Only One “Very Best Restaurant” in Rockville?
Washingtonian magazine just released their annual “100 Very Best Restaurants” and it includes only one in Rockville: A&J Restaurant at 1319 Rockville Pike. Just outside of Rockville, they include Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Darnestown. I don’t want to diminish these honors, but geez, they’ve been listed many times before—is anyone at the magazine venturing out further? To provide some inspiration, here are some of my suggestions:
O’Donnell’s Market, 1073 Seven Locks Road, “Potomac” (officially in Rockville off Seven Locks Road, across from the Potomac Springs neighborhood). Among the best seafood in town and a very straight-forward preparation, and you can also buy fish and oysters, along with prepared side dishes and baked goods to take home.
Mosaic, 186 Halpine Road, Rockville (south end of the Rockville Pike, near Twinbrook Metro). The owner is from Lyon, France and it promotes itself as an “authentic French restaurant,” but more accurately it’s French-inspired. So they serve classics such as salad niçoise, duck confit, and beef bourguignon (alas with noodles, not potatoes) as well as a crab cheddar quesadilla, cajun shrimp omelette, and parmesan chicken picatta. Light, airy Belgian waffles dominate the menu and show up by themselves, in sandwiches, and the “bread” for entrees. I love ’em!
Java Nation, 11120 Rockville Pike, “North Bethesda” (across from the White Flint Mall, just south of Rockville). It’s an exemplar for independent coffee shops but it also serves terrific meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus wine, beer, and signature cocktails. The “very best” food doesn’t have to be expensive.
Il Pizzico, 15209 Frederick Rd, Rockville (north end of the city at East Gude Drive). Friends love this restaurant and claim it serves the best Italian food in the region. I rarely visit because it’s across town and takes me more than 30 minutes to get there. It’s in a dull office building and parking is limited but inside you’ll find meals that are a step up from the usual fare, such as tagliatelle al ragu’ di vitello or filetto di maiale al balsamico).
Any other suggestions that you’d consider among the very best?
Great Cheap Places to Eat in Rockville
The June 2015 issue of Washingtonian lists the top 100 places to “eat great cheap,” where all meals are under $25. Nearly a dozen are in or near Rockville:
- A&J Restaurant, 1319 Rockville Pike (Chinese, Taiwanese dim sum)
- Bob’s Shanghai 66, 305 N. Washington Street (Chinese, Taiwanese) [note the street address because there’s a Bob’s Noodle 66 nearby and it’s a different restaurant]
- Bonchon, 107 Gibbs Street (Korean fried chicken)
- China Bistro, 755 Hungerford Drive (Chinese)
- China Jade, 1608 Crabbs Branch Way (Chinese)
- Honey Pig, Germantown (Korean)
- La Limeña, 765 Rockville Pike (Peruvian)
- Moa, 12300 Wilkins Avenue (Korean)
- Peter Chang, 20-A Maryland Avenue (Chinese)
- Tortacos, 9629 Lost Knife Road, Gaithersburg (Mexican)
Notice a pattern? Yup, it’s dominated by Asian restaurants. Along with specialized grocery stores, Rockville is becoming the place for Asian food in greater DC. The best Thai and Vietnamese restaurants seem to be in Wheaton and Falls Church, so perhaps ours will make the cut next year.
A couple restaurants merited special mention by the Washingtonian:
Favorite across-the-board Chinese: Bob’s Shanghai 66: “Though slow to find its form, the high-volume, cash-only kitchen has been impressive of late, rendering its long list of Chinese and Taiwanese standards with a clarity and depth that most of its competitors can’t touch. The saucing is, almost without exception, clean and tight, making even a simple stir-fry—bean curd and pork, for instance, with long, thin bands of curd that have the slipperiness and chew of egg noodles, or tiny shrimp in a surprisingly balanced sweet-and-sour chili sauce—a memorable order.”
