NFT Washington DC Silver Spring

Silver Spring

Essentials
Bordering the District and with good public transportation links (Ride-On, Metrobus, Metro, and MARC), Silver Spring is an older suburb that has seen its share of hard times. Following its "Silver Sprung" redevelopment, Silver Spring's downtown underwent several facelifts until it was finally rewarded with a Whole Foods (as well as a Red Lobster -- who says you can't have it all?). But the neighborhood does boast an ethnically diverse population, and Sligo Creek is pleasant for biking and playing.

Sundries/Entertainment
Movie buffs rejoice! The American Film Institute Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring plays obscure indie flicks and timeless gems. After the show, don't miss out on several top-notch eateries: See more.

>Roger Miller Restaurant, off the main strip, is a West African gem, and Mandalay serves tasty Burmese fare. Quarry House is your amazing hole-in-the-wall dive -- don't miss it.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

8407 Kitchen Bar
8407 is the latest venture from Chef Pedro Matamoros (of Tabard Inn and Nicaro acclaim), bringing fantastic "New American" plates to downtown Silver Spring. Literally spitting distance from the Metro station, this restaurant and bar manages to be both elegant and comfortable. And with menus dedicated to lunch, dinner, dessert, brunch, wine, cocktails, and kids, it covers all your dining and drinking bases--from an impromptu pint of pilsner ($1 off all drafts at happy hour) to a romantic dinner of seared scallops and ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms. The menu is heavy on the seafood, and really shows off the flavors of the mid-Atlantic region (holla, jumbo lump Chesapeake Bay crab!)--plus all the house-made charcuterie, from the chef's terrine to duck prosciutto, make 8407 a real destination.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Sidebar
How responsible is Mad Men (and/or Jon Hamm's smoldering good looks) for the Old Fashioned renaissance? Whatever the reasons, there's no doubt that Angostura bitters, maraschino cherries, and tumblers are in. Plenty of cocktail-focused bars have cropped up in DC, but one recent addition--the Sidebar--finds itself on the Maryland side of the border, in downtown Silver Spring. Attached to Jackie's restaurant, Sidebar feels like a glamorous dive: dimly lit, with red vinyl seating, windows with cast iron grates, pool table, austere metal chairs, and a disproportionate number of chandeliers. Hip and welcoming, it's the perfect spot to sip your high-class rye, nibble on hand-sliced curry potato chips, and rack 'em up.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

ArtSpring
In the center of downtown Silver Spring and around the corner from the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, ArtSpring is a volunteer-run shop selling the handcrafted work of local artisans. Full of jewelry, accessories, fine art, pottery, and stationery, it’s a fantastic place to shop for gifts--and also to gain inspiration your own creative endeavors. Perhaps most important, ArtSpring supports artistic enterprise in the community, and offers a public space for knitters, glass-blowers, quilters, etc. It's like your favorite store, Ten Thousand Villages--except with more monkeys and robots, and 9,999 fewer villages.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Roger Miller Restaurant
I like the Roger Miller Restaurant because it's hard to find me some West African food in this city. I like that my waitress had perfect skin, a pretty accent, and made me feel welcome. I like that she explained elements of the menu that were new to me in terms I could understand. I like that they play African music videos behind the bar. I like that it's named after a Cameroonian soccer player. I like that their grill-roasted fish was moist and delicious, well seasoned but keeping the fresh flavor of the fish. I like that it's on a fantastic block of Bonifant Street that is decidedly not Silver Sprung. I like.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of AFI Sliver

AFI Silver Theatre
As a Netflix junkie, I often arrive late to the movie-watching scene. Or actually, I don't arrive at all. I'm at home, in pajamas, chain-eating Starbursts, marveling at how freakin' good Touch of Evil is, and wondering how incredible it might have been to see it at the theatre. Luckily we have the AFI in Silver Spring to show all those incredible American (and foreign) films at its state-of-the-art movie theatre. In addition to new releases, festivals, and filmmaker interviews, the AFI also organizes a number of film series, grouping together the best of Slovenian cinema, the work of Paul Thomas Anderson, or "naughty & nice" holiday flicks---to give some examples from the month of November alone. But what I'm most looking forward to this holiday season are their special presentations of The Godfather, parts 1 and 2 from December 5–18. Forget about III! I said forget about it! It took me 25 years to figure out what the big deal was about these critically acclaimed, popularly celebrated, Oscar Award–winning, classic movies--and now I'm seeing them in restored 35mm on the big screen!



