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good places to eat in Rockville?

I will be staying at the Hilton in Rockville for 4 days on a business trip. I am looking for good places to eat in that area. I will have a car but prefer not to drive too far (although I will drive for something exceptionally good). I'm not so much into burger joints, otherwise I am OK with pretty much everything, from the cheap ethnic shack to the expensive upscale place (business is paying, eh :). I won't have a date or business customers to impress and entertain. Tasty food is all I am after.
Oh, I am looking also for a pub with a good selection of beers or a nice wine bar where I can relax a little in the evening.



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  1. Cava for Greek tapas-trendy, delicious, mid-priced, casual

    The Kentlands has a lot of restaurants. My favorie being Moby Dick (Persian) which would fit into your "cheap ethnic shack" catagory.

    1. You are withing walking distance of two great places. El Patio a casual Argentinian place specializing in great empanadas and a surprisingly good and cheap bottle wine list. Urban BBQ again a casual BBQ joint with some interesting apps like the redneck fondue.

      One metro stop north (Rockville) is the town center where you can visit La Canela a great Peruvian restaurant as well as a Gordon Biersch brewpub to satisfy you beer craving.

      Near to one metro stop south (White Flint) is Addie's a modern American with a decent wine list.

      However, I suggest you visit the Dogfish Head Alehouse about a ten minute drive or taxi ride (in Gaithersburg) to enjoy a great atmosphere staff and 10-15 of the dogfish head beers.

      1. My favorite place in the DC area is Joe's Noodle House for Sichuan xiao chi (small plates):.
        Wontons in red hot sauce
        spicy and sour pickled vegetables
        fried baby smelt and peanuts
        Homemade bacon with leek
        steamed taro mash and red date cake

        1. A&J, just north of you on the Pike, west side of the street, lower level of a strip mall. Great Northern Chinese dim sum and CHEAP. Sichuan Village in Rockville Town Center has gotten some good postings--I haven't been. Spice Xing in Rockville Town Center has great Indian food. Not dirt cheap, but certainly reasonably priced and a nice atmosphere. I'm not as big a fan of Joe's after a take out meal that was WAY subpar.

          I've heard good things about Gilly's fine beer/wine store (just next door to Urban BBQ), but haven't been.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Smokey

            Thanks, these all sounds like places I'd like to try and close to enough for my 4 days, but if you have more suggestions, they are welcome!

            1. re: usuquetandem

              I like El Mariachi in the Ritchie Center, on the left going north. They have a nice range of Mexican / S.American dishes. Their fresh made Salsa is the best around in my mind.

            2. re: Smokey

              It's Sichuan Pavilion, not Sichuan Village.


              1 Reply
              1. Best ice cream treat in the area: go to York Castle at 755 Hungerford Dr. (but don't use Google Maps) and get the rum raisin with the swiss sauce. Sky high quality.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Steve

                  I'll second that York Castle idea; was in for a Swiss w/swiss sauce that was GREAT!!! Perhaps you may consider diner just next door at Cuban Corner at 825 Hungerford Drive
                  Rockville, MD 20850 (301) 279-0310. I love the ropa vieja a beef dish and they have wonderful deep-fried beef or cheese empanadas for starters. I go nuts over the vaca frita a crunchy pile of shredded beef with onions. My wife loves the seafood. Service is great and it is clean with wacky art on the walls. Great one two combo idea with York Castle!

                2. If you ever get a craving for dumplings hit up china bistro on hungerford ave. fabulous beef and celery and "mama's special' dumplings. it has plenty of fans on the board.

                  a hole in the wall, but one of my favorite places in the region.

