It's early in the day when the airplanes land on Virginia soil, bearing fresh seafood from such far-off places as Maine, Hawaii, and Japan. Lumbering trucks transport the cargo to the little town of Sterling, where Hooked Seafood & Sushi Bar chefs await to fillet and prepare the catches for the night's dinner. The sushi chefs carve plump morsels of eel, tuna, and scallops in traditional Japanese style before rolling them into intricate rolls adorned with mango, caviar, and tempura. Meanwhile, other chefs tend to grills of sizzling teriyaki dishes and simmering pans of lemongrass halibut and stuffed trout. The Hooked team has been crafting these fresh sushi dishes and innovative specialties for the last six years, earning accolades from Northern Virginia Magazine and Taste of Reston in the process.
Vibrant photographs of the chef's dishes flash across the flat screen in the sleek dining room, casting a glow on the tall stools that line the sushi bar. Cushy booths surround vibrant red tables, and glimmering curtains dangle above the dining room. On the outdoor patio, a dancing fountain gushes with streams of water alongside a central fireplace roaring with flames. The staff strives to recreate an apropos oceanic atmosphere at the restaurant, lighting up seating areas in shades of turquoise and sea-green and requiring all servers to master basic seal calls.
BGR The Burger Joint’s burgers start with high-quality ingredients—most importantly, all-natural beef from grain-fed cattle, free to run in the fields and given zero hormones, fillers, or antibiotics. The prime beef is dry-aged, blended, and ground fresh to form patties that are grilled over an open flame, and then placed atop buttery, locally made brioche buns delivered fresh each day. The menu focuses on the Legendary Burger, which includes gourmet toppings such as avocado, applewood bacon, and grilled jalapenos. For nonbeef eaters, the menu's selection of burgers also includes turkey and veggie varieties, as well as The Greek, a seasoned lamb patty topped with tzatziki and feta. Burgers are also available in a lettuce wrap or on a salad in a healthy salad bowl.
Diners can request all of BGR The Burger Joint's freshly made fries—from thick-cut yukon gold potatoes to asparagus fries—be topped with parmesan, rosemary, roasted garlic, or a tiny tiara. The staff hand-spins shakes with Gifford's or Breyers ice cream to create extra-thick treats for finishing off meals, and some shops curate their own selection of bottled vintage sodas and offer beer and wine.
Ultrazone Laser Tag might be familiar to fans of The Real World, whose cast members—fed up with drama—blew off steam by ducking colorful laser beams in the sprawling multilevel arena's fog-filled maze. There's enough space for 45 vest-clad players to face off at one time, and plasma monitors let the next wave watch the game as they eagerly await their turn. The expansive recreation center also hosts sleepover parties that grant exclusive overnight use of the laser-tag facilities, the plasma-screen theater, and the room that's inexplicably full of doorknobs. Outside the arena, an arcade keeps synapses ablaze with video games, air hockey, and golf simulators, supplemented with slices of Papa John's pizza from the cafe.
At The Pollo Factory, three generations’ worth of Peruvian-cooking expertise infuses dishes such as crispy fried yucca and plantains, savory chicken, and ocean-fresh ceviche with years of cherished tradition. The scent of roasting la brasa chicken sends stomachs into quivering, hungry rumbles, and the sight of endlessly swirling rotisserie skewers hypnotizes eyes. Shellfish and squid mingle with zesty citrus marinades on plates of ceviche as scallop paella blends presentation and flavor with colorful yellow rice, red pepper, and green parsley. Other Peruvian specialties such as imported choclo corn, marinated beef-heart kebabs, and olive-stuffed tamales introduce taste buds to new horizons.
Chefs at Zeïtoon pack a menu of grilled Mediterranean specialties with fresh produce sourced from fair-trade and eco-friendly farms. Traditional starters such as falafel, bruschetta, and tzatziki served with pita bread complement crisp salads, and entrees such as kebabs and gourmet pizzas use halal meats. A multitude of vegetarian options are also available, including pastas, salads, and pizzas. As they wait for their meals, patrons can peer behind the sleek green counter to watch chefs deftly flip kofta patties and juggle olives with baby-size carbon footprints.
The epicurean engineers at Culinary Delights by Feist transform fresh, local ingredients into inventive take-out platters while chefs at neighboring Napoleon's Cafe serve up samples of the catering specialties in the form of breakfast eats, sandwiches, and wraps. The café's menu shepherds taste buds through the day with custom-built breakfast sandwiches and wraps ($2.50+) followed by paninis ($6.95) and sizzling melts, such as the Cuban ($6.95) with layers of roasted, spiced pork polka-dotted with fried onions and pickles. An ever-rotating roster of weekly specials guest star on the café's cast with entrees such as meat-and-vegetable lasagna ($7.95), pulled-pork sandwiches ($7.95), and barbecue ribs tired of being typecast as a movie-theater snack.