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Banditos Tacos and Tequila will open at University Mall this February (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

A taco and tequila restaurant is opening later this month at University Mall in Fairfax.

Banditos Tacos and Tequila will open on Feb. 22, serving up Mexican street food and a line-up of live music and tastings throughout the day.

The 7,500-square-foot location open at 10621 Braddock Road near George Mason University. The restaurant also includes an outdoor patio with multiple TV screens.

“Every attention to detail goes into Banditos, from our restaurant design and aesthetics to the ingredients used in our cocktails and kitchens,” said Sean White, founder and CEO of Baltimore-based White Oak Hospitality. “We are super excited to be a part of the Fairfax community and extremely thrilled to be a new place for the University community to experience!”

The menu will feature 20 different flavors of tacos and over 30 brands of tequila.

This is the company’s sixth location, including one in Arlington County. The restaurant is currently hiring for all staff positions online.

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Old Dominion Pizza is expected to open in Fairfax City this spring (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Old Dominion Pizza Company is rolling out to Fairfax City.

The small Arlington County shop will expand for the first time, replacing the defunct Latin American restaurant Pampa Sazone at 3950 University Drive, Suite 102.

Owner John Rodas says the restaurant will open this spring, potentially as soon as March, depending on when the city approves the permits needed for renovations of the space to begin.

“We had some revisions at the beginning of the year,” Rodas said. “Once those get approved, then we can start our work, which again it’s not a lot to do, probably three, four weeks of work to do.”

Rodas had worked as the operator of a large pizza franchise “for several years” before deciding to open his own business, he told FFXnow. The opportunity arrived about five years ago when a different pizzeria shut down, opening up a space near Route 29 for Old Dominion Pizza, which launched on Jan. 3, 2019.

According to Rodas, the business has been “super busy” since opening day, so after about two years, the team started to scout out possible locations for an expansion.

Fairfax City quickly emerged as a top contender based on feedback from customers and friends. Rodas was also reassured by conversations with owners of local establishments like The Wine House and Earp’s Ordinary that the city is supportive of small businesses.

“Some of our customers that used to live near our Arlington store, or some that pick up pizzas on their way home and they live in Fairfax, they’ve really been begging us to come out there,” Rodas said. “So, we’re excited about it. Fairfax City’s definitely a nice little town, and it seems to be very friendly to small business.”

Where the Arlington location primarily serves delivery and takeout orders, the Fairfax Old Dominion Pizza will be a full sit-down restaurant with 35 to 40 tables inside and outside. Pizza will be served both whole and by-the-slice, and there will be a small bar serving wine and beer.

Old Dominion makes pizza New York-style and “Grandma style,” which is crispy and comes in square slices, according to its website. The vegan-friendly dough is made out of wheat flour, malted barley, water, cane sugar, soybean oil, salt and yeast, though there’s also an option for a cauliflower crust.

A pie called “The General” that features pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, and peppers was named one of Washingtonian’s five favorite slices from around D.C. in 2019.

“We support our local schools, our little league team,” Rodas said. “We’re very involved in the community, and people love our pizza.”

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Big Buns Damn Good Burgers is now open in McLean (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Big Buns Damn Good Burgers has arrived in McLean.

The regional burger chain opened its newest location at 1336 Chain Bridge Road on Jan. 16, a spokesperson told FFXnow.

“We are so thrilled to bring Big Buns [Damn] Good Burgers to the discerning diners of McLean! This is our 8th location in Virginia, and with McLean’s diverse professional community it’s a perfect fit for our next Big Buns,” said Warren Thompson, president and founder of Thompson Hospitality, which owns the brand.

Also behind the recently opened Milk & Honey Cafe in Fairfax, the restaurant group confirmed in September 2021 that it had subleased space for Big Buns and a Matchbox Pizza from Lidl, which launched its McLean store on June 1.

Combined, the two restaurants occupy 6,200 square feet of space. Initially, they were both expected to be finished in the second quarter of 2022, but durng the pandemic, supply-chain and permitting delays have slowed down retail build-outs across Fairfax County.

Matchbox is currently scheduled for a Feb. 6 opening, but Thompson noted that the date is “subject to change.”

Started by Craig Carey and chef Tom Racosky in 2007, Big Buns opened its first restaurant in Ballston that June and has now expanded to a total of nine locations, including one in Florida. The Fairfax County sites have all arrived within the past two years, starting with Reston and followed by Vienna and Herndon. There is also one in Fairfax City.