                  1. You have a lot of excellent choices near your hotel or not too far from there. All of the choices I have included are good and it just depends on how much you want to spend and what type of food you want: let us know where you ended up and how it worked out
                    to the south: Addies (eclectic regional neuveux cuisine),
                    right near you: Mykanos (excellent greek, super fish), Lebanese taverna (middle east), El Patio (argentinian), Urban BBQ (excellent bbq)
                    just to the north : Big Saigon (vietnamese and pho), Bali (vietnamese), Mia Rancho (text mex), Sol de Espana (authentic spanish), Benjarong (thai), Niwnohana (good japanese and sushi), A&J (authentic northern dim sum)
                    Rockville Towne Center: Sichuan Palace (authentic sichuan cuisine), Taste of Saigon (vietnamese), Austin Grill (tex mex), Bobby's Crabcakes (crabcakes), Damo Sushi (high end sushi), Gordon Biersch (brewpub), Thai Pavillion (thai), La Canella (authentic peruvian), Pizza Pomodoro (gourmet wood burning stove pizza and pasta)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dining with doc

                      Yes, I am planning to write mini-reviews every night of where I ended up, what I got, what I liked, and what I didn't as a thank you for your suggestions. I am getting there Tuesday. Stay tuned :)

                      1. re: usuquetandem

                        Of the suggestions you've received so far, the chinese places (Joe's, A&J and SIchuan Pavillion), are your best bets, along with York Castle and Spice Xing. (Smokey and Steve, that is to say, are very reliable posters.) El Patio, La Canela, Bobby's Crabcakes, Cava, China Bistro, are all good but not great (although I suspect El Aptio might be better than the couple of meals I've had there). Within a very short walk/drive of your hotel are two other excellent options -- BaLe is a wonderful, small little Vietnamese place and Vit Goel (Lighthouse) is a terrific place for Korean soft tofu (soon doo bu).

                        1. re: MartyL

                          Totally forgot about Viet Goel--good reminder. It's funny you should come back with a "good not great" on Bobby's Crabcakes. I decided to repost to this thread because I realized I had forgotten to mention it.

                          I would veto Dining with doc's recs for Benjarong (as a broad statement, I haven't had a lot of good Thai in the DC area--more specifically, Benjarong is simply eh compared to good Thai) and Austin Grill (incredibly mediocre Tex Mex--again, as a broad statement, not a cuisine that the DC area does well). I've never been to Thai Pavillion, but haven't read good things about it on the boards here. I went to Pizza Pomodoro about a year ago and thought it was fine--nothing to write home about and incredibly mediocre service. Went to Sichuan Palace last night and really liked it. I had a GREAT Sichuan soft tofu, far better than the last time I ordered it at Joe's Noodle House.

                          1. re: Smokey

                            Yeah, they're very proud of their soft tofu dishes at SP, and with good reason.

                    2. I know you have plenty of suggestions already, but I can't resist adding more!

                      I also vote for A&J's (northern Chinese small plates) and China Bistro (the best dumplings around) because they're both cheap, they're all about the food, and they're very authentic.

                      I don't think anyone's mentioned Temari, a cafe-style Japanese restaurant that's reasonably priced (under $20) and Japanese-owned.

                      Bob's Noodle 88 has fantastic Chinese food! Get the short ribs with black pepper sauce and the flounder steak. And it's dirt cheap.

                      And Amina Thai for the best Thai food in Rockville.

                      Rockville may look like kind of a strip mall dump, but there are some real gems that you'll love!

                      1. I am finally in Rockville! As promised, I'll post where I ended up each day.

                        I got here a little late tonight due to a small accident at home in the afternoon (see note to self #1). I had to go to the the Sheraton instead of the Hilton because the Hilton was full. The Sheraton is only so and so. My room is a little small, there is no fridge and no bath tub. Not that I care about the latter. But the fridge, yes, I do care. And the carpet is a bit stained. The Hilton definitely looked better. It is also $40 more expensive though.

