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Insiders’ Tips: What Are Your Favorite Places in McLean?

Marielle Burt

Marielle Burt Photo by Sydney Lo/The Connection

Dinners to Remember

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Damian Leverett

After four dynamic years yielding him two Cappie awards and an EP of original songs, McLean’s Damian Leverett, 18, cites the food of Chop n Chicken at 1375 Beverly Road, McLean, as the main fuel to his fire. The recent McLean High School graduate says, “It was my favorite meal to have before performances. … They catered a few of our all-night rehearsal dinners and fed us in between matinee and evening shows.” The aspiring actor recommends the “Create Your Own” option which allows customers to add any three toppings to the restaurant’s namesake dish, but he adds that because “every dish has their delicious chopped chicken … it’s hard to go wrong.” As Leverett prepares to study acting at the Guthrie Theater BFA Program at the University of Minnesota, he reflects on the family-owned business as “definitely the restaurant I’ll miss most when I move away for college.”

MCC As Cultural Hotspot

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Kim Johnson

As the founder and interior designer of Kim Johnson Designs, McLean’s Kim Johnson understands a quality venue when she encounters one. The McLean Community Center, located at 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean, is Johnson’s favorite cultural hotspot, offering “all kinds of events: chocolate festival, community yard sales, and different theater experiences.” The community center houses the cozy and locally renowned Alden Theater, a fresh source of amusement, which Johnson also frequents and recommends highly. As a long-time McLean resident and a mother of five, Johnson appreciates the center’s interactive style, which allows locals to “rent out the McLean Community Center for birthday parties or other events.” Johnson lauds the center as “a wonderful place to use for a whole community” that makes weekends and special occasions memorable and complete.

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Marielle Burt

Gelato at Starnut Gourmet

Between studying, choreographing musicals and teaching physical acting to McLean High School’s theatre department at just 16 years old, Marielle Burt savors each rare opportunity to relax at Starnut Gourmet and its surrounding galleria, located at 1445 Laughlin Ave., McLean. The high school junior enjoys a “hazelnut [gelato], little chocolates, and lunch food” in a lively ambiance where “it’s nice, especially in the summertime, to sit outside.” For families new to the area, this leisurely hotspot does not just foster teens like Burt. “You see a lot of different people there of all ages. A lot of times, there are kids out, playing and running around the fountain.” Burt says Starnut’s quality treats always make the grade. “I’m a huge gelato fan, so I think it’s worth it.”

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Paul Dean

Having a Nicer Dinner in Town

McLean’s Paul Dean, a chemistry teacher at Lake Braddock Secondary School, eagerly unwinds at The Greek Taverna, located at 6828 Old Dominion Drive, McLean. Dean describes it as “an authentic Greek restaurant … filled with local McLean residents,” making for a comfortable venue where he enjoys the slow-cooked lamb. As a father of two, he applauds the restaurant because “you can bring kids and family members here, yet still have a nice meal in a nice setting.” According to Dean, The Greek Taverna “is a little pricey,” but it serves as a delectable indulgence for “residents who want to have a nicer dinner in town.”

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Nicole Azmoudeh

Quite a Relief

As McLean’s Nicole Azmoudeh, 18, prepares to embark on a four-year study at George Mason University, she relishes her pre-college days at Harris Teeter, located at 8200 Crestwood Heights Drive, McLean. “It never fails to keep me and my friends occupied, even if we aren’t terribly hungry.” While Azmoudeh happily frequents the grocery chain with her friends, she states that “you’re not as likely to run into people you know there, [which] can be quite a relief sometimes.” Ultimately, however, Azmoudeh maintains that Harris Teeter’s most outstanding features are its products. The health-conscious grocery store, which also features a pharmacy, offers Azmoudeh “the freedom to make my own salads, and besides, no one can say no to free samples.”