Residents of Ashburn and Broadlands can now get a taste of Greece, Italy and Thailand just a short drive from their homes, thanks to the opening of four new restaurants in the area. Or, if they're feeling domestic, they can get a really good hamburger.
All four new restaurants offer a different atmosphere to suit a diner's mood. Tawan Thai Cuisine in the Ashburn Farm Shopping Center, for example, is designed with soothing orange and red tones in gentle curves. That's because "tawan" means "sun" in Thai, explained co-owner Supara Maphungphong, who is originally from Thailand.
Tawan Thai Cuisine, open since January, features authentic Thai cuisine made by chefs who moved to Virginia from Thailand to cook for the restaurant. The eatery offers Thai food mainstays as well as a monthly special with more eclectic selections from different regions of the country. For July, it was salmon chu chee — steamed fresh salmon with chu chee curry sauce and kaffir lime leaves, served with steamed vegetables.
In seven months, Tawan Thai Cuisine has garnered such a reputation that other Thai restaurant owners from as far as Winchester have come to check it out.
"Some Thai restaurants adapt the food to America, but we try to keep it real," said co-owner Danny Zhao. "If you want real Thai food, this is the place."
Tawan Thai Cuisine also has a full bar and offers takeout. Dinner entrees cost $9-$12.
NOT FAR AWAY, diners can step inside Mediterranean Breeze in Old Ashburn for a taste of Greek and Italian food. The first thing visitors' eyes fall on is a painting of the Acropolis in the foyer. A step later, they're in an airy space broken by occasional Doric columns and Mediterranean seascape murals on the walls.
Owners Stefanos Araviakis and Terry Kasotakis didn't know each other when they both lived on the island of Crete. After moving to America, however, Kasotakis married Araviakis' sister and the brothers-in-law are now partners in the new Mediterranean Breeze restaurant.
"For 10 years it was my dream job," said Kasotakis, who was chef at Sylvana's, a Herndon restaurant, for almost 20 years.
Mediterranean Breeze offers gyros, souvlaki and mousaka for philhellenes, and entrees like chicken cacciatore, flounder ala Florentine and veal picatta for more Italian-minded customers. No entree costs more than $14.95.
So far, business is good for the brothers-in-law.
"We have about 95 percent repeat customers," Kasotakis said. "It's always busy."
Mediterranean Breeze offers carry out orders, and a shot of ouzo too, if diners are up to it.
SPEAKING OF SHOTS, Broadlands got its first pub with the opening of the Broadlands Pub & Grille on Truro Parish Drive.
By day, it's a friendly place where customers can get a variety of American food such as Reuben sandwiches, steak dinners, crab cakes and the very popular hamburgers. After 10 p.m., barflies can get cold beer at a reasonable price, or just about any liquor they desire. According to manager Joy Hooper, bartenders have stocked the shelf with brands specifically requested by customers.
It's just part of the Broadlands Pub & Grille's customer-centered attitude.
"A lot of neighborhood people come here," Hooper said. "Everybody here knows everybody. It reminds me of Cheers. We're starting to learn our customers by name."
The restaurant does have a Cheers-like feel with its dark wood paneling and roomy bar. One aspect Hooper feels is a positive is the bar's decidedly un-saloon-like air quality — cigarette smoke rarely chokes up the place, even when the restaurant eliminates its no-smoking area after 10 p.m.
"It's a small place and it's very comfortable," Hooper said. "It's a great bar and it's clean. It's not smoky in here like most bars are."
Entrees are priced up to $14.95. Broadlands Pub & Grille is open until 1 or 1:30 a.m. on weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends.
A FEW DOORS down, brickoven pizza tops the menu at Broadlands Brickoven Pizzeria, which opened in July. Toppings range from the traditional pepperoni or Italian sausage to pineapple and anchovies.
While a brick oven is featured in the restaurant's logo, customers can also choose from a variety of salads, subs and sandwiches at the pizzeria. While carryout is a popular option — and delivery will soon be offered — the restaurant itself offers a bright, welcoming space for dining in its corner location.
The brick oven is located just behind the counter, so diners can watch their pizzas emerge fresh and steaming just moments before hitting the table.
Owner Raj Talasani, originally from Hyderabad, India, said the choice to open a pizzeria originated from a neighborhood survey that revealed that residents wanted a nearby pizza place.
Part of Talasani's plan to garner attention for the eatery is to sponsor local community events, selling pizza and giving a donation at the same time. Broadlands Brickoven Pizzeria's first community partnership is with the Ashburn Youth Football League.
"We want to make it neighborhood friendly," Talasani said.