                        Right after checking in, I headed out to A&J which received unanimous recommendations. It took me a little to find it, it is well hidden in that strip mall. It didn't help also that the lights were off. Alas, it was closed.
                        Luckily, I had with me Joe's Noodle House address which is in the same area. That too is well hidden. Following Steve's suggestions, I had Wanton with red hot sauce (W01, $5.50), Homemade bacon with Leeks (T21, $8.95), plus, on the suggestion of the host, Tibetan Style lamb with cumin (H14, $10.95). The wanton was very tasty and piping hot (see note to self #4). The spiciness was just the right amount for me. It was biting, but not biting back afterward. The bacon was thicker than what you normally get for breackfast and it came in a garlicky ginger sauce with black beans. It's the dish I liked best of the three. The lamb was tender and tasty but didn't go too well with me. It's not that it wasn't good, the cumin taste was well balanced, but it was more oily than I wanted. I probably wouldn't take it if I were to go there again. Their noodle soups looked very interesting, but I passed because noodle soups for me are for breakfast only. If I were to go again in the morning I would probably try one. That, and the twice cooked pork.
                        The check came out to 26.92 before tip. Overall a very good value. The amount of food I got was enough for two. I got complimentary tea which was very much appreciated. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The restaurant was nearly empty by the time I got there, I was the last costumer to leave. If I have to find a fault is that the food was a bit greasy. Than again, almost every restaurant I visted while in China was greasy, except a couple of very expensive restaurants in HK and Beijing. I guess that comes with being "authentic". Whatever that mean.

                        On the way back I needed a beer. First to calm down the pain in my big toe (see note to self #1), second to sooth my scorched mouth (see note to self #4), and, finally, to wash away some of the greasyness. I stopped by Gordon Biersch but it looked more formal and crowded than I wanted at that time. I ended up getting my beer at the hotel. I may go back to Gordon Biersch one day that I am showered and shaved.

                        Incidentally, I will be right next to Gordon Biersch during the day. Tomorrow for lunch I am planning to visit La Canela. I haven't decided about dinner yet.

                        Notes to self:
                        #1: Use steel toe boots when moving gym equipment, or, at least, do not do it barefooted
                        #2: Reserve hotel earlier next time
                        #3: Check opening times *before* heading out to restaurant.
                        #4: Let food cool down before taking a mouthful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: usuquetandem

                          Despite the name, noodles are not a specialty of Joe's Noodle House. In fact, they are usually disappointing. I think the name of the place is left over from a previous owner/restaurant. Sichuan food can be very oily. Dishes like the spicy and sour pickled vegetables, pressed bean curd, fried baby smelt with peanuts (this is a dry fry) should not have excess oil. The rice cakes with pork is also a very good dish. I haven't tried the twice cooked pork.

                        2. gordon biersch is not formal at all especially in the bar. Also they have great draft root beer if you like that. Also near la canella is Damo Sushi which I think is high quality but a little pricey. Also taste of saigon and Sichuan Pavillion are nearby and worthwile, especially the latter if you want real authentic chinese. finally, if your toe is injured, i am a podiatrist with office 6410 rockledge dr, bethesda

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dining with doc

                            Gordon Biersch looked more formal than what I was in the mood for last night. I will be probably going again tomorrow night. I am going for lunch tomorrow to Sichuan Pavilion.
                            I only ripped off half a nail. It is painful but it's nothing serious. It's already better now. But thanks for your concern.