Favorite dumplings by the dozen: China Bistro: “The best reason to come is the speciality of the house—fresh-made dough hand-rolled and stuffed with any of 16 filings (we’re partial to the combinations, such as shrimp-and-chive or beef-and-celery) and steamed till they’re plump and juicy. Make dumplings the centerpiece of your meal (they come 12 to an order), and augment them with small plates—garlicky cucumbers, for instance, and a bowl of cold sesame noodles with its numbing chili sauce.”
Rockville Rated Highest Per Capita in Chinese Dumplings
DCist recently listed the best places to get dumplings in the DC region, with seven of the nine restaurants listed in Rockville. Although restaurants in Rockville are barely considered by the Washington Post and Washingtonian magazine, the food scene is growing deeper and bigger, which is evidenced in part by this dumpling study. Many Chinese restaurants include dumplings on their menus, but these restaurants focus their menus around them or serve an extraordinary version of them.
If you haven’t tried Chinese dumplings, there are many types of choose from but usually are ground pork or shrimp wrapped in dough and then steamed. The portions are usually big (think 6-12 dumplings per order) and I always bring my own bottle of sweet chili sauce to add some zing (these are simple homey restaurants, so they’re not offended if you bring your own condiments).
Here’s the line up from DCist:
- A&J Restaurant: 1319 Rockville Pike (in the green and white Woodmont Station shopping center down below next to Hertz car rental; cash only)
- China Bistro: 755 Hungerford Drive (in the blue and white Flagship shopping center)
- East Dumpling House: 12 N. Washington Street (in the strip mall downtown with Apollo and Woodside Deli)
- Bob’s Shanghai 66: 305 N. Washington Street (near Dawson Avenue, not to be confused with Bob’s Noodle 66 up the street)
- Joe’s Noodle House: 1488 Rockville Pike (along the side of the strip mall with the Yekta and Mi Rancho restaurants)
- Shanghai Taste: 1121 Nelson Street (in the Woodley Gardens shopping center with Good Times Cafe and Carmen’s Ice Cream)
- Sichuan Jin River: 410 Hungerford Drive (at the back of the office building next to the fire station)
Cheap Eats in Rockville
The September 2011 issue of Washingtonian features “cheap eats,” those places where “some of the area’s most exciting eating can still be had for $25 or less, tax and tip included.” Of the one hundred restaurants listed, Rockville features eight of them:
- A&J Restaurant, 1319-C Rockville Pike (in the funky colorful industrial strip mall just south of Woodmont Country Club). Specializes in dim sum from northern China, and while this restaurant is incredibly popular (the parking lot always seems packed), I’ve always preferred the dim sum from the south (give me a Hong Kong dim sum palace any time!).
- Carbon, 100-F Gibbs Street (Rockville Town Square). Haven’t eaten here yet, but it serves Peruvian-style charcoal-grilled chicken and is owned by the same family as La Canela just down the street.
- China Bistro, 755 Hungerford Drive (just north of the Giant). Haven’t eaten here because I’m still working my way through all the Chinese restaurants on my end of town, but I hear this is supposed to be the best place in MoCo for dumplings (and who doesn’t like Chinese dumplings!).
- La Limena, 765-B Rockville Pike (just north of Wooton Parkway, near the IHOP). I can’t believe there’s a Cuban place in town I haven’t tried, but here it is.
- Pho 75, 771 Hungerford Drive (just north of the Giant). One of the five Pho 75 restaurants in the DMV specializing in the satisfying Vietnamese soup.
- Sichuan Pavilion, 410 Hungerford Drive (just north of the fire station). And again, another Chinese restaurant to visit once I finish south of Beall Avenue.
- Spice Crossing, 100-B Gibbs Street (Rockville Town Center). One of my favorites.
- Viet Goel Tofu (aka Lighthouse Tofu), 12710 Twinbrook Parkway (between the Rockville Pike and Viers Mill Road). I recently overcame the odd name and ventured inside this Korean restaurant to enjoy an endless assortment of appetizers followed by a delicious silken tofu soup served in a sizzling stone bowl. Nothing like a meal with a show!
Nearby in Gaithersburg or NOSG (North of Shady Grove Road, which is not in Rockville)
- Batik, 200 Main Street Continue reading →