Marib in Springfield is still the very best Yemeni restaurant around, but this is probably number two. Especially good sambusas and lamb mandi, the salteh I thought could have been better. For people-watching, this place is a clear number one among the Yemeni selections, given its close proximity to West Alexandria.
Hong Kong dishes mainly, I was skeptical when the Washington Post rated this as the seventh best place in all of D.C. Yet it delivers. Avoid the Sichuan dishes, which are not really hot or properly ma la anyway. Get the pork ribs, the barbecue plate, the chow foon noodles, and the fried rices. The cauliflower is also quite good. While it’s hard to compare this place to D.C.’s best Western food one way or the other, it exceeded expectations in every regard. It’s an order of magnitude better than any other Cantonese restaurant around. Note, though, it is pretty loud and the core style is trendy more than mom and pop. The prices are reasonable enough, though I don’t think the whole fish is quite worth the price they are charging, that said it is still pretty good.
I’ve been to The Block a bunch of times, and until now I have been reluctant to review it or any of the individual places in this food court. Each time I have felt I just don’t “get it.” And I guess I don’t.
On the bright side, The Block feels more like East Asia than anywhere else around, and it feels like the Asia of today, not the Asia or Korea of the 1980s that you get so often in Annandale. It is fun to be here, and the crowd is appropriately lively. On the down side, it is maybe the loudest place around, at least during busy hours. But that’s not my real gripe. What bugs me is that this is a place for people who think there should be mayonnaise on Asian food. If that’s you, go! I think many of the dishes here are well done, or at least “good enough,” but I also know they are not for me. I don’t like them, and when eating them I wish I was somewhere else in Annandale, because ultimately the food trumps all. So conditional on you liking this place, I am not the critic you should listen to. At the very least, you all should visit because I have seen the future and the future is The Block. Take that as you will.
The waok ye is especially good, which is a mix of rice, beans, plantains, fish, and noodles. Plus they have fried yam with turkey, jollof rice, Red Red, and of course Fufu. The décor is very basic, the crowd friendly, service a bit halting. Ghanaian food is not to everyone’s taste, but I would describe the offerings here as above average. If you are inclined to try this place, you should, that said do not expect too much variety in the offerings over repeated visits.
Where Sichuan Village used to be located. No surprises here, but this is a considerably above average take on all the usual Sichuan classics. I especially enjoyed the Fish in Hot Chili Oil and the Shredded Potatoes with Peppers. Note that the place is small and it can fill up pretty quickly.
The smallest of the Uighur places, and possibly the most authentic, a true mom and pop. (They have “normal” American-Chinese dishes too.) Get the chopped noodle and also the Chili Paper [sic] Chicken, that should read Pepper. You should visit this excellent restaurant even if you already know and enjoy the other recently opened Uighur places in the area. They also serve lamb hoof and shredded tripe.
If you read this guide, you probably already know the superior tacos of the original Taco Bamba outlet in Falls Church. The newer branch is yuppified, with longer lines, and the menu is broader, with more kinds of tacos, chilaquiles, tortas, and more sides. I was suspicious, but there seems to be no diminution in quality and a much bigger selection. Definitely recommended. Note that ordering a single taco here gives you much more food than in any other tacqueria I’ve seen, decide accordingly.
Formerly an Arlington food truck, this is now the best Mexican place and tacqueria in Northern Virginia, excellent all around. The tacos are consistent in quality, my favorite are the carnitas. The huaraches are better than anywhere else around I know. Weekends they serve pozole. If you like spicy, get the green peppers snack filled with cheese. I am delighted to now have this place in my repertoire, we haven’t had anything nearly this good in NoVa. Very casual, a comfortable place to sit down and eat, but not quite a restaurant either.
Another phenomenal northern Virginia restaurant, this one is food from Northeastern Thailand. I would describe this place as offering vivid flavors and full authenticity. You should get the vermicelli with fried mackerel (one of the best dishes around, period), the Kow Soi soup with noodles, and the fried chicken salad, for one of the best meals around, certainly tops in McLean. I tried a few other dishes and liked those too. One note: the prices are not super-cheap. They are entirely reasonable for the location and quality, but not the kind of steal that you might get from other places in this guide.