                          2. There is a bug in the board software. It doesn't allow to edit long posts.

                            1. Today I had lunch at La Canela. I find hard to compare it to anything I have tried before. All Peruvian restaurants I have been to fall in the "cheap ethnic shack" class, catering mainly to low-income immigrants. Canela clearly targets a different clientele. It's located on the back of the upscale Town Square Plaza, behind the library. The ambience is very pleasant. For what I could see, there are two dining rooms. I was sitting in the one downstairs which is decorated with three tall mirrors on one side and a pastel-colored fresco on the back wall. I liked the carved wooden chairs. Tables are a bit close together and the room sounded a bit noisy even though there were few people. I could clearly hear the conversation of customers 3-4 tables away from me.
                              I picked the $15 menu ejecutivo which consists of one appetizer and one entree. First I had Yuquita rellena, that is a ball of mashed baked yucca filled with crab meat, deep fried for a very short time to give it a thin crispy skin that keeps it together. It came with a pink sauce (I think it was mayo and chili powder, maybe something else) and a small side salad of red onions, tomatoes and cilantro. The red onions must have been soaked in water because they were very mild. I liked both the presentation and the taste.
                              My second dish was asado com polenta. The meat was tender and tasty, in a tomato sauce. It came on top of a bed of creamy polenta. I believe there was some dairy in the polenta, I am not sure. You may want to inquire with the waiter if you are lactose intolerant.
                              I finished with Suspiro de Limena for dessert. It's a thick cream of egg yolk, dulce di leite and sweet wine which reminded me a little of zabaglione, topped by a smooth meringue. I had the impression that the eggs were raw. Again, check with the waiter if that's a problem for you. It was very good but twist-your-tong kind of sweet. The check came to $23.32 before tip. The amount of food was just right for me. I could have done without the desert but I was too curious to see how it was. I will go back if I am again in the area. I think the menu ejecutivo is a good value for lunch.

                              I had dinner at the Urban BBQ. I just had to try that redneck fondue! Klaus described the place as casual which is a bit of an understatement. It was a fresh change from the sterilized environment of the office I had been all day. I loved the comic page clipped on top of the urinary! Gives you something to do in those idle moments. The mullet manual on display a the base of the counter is also a touch of class.
                              The fondue ($5.59) is black bean chili covered with molten cheese. To my surprise, I liked it a lot. The beef brisket and pulled pork in the combo plate ($10.49), instead, were slightly dry and overall disappointing. All got washed down by a couple of bottles of Shiner Bock. Total before tip was $23.11. I would go back, but next time I'll change my business attire first.

                              I am typing this in front of a sampler at the Dogfish Head Alehouse. Well worth the drive. Thanks to the Klaus that suggested it.

                              Tomorrow I'll be going to Sichuan Pavilion for lunch. Dinner will be either at Damo Sushi, or Bobby's Crabcakes, or BaLe.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: usuquetandem

                                I don't care for the pulled pork at Urban BBQ, and I will never again order beef bbq unless I get to Texas, but this is a rare place that does ribs well.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  Steve - have you had the burnt ends at Williards?

                                  1. re: Dennis S

                                    No, I haven't been to Willards at all, but I guess I need to correct that. Anything called 'burnt ends' sounds good to me. Though I will probably not get the brisket as I am much more a Memphis bbq fan. All pork all the time.

                                    1. re: Steve

                                      Cool. And when you go, I am passing on good advice that (if you're not a fan) you can have different side in the stead of the cornbread.

                                2. re: usuquetandem

                                  If you're a crabcake fan, don't miss Bobby's.

                                  Damo is good, as are BaLe, but you can get good sushi and Vietnamese in a lot of places.

                                  1. re: usuquetandem

                                    I'm really happy you enjoyed my suggestions. I should have told you about the atmo at Urban BBQ and also to suggest that lunch is better than dinner because they start smoking early in the morning and by lunch I think their offerings are better, sometimes at night can be a little drier, but that's why you should take advantage of their various homemade sauces: my favorite is the hot sauce. Dogfish Head is my local and I love to suggest everyone visit who loves good beer. Good luck with the rest of your visit!

                                    1. re: usuquetandem

                                      Thanks for your great reviews/reports on the restaurants we've suggested!

                                    2. Today I had a hurried business lunch at Sichuan pavilion. It is unfortunate that at times work gets into the way of enjoying our meals. I had double cooked pork. It was good and authentic as far as I can tell (I wouldn’t believe any claim of authenticity of Szechuan food made by me; I have never been to the Sichuan province). My companion had fried rice with shrimps. Nothing wrong with it either, but not my kind of dish. The restaurant was nearly full, which is not surprising given the prices. My check was $7 before tip. Unbelievably cheap for what you get. I wouldn’t take a date there, but then, again, I wasn’t there for a date nor for the décor.

