The next time you’re searching for a great bite to eat, look no further than Falls Church. The area is home to an abundance of top-tier restaurants that will wow you with their delicious food and spectacular dining experiences. Our critics selected these seven restaurants in Falls Church as some of the 50 Best Restaurants in 2023 — dig in!
By Olga Boikess, Dawn Klavon, Alyssa Langer, Alice Levitt, and Renee Sklarew
Price Key: Entrées = $ 15 and under | $$ 16–25 | $$$ 26–40 | $$$$ 41 and over | * = prix fixe only
2941 (No. 1)
Falls Church | Modern American | $$$$
The 2941 odyssey — a delicious marriage of nature and art — begins on a winding, tree-lined road that leads to a modern building with a sculptured view of a koi pond and an artificial lake. Inside the soaring space, a talented contemporary American kitchen staff transforms top-flight ingredients into culinary art.
The five-course tasting menu shows off that kitchen in top form. A dramatic presentation makes the fish course a standout. Pearly white sea bass is presented in a black pottery bowl with a vivid red yuzu kosho sauce that provides a subtly spicy contrast. A surf-and-turf course of filet mignon and braised monkfish likewise offers a sophisticated, yet hearty, spin on tradition.
There is a vegetarian option for each course. So while one diner savors foie gras with roasted cherries, their partner finds ricotta gnocchi with crisped summer truffles, hazelnuts, and goat cheese a happy choice. Both find common ground in the baba au rhum.
À la carte options such as grilled rib-eye with crisped potatoes or wild black cod with clams and Australian prawns can be just as captivating. A three-course prix fixe menu ($65) with a fish, a meat, or vegetarian choice offers an accessible taste of this dining destination’s artful luxury.
See This: A dramatic space with wraparound windows showcases parkland while the inside provides a cosmopolitan vibe.
Eat This: Five-course tasting or three-course prix fixe menus — or à la carte choices like rib-eye, pastas, cod, and duck
Service: Well-drilled servers are professional and knowledgeable.
When to Dine Here: Your party is looking for a thoughtful meal in one-of-a-kind surroundings.
Ellie Bird (No. 5)
Falls Church | Modern American | $$$
Co-owner and managing director of Ellie Bird, Carey Tang, isn’t sure that the new Falls Church restaurant she owns with chef-husband Yuan Tang should be categorized as Modern American. Though the menu includes dishes such as an Amish chicken piccata, most plates mesh the disparate influences of Yuan’s diverse kitchen staff. Even the drinks use ingredients like gochujang and pandan. But we would argue that this is exactly what modern America is.
The housemade pastas, for example, might include a seasonal spaghetti dish that combines cheesy Italian cacio e pepe with Mexican elote. Peppery corn cream sauce isn’t yet a tradition, but it tastes like it could join that pantheon. The same goes for Vietnamese French onion soup, which adds the colonized country’s aromatics to its colonizer’s well-known comfort food. Another French classic gets an Asian remake in the form of kimchi-flavored bouillabaisse.
There’s no question that the food and drinks at Ellie Bird are a representation of what America is today and where it is headed. We’ll raise a glass of rye-spiked ube bubble tea to that.
See This: The bird is the word here, where avian-shaped LEDs share space with tables contained in birdcage-style bars.
Eat This: Vietnamese French onion soup, cacio elote, Rachel’s Chocolate Cake
Service: The friendly staff is always ready to fulfill your needs. It’s no surprise that the owners’ first restaurant, Rooster & Owl, earned a Michelin star.
When to Dine Here: Your family is ready for a taste of America’s future.
NUE (No. 7)
Falls Church | Modern Vietnamese | $$$
There are restaurants that serve an exciting menu. There are spots that beckon with visual beauty. Then there is NUE, where the art-filled dining room sets the scene for the fireworks on plates.
The first true modern Vietnamese restaurant in NoVA comes from the team at Happy Endings Hospitality, best known for casual restaurants Chasin’ Tails and Roll Play. But don’t expect mere crawfish or banh mi here. Instead, co-owner Tuyet Nhi Le took her mother’s recipes and worked with executive chef Daniel Le to bring them into the 21st century.
To taste exactly what this means, diners need only order the short ribs. Based on Le’s mother’s bo kho, a spicy beef stew usually served with crusty bread, here it’s served over al dente pappardelle. Think of the best Italian beef ragú you’ve tasted, then amplify it with spice, acid, and the love of a Vietnamese mom. Even better, an eye toward luxury allows you to add freshly shaved truffles to the pasta — or anything else on the menu. Guests can’t lose.
See This: Impressionistic flowers decorate the walls of the airy main dining room, while blooms tumble from the ceilings, all a tribute to Vietnamese artist Le Pho.
Eat This: Pho pâté, short ribs pappardelle, coconut curry risotto
Service: The team earns the 20 percent service fee that’s included in the check.
When to Dine Here: The dining room is unabashedly romantic — bring your other half who’s as passionate about up-to-date flavors as you are.
Falls Church | Vietnamese | $
Attention diehard pho lovers: This casual location in a busy strip mall draws hungry folks for a quick — and we mean really quick — bowl of fresh, flavorful pho for a low cost.
Pop in for traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup, and choose from myriad add-ons at this warhorse establishment. It’s nothing fancy; but once your pho arrives, the giant bowl of colorful nourishment brightens up the room.
