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Five best restaurants in suburban MD?

Just to start it, my limited list so far, in approximate order:

Il Pizzico
La Ferme
Le Mannequin Pis

None of them really great, just very good IMO.

Your list?

(No, I haven't tried some of the big names like David Craig, Divino, Grapeseed, Guardado, La Miche, Persimmon, Tavira, and my wife isn't crazy about Asian or Indian food, so I haven't tried many of those.)

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  1. Suburban Maryland is a big, big place, dude. So is the measure of what's best -- are we talking fine dining or good (great) eats?

    Some places I like that are a bit further out are Cafe de Paris in Columbia, Tersiguel's in Ellicott City, and hell, even KBQ in Bowie where I dined tonight on some pretty fine BBQ.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Pool Boy

      Pool Boy: Yes, it's big, but so what? Let's say MoCo, Howard and PG. (since I didn't include a couple places in Frederick and Annapolis I like.) That pretty much means MoCo.
      Thought Tersiguel's just OK, never been to the two others you listed.
      To me the term "best" includes food, ambience, and service in that order, pretty much regardless of price, and you usually get pretty much what you pay for (unless you actually agree with the Washingtonian that a place like 2 Amys can be seriously ranked on the same scale as the Inn at Little Washington or Citronelle.)

      1. re: foodcheck

        Cafe de Paris is Da Bomb. The quality of the food is spectacular.

        1. re: foodcheck

          Iron Bridge Wine Company around the Columbia/Clarksville border. Great food, great atmosphere. Try it before you knock it!

        2. re: Pool Boy

          In Howard County how about Iron Bridge Wine Company, Trapeze, and Johnny's Bistro?

        3. Rock Creek, Raku-Bethesda, Grapeseed, Persimmon, Blacks

          3 Replies
          1. re: keithdcil

            Thanks Keith. Ate once at Rock Creek and it maybe should have made my list - should do again. I tried Blacks several years ago and was underwhelmed by the to me weird flavors - I hear it's much better now, though. It and the other three on your list I have to try.

            1. re: foodcheck

              foodcheck - I have never had a bad meal at Blacks... but I find the wine list a little pricey. Thanks for reminding me about Il Pizzico because I have heard good things for years - but I rarely venture past the beltway in Mo.Co. I also want to get to Cava in The Traville Center. Also, I have heard good things about the new Bice in Bethesda.

              1. re: keithdcil

                I have been underwhelmed at Blacks by the quantity/quality ratio vs. cost. $30+ for a very small filet on a big white plate with nothing else... I think it's pretty good but there are sooooo many other places where you get a better meal for more value... and feel full afterwards.

          2. Ruan Thai and Joe's Noodle House are the two best. It is possible to eat great at Passage to India, Samantha's, Daruma, Woodlands.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve

              Agree with Daruma, Passage to India. Would add Indique Heights (which is barely in MD), Urban BBQ, and honestly I can't think of a fifth as I prefer the food in NOVA and DC.

            2. Okay, these kinds of lists change minute by minute for me, but lately I've really liked:

              Le Palais
              La Flor de la Canela
              Nick's Chop House
              Comus Inn

              I'll add Bobby's Crabcakes, Itoyanagi, El Tapatio 2. (I'm in Gaithersburg, so these are all up county.)


              Nick's Chop House
              700 King Farm Blvd, Rockville, MD 20850

              La Flor De La Canela - CLOSED
              117 N Frederick Ave Ste 3, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

              Restaurant Cava
              9713 Traville Gateway Dr, Rockville, MD 20850

              Le Palais
              304 Main St, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

              200 Main St, Gaithersburg, MD

              El Tapatio 2
              615 S Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

              3 Replies
              1. re: wookyluvr

                Can you say more about Itoyanagi? Is it worth a trip from waaaay downcounty? I guess what really matters to me is whether they have dishes that I can't get elsewhere, and last I looked they didn't have a website so there's no menu on line. There's another thread that says it's 'very authentic' but then the posts talk about sushi and teriyaki and tempura, and I don't need to drive the better part of an hour for that, you know?

                1. re: wombat

                  Umm, well it doesn't take me more than 30 mins to get anywhere downcounty, so not sure where you're coming from or if it's worth your time, but they serve udon and soba noodles, donburi, not sure I've tried anything else. I'm not claiming to be a Japanese food aficionado, but I really like this restaurant. Also, if it matters, they are very kid-friendly.

                  1. re: wombat

                    Sad to say that if you haven't made it out for Japanese at Itoyanagi, then I think it's too late. Stopped by for lunch today, and it was closed. Looked like for good. Bummer! That location seems to be the kiss of death in the Kentlands. Happy to say that we went around the corner and had an excellent meal at the nearby Pasha Lounge -- Moroccan restaurant.

                2. Cava
                  Raku in Bethesda
                  Amici Miei
                  Joe's Noodle House

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: MarcDC

                    I have to agree with MarcDC's list, much more so than foodcheck's list.

                    Grapeseed is outstanding and has stayed that way since they opened. I was lucky to go there in its opening week and have visited often since. I've been underwhelmed at Ray's a few times; Il Pizzico is good but not so wonderful as many think it. I've actually been there several times with friends who love it, but I think Amici Miei is molto bene! I still like Joe's a lot but thought it was better when it first opened.