                                      I had dinner at Bobby’s crab cakes, mostly because I left work late and had little time before heading to downtown DC to meet friends. I had the crab cake platter ($26.95). The cakes were excellent and had large chunks of crab meat. The rest of the platter was nothing to write on a message board about. The cabbage in the coleslaw was a bit too though for my taste. I am glad I tried the cakes. They were good. But I wouldn’t there go again. Just a matter of personal preference. To me it was like a piece of music in which only one note is played. I prefer dishes where flavors hit you from different directions, like in a piece by Stravinsky.
                                      On the way out I had a quick glimpse at the menu of Spice Xing right across the street and I wished I had gone there instead. Oh, well. I’ll go there tomorrow.

                                      On the way to DC I stopped by Gilly's, the beer/wine store near urban BBQ. They carry a better than average selection of domestic and European beers (mostly Belgian). At a cursory glimpse, the wine selection did not look impressive but, again, better than average for such a small liquor store. There are a couple of tables in the front, and they have cheeses at the counter (I think they were mostly domestic, but I didn’t look carefully). It looks like a relaxed place to chill and have a nice beer before heading next door for your fix of redneck fondue.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: usuquetandem

                                        Spice Xing is fantastic, you won't be disappointed there.

                                        Gilly's is very nice, but the wine selection there is limited due to some arcane county laws, not because of their size or choices.

                                        1. re: usuquetandem

                                          the soul rolls at urban bbq are to die for. egg rolls stuffed with bbq and cheese served with chilli melted cheese sauce to dip. tooo goood

                                          1. re: dining with doc

                                            It depends how much you like melted american cheese. I like bbq too much to subject it to all that cheese, so for me the soul rolls are a mess.

                                            1. re: Steve

                                              I usually don't like dishes covered in melted American cheese either. I was surprised that I liked the redneck fondue. IMNSHO, the BBQ I had at Urban would not loose much by being covered by cheese. Or maybe I just I got spoiled by living for 7 years right next to Allen and Sons' in Chapel Hill.

                                              I went Spice Xing for lunch. More on it later, after work.

                                              1. re: usuquetandem

                                                The buffet at Spice X-ing is pretty good, but the glory of the place is on the menu. Hope you got a chance to order individual items. Shrimp Balchao (sp?) is a real good place to start....as are the tandoori wings.

                                            2. re: dining with doc

                                              Oh, c'mon! The BBQ can't be so bad that you have to goop it up with cheese. This sounds like a bar snack that you'd serve to people who tell you that they don't like barbecue.

                                          2. Amalfi is my favorite restaurant in Rockville. Going for lunch today! Delicious Italian!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Jmethechef

                                              Wow, that's very surprising to me. I've eaten there several times, and I can only call it mediocre at best.

                                              What do you like there that would make it your FAVORITE restaurant in Rockville, over all the other fabulous places we've discussed in this thread?

                                              1. re: DanielK

                                                I agree. The last couple meals I had at Amalfi's were very disappointing. If I was looking for good Italian in Rockville, Il Pizzico would be my first choice.

                                                1. re: DanielK

                                                  meatballs.....real homemade with veal.

                                                2. re: Jmethechef

                                                  Thanks for your suggestion. I usually avoid Italian restaurants. I cook mostly Italian at home since I was born and raised in Italy.

                                                3. I am heading to Bethesda downtown in the evening. Any suggestion for a restaurant and wine bar or pub within walking distance from the metro station?

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: usuquetandem

                                                    Grapeseed is a 10-minute walk from the Bethesda station. It's a beautiful and delicious restaurant that specializes in wine pairings for every dish. Quite pricey, but a great experience.

                                                    1. re: ineemeeny

                                                      Seconded. Grapeseed is a very good wine bar with well prepared food.

