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Dinner Recs in Silver Spring

Whoops! Waited too long to try for a reservation at Ray's the Classics with the predictable result that there are are no available tables for Saturday night until 9:30 p.m.

Other than Ray's the Silver Spring restaurant scene is totally unfamiliar. Where else should we consider? If it helps you with your recs, we're at the AARP end of the Chowhound crowd. We'll also be casually dressed after attending a movie at the Silver Theater.

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  1. Jackie's, at the corner of Georgia and Sligo Ave., is a good choice, as is Taste of Jerusalem, just north of Sligo on Georgia. Both take reservations.

    1. What kind of food are you looking for? I was assuming steaks but then realized that if Ray's the Classics is the only place you know in SS, that's not a safe assumption. Mandalay - http://www.mandalayrestaurantcafe.com/ is very good. Just be sure you mean spicey if you say spicey.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dacwdc

        Our tastes are wide-ranging, but we don't handle incendiary food too well.

        You're right about not knowing Silver Spring well, with a qualifier. I grew up in Silver Spring. I can tell you about restaurants that haven't existed for decades, but I haven't got a clue about the current crop.

      2. Jackie's is very good and a first choice for a chowhound recommendation. I second Mandalay if you are looking for good food, with little ambiance. We eat their ginger salad and sour mustard chicken on a regular basis. Cubano's for a bit more atmosphere and tasty cuban food. I have had mixed experiences with Ceviche, but I would recommend giving it a try.

        2 Replies
        1. re: spider

          I noticed that on one of the pages of the Mandalay menu on their website, it says "A minimum order of one main dish or a combination of appetizer, salad & soup per person". Do they really enforce that? I was planning to eat there Sunday night but my daughter is a really picky eater and I figured we'd order for 3 and hope she eats some stuff (and we'll be traveling so it's not like I can bring leftovers home). I guess I could call and ask...or find someplace else to eat that night. We're staying in Silver Spring that night so it seemed like a good choice.

          1. re: MisterBill2

            "I noticed that on one of the pages of the Mandalay menu on their website, it says "A minimum order of one main dish or a combination of appetizer, salad & soup per person". Do they really enforce that? "

            It depends. We've been going to Mandalay ever since it was in College Park. Sometimes my husband and I want to eat light, and they accomodate us.

            By the way, when the waiter takes your order for your food, they will ask you if you want it mild, medium, or spicy. When they were in College Park, you really had to mean spicy, but they have toned it down in Silver Spring unless you tell them to do it College Park.

        2. Mandalay, Samantha (great Salvadoran, homey atmosphere, though not downtown), Addis Ababa (Ethiopian). Have heard good things about Ceviche, but haven't been and it might be a little trendy for your taste. If you guys have a sense of humor and don't mind slow service, there's always Piratz Tavern.

          1. Indy , do you remember a Silver Spring resto called "The Greenhouse" and were the crab cakes and soft shells as abfab as memory serves? What were your other favorites back in the day?

            9 Replies
            1. re: annabana

              Sorry, I don't remember The Greenhouse. What "day" are you talking about? I'm talking about the 50s and early 60s.

              Frankly, I don't really remember too much good eating in Silver Spring. We'd eat at the original Crisfied's (near the train station). The Gifford's on Georgia Ave was the happy scene of many Swiss sundaes. I think there was a soft serve place on a street parallel to Colesville Road across from the commercial block. I have a distinct visual memory of a white stucco structure with chunks of mirror embedded in the stucco.

              Incidentally, we ended up having dinner at Ray's the Classics the night we went to the Silver Theater. I'm not ready to be counted as a fan. Four of us ordered the Spiced French onion soup. We were uniformly put off by the sweetness of the broth. We think the added spice was cinnamon and the result tasted quite weird to us. My husband ordered the steak with the sauteed mushrooms, sauce and blue cheese. He really enjoyed his meal. I ordered the strip steak with the port wine sauce. The steak itself was superb, but I didn't care for the sweetness of the sauce. The heavy cream and the sweet port combined to produce a sauce whose sweetness masked the inherent quality of the meat. (Enough time has passed that I don't remember what the other three people in our group ordered or their reaction, other than the soup course.)

              Since we live in Virginia, if I'm going to give any Ray's a second chance, it will be the Ray's the Steaks. If I order an unadorned steak and a salad, I'm likely to have a better opinion of the restaurant.

              1. re: Indy 67

                The Greenhouse was 1970's.

                The frozen custard joint was on Colesville where the Metro bus area is now. I think it was the Polar Bear, but I might be confusing it with a similar place (The Reindeer?) on Georgia Ave. south of Walter Reed.

                Do you remember the Wachapreague Seafood on Thayer? How about Capt. White's?

                1. re: Mister Big

                  Whoops! Both the Polar Bear and The Reindeer sound familiar so I can't narrow down the possibilities. I'm definitely not talking about the place on Georgia.

                  Our family used to eat at Captain White's, but I don't remember Wachapreague Seafood.