In addition to a variety of burgers, the menu features chicken sandwiches, vegetarian bowls, fries, milkshakes and alcoholic drinks, including craft beer and cocktails.

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The cafe opened its Fairfax location on Jan. 18 (courtesy Milk & Honey Cafe)

A regional restaurant brand is opening another location in Virginia.

Milk & Honey Cafe, a Maryland-based company that was founded in 2016, opened on Jan. 18 at 9518 Main Street in Fairfax City.

The brunch-style restaurant has a total of 38 seats, a spokesperson for the company told FFXnow in a statement.

The cafe describes itself as a “New Orleans themed” Southern brunch restaurant. It’s part of Thompson Hospitality, a restaurant group whose other brands include Big Buns Damn Good Burgers, Matchbox Pizza and Makers Union in Reston.

Items on the menu include shrimp grits, deep-fried salmon hash, a crab cake sandwich, Belgian waffles, strawberry shortcake biscuits, and bread pudding.

The Fairfax location is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The business has other locations in Ashburn, Belle Haven, Maryland and D.C.

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Capital One Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Capital One Center has landed another brand-new restaurant concept.

Billed as a “new classic American restaurant,” Ox & Rye signed a lease in mid-December for an 11,000-square-foot, 318-seat space at 7770 Capital One Tower Road in Tysons, the Washington Business Journal reported on Friday (Jan. 13).

Developed by the Arlington-based Wooden Nickel Bar Company, whose existing establishments include Copperwood Tavern and The Pinemoor, the restaurant will focus on “local cuts of beef and unique twists on American classic dishes,” according to a press release.

Per the WBJ, menu items will include oysters, steak, wagyu, and lobster fettuchini. As implied by the name, rye whiskey will be prominently featured on a cocktail menu, along with selections of local beers and regional wines.

“We are excited to bring a new dining option to Tysons and can’t wait for guests to experience the unique flavors and atmosphere of Ox & Rye,” owner Reese Gardner said in the press release.

According to its website, Ox & Rye is anticipating a winter 2023 opening. The restaurant will include a “rye lounge” and private dining room for special events.

The announcement brings the number of restaurants expected to join Capital One Center this year up to five. Previously reported tenants include:

  • Sisters Thai, which is opening its fifth and largest venue at 7730 Capital One Tower Road
  • Ometeo, a Tex-Mex restaurant from the team behind Ballston’s The Salt Line
  • Santi, a new concept from Cranes chef Pepe Moncayo that will focus on “Spanish culinary tradition,” per its website
  • Stellina Pizzeria, which is filling the vacated Starbucks space in Capital One’s headquarters tower

A Capital One Center spokesperson says no opening dates have been set for any of the restaurants, but the development is “delighted to grow our retail portfolio with five new restaurants opening here in 2023.”

The budding mixed-use development around Capital One’s headquarters is currently a little light on dining options, though it added food trucks last spring with the opening of the Perch Putt mini-golf course on top of Capital One Center.

Known as The Perch, the elevated park also hosts Starr Hill Biergarten and provides access to Wren, the Japanese restaurant and bar in The Watermark Hotel’s lobby.

Designed to accommodate 6 million square feet of development when fully built, Capital One Center is nearing completion of a new office and retail tower. Bisnow reported last week that Capital One has started moving workers into the high-rise, but the company didn’t confirm that it will be delivered this month.

“We are moving associates into our new tower with a multi-phased approach and continue to offer a flexible work environment,” the Capital One Center spokesperson told FFXnow.

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Akai Tori will replace Shin Se Kai Ramen at 234 Maple Avenue East in Vienna (via Fairfax County)

Perhaps the second time will be the charm for ramen shops trying to gain a foothold in the Town of Vienna at 234 Maple Avenue East.

Newcomer Akai Tori Ramen and Yakitori is on track to open in the 3,000-square-foot building on Jan. 28, replacing the short-lived Shin Se Kai Ramen, as first reported by Eater DC. A spokesperson emphasized to FFXnow that the date is a soft opening.

“We just tell our followers this winter or around the end of January as we don’t want to be overwhelmed and would like to be able to provide the best customer service and quality food as we can,” they said.

Akai Tori, which translates to “red bird,” confirmed that it’s not affiliated with Shin Se Kai, whose initially temporary closure early in the Covid pandemic became permanent despite its owner’s hopes.

Instead, Akai Tori comes from a face familiar to Vienna diners: chef-owner Mark Liu is behind Sushi Yoshi, the long-standing establishment on Church Street. Restaurateur Cody Zhou, who is opening the Mochinut franchise in Reston, is also a partner.

