Casual dining in Northern VA

Delicious Casual Dining in Northern VA

We spend a lot of time exploring Northern Virginia, and we like to include new restaurants in our local outings. We look for inexpensive spots that are not part of a chain, and we generally check Yelp reviews for suggestions on what to try.

Here (in alphabetical order) is a look at some of the local, casual dining spots where we’ve scored delicious food in Northern VA over the last few months.

29 Diner, Fairfax

29 Diner interior

The historic 29 Diner in Fairfax went through a major restoration before reopening last September. The menu prices are a little on the high side, but 29 Diner still serves casual comfort food in an authentic diner atmosphere.

We had a good BLT, with perfectly crisp bacon and fresh, crunchy lettuce, and a juicy but smallish burger.

29 Diner BLT and burger

We’d love a little more meat in the sandwiches for the $6.29 price tag, but the food was tasty, the fries were good, and the atmosphere was fun. We plan to stop in for pie and a shake when warmer days return.

 

Cafesano, Reston

Cafe Sano Interior

Reston is heavy on chain restaurants, so the bright, one-of-a-kind Cafesano in the South Lakes Center is a real gem. You order at the counter, where you can get a look at some of the Mediterranean dishes that dominate the menu, then your food is delivered to you.

Cafe Sano case

The casual, bright interior can get noisy when the place gets packed, but the service is always welcoming and prompt. The red pepper hummus is excellent as are the pizzas—Bianca Insalata, Arribiata and Del Mar are our favorites—and the chicken pesto panini is really good. We eat at Sano and get their takeout often and have never had a bad meal.

 

Cerrito’s Pupuseria, Chantilly

Cerritos Pupuseria sign

This local pupuseria feeds a lunch-time crowd of laborers in a very casual setting. The food is great and the portions are huge, so if the tables are all taken, pick up some takeout to enjoy at home. We ordered a pork and cheese pupusa, a beef taco, and two lunch specials and it was a ridiculous amount of food that we enjoyed over the next few days. You can easily feed two on a single lunch plate or a couple of the $2 tacos and pupusas.

 

El Cactus, Manassas

El Cactus exterior

We stopped for lunch at El Cactus on a chilly Saturday in January and ordered from the brunch and taco menus. One of us tried the Migas plate, which came with nice portions of eggs and chorizo, black beans, home fries, and warm tacos. We also ordered two tacos which were small but really tasty and reasonably sized for the price. The mango salsa on the fish taco was very good and the shrimp taco was packed with nice, fresh shrimp. El Cactus doesn’t offer any draft beer, but they have a good selection of bottled beers and a full bar. The outdoor patio looks like a nice option when the weather warms up.

 

Megabytes Eatery, Chantilly

Megabytes Eatery logo

It’s hard to avoid chain restaurants in the strip mall mecca near the intersection of routes 50 and 28. We often stop at Picante for Mexican food, but we wanted a change, and Yelp led us to the highly rated Megabytes Eatery.

Megabytes serves a diverse deli and Asian menu from 7:00 to 3:00 on weekdays. We ordered the Mega Hot Bahn Mi—spicy pork, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and cilantro all stuffed into a French roll—and the daily special, fish tacos. The portions were generous and both meals were delicious. The atmosphere is pretty bare bones, but we appreciated the kitschy tech decor and the friendly, helpful service.

 

Shilla Bakery, Annandale

Shilla Bakery counter

We had lunch at the Shilla Bakery in Annandale after a trip to Green Springs Garden. Shilla makes several tasty paninis and we enjoyed the ham and cheese with roasted red peppers.

Lunch panini Shilla Bakery

But the real highlight of a visit is the chance to sample and buy the Asian and European baked goods. It took us a long time to narrow in on a reasonable number of purchases to take home. Shilla also has Northern Virginia locations in Centreville and Fairfax.

 

TooSso Pakistani Kitchen, Sterling

TooSso Pakistani Kichen

For delicious, homemade food in a casual setting we love TooSso Pakistani Kitchen in Sterling. The compact menu of rolls, bowls, sides and sweets expands on the weekend to include two coveted dishes—Halwa Puri, a traditional Pakistani breakfast, and Nihari 12, beef shank in gravy.

We had the chicken tikka special and the biryani, and we’ll be back in warmer weather to try the indulgent Kulfi Falooda dessert.

TooSso lunch

If these tasty, casual dining finds didn’t pique your interest, we recommend these taco restaurants and Thai food spots, which range from very casual to more refined.

What’s your best casual dining find in Northern Virginia?

Here is a look at some of the local, casual dining spots where we've scored delicious food in Northern Virginia over the last few months.

Follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for more great places to eat, and things to do, in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Delicious Casual Dining in Northern VA”

  1. Coco March 6, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    You live in a completely different part of Northern Virginia! Right now we are hooked on The Lost Dog Cafe!

  2. Fun in Fairfax VA March 6, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for the tip Coco! Lost Dog Cafe looks great; we’ll have to try it on our next visit to Arlington or McLean. Let us know if you have a favorite dish to try. The Fat Molly pizza looks really good.

  3. Danielle @ Where's the Mama March 9, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    I’ve lived in Northern Virginia most of my life and wasn’t aware of these locations! We are always looking for casual dining because we have two little ones. Thanks so much for the recommendations. Did you ever get my email from forever ago? I’m a mommy blogger near Fairfax, and we talked about meeting for coffee some time 🙂

  4. Fun in Fairfax VA March 9, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    Hi Danielle! Thanks for the feedback; I hope your family will enjoy these casual dining spots. Yes, let’s get together; I’ll email you.

  5. carol lou March 10, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    I definitely need to try Cerritos – thanks for the tip

    • Fun in Fairfax VA March 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      You’re welcome Carol! The atmosphere is a little rough but the food (and quantity) is great. Let us know what you think.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Taco Tuesday in Fairfax County - FuninFairfaxVA - May 4, 2015

    […] Delicious Casual Dining in Northern VA […]

  2. Cozy and Tasty Northern Virginia Area Pubs - Fun in Fairfax VA - January 9, 2016

    […] Delicious Casual Dining in Northern Va […]

  3. 5 Fun Northern Virginia Ice Skating Rinks - Fun in Fairfax VA - January 26, 2016

    […] a meal or a drink. We’ve enjoyed brisket and chicken at The Bone, tacos and margaritas at El Cactus, and jambalaya and a brew at Okra’s, and there are several more spots on our list to […]

  4. Top 5 Reasons To Love Northern Virginia | Movers Who Blog in Northern Virginia - February 20, 2018

    […] them it’s okay, you still have a wide variety of options to pick from. Click on the image or HERE to check out some local casual […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: