Germantown and Gaithersburg Dinners
I will be staying in Germantown on business next week and will need to have dinner with a colleague 3 nights. He lives in Ohio and craves MD-style seafood but likes a lot of cuisines. I favor independently operated places that use fresh local ingredients and offer good value. $50/head including a couple glasses of wine is the optimal ceiling. Here are the Zagat-rated joints with 20+ food scores:
Germantown: India Palace, Moby Dick, Agrodolce, French Quarter Cafe, and Mi Rancho
Gaithersburg: Hakuba, Minerva, Tandoori Nights, Moby Dick (again), New Fortune, and Tara Thai
Thoughts? Opinions? Additional suggestions? One thing missing so far is local seafood. Thanks in advance from a Durham, NC Chowhound.
Thanks DC area Chowhounds! This is why you can't count on Zagat for everything. I will put that Cleveland Park knowledge to use on a future trip. I'll do a report on where I do eat after the trip. If any of you are coming down to Durham NC check in with the South board and we'll hook you up with the best in bbq, taquerias, or other fine chow.
I actually started another thread with my report and realized I should post it here:
Thanks to all DC area Chowhounds for the restaurant info. I managed to eat well in the 'burbs. Tuesday night, on my own, I went to the Rustic Oven in Germantown. I guess the strip mall vibe is par for the course but the food was wonderful. Foccaccia with a light tomato topping was brought out along with herbed olive oil. I had gnocchi Bolognese which was a special and it was perfect. They also pour a generous tumbler of chianti classico for $6. Based on the foccaccia I would definitely try their pizza. Wednesday night I tried La Flor de Canela along with my colleague. Another winner. The pisco sours were a fine aperitif and we split a mixed seafood seviche. One of the best I've had: fresh and flavorful. I had the lomo saltado for an entree which was complimented nicely by the garlicky hat condiment they provide. My colleague had a fried whole flounder which was reminiscent of the crispy flounder they serve in Charleston. The icy cold Peruvian beer went great with the food. Thursday nigh was sushi at Yuraku in Germantown. Back to a strip mall again but very good sushi. They brought edamame and a vegetable appetizer out right away and the sushi was very fresh. I love spider rolls (soft shell crab) but often find them unwieldy. Yuraku makes spider hand rolls which is the perfect solution. Their special roll was a Maui Black Pepper Roll: pepper-crusted seared ahi rolled with avocado and a wasabi sauce. Fantastic! Once again, I appreciate all the local knowledge that steered me in the right direction. Check in with us if you're coming South.
As one who entertains customers and business colleagues from our base in Germantown, my personal favorite local chowhound places for dinner are as follows:
Agrodolce serves an excellent variety of northern and southern italian dishes with a nouveau twist. Great wine list and well withinh your budget. There is outside dining if the weather stays as superb as it has been.
O'Donnell's in Kentlands/Gaithersburg is the best area spot for local seafood. My favorite dish here is the Rockfish stuffed with crab. Two local delicacies all rolled into one.
More casual and laid-back is the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Gaithersburg (link below is WRONG location, so ignore), which serves excellent upscale pub fare and some of the best (if not the best) local brews in all of Maryland. They also distill their own liquor. I'm actually taking a large group (50+) there on Wednesday night, so look for us upstairs and ask for Rob!
In Germantown, other worthwhile places to look up and not already mentioned include Johnny's Kabob (the best of the local kabob places), Mi Rancho (above average Tex-Mex), and Peking Palace for very good Chinese-American and authentic Hunan-style "homestyle" cuisine (ask for the Chinese menu, if you dare). Tandoori Nights in Kentlands/Gaithersburg is non-traditional Indian fare with a kick and a modern atmosphere and is also recommended.
Have a great trip!
21030 Frederick Rd Ste J, Germantown, MD 20876
Dogfish Head Alehouse
6363 Seven Corners Ctr, Falls Church, VA 22044
12937 Wisteria Dr, Germantown, MD 20874
la Flor de la Canela in Gaithersburg is outstanding. As noted the restaurant is at the end of a row of shops in a strip mall off Route 355 in Gaithersburg (a pawn shop is the only visible establishment from the road), though the Jiffy Lube across the street and a large church that borders the parking lot for the strip mall serve as landmarks. If you go in the evening, it's not unusual to see entire families dining here. The space can be noisy, especially on weekends if there's an important soccer game playing on the television. The staff is very warm and friendly and can steer you toward dishes if you're unsure. Potatoes (not Idaho bakers) are staples of the Peruvian diet, so don't be surprised if you see dishes with several kinds of potatoes (though you will be pleasantly surprised by the varieties of preparation and the outstanding flavors). Several not-to-be missed dishes include the ceviche (the best I've had anywhere), and the tripe appetizer (even if you're not a tripe fan, the preparation with garlic will delight you). Go for the pisco sour, a Peruvian cocktail. You can't go wrong with any of the fish dishes and the lomo saltado is a nice beef dish.
