Ready for your taste buds to take off? Before you book a flight to a culinary destination you’ve always dreamed of, you can almost certainly try an example close to home. Here are 12 restaurants from global cultures that can be elusive in our region but are well worth tracking down.
7810 Lee Hwy., Ste. F, Falls Church
What to try: The Parrillada Argentina, a sizzling platter filled with short ribs, flank steak, New York strip, pork sausage, some sweetbreads, black pudding, and a nest of crispy intestines.
3900 Pickett Rd., Fairfax
What to try: Whatever is in the case. Owner Sevda Tahirli varies the delicacies she serves, but if there’s lamb stew with smooth chestnuts and sweet-and-sour plums, don’t miss it.
11186 Lee Hwy., Fairfax
What to try: Salteñas, pies filled with a brothy stew. Beef is mild, while chicken is slightly spicy, and both are served with a fresh green hot sauce called llajua.
1602 Village Market Blvd. SE, Suite 120, Leesburg
What to try: Bandeja paisa is Colombia’s unofficial national dish. The meaty meal includes crispy pork belly, chorizo, ground beef, a plantain, and an over-easy egg, centered around red beans and rice.
22000 Dulles Retail Plaza, Unit 100, Sterling
What to try: Love Cuban sandwiches? The medianoche is the best version of the pork-filled specialty. It’s made with sweet egg bread that, when pressed, fuses with the nutty Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.
14035 Noblewood Plaza, Woodbridge
What to try: It’s in the name. This garlicky mashed plantain dish is exceptional on its own, but it’s best in the form of the Mofongo Los 5 Golpes, which pairs it with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and fried cheese in a piquant sauce.
7393-D Lee Hwy., Falls Church
What to try: Egypt calls koshary its national dish, and it’s easy to understand why natives love it. The comforting bowl contains lentils, rice and elbow macaroni topped with garlicky tomato sauce, fried onions and chickpeas.
Aburi Gardens International Restaurant
14830 Build America Dr., Woodbridge
What to try: Jollof rice is the signature dish not just in Ghana, but also in much of West Africa, including Nigeria and Liberia. Get the spicy, tomato-reddened rice covered in the meat of your choice, with plantains and salad.
1926 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
What to try: Buuz are juicy dumplings filled with beef and onions. They’re more than a bit unexpected at a restaurant that specializes in creamy Thai curries, but the flavors of these and khuushuur, a flat fried dumpling, stand on their own.
Eda’s Latin Food
9071 Liberia Ave., Manassas
What to try: A nacatamal might look like an ordinary tamal wrapped in a banana leaf, but the unique bitter-orange-flavored masa reveals a mixture of fillings, including rice, chunky pork, and potatoes.
9990 Main St., Fairfax
What to try: Big plate chicken, identified on the menu as chicken korma. Diners will love the wide hand-pulled noodles covered in a spicy stew of chicken, potatoes and peppers, a dish beloved in the Xinjiang region of China.
6981 Hechinger Drive, Springfield
What to try: Mathloothah is a three-layered dish with rice, creamy wheat-based porridge, and flatbread. It’s best crowned with fried onions and tender pieces of haneeth, spice-rubbed lamb falling off the bone.
This story originally ran in our April issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.