Nestled just outside of Tysons lies the historic town of Vienna. While the town is known for its stops along the W&OD trail, it is also home to plenty of world cuisines. From Indian to Latin American, make the drive to Vienna for an unforgettable meal at one of these best restaurants.
Restaurants were reviewed by Olga Boikess, Ashley Davidson, Dawn Klavon, Alice Levitt, and Renee Sklarew.
Vienna / Indian / $$
Northern Virginia has an abundance of excellent Indian restaurants, but the ambrosial preparations created by chef Deepak Sarin make Bansari a standout. A native of Rajasthan, Sarin is deft at cooking from a range of Indian regions. His expertise is marked by his masterful blending of whole spices, and you can taste the freshness and pungency in every dish.
Among the appetizers is a heaping bowl of fire engine–red cauliflower bathed in a silken chile sauce with mustard seeds for crunch: Gobi 65. Sarin deconstructs the typical samosa, instead building layers of potato pockets, showered with chickpeas, mint chutney, and tamarind sauce.
Sarin incorporates the region’s East Asian influences with Indo-Chinese dishes. The nutty hakka noodles are interspersed with slivers of crisp green and red peppers, cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Bathed in a sweet, salty sauce, it’s a lighter version of lo mein.
Even the tikka masala enjoys a nontraditional spin by folding achar pickles into the marinade before roasting. The tender chunks of tandoori chicken arrive bathed in a smoky sauce, redolent with red chiles and garam masala.
Be mindful that at Bansari, “medium spicy” is quite hot, and even “mild” dishes have a kick. Consider ordering creamy raita to cool and bread to scoop up the juices. It’s all more than enough to stand out from the crowded pack.
See this: Bansari’s brick walls serve as a backdrop for the eclectic décor of crystal birdcages and turquoise leather banquettes with rustic wood and metal tables.
Eat this: Gobi 65, hakka noodles, mango lassi
When to dine here: Your group likes to share dishes and enjoys sampling international cuisine.
Vienna / Latin American / $$$$
Surprises abound at this Modern Latin spot tucked away in Vienna’s Restaurant Row. Intriguing dishes explode with unexpected flavors. Their presentation is art on a plate.
Who could resist the day’s special when it’s a whole grilled flounder with mussels, accompanied by coconut rice and a hint of shrimp Creole? Compelling as it sounds, the sizzling casserole dish still exceeds expectations. Beneath its bronzed, crackling, crisped skin, the fish is cooked to moist and flaky perfection. It’s surrounded by meaty mussels nestled in their shells, in a creamy Creole-inspired sauce. The marine dish is brought to earth with coconut rice dolloped with banana vinegar–flavored aioli.
On the regular menu, succulent brisket is another craveable composition, enhanced by a pineapple chutney, smoky black beans, avocado, and tenderly caramelized plantains. Adorable, shell-like blue cornmeal arepas add an earthy note. And for dessert? A guava topping adds balance to a super-creamy tres leches.
But some of the best surprises come on Monday night, when the fish-focused Pescao menu, with a featured raw bar, offers tapas-like options for a date night or a get-together with friends.
See this: A soothing, modern gray-toned space with a wall of live greenery and handsome wood plank accents that don’t distract from the art on the plate.
Eat this: Whole grilled flounder, shredded brisket, tres leches
When to dine here: Bring your foodie friends for an adventure in eating.
Vienna / Modern American / $$$
How’s this for living in the moment? The menu at Clarity changes every day. That means you may have only one chance to enjoy that meal you’ll never forget.
At dinner, a prix fixe menu highlights the market’s best. Scallops are usually offered at lunch and at dinner. Perfectly crisped, succulent, and paired with bouncy mushrooms and black-eyed peas in a celery root purée, they are irresistible. Few restaurants serve game these days or are as adept at preparing it. Tender, pink-centered slices of elk burst with meaty flavor enhanced by a velvety port reduction. Braised bison short ribs, heritage pork chops, and a New York strip steak might be other temptations.
Midday, imaginative salads, well-composed fish and vegetable plates, a top-flight burger, and steak frites please the varied clientele. Business meetings, celebratory luncheons, and casual get-togethers are all welcome here.
Desserts are as balanced as the rest of the menu. A fresh fruit crumble, judiciously sweetened, is paired with an ethereal, deeply flavored, meltingly rich raspberry ice cream. And its ephemeral nature just makes it more enticing.
See this: Glittery lights frame the buzzy bar at the far end of a contemporary, pale-toned dining room. There’s a chef’s counter facing the open kitchen, as well as a charming patio.
Eat this: The menu changes daily, but be sure to look for game meats and market-fresh scallops.
When to dine here: Stop in for a weekday lunch that’s as indulgent as a blow-out dinner — or treat yourself to a memorable burger.
