Traditional Indian spices flavor the tandoori, curry, and rice dishes served at Masala Magic. In the kitchen, chefs marinate boneless chicken in yogurt before sliding the dish into a clay oven, simmer pieces of lamb in a creamy spice-infused sauce, and dunk homemade cheese cubes into buttery makhani sauce. During the lunchtime buffet, patrons can gather curries, veggies, and mounds of rice to pile onto their plates or pour into the motorcycle helmet they prefer to eat out of.
Korean specialties such as barbecue short ribs, kimchi, and—of course—tofu soup fill the menu at this casual restaurant with outposts in Annandale and Centreville. Among the chefs' crowning offerings are steaming bowls of bi bim bap that cradle bulgogi (Korean-style marinated beef) as well as heaps of bean sprouts, corn, and fried egg. Depending on personal tastes, the spice levels of each dish can be custom calibrated from ultra-mild “white” to three-alarm “spicy spicy.” But not all dishes served here come to the table piping hot, including the cool naegn myun soup, a refreshing summer dish loaded with buckwheat noodles, slices of beef, and hints of Noreaster.
Litestars lightens up diner's diets with nutritionally balanced, functional foods prepared fast and fresh on-site each day. Friendly counter service greets eaters hooked on health with a menu that won't weigh down tummy tanks. Included are delectables such as ratatouille tartlets ($4.25), gluten-free soybean chicken salads ($2.05 per 1/4 pound; $7.10 entree), and a variety of soupdrinks served in 12-, 16-, and 20-ounce cups—the Fizzly tickles tonsils with red beets ($2.95–$4.95), while the Funshine flavors taste buds with butternut squash and sweet apples ($3.10–$5.15). Breakfasters can break a fast with the juice of freshly wrung-out oranges ($3.95–$4.95), cold and hot whole grain cereal sprinkled with wheat germ or flaxseed ($2.45–$3.45), or an oat bran flaxseed banana muffin ($1.85). Many of Litestars' items feature the flavors of local products, such as the bison tartlet prepared with meat raised in Maryland at Gunpowder Ranch ($5.30).
Behind an entryway guarded by brass and ceramic figurines, Rasoi—which means kitchen in Hindi—serves up traditional Indian fare bursting with aromas of cumin, garlic, and ginger. Black, lacquered tables populate with salmon and lamb dishes roasted in a clay tandoori oven. A full menu page of vegan and vegetarian dishes mingles fresh chickpeas and eggplant with dry mango powder and green cardamom. And, after sopping up the last of a three-course Thali feast, guests can sip on a sweet mango lassi or rub the mint-green walls to test whether they’re scratch-and-sniff.
Levante’s derives its name from Levantine, the term that refers to the easternmost swath of the Mediterranean region, which includes coastal cities across Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. The bistro-style menu reflects this name by featuring flavors and recipes from each of these distinctive yet regionally bound cultures. A wood-fired oven dominates the open kitchen, charcoal grilling veal cutlets, chicken skewers, and eggplant as the chefs load plates with freshly baked scraps of pita and flatbreads. Even the dining room's color scheme echoes the Mediterranean theme with its deep blues and stark whites, mimicking the vista of a sun-bleached village beside the sea.
Flaxella sprinkles its menu of wholesome bites with flaxseed, a natural source of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy omega-3s. Start the day with an invigorating flaxseed mocha ($3.25–$3.95) or a sunrise sandwich, which tops a croissant with a fresh egg and a serenade from a rooster ($3.75). The veggie delight sandwich whisks antioxidants to mouths on a rainbow of red tomatoes, yellow squash, and roasted green zucchini ($6.50). Instead of dining in a sleeping bag, make lunch snugglier with the Dakota Roll-Up ($5.75) or a bed of romaine salad with a chicken-salad pillow and a flax-vinaigrette blanket ($6.25).