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Chat of Maryland

Nicaro
In the heart of downtown Silver Spring--but not Silver Sprung--Nicaro is an independently owned and operated restaurant. I was first tempted inside by its simple yet compelling menu (and its punctuation), which features dishes such as "Home Made Tuscan Salami. Goat Cheese Kumquat Mousse. Marinated Olives" and "Roasted Halibut. Wild Asparagus. Smoked Bacon. Yellow Corn. Morel Mushroom Dressing." Clearly the ingredients are front and center here, and while it's easy to develop favorites with thoughtful dishes such as these, keep in mind that executive chef/owner Pedro Matamoros is constantly switching it up to feature local, seasonal foods. Formerly of the Tabard Inn, Matamoros has managed to create a restaurant that is top-notch and chic, yet still comfortable and laid-back. It's the perfect destination for any kindred soul who loves seafood bouillabaisse, but resents having to be on one's best behavior to eat it.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Courtesy of Crafty Bastards

Pyramid Atlantic
Are you in need of a robot quilt? A witty, but slightly perverse greeting card? A skein of handspun, vegan yarn? Well then what you need is a crafty bastard. This arts & crafts fair has become so freakin' popular over the last several years that this year they're actually having two--the first of which is in Silver Spring on June 28 from 10 am to 5 pm. Hosted at the equally radical Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center (home to paper-making, screen-printing, and more), you'll find original artwork designed and handmade by the actual artists, who are on site to chat about their work, and often creating new crafts while they man their tables. Media range from papercrafts to fiber to furniture to pottery, and it's a great place to garner ideas for new projects and spend that economic stimulus check supporting a local, DIY crafter.



Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Jade Floyd

Mi Rancho
Downtown Silver Spring's hands down best Mexican Restaurant, and perhaps the best in the area, is Mi Rancho Restaurant. The decor on the inside is straight from the South and being family owned for more than 16 years makes you feel like you're in a neighborhood gathering place. I was introduced to Mi Rancho a few months ago and now I just can't get enough. If you're in the mood for ribs that fall off the bone, shrimp the size of your ear and beef fajitas that melt in your mouth head over. Their best deal is the Plato Grande which serves two and costs $34.95. The meal comes with 4 shrimp, a half rack of ribs, beef and chicken fajitas, rice, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and tortillas. Having lived in Texas for 22 years, believe me I know good Mexican food when I taste it and this is it. And the best part is sitting out on the patio with great weather and having endless pitchers of peach margaritas. You can also enjoy lime, strawberry, banana and melon.



Posted By:  Miellyn Fitzwater
Photo:  Miellyn Fitzwater

Piratz Tavern
Ahoy there! Do you like pirates? Who doesn’t? Then you need to sail on down to Silver Spring to the Piratz Tavern. Walking distance from the metro (a huge selling point for any bar) the Tavern is unexpected on a street that’s been slowly turning around. Walk south on Georgia Avenue, past the old Army Recruiting office (don’t forget to peek in through the boarded up windows–trees have grown up inside this abandoned building) and there on your right you’ll find the little front door to Piratz Tavern. Part Renaissance Fair-style pirate-themed restaurant, part straight-up bar, you owe it to yourself to stop in for a pint. It’s smaller than you’d expect, but the skull and cross bones, pirate flags, and other old-looking décor will satisfy the Jack Sparrow in everyone. Even the wait staff dresses pirate fashionable and speaks with a British accent. There is also a great back garden with its own bar and about a dozen tables. The food’s pretty tasty and the mixed drinks are huge and strong. Just no matter how tempted you are, don’t drink the Grog. Trust me on this one, matey.



Posted By:  Jade Floyd
Photo:  Courtesy Silver Docs

AFI Silver Theatre
Photo: Courtesy of Silverdocs It’s back folks. The most anticipated international film festival, SILVERDOCS, reigns down on downtown Silver Spring, Maryland from June 12 to 17. SILVERDOCS includes 100 films from 42 countries. All movies selected for this year’s festival went through an extensive submission process and while there were 1,735 submissions overall, only 100 were chosen. My picks for your viewing pleasure include, 14 Women, a flick about the most powerful club in America, the U.S. Senate, which has hosted a mere 14 ladies. I most certainly will check out Coma, which details the journey of four patients who emerge from comas and follows them through the year after they awake. There are 97 more documentaries, short films, outdoor screenings, and special events taking place in downtown Silver Spring throughout the festival. Tickets are $10. Be sure to pay attention to the movie length also as some short films run as little as 5 minutes. So, whether you are a Jesus freak, international peace keeper, nymphomaniac, stuntman, civil rights activist, or CBGB fan, hop on the metro to downtown Silver Spring to partake in one of the world’s most notable film festivals.



