Need Dinner Recommendations for Bethesda Area
Four of us will be staying in Bethesda for a few days in mid-May & are looking for evening dining recommendations for what I guess you'd call semi-upscale to upscale food. Good food is most important, more so than price or the specific cuisine. We're from SF & Boston so we're used to a wide range of cuisines & preparations. Just want it to taste good, and not be 45 minutes from where we're staying (across from Westfield Montgomery Mall at 270 & Democracy).
I did a couple of searches on Bethesda & saw delis well-represented on the lists. That'll do for lunch, so I'm hoping you folks can get us squared away for din-din.
not sure of any deli in Bethesda worth going to, Bethesda has over 100 restaurants, some which are very good. also a great range in prices
lunch: Cornacopia- a small italian gourmet grocery store that has a few small tables and makes fantastic sandwiches with fine cured meats and cheeses, expensive balsalmic reductions and arugula. Taylor Gourmet- fantastic subs named after streets in Philadelphia, I love the fried chicken cutlet with provolone, roasted red peppers and brocolli rabe. South street Steaks- authentic Philly cheese steaks.
Dinner- Blacks- upscale seafood, fine dining. business casual, Ruths Chris Steak, Green Papaya- upscale vietnamese, Tako Grill- Sushi and Japanese grill house, Jaleo- spanish tapas, Haven Pizza- upscale New Haven style thin crust pizza including a great white garlic fresh shucked clam pizza (can do this for lunch) , Bethesda Crab House- MD style steamed hardshell crabs and beer, Mussel Bar- Belgian mussel and beer bistro (also can do for lunch)
Depending on which part of Bethesda, you may find driving/parking a nightmare. There are two parts to Bethesda. The area north of the metro/Hyatt, bounded by Wisconsin (355) on the east, Old Georgetown Road on the west, and Rugby Avenue (actually a very small street) on the north is called "The Triangle." It has what little is left of the un-glam Bethesda, but it is mostly renovated now. There is street parking and a few garages.
The other part is below the Metro/Hyatt, bounded by Wisconsin (355) on the east, but there are quite a few restarurants on the east side of Wisconsin and a block or so east. It is bounded by Arlington on the west, Bradley on the south, but most restaurants are on Woodmont or north. The center of this area is Bethesda Row, which is centered on Woodmont and Bethesda Ave. This area is always a PITA because people double-park and the garages are always crazy. Now it is even worse because one of the largest garages has been closed for demolition. They have tried to improve things a bit by putting up a sign at the garage on Bethesda Ave reporting how many spaces are available. Nonetheless, it is really a hassle. I'm not sure this section has a name so I will just call it "downtown."
As for restaurants, both sections have plenty of great choices. Many have already been identified, but I am sorting them here into Triangle and downtown.
Green Papaya (Vietnamese)
Black's Kitchen and Grill
Jaleo (tapas) - note that this location is the weakest of the chain; I've never found it worthwhile
Mussel Bar - gets mixed reviews
RiRa - Irish pub
Newton's Table - healthy gourmet
Taylor Gourmet (deli)
Cosi (chain, but great for lunch - better than most delis)
Nando's - South African peri peri chicken - great for lunch
Redwood - gorgeous, opens right onto the pedestrian plaza, great vibe, good food
Mon Ami Gabi - chain, but one of the better chains
Grapeseed (always gets high marks)
Freddy's Lobster & Clams - right next to Grapeseed; same owners, great New England style seafood
Passage to India (always gets high marks)
Brasserie Monte Carlo
Bistro Provence - highly regarded chef but seems to be still finding its way...mixed reviews
Tragara - top-end Italian, expensive but worth it
Sweet Basil - for my money, best Thai in Bethesda
At the fringes:
Persimmon (upscale for dinner, great food) - southern edge of downtown, on Wisconsin
Someone mentioned Bethesda Crab House. Don't. It isn't horrible but if you want hardshell crabs, this is NOT the place to go. The places to go are all far outside your driving distance. Also avoid Louisiana Kitchen. Formerly known as Louisiana Express, it was a Bethesda favorite. It closed and then re-opened in a new location and, I think with new owners. It is borderline dreadful now. Avoid: Les Vieux Logis. Once quite good traditional Alsatian & French, it is now very weak and frequented mostly by superannuated people who have been going there for decades.
Someone also mentioned Ruth's Chris. Well, it is a bit more of a drive, but if you want phenomenal steak (with some fish and chicken items), go to Ray's the Steaks in Clarendon, VA or Ray's in Silver Spring. Less expensive, less attitude. Just great food served straight up.
For full list, addresses, phone numbers, websites: http://www.bethesda.org/