Cowen fears the effects of gentrification, which tends to drive up real estate rates and drive out ethnic restaurants. It can also lead to blander food. But if defense funding is cut, and the impact is felt locally, that would be a good thing for ethnic restaurants, if not for the populace in general, Cowen said.
And finally, some more helpful tips for ethnic restaurant exploration: “It’s all about the ordering,” Cowen said. The best places have smaller menus, so they aren’t trying to please everyone, and likely do several things very well. Don’t ask the waiter what’s good, “that will only confuse them.” Instead, ask, “What dish do you have here which is special?” or “What are your regional specialties.”
The best food choices in NoVa these days, Cowen said, are the Bolivian food in Arlington and Falls Church; the Ethiopian along George Mason Drive in Baileys; the Korean food in Annandale; and the Vietnamese food at the Eden Center in Falls Church.