                                                      1. re: DanielK

                                                        I didn't see your comments before leaving, but I did find Grapeseed on my own. Indeed, the menu looked interesting and it was the only place I was very tempted to go in besides Raku. I did not because I wanted to have fish and I didn't see anything that I would have wanted. Good to know that my impressions were correct.

                                                  2. I went with a couple of colleagues to Spice Xing for lunch. It’s located in the Town Square center, opposite to Booby’s crab cakes. It is pleasantly decorated on one side by large picture of colorful Indian spice, and small mirrors framed by colored fabric on the other side. The glass tree on the back wall looked a bit over the top to me. The restaurant is separated in the middle by divider. We only had the buffet, not enough time to order food from the menu. Compared to what I am used to in the Iselin/Edison area in NJ and to what I experience in India, the spiciness and some of the sharp edges were tuned down a little. I guess that halps making it more appealing to a wider clientele. And, to be honest, I didn't mind that at all. My stomach has been thankful all day for not taking a load of spices at lunch. I detected a slight amount of sweetness in some dishes, but not enough to bother me. In fact, I enjoyed every one of them. Most of the dishes had a Southern Indian flare. We chatted with the manager a little. He said the dishes of the buffet change daily. At $7.75, the buffet is probably the best value I had so for the combination of food quality and ambience.

                                                    I had dinner at Raku in the new downtown in Bethesda. I guess it can be best described as Thai-fusion/sushi. The place was packed full so I figured it must be good. I ate outside to avoid waiting for a table. It wasn’t a good idea because I ended up waiting for service instead, in the cold. I started with ginger pumpkin soup, a cream of pumpkin with herbal croutons, sunflower seeds and paper-thin slices of dried ginger. I liked the smooth and delicate flavor of the pumpkin combined with the other ingredients. I am not sure I was supposed to eat the ginger. Maybe it was supposed to soak in the soup and release the flavor only. In doubt, I did what I always do in these situations: I ate it.
                                                    I followed with Thai curry bouillabaisse. It’s half a lobster, shrimps, squids, scallops, mussels in a tomato and red curry sauce with Thai basil and cilantro. The seafood was rubbery or soggy, and the curry paste was bland. I do a better bouillabaisse at home, sans curry. On top of that, my glass of Vouvray, which went great with the pumpkin soup, did not pair well with the fish. Bad choice on my side for the wine. I finished with a warm apple tart that took forever to arrive. And when it finally did, it was not warm. The cider cream was very liquid and unremarkable. The vanilla ice cream had a distinguishable hint of newspaper.
                                                    The bill came to over $46. This is the most I paid so far for a meal and also the most disappointing I had. Did I just happen to pick the wrong entrée and dessert?

                                                    I finished my night at the Harp and Fiddle pub, an Irish-inspired pub. Beer-wise is nothing out of the ordinary. But it was nice to listen to live music. There is a cover charge of $5 for the music.

                                                    This ends my stay in Rockville. Thanks to the many of you who helped me pick the restaurants. Each one resulted in a great meal in and contributed in making my time here very enjoyable.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: usuquetandem

                                                      Nope -- not the wrong entree; the wrong restaurant. You would have been much better off across the street, at Jaleo. Oh, well. We were able to steer you right a majority of the time up in Rockville . . .

                                                      480 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004

                                                      1. re: usuquetandem

                                                        >Compared to what I am used to in the Iselin/Edison area in NJ and to what I experience in India, the spiciness and some of the sharp edges were tuned down a little

                                                        Remember, Rockville doesn't have the S. Asian population that Edison, NJ and India do. I'm glad you liked it in spite of this; I think it's pretty good.

                                                        Sorry you ended up at Raku. That definitely isn't Montgomery County's finest, but that's generally a problem with restaurants in Bethesda.

                                                        1. re: Smokey

                                                          Also, SpiceXing has a very interesting menu, but the buffet is just OK.

                                                      2. IL Pizico is pretty good Italian food, and it is very reasonable, Very good lunch or dinner spot.