Review: El Manantial Restaurant – Reston, Virginia

Review: El Manantial Restaurant – Reston, Virginia
More and more we business travelers find ourselves reinventing ourselves in order to survive and secure our livelihoods. Even if your business is secure, you might find yourself traveling to places not usually contained in your “normal” itinerary. Reston, as a location, is not the ‘norm’ for me, yet there I was, and had I not been there for business, I might have traveled to this restaurant anyway had I known about it.


El Manantial (“The Oasis”) is located at 12050-A North Shore Drive in Reston. It is about 20 minutes outside of Washington D.C. (with no traffic). It resides in a strip mall that might not appeal to the passer-by as a location for such an excellent restaurant. In fact, I would have never considered it due to location alone had it not been recommended by a client. Yet once inside, location becomes appealing again when you choices are a private room, or a seat “by the lake” – the main wall is a beautiful mural of a Mediterranean lake-side scene.

Yet as opposed to choosing a hotel, location and building type aren’t usually the primary forces by which we determine our destination. The food, the service and the atmosphere inside is what drives a successful spot, especially when business is to be discussed or winding down is needed at the end of a day.

Food, Service, Bliss

The food, was spectacular. The menu is a self proclaimed selection of Spanish, Italian and French fusion dishes, and all three Mediterranean flavors were represented. From the wine recommendations, to appetizers, to entrees, the experience was quite good. In fact, the table had a selection of different seafood, salads, and dishes that covered chicken, beef and seafood. All were enjoyed, and some were reveled in.

If wine and tapas are in order at the end of the day, this is the place. There is a separate tapas menu that features embutidos, seafood selections, a pizza menu, and a tapa-sized paella portion.

The service was out of this world. Very personal attention was provided by the Maitre d' Humberto Fuentes, likely due to a long standing relationship between him and someone in our party, yet I observed other tables getting the same treatment. Humberto brings 25 years of experience to the restaurant and a long and respected career in the D.C. area. He is best known for his work with El Tio Pepe in Georgetown, and La Taberna del Alabardero in D.C.

El Manantial is family owned and managed. You can guess that without knowing beforehand simply from the feel of the restaurant. The caring and congeniality between management and the customers happens only in such restaurants. Needless to say, a little sense of family while traveling goes a long way. And a family that feeds you? Well, let's just say I'll be showing up on the doorstep a lot.

[The author was not compensated for this review]

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