PG County/WaPo Guide
Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post food critic, recently released a local dining guide without a single place in Prince George's County. With the exception of the cafe at Ikea, I can't think of much myself.
I live in Arlington but my wife's sister lives on the Motgomery-PG border so I'm often there and struck by the dearth of good places. Two questions for the group:
1) Can anyone think of any good places in PG County? Places that would be worth--at least--a 20 minutes drive.
2) Although it's considered "poor" by metro Washington standards, PG County's household income is well above the national average. Thus, poverty alone can't plausibly explain why it has so few decent places to eat. Any other ideas?
Jerry's Seafood in Lanham and Pasta Plus in Laurel are usually named as "worth driving to from elsewhere" restaurants.
Other than those, it is pretty much wasteland. I don't know why. I think it's largely perception. A Montgomery or DC address just has more "prestige".
Fratelli's at Rt. 202 and the BW Parkway is pretty good Italian, especially seafood. Lambert's Seafood just a few blocks from Jerry's is pretty serviceable, and much cheaper.
Well, Tom's guide also didn't have a single African restaurant (of any cuisine) in it. Do you think there are no good African restaurants in the area?
If you're in the PG/MoCo area, start your journey at Pho 75, which is literally a few yards over the border, if my ADC map is correct. This place is an old standy and is quite good, but it's been surpassed by two excellent Pho place on Route 1 in Beltsville, Pho Vn One and Pho 88. I drive 20 minutes from my place of work to go to Pho Vn One at least once a week in the cold weather (bearing in mind that 20 minutes won't get you very far in metro area traffic).
In addition to the pho places, there is a trio of very good Korean places: Gah-Rahm (a sprawling barbeque place), Myong Dong (a mom 'n' pop noodle place), and Da Rae Won (a decent Korean-Chinese place). All three of these are highly rated on koreandc.com.
There are a bunch of very good, authentic Mexican restaurants in Bladensburg: El Tapatio, Taqueria Tres Reyes, and La Sirenita are probably the most well-known. Costa Alegre restaurant in Greenbelt is (imho) the equal of any of these. They have excellent soups, tacos, and tortas.
The Food Factory II, an Afghan restaurant in College Park, serves excellent bone-in chicken kabobs and naan straight from a tandoor. Also in College Park is South Street Steaks, a Philly-style cheesesteak place that generally gets favorable marks from cheesesteak experts (I am not an expert in this, personally).
A recent thread discusses the quality of BBQ in Indian Head, MD.
Unfortunately, the soul food discussion seems centered on downtown DC. I'd wager you would find better examples in PG County. There was a place in Seat Pleasant/Landover run by a fellow who worked in New Orleans that was supposed to be very good. Unfortunately, the name escapes me.
I have lived here for 20 years. PG County is weird. It is a "rich" county compared to much of the rest of the USA, but the inhabitants often don't demand the finer things in life for themselves.
These are the places my wife and I go to for a good meal:
Langley Park: several excellent Indian restaurants including Udupi Palace, Woodlands and Tiffin. They are all reasonably priced. All three are near the intersection of New Hampshire and University.
Greenbelt: Siri's Chef Secret (Thai/American). Just west of Beltway Plaza. We really like the food here and always take visitors from out of town.
Also Greenbelt: some locals like the New Deal Cafe in the Old Greenbelt Center. It's a "health food" style place which I will check out in the new few weeks.
Hyattsville/Riverdale (Rt. 1): Calvert House Inn (this is where UMD professors go for a good meal). I have not eaten there for a couple of years and I hear they have changed owners yet again. Hope it is still excellent.
College Park: I have about given up on Chinese food in PG County (I think all the good Chinese chefs moved to Montgomery or Howard Counties long ago). However, the lunch buffet at Seven Seas a couple of months ago was very good, but if you are used to Montgomery County eating it will be average.
Kabobs: as someone said, Food Factory in College Park is pretty authentic (love their channa). I have had excellent kabob at the Kabob House on Rt. 198 just east of Laurel but have not had a chance to eat there for a couple of years.
Diners: there are lots of diners in PG County. Laurel has an old Tastee Diner on Rt. 1 which serves large portions. The quality is not gourmet but it's one place I can still find sausage biscuits and gravy. For breakfast two little places in downtown Upper Marlboro are worth visiting: the Main Street Cafe and the Al's Deli. Both have great breakfast food, try the pancakes, french toast, chipped beef on toast.
Fried chicken: Bonjangles (chain) in New Carrollton. This is the best chain fried chicken I have ever had. The only Bojangles locations in Maryland are in PG County.
Check other threads for information on Mexican food, especially in Riverdale.