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Jaded California food snob seeks like-minded fusspots to recommend good DC restaurants

You're not a food snob. I completely agree...food in the DC area is overpriced, and GOOD food is hard to come by. And, that's coming from someone that's lived here for the better part of their life. That said, you can eat well around here, you just have to work harder for it. Yelp should never be trusted, and even CH can be unreliable. For places I haven't tried, I tend to rely more on food critics, select food bloggers, and the Don Rockwell forum.

For new American that doesn't cost a fortune, maybe try 8407 in Silver Spring or Woodberry in Baltimore. For ethnic, Thai House in Gaithersburg for their noodle dishes, Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville for their spicy dishes, Thai X-ing in DC for the chef's choice menu. I'd also suggest the Citronelle bar/cafe, the Ray's empire, and Bibiana for desserts. And while you're at it, some traditional Maryland fare....starting with blue crabs and beer at a crabhouse and gigantic soft-ball sized crabcakes.

Welcome to the area, and happy eating!

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Citronelle
3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Thai House Restaurant
8369 Snouffer School Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20879

Bibiana
1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

Mar 01, 2011
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Leelyn's- Columbia/EC

Leelynn's is our go-to spot in Howard County. The (new) executive chef has been there for about a year or two now and has put a lot of great things on the menu. He's a former Woodberry chef, and you can really tell with the fresh and interesting small plates they have now. We went to Leelynn's years ago and found everything to be very mediocre and slightly overpriced for what you get. But now I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. And, I'd suggest trying whatever the specials are for the day since they usually have the chef's touch.

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Leelynn's
9495 Old Annapolis Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Mar 01, 2011
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Across the Street Cafe in Silver Spring

I've been there for lunch, and while the service was quite attentive (maybe they were really trying to make a good impression), my reuben and soup was nothing to write home about. Everyone at my table agreed the food was mediocre. We did all think the fries were pretty good though. I work right next to the place, and it's always empty at lunch.

Dec 20, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Ceviche in Silver Spring

We finally tried Ceviche in Silver Spring last night after years of meaning to try it. In the end, we were pretty disappointed. Here's our review of dinner. For two people, we had:

1. Mixed ceviche (shrimp, calamari, fish) - The flavor was quite good, but possibly a little too sour. It was like lime juice soup with seafood. The dish was also really small for the price...a small bowl for $9.

2. Trio of empanadas - This was by far the biggest disapointment. First of all, they were not fresh, slightly cold, and the dough was maybe even stale. Then, the chorizo and cheese empanada was absolutely horrible. It was a few tiny pieces of minced chorizo with what tasted like dried, over-baked chedder cheese (note that the menu states it comes with mozzerella, ricotta and caramelized onions). The chorizo and cheese were about 1/8" thick inside the pocket. Hopefully this was an off night and that they're usually not that bad. On the bright side, the fillings in both the beef and spinach empanadas were flavorful. Too bad they were cold.

3. Chicharron - The crispy pork came on a bed of mote corn. They looked very good, but the inside of the pork was dry. And, I personally think that if they give so much mote corn, they should at least season it.

4. Chicken aji - This dish was actually pretty good, although it reminded me of cheap stadiu m nacho cheese (not that that's a bad thing). The chicken was tender, and it came with crushed pecans on top that went well with the flavors in the sauce.

5. Pisco sour - The drink was all right, but pretty weak...maybe because it was during happy hour.

We decided not to get dessert since we were a little disappointed by the food. Overall, our bill came out to be around $40, so it wasn't expensive by any means. But, as other people have mentioned in the past, the portions are small.

Has anyone else had such a mediocre experience at Ceviche? We had thought it was fairly well regarded.

Sep 11, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

DC, Rockville, Gaithersburg area sure bets- Help!

You might be a little disappointed with the choices here in Rockville/Gaithersburg since you're from NY. But there are some decent places. In response to your questions that I can answer...

Bobby's does have excellent crabcakes, probably some of the best in the area. They have very little filling and are seasoned well. That said, I find them very small for what you pay. You'll find much better options (IMO) at places in the Baltimore area. Maybe you can stop in that area on the way down to DC or on the way back to NY.

Moby Dick is fast food Persian, and really, I find it overrated. The kebabs aren't seasoned that well, and the meat can be tough. I wouldn't recommend it. For better kabobs (although the Indian version), I prefer Skewers in Traville shopping center. It's a very informal fast food type place as well.

