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Apr 18, 2012 07:16 AM

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.


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  1. Bethesda has some good finds, but you need to go back to the center of Bethesda, as where you are doesn't provide much. Are you willing to do that?

    1 Reply
    1. re: katecm

      Absolutely! I suppose we'd like to have no more than around 25 minutes of driving each way. Not knowing the area, I hope that opens things up a bit.

    2. 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)

      1. I would recommend Passage to India and Grapeseed. I would also second the Black's recommendation. Perhaps if you can travel that amount you might also check out the Cleaveland Park area with Dino, Palena and Ripple.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ktmoomau

          Passage to India is my number one choice, and I had an outrageously good meal recently of the spinach with buttermilk, the baby gourds, and the black dal. Whatever you order, get the pickles and spices listed on the last page.

        2. You're from Boston so you certainly already have an opinion on Legal Seafood, but there's one right there in the Westfield Montgomery Mall.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GraydonCarter

            I do, actually, and did see it's just across from where we'll be. We're hoping for something a little more interesting than what's on offer there.

          2. 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
            Cesco Osteria
            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:

            1 Reply
            1. re: Just Visiting

              FYI -- Cesco moved from Triangle over to 7401 Woodmont -- old M&S site.