Best of the Chains
Belly up to the bar at the Palm (1750 Tysons Blvd., McLean; 703-917-0200) weekdays from 5 to 7, when sliders are $3.50 for three. We like the Kobe-beef and Philly-style cheese-steak versions.
Lebanese Taverna (Tysons Galleria, McLean; 703-847-5244), a local family-owned chain, draws fans with its mezze platters heaped with hummus, kibbeh (ground meat with cracked wheat and spices), and fava beans with garlic and lemon.
The raw bar is the place to be at Legal Sea Foods (Tysons Galleria, McLean; 703-827-8900). Littleneck and cherrystone clams and a lineup of oysters including the luscious Kumamoto and Prince Edward Island varieties are perfect with a glass of flinty Sancerre. For a more substantial repast, try the New England clam chowder, well-battered fish and chips, or a lobster roll on a brioche bun.
At P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (Tysons Galleria, McLean; 703-734-8996), our go-to dishes are wok-braised ribs with five-spice salt, chicken lettuce wraps, and salt-and-pepper prawns stir-fried with ginger and chili peppers.
Vienna has lots of Greek restaurants, and Skorpios Maggio’s Family Restaurant (421 Maple Ave. E., Vienna; 703-938-7777) makes some of the best gyros. A thick pita spills over with peppery lamb and beef, tempered by a house-made tzatziki.
At Cenan’s Bakery (122 Branch Rd., SE, Vienna; 703-242-0070), macaroons, cookies, and lemon bars share counter space with more than 30 types of bread. At lunchtime, the bakery puts out good panini.
Church Street Pizzeria (115 Church St., NW, Vienna; 703-938-1155) is a refreshing throwback to well-worn pizza parlors. It lives up to its promise of New York–style rounds with not-too-thin crusts and a liberal blanket of cheese.
Duck into the back of Al-Nakheel Kebab & Cafe (340 Maple Ave. W., Vienna; 703-938-4220) for an unusual take on Vienna’s ubiquitous kebabs. Here the meat skewer comes as a sandwich at lunchtime—a hummus-covered pita wrapped around hunks of lamb and batons of pickled turnips.
The New York–style pizza from Luciano (Tysons Corner Center, McLean; 703-893-8488) is a favorite of Tysons shoppers. Robust sauce and a judicious sprinkling of mozzarella meld over a snappy crust.
The new Sweetleaf (1359 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean; 703-893-2323) sets itself apart from other make-your-own-salad cafes with its house-baked desserts and sandwiches. Start with the Feather, a chicken-salad sandwich, and finish with tangy fro-yo and a chocolate-chip cookie.
Quaint Church Street is the perfect backdrop for Nielsen’s Frozen Custard (144 Church St., NW, Vienna; 703-255-5553), a retro ice-cream parlor. The custard—in classic vanilla and chocolate as well as more offbeat takes such as cake batter and pumpkin—is dense and ultra-smooth. If you’re after a kick, try mix-ins such as peanut butter or bits of hard-shell chocolate.