Mclean, VA

Yelp reviewers rated this McLean, Virginia restaurant number two in the country

Ellen Eastwood

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Food at Aracosia McLeanSajal B. at Yelp

Perhaps it was fated that Aracosia McLean would turn into a local favorite. After all, restaurant owner Omar Masroor and his wife, Head Chef Sofia Masroor, already had two other successful restaurants in neighboring areas. Masroor reports McLean locals enjoyed his nearby eateries so much they asked him "more than 100 times" to open a restaurant in their city.

Aracosia McLean has Afghan roots. With 249 Yelp reviews and 551 photos, the overall rating is a full 5-stars, making it the number two restaurant in the country. Reviewers rave, leaving very specific compliments like:

"The meats (lamb and beef tenderloin) were perfectly seasoned and grilled."
"The lamb is quite a delicacy. They do the best job possible to remove any gamy-ness."
"The kabobs were proportioned perfectly. Just enough rice and chickpeas as well."

The Washington Post says Head Chef Sofia wants patrons to feel like they are guests in her home. "Patrons eat pretty much the same Afghan food she learned to make as a young bride and cooks for her own kin."

Indeed, the restaurant's website reports that the food prepared at Aracosia McLean "brings the wisdom of our ancestors to the present day," which means no GMOs, preservatives, MSG, hormones, or microwaves.

Just what kind of food can you expect at Aracosia McLean?

You can start with flatbread and four dipping sauces, one with a tart sting of vinegar and herbs and a cooling dip with avocado and yogurt.

As an appetizer, you may wish to try the pumpkin dumplings, flavored with spices and topped off with garlic yogurt sauce, crushed dried mint and cayenne pepper.

The entree options are varied, with everything from salads and burgers to braised lamb shank. Yelp lists some of the more popular dishes as lambchop duo, beef tenderloin, spicy beef dumplings, and roasted eggplant.

Traditional Afghan dishes are also on offer, including: quormas (stews), kadoo turnovers (pumpkin turnovers), and cardamom ice cream.

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Lamb Chop DuoSamantha L. at Yelp

For an exceptional dining experience, the atmosphere is as important as the food. The restaurant is casual but also has an upper level dining room the Post describes as "a modest beauty dominated by acrylic murals of Afghan horsemen and royalty." Decorated in warm colors and lighting, the ambience is above all inviting.

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Dining room at Aracosia McLeanBella J at Yelp

Masroor showcases his restaurant experience by including thick curtains and faux leather table toppers to mute the sound for an intimate experience where you can hear people enjoying themselves around you but also have your own conversation.

I'm sure the locals are glad their wish came to fruition.

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