Mosaic District - Fairfax, VA - Pictures coming soon!
As local resident, do I post favorably about my own neighborhood and risk it blowing up into an even more giant swarm of eager consumers or temper my reviews a bit to keep the masses at bay? If you know me, there's only one answer. Brutal honesty!
I'll be reviewing Mosaic as a whole as well as getting into details about many of the restaurants.
1) Jinya - I consider myself a pretty savvy Ramen diner. I've eaten it in Japan, in Seattle and at Toki Underground here in DC. So when I saw Jinya was opening, I was pretty eager to see if it could hold up...and it did! Not only are the broths all very flavorful and balanced, but the number of toppings available is quite impressive. My favorites are the #1 and the dumpling Ramen. I do feel like I weigh a few extra pounds after downing a bowl of dumplings sitting in a bowl of noodles but it's completely worth it. The bar is small but the drinks are outstanding. A little on the sweet side which works for me. Ask for Melinda. If she's working, she'll whip up something that's not even on the menu for you. If I could change one thing, stop shouting Japanese at the newcomers who are walking to their table. It just feels weird and I don't remember anyone doing that to me in Japan???
4 stars out of 5.
2) District Dumplings - The newest kid on the block. Situated next to DGS Deli and across from a lot of construction. This location will bear fruit once the new mid-rise apartment building completes but until then, it may be tough for the owners are District Dumplings. It appears to be a family-run business that are doing things with heart. Everything about this place is extremely "cute" and endearing but are the dumplings worth the trip? I'm embarassed to admit how much of a glutton I am with Dumpling-Eating. I hold the personal two day record of 46 dumplings with my volleyball team at our annual New York Chinatown tournament. So what I was hoping for was to see traditional napa/pork friend and boiled dumplings on the menu. Instead, DD has numerous selections of dumplings, more targeted toward the non-traditionalist. There are veggie dumplings, beef dumplings and even a quesadilla (Asia-dilla) on the menu. The dumplings aren't cheap (hard to compare with 4 for a dollar in chinatown) at around 9-10 dollars for one order but they come with a salad and a tea! I'll be back but I'm looking for more of my favorites.
3 stars out of 5.
3) Requin - It's pretty nice to finally live in an area where I can walk to restaurants, especially ones that on some lucky nights, you can see two Top Chef level chefs cooking or hanging out at the bar! Requin originally started as a popup restaurant intended to move into DC after the summer of '16. I saw recently that they decided to stay in Mosaic. I'm hoping this is because Mosaic is proving to be a great spot for food and not because of Requin couldn't graduate from NOVA to DC. Nonetheless, GET THE CHICKEN. Perfectly cooked half-chicken with an incredible crispy skin. To die for. I've tried numerous items on this menu in my three trips here but I can't say enough about the chicken. I also love the elevated, open kitchen concept which puts Chef Jen Carroll center stage. Watching her expertly work in her zone is such a turn-on. The only other kitchen I've seen pull this off was Rogue 24 but Jen is much cuter than the Chef there!
4.5 stars out of 5
|Smashed Redskin Potatoes - personal favorite|
4) True Food - True Food is based off of Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet. So all ingredients are natural and normally locally sourced. As a result, some menu items are a bit of a miss for me but overall, there are plenty of tasty things for everyone. I really like any of the salads with Steelhead (very much has the flavor and texture of salmon) and the pizzas. Cocktails are excellent but I'm a bit disappointed they took the matcha horchata off the menu. Easily one of the best virgin drinks I've ever had but apparently too much work for the bartenders. Boo Hoo, bartenders!!! True Food will set you back a little more than you realized but you will never leave feeling heavy or gross. Nice outdoor seating area and very nice ambience for a date.
4 stars out of 5
5) Four Sisters - Considered by many to be the best Vietnamese restaurant in northern virginia, Four Sisters is a strong choice for anyone craving Pho, Bun or other more adventurous Vietnamese dishes. Expect a decent wait here, even on weeknights. I can't wait for fall/winter so I can walk here for a steaming hot bowl of Pho!
4 out of 5 stars
6) Sisters - Is there an echo in here?... Not to be confused by its neighbor, Four sisters, Sisters is another family-owned restaurant but serving Thai food! What I can't help but notice at Sisters is that they have a giant staff for a relatively small restaurant and... the women are hotttttt! Not sure why every restaurant can't just have gorgeous female staff members, because let's be honest. It makes the food taste better! Sisters cranks out great traditional thai dishes. My personal favorite though are the soft-shell crabs. It's pretty rare for them to have them so if they have them when you go, it's your lucky day.
4 stars out of 5
7) Matchbox and Ted's Bulletin - It's hard to be impressed with these restaurants but they are certainly very popular. They both have slight twists and feel like upgraded diners to me in some way even though that's hardly fair for matchbox. I'll instead say they are like an upgraded TGIFridays. Both dining experiences always leave my wallet a bit lighter than I would have though for pizza or deli food and never that impressed. Still, Matchbox has one of the largest bars in Mosaic and a solid ambience. And if you like this modern approach everyone is taking on pizza, it's pretty good. It just leaves me craving Manhattan Pizzeria which was only a few blocks from my old house.
3 stars out of 5
8) Dolcezza and Mom and Pop's - Incredible Gelato. You can't set a better goal for a summer night than to end up at Dolcezza at the end of the night. Mom and Pop's has one of the coolest locations for a coffee shop imaginable, directly in the center of all the action in Mosaic. The coffee and pastries are excellent except I don't know why they can't get blueberry muffins to arrive early enough for me to get one!
4.5 out of 5
9) Pastry Xpo - Perhaps the most underrated spot in the entire Mosaic District. Due to its modest facade, you'd never expect the marvelous display inside. Cakes and treats everywhere! And the sandwiches look pretty good, too! I've enjoyed numerous desserts here and will be back again and again.
4.5 out of 5 stars
10) Angelika Film Center - No, the seats do not recline all the way but everything else about this movie experience is perfect. First of all, I think I paid 12 dollars for two matinee tickets yesterday. 6 dollars each? I haven't paid that little since I tried making out with my high school girlfriend in the back row of Ferris Bueller's Day off! Just kidding, I didn't have a high school girlfriend :( Angelika provides fantastic dining and drinking options, too, with a fine selection of craft beers at single-digit prices.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Others: Nando's is tasty chicken with some really good hot sauces. I also love the side dish of peas they serve. I hated peas growing up, too! Taylor Gourmet makes some excellent sandwiches and changes their menu seasonally. Brine is the local seafood hangout and apparently has a solid dollar-oyster happy hour (haven't checked this out yet).
Avoid - Iron Chef. I have skewed standards for Japanese food and good service, but even with my best attempts to lower the bar, I couldn't stomach the food or tolerate the service. I won't be happy until Iron Chef is replaced and a new sushi restaurant appears.
Coming? - Choolaah has been advertised as coming since early sprint. They even have a little peephole in the window so you can see the lack of construction. But I've been watching from my window and like Charlie keeping an eye on Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, I've started seeing some action! I love Indian food so let's hope this is everything I hope it will be.