                  Since your memory is better than mine, what was the name of the Italian restaurant that was just at the northern edge of the retail area of Silver Spring? (I don't remember the street name.) Hecht's was on the corner of this unknown street and Colesville Road. I recall the Italian restaurant as being perpendicular to this unknown street but within sight of the retail downtown Silver Spring.

                  1. re: Indy 67

                    I'm guessing the Italian place was Villa Rosa. They also had a nightclub with a different name, which escapes me. The street you were trying to remember was Fenton St.

                    Do you remember Kushner's (seafood) on Piney Branch Rd. or China Royal next to Packett's Pharmacy?

                    1. re: Mister Big

                      I'm seriously impressed with your memory. Yes! Villa Rosa! I remember meals there with great fondness, although I can't say whether the food was good or I simply enjoyed eating out in what passed for a somewhat fancy restaurant at that time.

                      I do remember Kushner's, but China Royal doesn't ring a bell. We used to eat Chinese at a small place on University Blvd, in Wheaton in the Moo Goo Gai Pan era. The Yenching Palace was a step up in sophistication and authenticity in the Kennedy era. Other than remembering the change that took place in the Chinese food scene after Nixon went to China, I can't name the Chinese restaurants we frequented then. Perhaps we went to the same places, but their menus changed.

                      I have a strong memory of Sunday meals at Peter Pan in Urbana, MD. Between the drive, the walk on the grounds, and the meal, this was an all-day event. I think I ordered fried chicken; I know I loved the never-ending supply of cottage cheese and apple butter. I also remember trying to get the peacocks to open their tails during our walks around the property. I don't ever remember the peacocks shrieking, a sound that is too distinctive and frightening to forget.

                      1. re: Indy 67

                        Since you are probably my age or a speck older, I'm trying to remember the exact name of a great family restaurant in Four Corners. It was either Stone House Inn or Old Stone House. It was hidden behind a used car dealer where the 7-11 now sits.

                        1. re: Mister Big

                          The Quarry House. It was around the corner from Fred & Harry's. Great Pizza! In the early 70's, I remember a frozen custard store at Fenton and Thayer called Custard's Last Stand. It either became or was next to a cleaner that is still there.

                          1. re: Fryboy

                            I have been corrected. not the Qurry house it's The Corner Pub in Four Corners

                  2. re: Mister Big

                    Yes I clearly remember the Wachapreague and Capt. White's. The Wachapreague had the most amazing seafood and I met my husband at Capt. White's!

              2. It was in the eighties that we would happily and regularly get outside of crabcakes and softshells at the Green House on Georgia, and down the street was a very good Chinese resto, also on Georgia--can't recall the name but I sure remember the orange chicken and spicy stringbeans. Also the best pad thai i ever had in the US was in a Silver Spring thai resto on one of the side streets off Georgia Ave.

                1 Reply
                1. re: annabana

                  The Chinese restaurant with the red tile facade and octagonal window was The China, memorable for Peking Shrimp and two beautiful daughters (Agnes was the older one). I'm guessing the Thai restaurant was Thai Derm, still there, still good and cheap.

                2. Exactly right! As Bob Hope would sing, thanks for the memories. Back to the thread, I have heard that Sergio's is still very good.

                  1. Sushi Jin - 8555-A Fenton St, Silver Spring, MD 20910

                    - very small sushi spot within walking distance of town center parking. Silver Spring Roll is great, so are their other rolls.

                    Adega - 8519 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, MD 20901

                    -best calamari around and they use a type of may0 instead marinara. mixed greens salad is amazing with steak and goat cheese, I don't like sweets in my salad, but the caramelized pear is the most amazing part of the dish. We go on Sat and Sun when from 4-10 you get an appetizer, 2 entrees and a bottle of wine for 20. If you don't finish your wine, they'll cork it for you and let you take it home. The Dos Lomos Malbec is great for the price. Great service, laid-back atmosphere!

                    1. I just had dinner at Tate of Jerusalem tonight and it was quite good. Had the Jerusalem salad to start, which was excellent.

                      1. Add Ghar-e-Kebab on Wayne Ave. - new northern Indian place on Wayne Ave about a half block off Georgia. And to follow up on what other folk are saying above, one of the dishes at Ceviche is really good - the Honduran fish with coconut milk. They have good pisco sours, too.

                        They're also opening a new Vietnamese place around the corner from Jackie's where My Le used to be - I think it's called Lotus Pho. Haven't been there yet, but I hear it's some of the same people from My Le (?), and I always liked the banh xeo there.

                        Great to hear all those old-school names in this thread... I used to go to the Greenhouse in the 80s all the time too. (Also Siddhartha, a great south Indian place where the Thai grocery is now on Thayer Ave.)

                        13 Replies
                          1. re: Mister Big

                            Yes! But for some reason I never ate there (hence why I didn't mention it) - but I can see exactly where it used to be, about two doors down on Bonifant from where Mandalay is now. It had a boat or something out front?

                            1. re: rarotonga

                              That's it. For some reason, JoeH never mentions it in his restaurant histories.

                              And just to stay on topic, Thai Derm across from Mandalay is pretty good.

