Behind the brick façade of Plush Gelato & Coffee, owners Dinh and Henry Luong handcraft a rainbow of velvety gelatos and sorbets to match a variety of custom-brewed coffee and lattes. Spheres of creamy gelato scooped away from frosty peaks woo sweet teeth with locally sourced and seasonal flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, nutella cookie, and vietnamese coffee ($3.75 for small; $4.50 for medium; $5.25 for large). Blood orange, strawberry, and mango juices freeze into smooth sorbet with a unique texture that comes from millions of microscopic crystals. Rather than licking a car battery, awaken somnolent palates with a large cup of piping hot coffee ($2.25) or a foamy latte ($3.75).
Green-blue lights illuminate the oversized oceanic mural, hitting the paint in such a way that the tropical fish, coral, and whale seem to come to life. The underwater scene—complete with a sunken pirate ship—is the centerpiece of Tara Thai’s dining room, which accompanies décor such as a molded wave that spans the front of the bar, plates painted with colorful fish, and dangling lights fashioned to look like jellyfish.
With the aquatic ambience, you might make the mistake of thinking Tara Thai serves nothing but seafood. But in reality, dishes like fresh mussels with lemongrass and chili sauce are only part of the lineup of traditional Thai dishes. Those traditional offerings include the Chef recommended spicy roasted tofu and honey duck curry, as well as classics like crispy spring rolls which, despite their name, are served year-round.
At Ya Hala—named for the Arabic word for "welcome"—chefs revel in the traditional flavors of Lebanon by crafting a menu of tender lamb dishes, sizzling kababs, a homemade daily dish, and flaky desserts sprinkled with syrup and pistachios. The dishes resemble those a traveler might find abroad, from drinks such as syrupy jellab topped with pine nuts to slices of chicken that teach diners the proper pronunciation of "shawarma." During the month of Ramadan, the chefs also serve hearty evening feasts with an Iftar menu that changes daily.
Beyond Tequila Grande's vibrant, kitsch-rich dining room, chef and owner Renu crafts Mexican dishes that have earned accolades for flavor and authenticity from publications such as the Washington Times. A far cry from her native Indian cuisine, the chef carefully incorporates signature Central American flavors such as mango, roasted chilies, and habaneros across the menu.
The hacienda-style building's bright wall-size murals evoke an idyllic farmland brought to life, depicting the agricultural practices and accidental kitchen fires that gave birth to the distinctive cooking style. An outdoor patio adds fresh air to the list of amenities to be enjoyed, sheltered from the sun by umbrellas and the shade of blossom-bearing trees.
Joe set sail from Agrigento, Italy with his family in 1970 to land in New York, eventually leaving for Virginia to seek his version of the American dream and opening Joe’s Place. The eatery has been family-run for 34 years, which is long enough to see the art of fashion transform countless times and the art of reading a book stay suspiciously the same. Ovens spill out piles of crispy, thin-crust pizzas adorned with fresh toppings and cheeses—such as the white pizza with fontina and garlic and the seafood pizza with fresh shrimp and clams—and thick layers of dough support sicilian deep-dish pies. Cooks prepare pots of steaming pastas and build specialty subs with stacks of prosciutto, provolone, and capicollo. Members of Joe’s family work in both his restaurants, keeping the authentic Italian recipes in constant use, like the sun, a small percentage of which is also pasta sauce.