Grab chopsticks and a soup spoon from the communal collection between tables and dig in. Sprigs of fresh basil, bean sprouts, sliced hot peppers, and lime wedges accompany your bowl, so the power to customize your meal is in your hands. Hoisin and Sriracha are standing by to kick taste buds into gear as plentiful rice noodles, cilantro, and scallions swim playfully in herb-infused broth. Choose meat toppings à la carte, or order one of the numbered chef recommendations that combines cuts. The well-done brisket delivers just-right-sized thin slices of tasty beef easily eaten in one bite.
Bring cash and pay at the counter at this no-frills spot. Your stomach — and your wallet — will appreciate a return trip anytime a pho craving hits.
See This: Massive bowls of soup with fresh basil, bean sprouts, and lime
Eat This: Pho with well-done brisket or flank steak
Service: Pho-nomenally fast
When to Dine Here: You know that you want pho and you want it now.
Falls Church | Vietnamese | $$
If you’ve overdone it with pho, head to Rice Paper, where diners are treated to a wide array of less common Vietnamese dishes featuring garden-fresh ingredients, served in group-sized portions. It’s no surprise that customers gladly wait in line to dine at this eatery in Eden Center.
Dried rice paper is a staple of Vietnamese fare. Soften it up with water, then wrap the rice paper around slices of pork, pickled veggies, herbs, and condiments to create a harmonic medley of flavors.
While the restaurant is hailed for enticing meat dishes, the kitchen also produces tangy salads that refresh the palate between bites of skewered beef or chicken. Perhaps the best are the lotus and papaya salads, both showered with nuts, herbs, light fish sauce, and citrus.
Don’t shy away from trying something new, like bo nuong la nho, ground beef wrapped in grape leaves. For a twist on an Asian classic, com chien uong chau, or combination fried rice, will comfort anyone new to the cuisine.
There’s no shame in choosing savory bowls of pho at this family-friendly restaurant, but Rice Paper delivers best on muscular hunks of meat and textured, herbaceous dishes.
See This: A streamlined bistro with an exposed brick wall and turquoise banquettes. Circular orbs dangle from the copper tiled ceiling and pattered metallic wallpaper complements the textured blue bar.
Eat This: Nem nuong, bo nuong la nho, pho
Service: Hectic, friendly, and fast. Ideally, avoid peak dining hours.
When to Dine Here: You’re seeking an authentic cultural dining experience.
Falls Church | Italian | $$$
Fresh ingredients frame every modern classic dish here. Diners delight in chef-owners Gabe and Katherine Thompson’s mouthwatering meals that bring the seasons’ bounty to their table. The showstopping starter: octopus a la plancha. It’s a dazzling dish, which includes a ‘who’d-have-thought-of-that?’ blend of snap peas, radicchio, and chorizo with a pickled pepper purée.
Burrata is order-worthy here; gently charred peaches combine with incredibly sweet cherries, arugula, chiles, and noteworthy balsamic vinegar to create an intriguing nest below the soft cheese.
Of course, outstanding pasta options are plentiful here. Fresh housemade gnocchi gets cozy with just-off-the-farm squash and zucchini, marinated in smoked tomato butter. Saffron linguine unites lobster, shrimp, calamari, and scallops in a dreamy broth with spicy nduja, infusing hints of pork sausage throughout. The well-balanced dish offers delicate seafood, hearty pasta, and zesty sauce with a hint of citrus.
The restaurant can get loud, but the gaggle of diverse diners doesn’t seem to mind. End your meal on a high note with the creative rhubarb tiramisu, yet another fresh take on an Italian classic — something Thompson Italian does well and often.
See This: Oversized concert bills decorate the walls of the bar.
Eat This: Octopus a la plancha, saffron linguine, rhubarb tiramisu
Service: Can be hit and miss
When to Dine Here: Your group — or significant other — is craving an up-to-date meal of Italian favorites.
TRIO Grill (No. 10)
Falls Church | Modern American | $$$$
Diners peer across a white tablecloth, basking in the soft glow of golden lighting. They might be co-workers bonding over cocktails, folks treating themselves to a fancy (but not stuffy) dinner, or twosomes on a blind date. No matter the occasion, it’s easy to feel relaxed and pampered at this sophisticated restaurant.
TRIO Grill is a classic steak and seafood restaurant that sources from regional farms and purveyors. The extensive selection of wines and spirits is stocked in floor-to-ceiling glass cases.
Among the appetizers, housemade gnocchi is a standout. The pillowy potato puffs are sautéed in brown butter and piled atop a mélange of spinach, asparagus, and punchy sundried tomatoes. Also stellar: Oysters Rockefeller, featuring locally sourced bivalves topped with foamy hollandaise.
Omnivores will not be disappointed, especially with the bison New York strip from New Frontier Farms in Madison County, Virginia, with its bed of potato hash and drizzle of habanero mustard.
Whether diners choose a seat by the outdoor fireplace, banquette, or long maple bar, they’re in for a night of fine food and camaraderie.
See This: Architectural elements in shades of orange and brown, with bold fixtures casting pools of light onto white tablecloths
Eat This: Housemade gnocchi, Oysters Rockefeller, New Frontier bison
Service: Servers are well-informed, gracious, and responsive.
When to Dine Here: This neighborhood restaurant cultivates conversation and celebration.
Feature image of 2941 by Rey Lopez