                              1. re: rarotonga

                                Are there are good non-ethnic places on the same block as Mandalay? I'm thinking maybe I could have my wife and daughter eat there while my son and I go to Mandalay. Obviously it would cause problems if one meal lasted much longer than the other but it would solve my picky eater problems. Thanks.

                                1. re: MisterBill2

                                  Err... I'm trying to come up with one but not succeeding. On that side I think there's pretty much just Mandalay, and on the other is Thai Derm and Roger Miller (African), Kefa (coffee), a gelateria, and Quarry House. I don't think anything they're serving at the Quarry House qualifies as "food," someone correct me if I'm wrong....

                                  Around the corner on Georgia there's an Italian restaurant Olazzo, right? Or maybe that's on the next block. I've never been there, though.

                                  1. re: rarotonga

                                    Thanks..I had found Kefa, which seems like it would have been decent (they seem to have quiche and sandwiches) but they are closed on Sundays.

                                    I asked this earlier in the thread but I think it got lost. One page of Mandalay's menu has wording that "A minimum order of one main dish or a combination of appetizer, salad & soup per person". Do they really enforce that? I'm not sure how much my picky eater is going to be interested in eating (other than maybe an appetizer like eggplant fritters and coconut ice cream for dessert) and I don't want to have to over order just to meet their requirements. It's not like we will be home so we can just take leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day

                                    1. re: MisterBill2

                                      I never noticed that rule - I think it would be reasonable to ask if they make and exception for children, they seem pretty child friendly.

                                      But the main dishes are not huge servings at Mandalay. If three people ordered an app, salad, soup, and two main dishes, that would cover it, and I don't think it would be too much even if one only ate the appetizer.

                                      Quarry house serves burgers and if I recall correctly, grilled cheese. Those seem like the fundamental picky-eater foods to me. Maybe check out the sandwiches at Piratz Tavern on Georgia at the corner of Bonifant.

                                      1. re: wombat

                                        Except that my picky eater "child" is 21 :-). My other one is 17 and he's actually looking forward to trying the food. Oh yeah, my wife who is somewhat older is also a picky eater (at least she isn't that big on ethnic stuff). I'm debating taking them to Meskerem for Ethiopian the next night when we're staying at the Omni Shoreham (in Adams Morgan) or whether I should try something more "standard".

                                      2. re: MisterBill2

                                        Yeah, I saw that question, but since I don't know the answer I didn't address it. I've never tried to order less than at least an app to share and then a main dish for each person.

                                        Maybe you could get a carryout order for the non-picky people and then cart it over to Whole Foods, where the picky people can get pork ribs or salad bar or something from the buffet and then you can eat it all at one of the booths there? I can't imagine Whole Foods caring about people bringing food there from elsewhere. It's not very atmospheric, and there's no booze, but it's one way of dealing with it.

                                      3. re: rarotonga

                                        Quarry House has pretty solid bar food. Decent burgers, tater tots, grilled cheese, quesadillas. It's not special chow, but if friends are gathering I'm pretty happy with a cozy meal there. it's probably ideal for picky eaters. Olazzo is right around the corner.
                                        Also, the "downtown" silver spring complex is about two blocks from Mandalay--picky eaters could do well at the chains--Potbelly, Chipotle, Noodles, Eggspectation. If you really wanted to all eat together you could grab one of the unaffiliated outdoor tables and get takeout from Mandalay and somewhere else.

                                        I don't know if Mandalay enforces that rule; I've never noticed it. Depending on how picky your daughter is, there are a few items on Mandalay's menu that seem like chinese food (which i think most picky americans tend to accept). The "thick noodles" are similar to lo mein noodles and the fried rice should look pretty familiar. Also, there are spring rolls on the appetizer menu and they appear in a spring roll salad.

                                        1. re: nc213

                                          Well we ate at Mandalay tonight and an amazing thing happened. My daughter ate the food, and she actually enjoyed it! We started with the samosas, eggplant fritters and the soup with chicken and coconut. All were good, although the appetizer portions were kind of small. I did not taste the coconut in the soup but we all agreed it was excellent. We ordered 3 entrees for 4 people and no one complained. Once again, all were excellent and my daughter really enjoyed the CH13 dish (the room temp one with white meat) even though it was spicier than I would have expected she'd like. Entree portions were not particularly large as has been mentioned here. For dessert, my daughter got the brown sugar sticky rice with coconut and she loved it (so did the rest of us). My wife and I split the coconut ice cream and also thought it was great. So it got thumbs up from all of us. My only complaint is that I would have expected larger portions for the prices, but I don't really know the prices at similar places (obviously not the same cuisine, but other ethnic places) around here. Next two days will be RW meals in DC, Dino's for dinner on Monday and PS 7 for lunch on Tuesday. So I guess this will be the cheapest meal of the trip.

                                          1. re: MisterBill2

                                            Congrats on the picky eater breakthrough. Maybe she's just a late bloomer!

                                            1. re: MisterBill2

                                              Mandalay is a terrific restaurant run by very nice people, so I'm glad your experience was a good one.

                                2. For the CH crowd these are the best restaurants in Silver Spring