Once a big-box-heavy, discount-retail destination, the intersection of Route 7 and Columbia Pike in Fairfax County has proved to be as full of surprise acts as the family business of its namesake: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.


Lenny B. Robinson at Appliance Fix-It. Photo by Megan McDonough

Appliance Fix-It
5800 Seminary Rd.

Got a vacuum so busted, a zipper so stuck, a lawnmower so lethargic that they require super-human powers to resurrect? Good thing this place is co-owned by Batman, a.k.a., Lenny B. Robinson. When not at his packed den of appliances and gadgets, Robinson drives his Lamborghini to visit kids in area hospitals as the Caped Crusader. This winter a woman arrived at his shop stuck in her parka. "Her zipper wouldn't budge; I really need Batman strength," he said. In the end, pliers and patience did the trick. "She knew we'd fix what nobody else could."



Ultrazone Lazer Tag. Photo by Megan McDonough

Ultrazone Laser Tag
3447 Carlin Springs Rd.

Whether your kids are bouncing off the walls or going full zombie in the glare of the iPad, this is the antidote. It's routinely packed with kids, teenagers, sweaty bachelor party attendees and co-workers of creative team-builders. "This is the perfect place to get away from the real world and just de-stress," says employee Sunny Tran.


Vegetarian platter at Meaza. Photo by Joseph Victor Stefanchik


5700 Columbia Pike

Washington gets plenty of ink for its Little Ethiopia, but Baileys Crossroads is giving Shaw a run for its injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread that sets this cafe/market/wedding destination/butcher/bakery apart from others. After supplying just about every local Ethiopian joint with her spongy sourdough creations, Meaza Zemedu is holding court in this light-filled space, where she offers a tangier version of edible scoops.


Peking duck at the Peking Gourmet Inn. Photo by Megan McDonough


Peking Gourmet Inn
6029 Leesburg Pike

Since her first trip 30 years ago with the House Majority Leader's staff, Gail Raiman said she has been ordering "the fabulous Peking duck and mai tais." Don't expect lots of room to stretch out, but do expect to spot a bold name in the cozy digs. Raiman reports seeing President George H.W. Bush - who may have gotten a taste for the signature dish during his stint as U.S. ambassador to China in the '70s - and Barbara and "major international figures doing deals behind the screen."


Bratwurst at the German Gourmet. Photo by Megan McDonough


German Gourmet
5838 Columbia Pike

It's the best of the 'wurst at this popular destination for Deutschland lovers. The 4,000-square-foot emporium doesn't skimp on variety or let Germany's borders define its selection of imported meats, cheeses, chocolates, wines, beer and snacks. The import purveyor satisfies hankerings for Haribo and herring, showing equal respect for cravings of home, whether from Grandma Gertrude's kitchen or the local grocer.



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