While the Tysons area has other eateries that specialize in ramen, such as Jinya Ramen Bar in the Mosaic District and Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at The Boro, Akai Tori promises that its noodle soups will stand out.

“Our ramen is definitely the differentiator,” the business said via Instagram. “Our ramen broth is made by hand for hours using our own recipe whereas most of the ramen places in DMV use the pre-made broth purchased from the suppliers (they will mix it with water and other sauces though).”

Akai Tori Ramen and Yakitori will serve ramen with handmade broth and other traditional Japanese cuisine (courtesy Akai Tori)

In addition to ramen, the menu will feature traditional Japanese cuisine like yakitori, donburi and katsu rice bowls, and sushi. Specialties include cheese bomb takoyaki, salmon sashimi katsu, an akai tori sushi roll, and bacon-wrapped mochi rice cakes, according to the spokesperson.

There will also be seasonal options and desserts like tempura ice cream and matcha parfait. Japanese snacks and drinks will be available from a concession stand in the waiting area.

Inspired by Japan’s informal Izakaya bars, the restaurant will serve “a curated range of Japanese beers, sake, and spirits” and hopes to attract “night owls” by staying open a little later than many other Vienna establishments.

The planned operating hours are:

  • Monday: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday and Thursday: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-10 p.m.
  • Friday: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5-11 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

The spokesperson notes that the hours “might be changed later on.”

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Dave’s Hot Chicken sells Nashville-style hot chicken tenders and sliders (via Dave’s Hot Chicken/Instagram)

A Nashville-style hot chicken chain backed by Samuel L. Jackson and Drake is on its way to Tysons.

Dave’s Hot Chicken will open its first Virginia location at Pike 7 Plaza this year, property manager Federal Realty Investment Trust confirmed to FFXnow.

The restaurant will occupy 2,445 square feet of space on the northern end of the strip mall, replacing an office for a weight loss program at 8397 Leesburg Pike. A commercial alterations permit is pending an approval from the Fairfax County Fire Marshal.

Federal Realty said it’s “thrilled” to be chosen as Dave’s entry point into Virginia. The company recently opened a spot in D.C. and has Maryland franchises in the works.

“This renowned fast-casual restaurant serving Nashville hot chicken, has generated much hype across the country not only for its delicious menu but for the innovative use of art throughout the interior and exterior of the restaurant,” Federal Realty Senior Vice President of Asset Management Deirdre Johnson said. “We look forward to adding this highly sought-after concept to Pike 7 before year-end.”

Founded by a quartet of friends, Dave’s Hot Chicken started as a “tiny” street food stand in an East Hollywood parking lot in 2017, according to its website. Instagram and a rave Eater LA review generated buzz that led to a mall storefront a year later and a slew of celebrity investors.

The business now has over 100 locations across the U.S., Canada and the Middle East.

Popular in Nashville’s Black communities before it became trendy, hot chicken is fried and coated in spicy seasonings, typically accompanied by white bread and pickles. Dave’s menu offers four combo options of sliders and chicken tenders, with spice levels ranging from none to “reaper.”

Dave’s will be joined at Pike 7 Plaza by Lidl and Shake Shack. A Lidl spokesperson told FFXnow that the grocery store is still under construction but on track to open in 2023.

Construction on the standalone Shake Shack — which will take over a corner of the parking lot — is anticipated to start early this year, though the project is still in the process of getting permit approvals from Fairfax County, according to Federal Realty.

The shopping center recently welcomed Kusshi Ko, a sushi restaurant, and the upscale Ingle Korean Steakhouse.

Photo via Dave’s Hot Chicken/Instagram

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Paul French Bakery & Cafe at Tysons Galleria (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

In the future, Vienna residents will no longer have to brave Chain Bridge Road traffic to get a taste of Paul Bakery’s bread and macarons.

The 133-year-old French bakery and cafe is planning to expand right into the heart of the town in Jades Shopping Center, replacing Al Nakheel Lebanese Cafe & Market, which closed last year.

The business confirmed that it’s working to add the location to FFXnow, but the timeline for construction and a potential opening is “unknown at this point.”

An application for an interior renovation permit to turn the existing retail space at 340 Maple Avenue West into a bakery was accepted by Fairfax County on Oct. 13 and remains under review by staff.

This will be Paul’s first expansion in the D.C. area since its popular Tysons Galleria cafe opened on Jan. 14, 2013. The business also has three sites in downtown D.C. and one in Bethesda.