Well, if he really likes MD style seafood (which means to me - overcooked and drenched in heavy sauces) there's O'Donnell's in Kentlands. When it was in Bethesda, we never ate there. The average age of the clientele seemed to be north of 85, and that told us it was the old-fashioned style seafood restaurant. However, a few years ago, shortly after they moved, we happened to be in Kentlands at dinner time and stopped in. I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice list of fresh fish, which they were happy to prepare simply (e.g., broiled w/out sauce). They still have the gloppy Norfolks and such, but it really is a broader and more modern menu now, and we thought the meal was quite nice. Nothing we'd drive back up there for, but it would certainly make your friend happy.
I love Flor de Canela. It is a little bit difficult to find, because it is at the far end of a tiny little shopping center that sits perpendicular to the road (355) and I can't recall the name of the strip or the name of the businesses that are more visible from the road. But it is worth searching it out. Great food. Don't let the shabby appearance of the strip put you off. Flor de Canela is really very nice inside.
There's also Peking Palace for good Chinese, just make sure to ask for the Chinese menu and not the American one. In the same shopping center, which I beleive was renamed the Lotte Shopping Center, is Lotte. Its a grocery store, but it does have Bon Chon chicken. The most addictive, fried chicken I've ever had - its Korean and its not a heavily breaded chicken, but more of a glazed yet crispy one. You just have to try it, but search for Bon Chon chicken, and you'll hear people raving about it. There are also many other chinese, japanese, and korean places in the super market to eat at.
I'm a big fan of the French Quarter Cafe. I hear their brunch is good (I've never been), but I will say I've had a couple great meals there. Awesome fried oysters and its a small restaurant that does offer a good value.
Agrodulce is probably the "fanciest" of all your choices, but notice I didn't say the best. Its ok Italian, but for Germantown, its one of your nicer options. I'd say its just average. The better choice is Rustic Oven in Germantown. Family owned and operated (Mom's in the kitchen and dad does the sauce), they serve good Italian food and excellent pizzas. Also definitely cheaper than Agrodulce.
18301 Leaman Farm Rd, Germantown, MD 20874
21030 Frederick Rd Ste J, Germantown, MD 20876
Thurmont plz Thurmont MD, Thurmont plz Thurmont, MD
French Quarter Cafe
19849 Century Blvd, Germantown, MD
Lotte Video(Rockville Lotte Plaza%uB0B4)
11790 Parklawn Dr, Rockville, MD
Actually, you shouldn't limit yourself to that area. Grab the METRO at Shady Grove (Gaithersburg) and take it to DC, it is an easy trip and very safe. At the Cleveland Park stop you can go to Dino for good Italian and a fantastic wine list with lots of wine by the glass (and some good whole fish), Palena Cafe for a great meal (the back room is out of your price point) or several other good restaurants.
If you are willing to travel to Rockville, you could try Bombay Bistro (they make a great Tandoori Rockfish), or go out Shady Grove Road to Cava for small plates and lots of wines by the glass.
Personally, I find Germantown and Gaithersburg to be somewhat lacking for places to eat unless you are looking for Chinese or Mexican/Salvadorian food. If you are in Germantown for business, I'd presume you are on the Tech Corridor and the pickings there are slim.
La Flor de la Canela is a really nice little Peruvian place you might consider. I like French Quarter Cafe. I like Mi Rancho because it's easy to take my small children there, and the food is fine, but it's nothing to really write home about. Amazingly, last week we ordered our boys hamburgers there (at Mi Rancho!), which are not on the menu, and they were the BEST burgers I have had in this area. Weird! I might just go there for burgers next time and skip the Mexican food! New Fortune is strictly for Dim Sum on Saturday afternoons. Tara Thai is a chain. There is other good Thai in the area. I like Thai Tanium. I haven't been to Tandoori Nights in a while, but it's been good in the past. There's a nice French place in the Kentlands called Le Palais, but it will put you over your price point. I like Moby Dick, but it's very casual as the other poster said. If you consider that, also consider Crepes-a-go-go in the Kentlands.
Sorry I must have clicked on the link to the wrong Le Palais, and now I don't know how to fix it. There's a restaurant called Le Palais on Main Street in the Kentlands.
Le Palais Du Chocolat
6925 Willow St NW, Washington, DC
La Flor De La Canela - CLOSED
117 N Frederick Ave Ste 3, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Thai Tanium Restaurant
657 Center Point Way, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Crepes A Go Go
514 Main St, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Moby Dick is a kebab place, not really a restaurant. You order at a counter, etc. It's a local chain, very good. LOVE the hummus. I enjoy Yuraku in Germantown for sushi. The only seafood I can think of in that area (other than chains) is O'Donnell's in the Kentlands (Gaithersburg). Kind of old fashioned. Had lunch there on a Saturday and it seemed like everyone had brought their elderly mom, but it was good for what it was, traditional seafood in a nice setting.