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Devouring Maple Avenue

A stroll on Vienna's main street uncovers a wide array of dining options.

After 51 years of living in Vienna, Janis Nixon feels well-versed in the town's culinary scene.

Before she moved in late 2004, Nixon said, each weekend she would go to a different restaurant.

"One weekend, we'd go to a Japanese place, the next weekend, a Mexican place, the next, Turkish," she said. I pretty much think that I hit them all."

Nixon, office manager at the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that she used to use the Vienna Dining and Lodging Guide as a checklist for which places to go to.

The guide, put together by the Town Business Liaison Committee, is in its third printing, said committee member Carole Wolfand.

"We are getting a lot of nice, affordable, mid- to upscale restaurants," said Wolfand, who co-owns Vienna Paint with husband Bill. " ... the Maple Avenue stretch is walkable, ... you could start at one end, pack a lunch and finish at the other ... "

With this in mind, two Connection reporters took a walk down Maple Avenue from East Street to Nutley Street on Friday, Sept. 9, to get a sense of the restaurant scene. Locally-based restaurants along Maple Avenue that were open and had managers available to interview are listed below:

Ristorante Bonaroti

428 Maple Ave. E

703-281-7550

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.

www.ristorantebonaroti.com

Sergio Domestici started this upscale Italian restaurant 22 years ago after he came to the United States from Italy. The restaurant is frequented by locals and the occasional Redskins player, said Domestici. Favorite dishes include linguine with seafood, or frutta di mare, osso bucco, veal chops and the veal saltimbocca, which means "melts in the mouth." The pasta at Ristorante Bonaroti is homemade, and featured in lamb ravioli and lobster cannelonis, he said. Reservations are encouraged.

Wu’s Garden

418 Maple Ave. E

703-281-4417

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Monday-Friday, 5-10 p.m.

Weekend: Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

The balance of yin and yang is behind all the dishes cooked at Wu’s Garden, said Bill Wu, whose father started the restaurant in 1974. According to Wu, this means that high-cholesterol foods, like meat, should always be paired with a light vegetable. The best dishes at Wu’s Garden are the crispy sesame beef, which goes well with Chinese broccoli, he said, and the kung pao chicken, which pairs with sautéed garlic spinach. The restaurant buys all local ingredients, such as fresh fish from Washington, D.C. markets, said Wu. Unlike many Chinese restaurants, he said, Wu’s Garden features homemade eggrolls, with celery, bean sprouts, cabbage, ground pork and eggs. Reservations recommended for large parties.

Vienna Inn

123 Maple Ave. E

703-938-9458

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7-12 a.m.

Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. or until the Redskins game is over

Breakfast: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

www.viennainn.com

Since 1960, when it was founded by Mike and Mollie Abraham, the Vienna Inn has been a town landmark. In 2000, Marty Volk took over from the Abrahams' son, Philip. The restaurant and bar is "not uptight, but friendly," said Volk, and so has a community following. Entrenched in the life of the town, it sponsors many sports teams and hosts others for pre- and post-game dinners. The Vienna Inn is famous for its chili dogs and chili-macs (spaghetti topped with meat or vegetarian chili), said Volk, of which they sell 11,000 a year. Other popular dishes include the fried shrimp, chicken fajita, and buffalo wings, he said. Reservations are not required.

Yas Bakery

131A Maple Ave. W

703-242-2800

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Yas Bakery, which specializes in Iranian baked goods, is also home to a Middle Eastern grocery store. Pastries are made fresh at the store, said owner Nazi Pishdad, and feature Persian delicacies like baklava, cream-filled cakes, Neapolitans, and cookies.

Perlita’s Mexican & Salvadorian Cuisine

147 Maple Ave. W

703-319-8500

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Perlita's is a new addition to the restaurants on Maple Avenue, having been around for seven months, said owner Jose Machado. House specials at Perlita’s include El Plato Tipico, with beef, avocado salad, cheese, cream, rice and beans; El Plato Salvadoreno, with pupusas, chicken tamales, rice, and beans; and Platillo Hondureno, with baliada, enchilada and fried plantains. Machado recommends the fajitas, as well as El Plato Salvadoreno. Reservations not required.

Marco Polo Restaurant and Caterers

245 Maple Ave. W.

703-281-3922

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Founded by Alfredo Pestana, Primo Bellolli and Joseph Iannamico 32 years ago, Marco Polo Restaurant cooks a variety of continental Italian cuisine, said Iannamico, whose favorite dishes include the grilled seafood platter and lobster ravioli. The veal combination features three different kinds of veal cooked to three different kinds of flavors, he said. Marco Polo offers a lunch buffet from Tuesday to Friday, a Thursday night buffet called the "Italian feast," and a Saturday brunch from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Reservations are encouraged.

Amphora Restaurant

377 Maple Ave. W

703-938-7877

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 24 hours.

www.amphoragroup.com

Amphora Restaurant serves Greek and diner food, and offers breakfast 24 hours a day, said general manager Petros Kontos. Depending on the day of the week, he said, some favorite dishes are the Amphora sampler, moussaka, souvlaki or gyros. A bakery on the Amphora premises makes a variety of desserts as well, said Kontos. Amphora keeps diner hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reservations not required, except for large parties.