                    I would add Tasting Room in Frederick to this list and possibly Bombay Bistro.

                    The thing about any restaurant is that you can get lucky and have an amazing meal once. When you go back expecting the same, it's not always going to come close to that 1st experience.

                    1. re: Transplanted Texan

                      yea ive never been impressed with Il Pizzico... I didnt love Amici Miei when they first opened but ive been back about 4x since then and each time was better than the previous.

                      Cava is just great greek food, no two ways about it

                      Raku in Bethesda just strikes a chord with me. They don't have better sushi than say Sushi-Ko, Sushi Taro, or Kaz, but for a Bethesda sushi place it's very good as is the rest of the menu. Plus I like the atmosphere there.

                      The food and wine at Grapeseed is great, much better than Persimmon in my opinion.

                      1. re: MarcDC

                        I like sushi, but the hair-splitting over who serves the best raw fish always amuses me. There are basically two kinds: Fresh and not fresh.

                      2. re: Transplanted Texan

                        I really liked Grapeseed when they opened, and we started using it a "special occasion" restaurant, but somewhere along the way I felt they went a little downhill, and it became too expensive for what it was.

                        At this point, I'd say David Craig is probably the best food in Bethesda. I also like Guardado's a lot.

                      3. re: MarcDC

                        I can comment only on two of these- Cava and Joe's. Cava is pretty good but overrated. What is it about all these tapas-like places that is so appealing? I found one or two of their highly touted items (meatballs and fish roe) quite inedible. Like Jaleo and Zaytinia and all those overpriced tasting menus with their "foams" that all those jaded critics love so much. Cava's is basically a noisy bar with some decent dishes, fine for what it is, but a great restaurant, I don't think so. No comparison to a real ungimmicky restaurant serving straight-forward well-prepared authentic real food with good service, like Il Pizzico, at least the last few times I have been there.
                        Re Cava, since when are french fries topped with all kinds of stuff like some carnival food and flaming dishes so "authentic"? Though even if they were authentic, that doesn't make them good or well-prepared.
                        Joe's is OK, but in a different league and perhaps just another foodie fad for the "in" crowd, although to be really fair I haven't sampled enough of their menu. (Hint: Just because they offer unusual items not readily available elsewhere doesn't mean they are well prepared, but I guess there is the snob appeal.)

                        1. re: eatsie

                          "What is it about all these tapas-like places that is so appealing?"
                          Thomas Keller, among many others, believes that people get tired of something after the first few bites. If you did a quick survey of Chowhound, you might find out that many folks have as their favorite meal some elaborate multi-course feast in which everything is appetizer-sized. Some of the best meals of my life have been sharing 8 to 10 courses with other adults, getting only a little bit of any one dish.

                          To keep this thread on topic, Jaleo offers an incredible variety of choices on their menu. All of a sudden grilled asparagus with romescu sauce is not just some kind of side course, but can be an equal to anything on the menu. Enjoy more than one salad?..... that's your choice! We are freed from having to think of a meal as a big hunk of protien bookended by a salad and a dessert.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Jaleo is just an excuse to charge too much for too little food. I'm suer just by the law of everages something must be good there, though I ddin't find it. The best restaurants prepare a few entrees or dishes in season, not a msih-mash of a thousand samples. If you eat with four people, you can sample at least 8 dishes plus sides - that's enough for any palate.

                            1. re: eatsie

                              I can eat at Jaleo for about $18. It's enough food for me, I indeed love what I order there, and I feel like I have a good selection. An excellent choice for downtown DC or anywhere else for that matter.

                              Anyway, you asked the question, sorry you don't like the answer, but I'm afraid for you that it is not a fad. For many people, it really is a better way of dining out. If that doesn't suit you, then I hope you are happy with the choices you have.

                          2. re: eatsie

                            I never thought of Joe's as having much in the way of "snob appeal". The place is a dump, but the people are wonderful and the cooking is top notch. They haven't disappointed me yet.

                        2. tough to stick to 5 best but here they are: Renauto's (italian-Potomac), Perssimon, Black's, Cava, Tako Grill
                          honorable mention: Le Mannequan Pis, Addie's, Black Market, Raku, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro, Cafe' De Paris, Trapeeze, Iron Bridge, Grapeseed, OZ Steakhouse, Tavira, Le Miche, Le Veux Logis, Paul Kee Duckhouse, Hollywood East, Jackie's, Sushi Domo, Assaggi, Cesco, Benjarong, Pana Thai, Cournicopia (lunch only),Crossroads Pub (crabs), Ray's Steak, Cuba de' Ayar, Urban BBQ, Il Pizzico

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: dining with doc

                            Grapeseed, Taverna Kefi (new in Wheaton), Cava, David Craig and Daruma. Haven't tried Persimmon but will add to the list of places to try too.

                            1. re: wldmshrm77

                              Bob's Shabu Shabu 88
                              A & J
                              Yet Gol
                              Hollywood East
                              Da Rae Won
                              Vit Guel Lighthouse Tofu
                              Pollo Sabroso
                              Irene's 3

                          2. Also really good are India Delight in Catonsville, Sushi Sono in Columbia, San Sushi in Towson, and Clementine in Lauraville.

                            1. Ha Ha Ha Ha, that's a good question, there's actually five great ones?

                              1 Reply