Posted By:  Joanna Franco
Photo:  Joanna Franco

AFI Silver Theatre
The American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre has plenty of good things going for it. First, it is located in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, which has undergone massive redevelopment over the last several years and has made everything shiny and new. As a result, there are classy (and non-classy) places to eat before catching a flick, and it’s easy to park or even take the Metro Second, it’s a cool building. I mean, it has a marquee! How cool is that?! No chandeliers, no, but the 1950s-styled chrome sign in front is a nice touch. Third, and perhaps most important, the AFI shows plenty of good stuff. From current, arty releases to documentaries and film festivals, this place is where it’s at. They are the host for the annual Silverdocs festival, which this year will be held June 12 to 17, and features plenty of documentaries from up and coming filmmakers and attracts lots of film bigwigs (this year, they are honoring director Jonathan Demme). So if you want to sound intelligent at the next dinner party, talk about some release you saw at the AFI, and you’ll sound learned and smart.



Posted By:  David Freedenberg
Photo:  David Freedenberg

Mandalay
Mandalay is slowly becoming an institution in downtown Silver Spring. The authentic, delicious, and distinctive Burmese cuisine is well known to those who frequent the ethnically diverse eateries of Bonifant Street. What may not be as well known is that Mandalay recently added a beautiful bar area. The well-stocked bar looks classy, it’s separated from the dining room so on slow nights it can double as a private party room, and it’s equipped with two televisions and maps of Burma for endless entertainment. But the real draw of the new bar at Mandalay is the bartender who comes with it. Her name is Jennifer, and she is a joy to be around. She smiles bigger and more often than any person you’ll ever meet. She laughs at your jokes like any good bartender should. And she’s been known to tell a few as well. But you needn’t actually talk with Jennifer to be entertained by her. Just sit back with your drink, and watch her from afar. Her mannerisms, her facial expressions, her conversations with her coworkers, her banter with other customers, her interactions with every object animate or inanimate are hilarious. She is a gem.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Do you like it when overly tanned, leathery skinned women in their 60s with tarantula eye mascara, blue eye shadow, and Aqua Net-sprayed beehives call you “darling”? Do you like booth seating? Do you like putting oldies and country classic love songs on jukeboxes? Do you like meatloaf and chocolate milkshakes… at 3am on a Tuesday? Then you’re probably already a regular at Tastee Diner. This all-night spot has been serving cholesterrific eats since 1935, and I hope its low prices, surly waitresses, and amazing selection of pies continue on forever, into a future full of robot maids and Holodeck replicators. Goodness knows this greasy spoon wouldn’t be any more out of place there than it already is in the world of imported pillowcases and decaf, non-fat lattés that is Bethesda. Have a $1.60 cup of coffee and enjoy the free refills.



Posted By:  Ursula Gross
Photo:  Ursula Gross

Flying Fish is a little unusual. It has a funky name, an almost New Orleans décor, a sushi bar, an extended menu, late-night hours, and a karaoke machine downstairs. (I’m so not kidding about any of that.) What it lacks in cohesion, though, it makes up for in location and effort. Flying Fish generally does all of the above rather well, with good sushi and an interesting menu for those who like their fish cooked. The atmosphere is refreshingly non-stark, which is a pleasant change from most sushi restaurants. Maybe that’s because it’s also about four other types of restaurants as well? Perhaps.



Posted By:  Magda Nakassis
Photo:  Magda Nakassis

Mandalay
Maybe you’re the last to hear, but Silver Spring has Silver Sprung. Gone are the days when you can spend the afternoon record-digging through dusty crates at Vinyl Ink and scarfing down mini-hamburgers at Little Tavern. Now there’s a Macaroni Grill and a Red Lobster. But downtown Silver Spring still has its charms, and Mandalay is one of them. This Burmese restaurant makes for a great dinner and a movie (at the AFI Silver Theatre, of course) date combo. Mandalay offers wonderful dishes at bargain prices, and Burmese food—with its blend of Chinese, Indian, and Thai flavors—is an unusual treat. Let Phet Thoke (green tealeaf salad) is a house favorite, but don’t be afraid to branch out and sample the unfamiliar; with only a handful of Burmese restaurants in the area, you never know when you might get another chance. The setup of Mandalay’s dining room and its basic décor are hardly cozy, but the warmth of its wait staff makes it a welcoming spot that has won the loyalty of quite a few Washingtonian foodies.




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