Joe’s Place

435 Maple Ave. W

703-281-1111

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

www.joesplacepizzaandpasta.com

Pizza is the word at Joe’s Place in Vienna, part of a local chain of restaurants in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Some favorites include the house pizza (tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage and black olives) and the spring pizza (mozzarella with light garlic, olive oil, fresh tomato and spinach), as well as the lasagna, said manager Franco Cirrincione. Joe’s Place offers a lunch buffet until 3 p.m., he said. Reservations are not required.

Yama Japanese Restaurant

Jade Shopping Center

328 Maple Ave. W

703-242-7703

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Saturday, 12-3 p.m.

Dinner: Monday-Thursday, Sunday, 5-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.

Started in 1997, Yama Japanese Restaurant features a variety of sushi dishes. One of the best is the wasabi roll, said employee M.J. Hwang. The restaurant is owned by Bob Kim. Reservations are recommended for large parties.

The Greek House

312 Maple Ave. W.

703-938-8206

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.–9 p.m.

Friday, 8:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

Saturday, 7 a.m.–10 p.m.

Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

www.thegreekgrill.com

Owner Bill Mackrrgiorgos has been serving large platters of food at his Greek diner for the past six years at the family-owned restaurant. He is proudest of the restaurant's participation in the community, said Mackrrgiorgos, such as involvement in the Dining for Dollars program at local schools. The most popular dish is the Tour of Greece, a sampling of Greek-style food, he said, and the restaurant's specialty is its gyros. Reservations not required.

La Provence

144 Maple Ave. W.

703-242-3777

Lunch: Monday–Friday, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Monday–Friday, 5:30–9:30 p.m.

Saturday–Sunday, 5:30–10 p.m.

La Provence's delicately decorated interior belies its strip mall entrance. The restaurant, which has been in Vienna for nine years, serves southern-France style foods, said owner Cecile Nguyen. The menu emphasizes great seafood dishes, she said. The lobster is a favorite, she said, and the filet mignon is also popular. The current chef, Chef K, has been cooking there for the past five years, said Nguyen. Reservations are available but not always necessary.

Foster's Grille

138A Maple Ave. W

703-281-2224

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.– 9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

www.fostersgrille.com

Foster's Grille, the "Home of the Charburger," has been a community staple since it opened three and a half years ago, said general manager Bronwyn Phillips. The restaurant, with its customer decorated décor, is frequented by local sports teams, elementary school teachers or even D.C. United players — a signed jersey hangs on the wall. The most popular food at Foster's is the hamburger, said Phillips, though when she eats, she gets the grilled chicken.

Kabuki Teriyaki & Sushi Restaurant

128 Maple Ave. W

703-319-3662

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

This relatively new sushi restaurant has been open for a year and half. Owner Richard Ka said he wanted to open a sushi restaurant that went past the basics seen at most places and allowed him to create new types of sushi with different tastes. Examples of these non-traditional sushi rolls are the Mount Fuji Volcano, a fried roll in the shape of a volcano, and the Dragon roll. The restaurant serves Tokyo-style sushi, which is cleaner and neater than Osaka style, said Ka. Reservations are recommended for parties larger than five.

Le Canard

132 Branch Road

703-281-0070

Lunch: Monday–Friday, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Monday–Sunday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.

www.lecanardrestaurant.com

Le Canard just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Vienna. The restaurant serves a variety of French dishes and focuses on duck, as the restaurant's name means "the duck" in French, said Paul Kuchler, head chef and son of the owner. Kuchler's favorite dish is the pepper steak, he said. Reservations are encouraged.

Anita's Restaurant

521 Maple Ave. E

703-255-1001

Hours: Monday– hursday, 6 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Sunday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

At Anita's Restaurant, it's all about the chiles, said manager Carlos Montoya. Anita's, which also has locations in Herndon, Fairfax, Chantilly and Burke, specializes in Mexican food from New Mexico, where culinary creations are based on red and green chiles. This is what sets New Mexican food apart, said Montoya, whose favorite is the green chile pork enchilada. Breakfast burritos are offered in the morning as well. Reservations are recommended on weekend evenings when Anita's gets crowded, or for parties of 10 or more.

Tequila Grande

444 Maple Ave. W

703-255-5933

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday, 11:30-9 p.m.

www.tequilagrande.com

Tex-Mex restaurant Tequila Grande, which opened in Vienna in 1998, just got new floors, said manager Vijaya KC. The restaurant is undergoing refurbishment, but will remain open, she said. Popular dishes at Tequila Grande include the Monterey Grill, a platter of grilled steak, chicken and skewered shrimp, said KC, as well as the fajitas. Tequila Grande offers discount nights such as Seniors' Night on Monday, PAF Night (police, armed forces and firefighters) on Wednesday, and Teachers' Night on Sunday, she said. On Tuesday nights, children eat for 99 cents. Reservations recommended for parties of six or more.