La Flor de la Canela is definitely recommended. Fair prices for excellent Peruvian. The original Gaithersburg location is better, but the Rockville one is good too. If I remember correctly, their entrees are in the $14-$25 range. Be warned it can be hard to find as it's in the back end of an ugly strip mall, but the inside is nice. I've seen families there, so I'm sure toddlers are welcome. This is the suburbs afterall.

The same goes for Tandoori Nights--it's in a family-oriented new urban community, so I would think toddlers are welcome as well.

Il Pizzico has arguably the best Italian in Rockville, but I'm not sure that is saying much. The food is definitely good, but it's a little pricey for what you get. Again, it's in an ugly strip mall (just down the road from Flor de la Canela), but the interior is quite nice. I agree with the other poster that it's very slightly upscale, but they'd most likely accomodate a toddler.

Cava serves good food, but as others have said, it's pricey for the small portions...think appetizer-sized mezze. A meal for an adult would probably be 3 mezze, so that definitely adds up.

Most Mexican in the area is nothing to write home about.

If you're looking for other ethnic food joints in the area, a local professor has a guide with many suggestions: http://www.tylercowensethnicdininggui...
Also, you might want to consider Bethesda, Germantown, and maybe Silver spring areas. They aren't too far with a car.

Have a great trip!

Sep 09, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Thai place next door to Grace Garden

Certainly not a hidden gem along the lines of Grace Garden, but it's not too bad. We wanted to go to GG on a Sunday, but discovered it was closed, so we opted for the thai place next door. I got a pad see ew for a general comparison, and it was okay. We also tried the papaya salad and a shrimp dish. All the dishes were a little too salty for my taste, although the flavors were okay. Overall, it's no better than most acceptable thai restaurants. It's certainly not anything like in the class of Bangkok Garden (both the Columbia and Bethesda locations).

Aug 31, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Hong Kong-Style Western Cuisine?

Thanks! That's exactly what I'm looking for. I can't wait to try it.

Jul 02, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Food trucks in DC area

Not sure if any of these are good, but here are some links:

http://www.dconthefly.com/locations.php
http://dcist.com/2008/06/20/taco_cart...

Jul 02, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Hong Kong-Style Western Cuisine?

Are there any restaurants in the area that serve Hong Kong-style Western cuisine?

I grew up in San Francisco, and I miss the baked spaghetti with ham, rice with tomato cream sauce, french toast, lemon tea, and red bean ice. I know there are many places that have traditional Cantonese/Hong Kong food or the tea with lemon slices and red bean ice, but all these places make it so differently from the Hong Kong Western cafes.

Jul 02, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Search for the perfectly seasoned burger

Price is not an issue. I'm just looking for a great-tasting burger. Thanks for the suggestions! I'll have to give them a try.

Jun 18, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Search for the perfectly seasoned burger

Where can I find the perfectly seasoned burger?

I'm looking for a burger that can hold up its own without piling on all the fixings and sauces. It seems so many places are just serving a hunk of tasteless meat these days. While places like Urban Burger and Five Guys have juicy burgers, I'd like a burger that's seasoned well. A little salt and pepper in the meat goes a long way and really brings out the natural flavor of beef.

Some people on in these boards have suggested Black's, Westend Bistro, Palena, and Houston's for a good burger. Does anyone know if these are burgers are of seasoned?

I saw these recent posts on good burgers, but there's little mention seasoning:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/507929
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/174187

Jun 17, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

University Grille at College Park

I think you're referring to Varsity Grille. The only info I've seen was from this UMCP newspaper article. http://media.www.diamondbackonline.co...

Last time I passed by, it hadn't opened yet, but according to that article it should be soon. If anyone goes, I'd love to see a review.

Apr 22, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Bangkok Garden in Columbia, MD

I've been to a dozen or so thai restaurants in this area recently, and none can compare with Bangkok Garden. I highly recommend the massaman curry. It isn't traditional, but their take on this classic is really good. It's with shrimp and fresh avocado, and the flavors are complex and just so good. The panang curry is also really good, but more traditional. From the appetizers I have tried, I really liked the shrimp cakes--simple, and nicely done. Some people seem to think the pad thai isn't amazing, but I thought it was really good. It isn't overly sweet or oily like most places and has an excellent balance of sweet, sour and savory. Like other posters here, I also really liked the Southern Duck in sweet chile sauce. And, the Thai iced tea is probably the best I've had in this area.

