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Fast-casual poke bowl chain opening Lorton restaurant today

The chain Poke Bros is opening its first Fairfax County location in Lorton Marketplace (courtesy Poke Bros)

(Updated at 1:30 p.m. on 12/8/2023) A growing chain restaurant that specializes in poke bowls is making its first foray into Fairfax County.

Poke Bros. says it anticipates a “large audience of hungry customers” for today’s grand opening of its new franchise in Lorton Marketplace. Doors will open at 9453 Lorton Market Street, Suite 17, at 11 a.m.

“Most fast food options out there are the same old fried food,” Poke Bros founder Xue Gong Chen said in a press release. “We’re proud that Poke Bros gives people something that’s quick and easy for lunch or dinner but with fresh, healthy ingredients and great flavor. Good food should be easy to grab on the go.”

A traditional Hawaiian cuisine, poke originated in pre-colonial days as cut-up raw fish that was eaten with fresh seaweed and preserved with sea salt. Influenced by Japanese immigrants, the dish evolved into its present-day form around the 1970s, becoming trendy in the mainland U.S. over the past decade — to some disapproval from Hawaiians.

Poke Bros was started in 2016 by Chen and two friends who first encountered the dish during a trip to California, according to its website. They opened the first restaurant in December of that year in Columbus, Ohio, with the goal of bringing “an inexpensive and accessible product” to the Midwest.

The fast-casual chain has now expanded to 72 locations in 13 states. The Lorton franchise is just the company’s second in Virginia, joining a location in Midlothian, and its first in the immediate D.C. area.

The menu features signature bowls — such as a “Johnny Utah” with salmon, avocado, edamame, cucumber, masago, Sriracha aioli and the chain’s exclusive, soy-based OG sauce — as well as a build-your-own option with rice and salad bases. There’s also mochi ice cream.

Anchored by Amazon Fresh, Lorton Marketplace is one of three main commercial centers emerging in the area once dominated by Lorton Prison. Other dining options in the shopping center include Glory Days Grill, Chipotle, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and the Japanese restaurant Tokyo One.

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