*Editor’s Note: Clarity has been undergoing changes in the time since this review was written. It has been temporarily closed and is expected to reopen in early November.
Vienna / Modern European / $$$$*
You won’t be wowed by the ambiance at Maple Ave Restaurant. The window-wrapped box of a dining room looks out on a not-so-charming view of next door’s car wash. The fact that it’s cracked the top 10 is a testament to the cuisine of chef Justė Židelytė and the thoughtful service of general manager Ricardo Teves.
All this combines for one of the most disarmingly romantic dining experiences in NoVA. That’s because the four-course tasting menu includes two choices for each round. Židelytė recommends that you try everything that way, nibbling half of your partner’s empanada in peppery sauce or their truffled, vegetable-dotted mushroom risotto.
But no pressure: You might each need your own portion of dishes as inspired as the smoked tomato fettuccine. Quite simply, it’s one of the best pasta dishes in the region. Slick, squiggly housemade noodles are coated in a sauce that betrays just enough smoke to add a note of mystery. Italian pork sausage and tiny bites of cauliflower are there for both texture and flavor, as is a crunchy shower of garlic-chile breadcrumbs.
They say never to order pasta on a date, but it’s worth making an exception here. The spare space will allow you and your other half to be transfixed by each other — and an unforgettable meal.
See this: It’s the colorful plates that will catch your eye, not the no-frills dining room.
Eat this: Grilled peach salad, smoked tomato fettuccine, bird’s milk
When to dine here: You and your date know there’s nothing more romantic than a shared dish.
Vienna / Greek / $$$
Nostos professes a fresh, modern take on Greek culinary culture, and guests won’t be disappointed. Just stroll through the breezy restaurant, with elegant white walls, airy linen curtains, and warm-hued hardwood floors, and you’re transported to a Mykonos evening with close friends.
Silky and fragrant avgolemono, a traditional Greek chicken soup, is presented in a substantial vessel and offers a luxuriously lemony experience. Souvlaki, made from skewered swordfish, beef, or chicken, are perfectly charred and never a wrong choice.
Nostos serves savory and stunning dishes like kreatomezes, a medley of mouthwatering meats that pairs Greek-style meatballs, wonderfully marinated chicken, and skillfully seasoned lamb chops for a delectable “a little of everything” dish. An impressive seafood star at Nostos is the rockfish lemonato, an icon of lean, delicious cuisine basking in tantalizing wine sauce, capers, and mushrooms.
Dessert should not be overlooked. Baxevanis, Nostos’ over-the-top take on baklava, blends apples, apricots, raisins, cinnamon, and ice cream for a wow factor. It’s the genius fusion of blissful baklava and a glorious ice cream sandwich.
Knowledgeable staff provide wine suggestions from numerous Greek varietals. From soup to baklava, Nostos delivers on its promise of fresh, innovative cuisine that transports philhellenists from Tysons to the sultry Greek Isles.
See this: On stark white walls, giant retro black-and-white candid photos of Greek fishermen and celebrities capture the eye.
Eat this: Avgolemono, kotopoulo souvlaki, baxevanis
When to dine here: Visit for elegant date nights or upscale group dinners with fabulous friends who will appreciate the Hellenic food and setting.
Vienna / Italian / $$$ – $$$$
Personal touches can make a world of difference. Chef Roberto Donna and his wife, Nancy Sabbagh, understand this truth at their new restaurant in Vienna. Right down to the pane sfogliato rolls delightfully blessed with Parmigiano-Reggiano, this inventive Italian destination proves great food brings people together.
Donna has been on the DMV restaurant scene for decades, bringing his magic to more than a dozen dining establishments. At Roberto’s, opened earlier this year, the décor is as inviting as the cuisine. Captivating Chihuly chandeliers explode from the ceiling, and porcelain Venetian masks adorn walls.
Sophisticated food is the star here, with unforgettable dishes like veal scallopini and fettuccine alla Parmigiana, tossed tableside. It’s an impressive performance, with a massive Parmigiana wheel presented, scraped, and blow-torched, and Donna himself might roll fresh, warm pasta in the wheel’s hollow belly. No less memorable, Alaskan halibut is surrounded by a tantalizing moat of basil-mint sauce, an unexpected accoutrement bringing flavor and visual appeal.
Dessert includes showstoppers like raspberry tiramisu, dazzling with minty mascarpone, almond nougatine, and crowned with berry coulis.
Early diners sit barside for excellent value on superior noshes during Aperitivo Hour. Think mind-blowing meatballs and Insta-worthy pizza.
At Roberto’s, guests are sure to savor even the tiniest details in every bite, from antipasti to dolce.
See this: Joan Miró–style art fills the restaurant that boasts special touches everywhere.
Eat this: Aperitivo Hour fare, Alaskan halibut, raspberry tiramisu
When to dine here: Even a weekday dinner will be crowded — and delightful.