As the year comes to a close, Pepper and I would like to reflect on some of the restaurants that left their marks on us. We've chosen them, not just based on the food, but the service, atmosphere and our level of enjoyment. We have five honorable mentions, our top 10 favorites in no particular order and the best restaurant of 2011.
Thanks for reading our column this year. We've enjoyed reading all of your comments (the good and the bad). We hope that we have opened your eyes to some of the many local culinary wonders the area has to offer, and I hope above all hopes that we've saved you from some absolute disasters.
Happy New Years!
Top Ten Restaurants:
Salt: This was by far one of my favorite restaurants this year. It was very chill and relaxed. The staff was friendly and the food was amazing. Too bad they went out of business.
Pepper: It was open for a few months and it was a shame to see this place go under. This cute little deli made good subs and had a variety of other foods to choose from. The place was a little over priced, but this was understandable, considering the fact that they were open from 5:30 a.m-11 p.m., 6 days a week. The parcel is being remodeled now to open up a new place; hopefully it will be as good as Yobos
Pepper: If you’re looking for a laid-back spot to grab a burger and beer with friends, this is definitely the place you need. The staff is friendly, and while there are several locations, it doesn’t have the run-of-the-mill, played-out chain restaurant atmosphere.
Salt: The atmosphere is fun and the food is just amazing. I plan on coming here often this summer whenever the weather is bleak and dreary. Just thinking about the burgers remind me of the best cook-out burgers ever.
Salt: The décor is absolutely beautiful. The food is a bit on the expensive side, but it's well worth it. Their triple delight soup is one of the best thing's I've eaten all year.
Pepper:Definitely thought this was one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve been to in a long time. The service was great and fast, in both my dining experience over Thanksgiving and my more recent delivery experience. The sauce in their dishes is amazing, and I would definitely recommend at least dining in there once.
Salt: I loved this place. Their fried okra is some of the best I've ever had. When it gets warm it's one of the best places in the area to sit outside and enjoy the scenery. During the colder months it's a great place to catch the game.
Pepper: For a great taste of Louisiana cooking and a Mardi Gras atmosphere, you only have to head as far South as Old Town Manassas. Since my original visit, when I tried the tasty Cajun burger, I’ve since returned on the weekend to check out some more food. The alligator bites are amazing! The staff is also very cheerful and fast on service here. So if you’re heading South, head to Okra’s.
Salt: While I wasn't that fond of the service, the food more than made up for it. Many of the places we've visited focus too much on pretense and presentation, but the food here was just simple and delicious.
Pepper: It certainly gives you a Far East atmosphere with both the décor and the traditional wear. The spicy fried rice was amazing, and I plan to go back for some eventually. The prices listed online aren’t accurate, but I would recommend dining in anyway. During my visit, the staff was very friendly and it seems like they have several regulars.
Salt: Pizza has never been one of my favorite foods, but Tony's made me think twice. Their food tastes like everything is made from scratch, even their veggies taste like they were grown in someone's back garden.
Pepper: In our pizza battle back in June, Tony’s was my number one pick—hands down. I’ve been hearing about the one in Fair Lakes for years, but never tried it. In Manassas, there are two locations; one on Mathis Avenue in Manassas Park and one in Bull Run near Akasaka and Zabb Thai. It's of the best New York-style pizza I have tried and it's decently priced, too. If you’re going to go for pizza, might as well go for the best.
Salt: A contender in in S&P's Pizza Wars of 2011, Ledo made the list because it was just plain good.There was nothing about the food that I didn't like.
Pepper: This is a place I’ve been going to for years, and have visited many of their locations. All locations have consistantly served up great pizza and great wings. I’m not too impressed by their pasta, but I guess that’s why they’re Ledo Pizza and not Ledo Pasta. Ledo makes Sicilian-style pizza, and is a great choice for take out on the way home. Better make it a large, because those little slices go fast.
Salt: The atmosphere, the food, the price—everything about Bonefish was inviting.
Pepper:While I’m not a big fan of fish, I’m addicted to this place. From the appetizers to desserts, I’ve never tasted anything there I didn’t enjoy. The staff is often very friendly; maybe they’re just happy from eating great food on their breaks. Carry-out has never been an option that served me well there, as my orders are consistently wrong. But I would definitely recommend this place for a nice dinner.
Naru (Formerly known as Bamboo)
Pepper: Throughout the name change and all, they maintained a high level of quality service. The place has great ambiance, friendly staff and super sushi. Located conveniently near the intersection of Route 28 and Manassas Drive, this place is a must go for lunch or dinner.
The Best Restaurant of the Year:
Salt: Absolutely everything about Zabb Thai is artistic and beautiful. From the bar to the dining room, and even the bathroom—everything is just picturesque. The food was pretty good too.
Pepper: Much larger than most Thai restaurants, Zabb is located in the corner of the Bull Run shopping center. After ordering delivery from there for years, I finally checked this place out back in May. I immediately understood why they need all the space— he good probably attracts loads of people. What I like most about this place, other than the food, is how fast they are. Whether you’re dining in, carrying out, or getting delivery, their service is prompt and doesn’t take away from the quality of their food. Go there with an empty stomach, for you’ll want to check out the appetizers and the mains. My favorites are the spring rolls, shrimp garden rolls and the drunken noodles.
Salt: I was not a huge fan of Anthony's. The service was good, but the food didn't do much for me.
Pepper:Good food, friendly staff, friendly crowd and an overall good time.
Salt: The food was pretty good and the service was exceptional.
Pepper: Siam is hidden in Old Town Manassas, but has food worth seeking. I suggest any noodle entrees like drunken noodles, pad see ew, or the ever popular Pad Thai.
Salt: Of all the noodle houses I've ever been to, this is definitely one of the best. The food was just amazing. Enough said.
Salt: I haven't been back to the restaurant since we reviewed it. I don't remember the décor, I don't remember the service. However, I have an image of the gyro I ate while there embedded in my mind. Every time I think about it, I start to salavate. I loved it.
Pepper: Food was pretty good, but I was unhappy with the service and atmosphere.
Salt:The food was more than the typical diner fare, but what set this restaurant apart was the service. Everyone was helpful and happy and I felt good just being their. The food was delicious, but the amicable service was just the icing on the cake.