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Three dinners in Bethesda

Hi All - I'm in town for three nights in Bethesda and am looking for the top three dinner places that have amazing food and a fun atmosphere in the heart of Bethesda shopping/dining. Would like one to be sushi. Which three restaurants can't be missed? Thanks everybody!!

Also, staying up at the Marriott off of Democracy - any hidden gem breakfast places around that area?

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  1. I can't think of a sushi place I'm crazy about in Bethesda, though there are a few that are fine - Hinata, Tako Grill, Hinode, Satsuma, Matuba (in no particular order).

    If I had three dinners in Bethesda, I'd go to:
    Passage to India

    Can't think of anything breakfast-y near your hotel. It's across the highway from a mall, and adjacent to an office park, so really not much immediately around you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      I think this is a good list, but I might add Jaleo, particularly given your request for a "fun atmosphere in the heart of Bethesda shopping/dining".

      1. re: DanielK

        Second these recs. For sushi I don't mind Raku, I haven't been to the ones above though so they may be better.

      2. Sounds like you may want to see if you can be in the Marriott Bethesda instead. The one on Democracy will require shuttle or taxi to nearly any place.

        I think DanielK gave you a good start. However, if I were in the area looking for GOOD FOOD, I'd go up to Joe's Noodle House on Rockville Pike and enjoy as much Sichuan that I could devour. It's a short walk from metro and you would welcome the walk upon departure.

        Otherwise Black's I second, or get a shuttle/taxi to Addie's, which is a sister shop in an old house on Rockville Pike. Personally I will say again that you should consider switching hotels.

        1. You are a little bit in no-man's land, but I am guessing you are either at a conference or will have a car, since your hotel isn't metro-accessible. Closeby, great bagels are at Ize's, which is on Rockville Pike. Original Pancake House, while a chain, is also great for breakfast. A little further away, on East-West Highway and Grubb Road is the Parkway Diner, which is fantastic traditional greasy diner food.

          As far as dinners, the other place you may want to try is Founding Farmers in Potomac. Its pretty new there, but the downtown one is great. Also, for the best NYC style pizza in the area, Mamma Lucia's is just up the road from you.

          1. Black's, Grapeseed, and Jaleo are all great suggestions. Passage to India is great food, but not a lot of "fun". Assaggi is another nice spot with a bar.

            A little bit more casual is Freddy's Lobster and Clam, and the Burger Joint, and Bangkok Garden for ok Thai, Uncle Julio's for ok tex-mex, Mon Ami Gabi for ok bistro food, and there is a new pizza place called Haven that you might want to check out.

            You might try Raku for sushi. Not the best food, but a good setting. I think Tako Grill though is the best sushi etc.

            For a trip back in time, try Tastee Diner in Bethesda for breakfast.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Pappy

              Have you been to Haven? From their website, it looks very, very promising. Coal ovens, and what appears to be a quite knowlegeable staff.

              1. re: KevinS

                I went to Haven today after seeing your post about their coal ovens, which I hadn't seen since I was in NY. I was just out for a quick lunch, so I ordered a small tomato pie with mozzarella and pepperoni at the bar. I tried watching them put in and takeout the pies into the oven, but couldn't really track them (I thought I read that a pie shouldn't be in the coal oven for more than 3 min - don't know how true that is). The pizza came out relatively quick and first impressions were good. Crust had some good char, and was (thin) crisp with a slight chew. Toppings were very good as well; sauce had a good balance of acidity and sweetness.

                Really liked the pizza here, and would probably rate it as my favorite in DC (I have yet to try Pupatella, Orso, Comet and 2 Amy's so take that for what it's worth). Closest thing to NY pizza that I've had here too (it's probably New Haven style - with the name and all, but I think they are very similar). Apparently have homemade gelato too.

                1. re: mdpilam

                  I second the rec for Haven - I've been there three times already and the pizza is great. Also a fun atmosphere. Beats Two Amys and Comet hands down (am I the only one who thinks Two Amys is overrated??)

