Few areas offer as many culinary pleasures as this one, a short walk from the Rosslyn Metro station. There’s Guajillo, the cheery and welcoming Mexican spot that eschews cheese-blanketed Tex-Mex fare in favor of chicken with a deeply flavored mole, excellent ceviche, and lamb-filled tacos.
Its neighbor is Ray’s Hell-Burger, Michael Landrum’s bare-bones burger dive, with supremely juicy ten-ounce patties—try the Soul Burger Number One, with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and sherry-sautéed mushrooms—and mac and cheese that justify the long lines. It’s become so popular that Landrum recently opened Ray’s Hell-Burger Too a few storefronts down. It has the same menu as the original plus a handful of non-beef burgers, such as a deliciously glazed wild-boar patty topped with a Vietnamese mixture of mint, pickled carrots, and daikon. And it has some luxuries: table service, a credit-card machine, and a few Belgian beers.
Some of the best pho in the area can be found next door at the stripped-down, fast-paced Pho 75, which has been a fixture on The Washingtonian’s list of 100 Best Bargain Restaurants for 24 years. The aromatic and soothing Vietnamese beef broths can be jazzed up with Thai basil, slivered chilies, and Sriracha sauce.
Across the street is Cafe Assorti, a coffeehouse, bakery, and bargain restaurant rolled into one brightly colored package. The Eastern European, Russian, and Kazakh comfort food is filling and delicious: Manti, big beef-stuffed dumplings, come three to an order; fluffy buns are packed with meat, fish, eggs, and veggies; and the Assorti chopped beefsteak gets finished with a fried egg. For something lighter, the garlicky carrot salad and creamy beet salad with walnuts are tasty.>> Next: Courthouse restaurants