for quite a few years now and it’s always been excellent. Now I need to try the new vegetarian restaurant – Saravana Palace in the Lee Plaza on Lee Highway in Fairfax to see how it compares with the food at Minerva’s.

  5. jeff says:

    I went when it first opened in Farifax many years ago and was not impressed. I also went to one the in Herndon shortly after in opened and was also not impressed. Thus I avoided it for years. Then I finally went back and was very impressed. My wife, kid, and I go about once a week for the lunch buffet (living only a little more than a mile away helps). I love the indo-chinese stuff. My fav. exeperience was going on Christmas day. We were the only non-Indians in the entire place and it was wall to wall packed. I called it the Bombay simulator. Great place!

  6. Aaron S says:

    I’ve been to both the Fairfax and Chantilly branches numerous times and I’ve always found the Fairfax dishes fresher and more aggressively seasoned.

  7. Gori Girl says:

    First time my Indian husband and I went to Minerva’s (Chantilly location) it was Thanksgiving, and I was the only white person there. Delicious! We were both very pleased with the quality of the food & the variety. Among our favorites were the chilli chicken (hard to find in the US) and the sambhar. We now go once every few weeks for the lunch buffet on weekends – and every friend we’ve dragged along has loved it.

  8. Kat says:

    I’ve only been to the Herndon location. The buffet is usually great. The thali dinner is delicious but too much; if you eat the things that don’t keep well and enough of the rest to be sated you’ll probably be left with a good lunch. The only real downside: service is very slow, so wait until you’re not in a hurry.

  9. a-train says:

    hate to rain on this parade, but tried minerva this weekend and was not blown away…the food was well spiced, but the quality and selection were disappointing–one chicken dish, one goat dish (no lamb!), both more bone than meat.
    the food was on the greasy side. the fish was past its prime. the fruit in the dessert was clearly from a can. for 15 bucks you could do a lot better at delhi club or indique heights…

  10. gmu shmoo says:

    There are tons of good Indian restaurants around the Northern Virginia area, but this place, IMHO, is the best of the lot. I’ve only been once, however, so “test-retest reliability” is yet to be determined. Nonetheless, the selection was unparalleled (this was for the Saturday lunch buffet), and, barring a couple of entrees (and the dessert), the quality was very, very good. As others have noted, they have “Indian-Chinese” (otherwise known as “Ludhiana Chinese”) and South Indian entrees in addition to the usual North Indian entrees–so, basically, three different types of cuisine.
    Overall, very highly recommended.
    Not that this necessarily qualifies me as an expert, but I’m Indian and tend to eat Indian food a lot (though I can’t cook to save my life).

  11. sas0mi says:

    Minerva is great but only the Herndon location at the clock tower shopping center. The one in Fairfax seems to keep changing chefs and recipes for the same thing. Everytime I do their the ginger chicken keeps changing in flavor and texture.

  12. Pingback: Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide » Blog Archive » Minerva Express - All food is ethnic food.

  13. Lori K says:

    A note about the listed GA location: Minerva is technically a franchise operation. Several locationsoperate around the country. There are even two in MA (Norwood, Natick). The locations vary in quality and services, but you’ll generally receive dishes catering to the large Andhra population that’s been moving into the US over last decade +. Example: Minerva Fairfax specializes in peanut, tomato and eggplant pachchadis (Southern style chutnies), stuffed eggplant (guthi vankaya) and hyderabadi meat dishes and hyderabadi biryani. Variations of these dishes can be found in other Southern provinces but the preparations at Minerva are endemic to Andhra Pradesh.

    They could produce some knockouts and truly unique dishes if they tried. But there’s no desire from the management to up the ante and go really authentic. After several conversations with the manager, it’s apparent that he isn’t of the opinion that the variety inherent in Southern Indian food is “special enough.” This is surprising given the accessibility and cheapness of South Asian ingredients and the large and growing South Asian community.

    Still, its continues to be the best South Indian restaurant I’ve found in the region. I just wish they’d recognize their potential to elevate South Indian cuisine the way Chef Liu has Sichuan.

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