Apr 15, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Restaurant recommendations for Annapolis?

I agree about Carroll's Creek being decent, but not great. The cream of crab was definitely really creamy, but it was really one-note. The entrees all seem to be presented well, and the seafood is good, but not amazing. If you've never been, I think it's worth a visit if you want decent food and a nice view. If you do go, steer clear of their fixed price menu as the regular menu items are much better. The highlight of our last meal there was the dessert: a molten chocolate cake a la mode.

Apr 15, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Vietnamese Cafe in Travilah Square, Rockville

Does anyone know if the new Vietnamese Cafe in Travilah Square is any good? It replaced a bubble tea place that wasn't so great.

Mar 19, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Asian party platters in Gaithersburg?

Agree with everything rheelee suggested. There's also the Mama Wok on Rockville Pike. Excellent authentic and affordable food. And, they do sushi too.

Feb 21, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Tyson's Buffett in Rockville

Probably the best Chinese buffet in Maryland, but that may be not be saying much. It's definitely clean and offers a fairly good selection of food. There are a couple rows of the typical Chinese buffet fare, one row of American food, a salad bar, Chinese soup bar with 8 or so options (surprisingly they have shark fin soup), pho/noodles bar, sushi bar, grill, and desserts (I love the mini egg tarts and mochi, but you have to get these as they come out of the kitchen because everyone steals them fast). Most of the food is excessively oily, as to be expected from a buffet. I personally think the price is a tiny bit steep for Chinese, but I guess you're paying for the variety. But overall, I think it's worth a trip if you're interested in a Chinese buffet.

Feb 21, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Limoncello- WTF???

Have to agree with the posters above. It's probably that there are good ones and bad ones. It's unfortunate your first taste wasn't great.

I was in Italy a few winters ago and tried limoncello for the first time in Sorrento and Capri (the island is right by Sorrento). It was refreshing and had the most amazing aroma.

Jan 24, 2008
juniormints in Spirits

Bakery in Bethesda/CC/R'ville?

Not sure about the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area, but I love Stella's Bakery in Rockville. They have all sorts of delicate pastries, cakes, and chocolates, and the staff has always been friendly whenever I've been there. http://www.stellasbakeryonline.com/me...

Jan 12, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Good Breakfast in Germantown/Gaithersburg

French Quarter in Germantown has a good Sunday brunch. http://www.thefrenchquartercafe.com/

There's also a Dutch/Amish Market in Germantown (on Great Seneca Hwy) with a small eatery that serves a decent home-style breakfast.
http://www.lancastercountydutchmarket...

And, if you're in the mood, crepes for breakfast at Crepes-a-Go-Go in Kentlands in Gaithersburg.
http://www.crepes-a-gogo.com/Home.html

Jan 05, 2008
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Morton's or Ruths Chris...or something else

What about Ray's the Steaks in Arlington? ...may be quite a drive though

Dec 02, 2007
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Ray's the Classics-- Washington Post Review

I was just at RTC this past weekend, and my server introduced fried chicken as part of the regular, sit-down dinner menu.

The service was also excellent. I may have gotten lucky (based on other posts), but our waitress was very courteous and friendly....could not have asked for better service.

Nov 28, 2007
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Gui Lin in Rockville, Kliman rave

I believe it's technically in Rockville since the zip code is 20850. And, the Rockville/North Potomac boundary seems to be just west of Travilah Square by a little residential street, Nolan Dr.

Geography aside...

Would anyone mind posting recent experiences at Guilin? I had a horrible dinner there a few years ago and have never been back. Maybe they have new ownership or chefs?

Nov 28, 2007
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore

Michael's Noodles/other Northern dien shen places?

I believe a new head chef recently joined Michael's Noodles, and their food has supposedly greatly improved. I've personally had only good experiences since. On my last visit, my party tried their traditional banquet style food (ie. many large specialty plates), which was better than most I've had in the Rockville/Gaithersburg area. The restaurant itself is tiny and service can be a little slow on very busy nights, but it's definitely worth a visit.

Sep 27, 2007
juniormints in Washington DC & Baltimore