HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


I need an idea for dinner out in Mont Cty

Some friends of the family are coming to visit for 1 night. I might see them once every couple of years. They eat most everything and I would like to take them someplace with a innovative menu thtat doesn't break the bank- does that exist? Someplace representative of "the big city" vs their little midwest town.

They will be spending 8+ driving here. The next day we are going to Rasika for lunch before they leave. It's a work night for us, so we don't really want to spend the evening drving all over either.
So the parameters are:

we have a car
15-20 min from Bethesda
casual, but not a bar
I'm bored with the following and have ruled them out:
2Amy's, Mia's Redwood, Joes Noodle, Ethiopian (one of us doesn't like it), Mexican, Sushi, Indian since we're going to Rasika the next day, can you do innovative italian?

I"m toying with Newtons Table, Palena, Matchbox but none of them really jumps out at me; any other ideas?
Am I just bored with the food scene? DO we need to come back into the city for dinner? VA is far too far.
Please help me break my blahs


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How about Blacks in Bethesda

    1. I get frustrated with MoCo too, but here are some random suggestions (some of which stretch the bounds of "innovative" "MoCo" or "casual")--

      Blue 44
      8407 (haven't tried it)
      Jackies (tried it and wasn't impressed)
      Grapeseed (or Persimmon, but I like Grapeseed better)
      Jaleo (or Guardado's, which is often better)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Doh

        I already crossed off Dino and Grapeseed but Blacks and these others are worth thinking about..
        Thanks for some names. I haven't tried 8407 or Blue 44 or Jackies

        1. re: Doh

          I second Addie's. Or Dino, but it's probably a further drive for you.

          1. re: Dennis S

            Just to put it out there, the brewery/resto in Gaithersburg wasn't bad the one time I went. Growler's is the name, I think. Nothing outstanding, but not traditional down the line, either.

          1. How about La Canela in Rockville Town Center? Good Peruvian in a very attractive setting.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kolomya

              I would be excited to go to Honey Pig, but it's 30+ min each way and don't want to do that to them, as they'll be in the car all day for 2 or 3 days.

              Now I'm toying with Mussel Bar and Persimmon. I'm going to look at La Canela. Never been there either :-( We end up at the same old places all the time.

              We're going to try Guardado's this week, as they're extending restaurant week thru the weekend. if we like it, we'll put it on the list for our friends. We don't think Jaleo is a good value.

              BTW, I just saw that Mia's Pizza is on living social again today. This time it's valid for take out too

              1. re: MoCoMe

                If you don't think Jaleo is a good value, then I would bet you would find Mussel Bar to be highway robbery.

                I like Guardado's, but I've only gotten tapas there (which happily enough for me include pupusas)-- not sure how they do restaurant week.

            2. Bistro Provence in Bethesda?

              1. Founding Farmers in Potomac is 13 minutes from Bethesda.

                1. Guess I don't have the same threshold of moderately priced as others, since Addie's and Dino, etc., will be $40 per. One of the best meals around these days for adventurous eaters has to be Sichuan Pavillion in downtown Rockville. Truly great food.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    The OP lists Palena which is fancy schmancy.
                    Whether it breaks the bank depnds upon how much is in your piggy.

                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                      I assumed, based on the other places listed, they were talking about Palena Cafe.

                      1. re: DanielK

                        I hesitate to take contribute to taking this further off-topic but I think Newton's Table is more expensive than either Addies or Dino.

                  2. If you can get to Silver Spring in 20 minutes, then I say Cubano's. The bandeja is excellent. Make sure you order both dipping sauces: the mojo and the cilantro aioli.

                    8 Replies
                      1. re: repete

                        Hi everyone
                        I dropped this topic for a couple of days to celebrate my birthday. :-)

                        I was thinking no more than $30/p excl alcohol.
                        A primary objective would be an interesting take on the standard proteins. We did a drive by of Guardado's and although I might take some of my 'real friends' there, I wouldn't feel comfortable with the setting to take friends of 'the family'. I mean these are my parents' friends.. ya know?

                        So the search continues. As a backup, we have a rez at Matchbox, and what I like about it is the warm walls and environs, busy & lively, but not crowded together, a little noisy. Good beer and wine list. The food is good, but not for the one dinner in DC.

                        I think we 're going to narrow it down to a couple of places from this list and check them out in person this weekend.

                        Thank you all for the suggestions. I will report back what we decided and how it was.

                        1. re: MoCoMe

                          How about Burma Road? They are not likely to find Burmese food in your average mid-west town. Additionally, there is standard but good Chinese food if they are not adventurous, but interesting and wonderful choices on the Burmese side of the menu if they are. You can eat very well for about $20 per person and can sample several dishes in each course. Service is wonderful..

                          1. re: mrsphud

                            and if your parents are from the WWII generation, they have some interesting historic photos of the Burma Road.

                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                              I forwarded the menus from Jaleo, Mussel Bar, Matchbox to them, to let them decide. I think after driving for about 8 hours I'd just want a good beer and a relaxing place.
                              Anyway, I did take some friends of mine to Burma road today- one actually speaks Burmese and I thought I'd let them order some authentic food for us. It was good-- two things we liked were the pickled tea salad and the samosa salad. There was a shrimp dish too, but I'm not sure of the name. I was surprised that there was no heat to the dishes.

                              Thanks for mentioning this place, because I wasn't aware of it before!

                              1. re: MoCoMe

                                My family friends came in a bit early and we were able to go to Rasika for dinner the first night and a late lunch at Jaleo in Bethesda.

                                Rasika is always great. For entrees were had the green curry masala and the flounder rachad; also the cauliflower. The palak chat of course. Had the cardamom ice cream and gulab jamuns. All was delicious!

                                At Jaleo, I thought most everything was oversalted, but they didn't say anything, so it might be me. We got the mussels, shrimp with garlic, wrinkled potatos, 'paella' pasta, the sausage and the chicken. It was 'ok' but I'd rather go somewhere else. I think I must just not like that place! Out of the dishes, the shrimp and mussels were the best. I thought the chicken was a little dry. the white beans that came with the sausage were very tasty.

                                Thanks for all the recs. I discovered several new names from this thread, which I want to try.

                                1. re: MoCoMe

                                  For me, the glory of Jaleo is in the vegetable dishes (verduras), and there is no other tapas place that has such an extensive list of really fine choices. Your selection is very meat-centric. No salad, no tortilla, no green vegetable.

                                  Here is my cheat sheet: grilled asparagus with romesco sauce, spinach with raisins, garlic mushrooms, roasted eggplant and red peppers, patatas bravas, tortilla espanol, cauliflower with dates, beet salad with citrus, baby wrinkled potatoes, bread with tomato and manchego.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    ok... I will give it another try with some of these items. :-)

                    1. I'd vote for Jaleo. Out of town guests always seem to enjoy it... depending on where they are from, they probably haven't had a meal quite like it at home

                      Oops, just read through the entire post and saw that your meal already happened :)