                  1. re: mdpilam

                    Not sure about coal specifically, but when cooking that type of pie (thin crust, New Haven style), high temps and short times are key. Jeff Varaisano has a great writeup of his experiments (and I'm glad to know he finally opened a restaurant).

              2. I like the suggestions for Black's and Jaleo, but I don't really think "fun when it comes to Grapeseed. If you looking for a livelier scene I would think about Redwood instead. It's in a very busy part of Bethesda, lots of shopping, and is a very beautiful restaurant. I've always had consistently good food there.

                3 Replies
                1. re: SpareRib

                  Not far from there is also great dimsumif you'll be here on Sundays. Also 2 great but quiet thai places--nava thai and Ruan thai. Also ditto onpassage to India. Tastee diner is fine but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. I'd rather go tobethesda bagels on the main strip afew min away bycar.
                  Also note parking is free on weekends in any county garage. Ditto Joes noodlealso.

                  1. re: MoCoMe

                    Matchbox pizza, while not in bethesda, can be fun and lively. Pretty good IMO too.

                    1. re: MoCoMe

                      What's the name of the "great dim sum" place?

                  2. I can't think of ANY breakfast places up near that Marriott, much less gems. There is certainly nothing to walk to and driving in that area is mega-confusing. At rush hour (which is 6:30 - 9:30 a.m. at the least), it is crazy. The places others have recommended such as the Parkway Deli are quite a haul from there and not all that easy to find. This isn't an eat-breakfast-out kind of town. It's a get-to-work kind of town. I live here and if I had to meet someone for breakfast, I wouldn't be able to think of any place to go EXCEPT a hotel restaurant or Parkway Deli, but again, Parkway is not anywhere near where you will be.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      For breakfast in downtown Bethesda (not especially near that Marriott but closer than Parkway Deli) I'd say there is--

                      Tastee Diner (which is a good place if you like diners)
                      Original Pancake House
                      Le Pain Quotidien

                      1. re: Doh

                        I wouldn't waste time/gas and deal with the hassle of Bethesda traffic for any of those.

                    2. OP wants 3 dinners that are fun, in Bethesda, including one sushi
                      1. Jaleo for Tapas and lively, good people watching
                      2. Blacks
                      3. Tako Grill for great sushi and Japanese
                      Sunday Brunch at Bethesda Marriott and Conference Center in North Bethesda, Pancacke house either in Downtown Bethesda or Rockville, Bethesda Bagel, Tastee Diner in Betheda or Silver Diner in Rockville
                      Alternative dinners Green Papaya for upscaled Vietnamese, Ruths Chris Steakhouse, Assaggi Mozzarella Bar, Uncle JulIo's Rio Grande Cafe for pretty good Tex Mex, Panang for Malaysian,

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: dining with doc

                        For sushi, skip the recs in Bethesda. Take the subway one stop south to Friendship Heights and eat at Sushi-ko -- beats the Bethesda sushi shops by a mile ...

                        1. re: dining with doc

                          And I forgot Mussel Bar for Belgian beers mussels and bistro food.

                          1. re: dining with doc

                            please do not go to Uncle Julio's. Really loud and food is mediocre- at best. I would go with Jaleo and Black's if you must stay in Bethesda. Bethesda has some good food- but amazing....no. Can't speak to the sushi recommendations.

                            1. re: startsev

                              agree to disagree regarding Uncle Julio's Rio Grande cafe. The shrimp Brochettes which are large shrimp with a sliver of jalepeno and a sliver of pepper jack cheese wrapped with bacon and grilled served with garlic infused drawn butter are great. The ribs with a dry rub (hold the sauce) are also great. Fajita's are also very good. It is loud however.

                              1. re: dining with doc

                                Uncle Julio's seems to have hater's & lover's on this food board, & little middle of the road opinions. Count me in the first group, though I've not been in quite a while.
                                It is a very fun, noisy, hectic, happy type place with some of the best chips & salsa (unlimited quantities) I've ever had. Like Doc, probably my favorite is also the shrimp brochette. Caddilac platters with a whole lobster plus choice of meat entree was a great fun meal every time I had it. Enjoy the noise, people watching, and fun food at this long established Bethesda institution.