Burke lies around 20 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., in Virginia’s Fairfax County. The census-designated place appeals to career-minded professionals with families who prefer to live in the suburbs. The quiet lifestyle and excellent schools make this area a top contender for military personnel and other families looking for a safe location with a moderate commute to the city.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Restaurants and local cafes speckle the town in several locations. Asian and Mediterranean cuisine in the area tops the list of local favorites, starting with Spartan's Family Restaurant on Burke Road. This Greek eatery famous for gyros and American-style pizzas with Mediterranean flavors keeps patrons coming back for more. Locals recommend stopping in for lunch or dinner, though the establishment also serves breakfast. Order the gyro dinner for a platter of tender shaved lamb and beef marinated in signature spices topped with vegetables and tangy Tzatziki sauce. Locals also praise the chicken kabobs, and suggest every new customer try the Olympians spaghetti. This spaghetti trumps all preconceived notions of the classic pasta dish by sautéing filet mignon tips with peppers, mushrooms and onions before sprinkling the masterpiece with feta cheese crumbles and layering the blend over marinara coated noodles.
For a meal that tricks your taste buds into thinking you've left the country, head to Panisa Thai on the Burke Centre Parkway. Locals swear by anything with shrimp, especially dishes doused in sweet and sour sauce. Other menu favorites include green curry and fried duck with a side of chili basil dipping sauce.
The nightlife scene in Burke remains relatively quiet. In fact, no designated bars exist inside Burke, though several establishments feature bars and drink specials. Margaritas Latin Grill reigns as the area's primary go-to location because it serves excellent mixed drinks and Latin American cuisine. With a generous happy hour and affordable pina coladas, this lively atmosphere tops the list for area night life. Locals suggest the mango margarita or a cold beer, and insist on the signature salsa and chips.
A family restaurant by day, the Hopsfrog Grille features a separate entrance for night-time bar hopping with locals. This popular bar has a great waitstaff, better-than-average food and a variety of microbrews, domestic, imported and draft beers served in frosty mugs, which help you shake off your worries and sink into relaxation.
History & Culture
Burke was named after its first resident in the 1800s. Silas Burke built a house atop the hill overlooking Pohick Creek Valley, which can still be seen today. He donated a portion of his land to the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, though the area stayed mostly rural until after World War I when government employees moved to Burke for convenient commutes to the city. However, the first real subdivision was not constructed until the 1960s when demand for low-key neighborhoods became high around the District.
Residents interested in the county’s past head to the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum in Fairfax Station or north to Fairfax for other museums. Annual events hosted in Burke focus on the community or families, and prominent music or art scenes don't exist. The most popular annual events include the Burke Centre Conservancy Fall Festival and the Pumpkin Patch at the Burke Nursery and Garden Center.
Residents in Burke depend on cars for the majority of their transportation, because most destinations in Burke are too spread out for residents to walk. However, cyclists use a series of bike-friendly roads and designated lanes to navigate the neighborhood’s boundaries. Most bike infrastructure resides north of Burke Lake Road, though Huntsman Boulevard and Lee Chapel Road provide lanes in the heart of Burke.
Taxis cannot be hailed, but locals in need of temporary rides use Uber to schedule outings around town. Commuting to the city via car takes roughly 30 minutes by accessing the Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway from Braddock Road. Residents also take the Capitol Beltway to connect to Interstates 66 and 95. Parking in residential areas occurs frequently, but residents use the free VRE parking if they drive to the station and commute out of the neighborhood. If you’re headed for the city, take the Burke Centre Amtrak to Roberts Road to access the first bus headed west. Destinations in and around Burke can be reached by riding one of six bus routes.
The average cost of living in Burke is about 16 percent higher than D.C.’s. Residents in Burke pay the same amount for standard services and goods, such as groceries and health care, as they would in the city. However, the expensive housing market accounts for the biggest difference in costs of living. The average rental price in Burke sits at $1,355 for a standard one-bedroom apartment. Additionally, fuel prices hang about 11 percent higher than the national average. Similarly, a one-day metro rail pass runs $14.50, but a one-way bus fair is only $1.75. A slight break in some costs, such as a beer at a local pub for $5, help alleviate the high prices associated with housing and transportation.
Local shopping options are scattered throughout the area of Burke and do not congregate in a main location. Big-name chains dominate the retail atmosphere and are often clustered together in shopping centers, such as the Burke Centre Shopping Center on Burke Road. However, a few local shops manage to compete with the corporate offerings.
The Picket Fence on Burke Centre Parkway sells carefully curated gifts and stationery. Locals say an hour browsing the specialty books and stylish window displays feels like minutes in this goldmine of whimsical gifts. No boutiques or high-end retailers operate in Burke, so residents head outside the neighborhood for trendy finds that can’t be found in chain stores.
Locals buy groceries from chain stores such as Giant or Safeway on Lee Chapel Road. There aren't any specialty grocers in Burke, so residents head north to Fairfax to access stores such as Trader Joe’s. The community is also home to the Burke Farmers’ Market that sets up through fall on Roberts Parkway. The market sells products produced only by vendors who live within 125 miles of Fairfax County to ensure the items are truly supporting local vendors. Regular shoppers suggest grabbing a scone from one of the bakers before picking out fresh cuts of meat and local cheeses. Locals swear by the market for its seasonal produce and recommend shopping from the produce stands for the selection and consistent quality.
A few small parks lay within the boundaries of Burke, such as the free Burke Station Square that features a pool, walking trails and a playground. Families appreciate the diverse offerings while athletes flock to the tennis courts and basketball court. Locals say the two trails are perfect for jogging, with each winding in a different direction giving jogger a variety of scenic stretches. The Rolling Valley West Park is a free destination favored for its soccer fields and large expanses of grass. Children come for the playground and locals with pets use the large perimeter to walk their furry friends. Cyclists looking for picturesque routes pedal through the paths that circle Lake Braddock. No major events are held in these parks since they’re primarily used for organized sports and recreation, though the Conservancy Fairgrounds houses the famed Burke Centre Festival.