According to its website, Paul originated in 1889 as a small bakery run by a family of agricultural workers in Croix, France. It acquired its name in the 1950s after the owner took over a bakery-pâtisserie from the Paul family.

Known for fresh, traditionally made bread, the company now has over 620 restaurants in 34 countries. The D.C. area locations are owned and managed by Cole Hospitality, a hospitality service consultant based in Fairfax.

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Ornery Brewing plans to open a location in Herndon (courtesy Ornery Brewing)

Ornery Beer Company Public House is officially coming to Herndon.

The restaurant and pub, which already has locations in Fairfax and Manassas, is set to open at Arrowbrook Centre (2340 Silver Arrow Way), a development that is currently under construction at the intersection of the Dulles Toll Road and Centreville Road.

The business was started by Randy Barnette, a craft beer enthusiast and restaurant owner, in 2015 to offer a “more casual stye” brewpub. He’s also behind other concepts in the area, including Hard Times Cafe in Manassas and Mad Fox Brewing in Falls Church.

Barnette estimated the location will open in the third or fourth quarter of 2023, emphasizing that the expected opening is an estimate.

The full-service restaurant will include a three-barrel brewery.

“Our brewing capacity is supplemented by our production brewery in Bristow. Our business model is smaller pub-like restaurants with scratch kitchens, no walk-in freezers, offering great food that pairs well with our beer,” Barnette said.

Barnette said he chose the location because of the business demographics of the area and the mixed-use nature of the project. Herndon is also home to Barnette, who grew up from Herndon and graduated from Herndon High School. He now lives in Bristow.

Items on the menu include variety of beer and ciders, soups, salads, and pizzas.

The Arrowbrook Centre development is planned for more than 600,000 square feet of office space across three buildings,

The initial phases of the development will include 34,000 square feet of ground floor retail and a 274-unit apartment building. Additional development is planned.

Photo via Google Maps

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Westpark Corporate Center in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Another steakhouse is staking out a claim in Tysons.

The Iowa-based, family-owned chain 801 Chophouse has leased space in the Westpark Corporate Center (8484 Westpark Drive) that was vacated a few years ago by McCormick & Schmick’s, the Washington Business Journal reported yesterday.

This will be the first East Coast location for the business, which originated in Des Moines in 1993 and has since added six more sites, all in the Midwest. 801 Restaurant Group also owns an upscale seafood restaurant called 801 Fish and the American eatery and cocktail bar 801 Local.

At 12,500 square feet, the Tysons Chophouse will be the brand’s biggest restaurant yet, 801 Restaurant Group Executive Managing Member Jamie Lynch told the WBJ.

“We are very excited to venture out in the Tysons area,” Lynch said. “I think it’s an exceptional growth opportunity for the restaurant group to stand up the 801 Chophouse’s biggest location, and the newest, in the D.C. market. We need to earn our stripes, get out there, be humble and put together a collection of people and just try to get better every day.”

801 Restaurant Group didn’t immediately return FFXnow’s request for comment, so here’s more from the WBJ on the company’s existing ties to the Tysons area:

Lynch runs the business with his father, restaurateur Jimmy Lynch, who hails from Greater Washington. Jimmy Lynch and his wife grew up in the McLean area. Jamie Lynch was born in D.C. on the Fourth of July, and as he tells it, there’s a political connection between the first 801 Chophouse in Des Moines and the D.C. region.

Des Moines has long been host to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, for both the Democrats and the Republicans, though the Democrats have recently floated the idea of moving their kickoff to another place. Regardless, the Des Moines 801 Chophouse has hosted more than a few presidential aspirants over the years, and the restaurant features its own private space called the Caucus Room. The restaurant’s appeal extends beyond politics, however.

“801 Chophouse is, hopefully, a timeless and quintessential steakhouse, with some contemporary elements to it,” Lynch said. The restaurant boasts a deep inventory of meats, wines, spirits, and fresh fish, brought to the table by servers wearing green coats. It seeks to foster a celebratory air without feeling stuffy, snooty or snobby. “It’s first class in terms of the commitment we have to being a true steakhouse.”

According to its website, Chophouse has an “in-house meat program” that serves “only aged USDA prime cuts, wet and dry-aged products and select Japanese and domestic Wagyu beef.”

Non-steak offerings include a “fresh sheet” with seafood and seasonal vegetables and fruit, desserts made in-house, and wine and cocktails.

Per the WBJ, an opening for the Tysons location isn’t anticipated until late fall 2023, but if successful, the restaurant could pave the way for a broader expansion in the D.C. area, potentially including introductions of 801 Fish and 801 Local.

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