Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cheaper than Cheap Eats

Congratulations to Sidebar, for one lonesome yet BIG mention for Downtown Silver Spring in Washingtonian's Cheap Eats 2012, my favorite bar in the DC Metro area to drink and be merry.

While Washingtonian's list mentions restaurants where you don't have to spend more than $25 per person (including tax and tip), I've included some additional restaurants in the Downtown Silver Spring area that they not only neglected, but where you can get your entire meal for two under $35.

The Stage Burger Lounge, on Colesville, is located across the street from AFI with a nice space up front for people watching.  You can get The Stage Burger for $6.45.  Add small fries for $1.95 and you have a meal under $10.
Stage Burger Lounge

Lotus Cafe on Georgia Avenue is situated right next to Jackie's. You can get a (perfectly filling) small bowl of Pho for $6.50 or the large for $7.50.  You could even throw in Spring Rolls for $3.50. There are other options other than Pho and you could easily have dinner for two for under $30.

Thai Derm, also on Georgia, features most of their noodles pricing in the $9 range and other non noodle dishes ranging form $8.75 - $11.  As per their website, they have a list of lunch specials you can get with rice and a spring roll for $5.95 Monday - Friday! You can also order the lunch special carry out via Eat24. 

Ikko Sushi is located on East West Highway. You can score rolls from $4.99 and up. If you don't want sushi, their beef or chicken teriyaki rice bowls are $8.99. Dumplings are $5.99 and Shrimp Tempura $6.99.
Ikko Sushi

At Da Marco Ristorante Italiano on Colesville, it pushes the top of the pricing, but you can have dinner for two for about $30 - $35. You can find items like the linguine or penne pasta or $12, melanzane alla parmigiana (eggplant) for $14, lasagna bolognese for $14, penne trio for $14, gnocchi for $14. And if you go on a Tuesday night as per their website, you can get a 14" pizza from $9 - $12.

At Oriental East on East West Highway, their dim sum is available every day from 11am - 3pm, features items anywhere from $2.50 - $3.00/per item and from $5.25 - $12.95 for their soups and noodles.
Oriental East

Adega Wine Cellars is located upstairs in the plaza. You can easily have a meal for 2 under $30. Their Grilled Fish Tacos are $12.99, Adega Quesadilla $7.99, Cappellini Fresca is $9.99. AND if you don't like any of their bar choices, you can purchase one of their bottles of wine for sale in their shop and they'll uncork it for you and serve it free of charge.

Crisp And Juicy is located in the same strip as Oriental East on East West Highway.  You can feed an entire family of 5 for $34 with their Superbowl platter which includes 2 whole chickens, large potato salad, large cole slaw, and a large rice & beans.

Big Greek Cafe is located right on Georgia.  You can easily have a meal for 2 for $20 - $30. There are about 6 starters to choose from under $5. Their platters are reasonable as well ranging from $9.99 to $13.50 (and all platters are served with a Greek salad and 1 side). If you go on a Wednesday, their Gyros are $5 all day!

Not in Downtown Silver Spring but worth nothing:

Although Kantutas is not in DTSS, it's just a 2 metro stops away on the red line and in walking distance from the Wheaton Metro Stop.  At Kantutas, an authentic Bolivian restaurant, you can get an entire meal for 2 including beer for $25. The Silpancho is $12.99 and can easily feed 2 to 3 people. The Empanadas are $1.70 and they might be the best empanadas I've ever eaten (and I can say due to my upbringing, I'm an empanexpert).
Silpancho, 2 Empanadas, a Modelo, and a bottle of water = $22

Can you think of others I missed that you'd like to see featured on here? Please don't hesitate to give me a shout!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reuse, Renew, and Conserve on Bonifant

Three weeks ago, On The Purple Couch opened its doors to Downtown Silver Spring on Bonifant. I know DTSS isn't known for its shopping district but hopefully, as new shops follow suit, this will change in the years to come.  The store fits perfectly in its new home on one of my favorite streets in the area.

On The Purple Couch is a consignment shop. In addition to slightly used, the shop has quite a few new items with new/original tags. The shop boasts their Annie Sloan chalk paint for furniture. As per their website, you can use it on any surface - indoors and out and you can use the paint by diluting it with water to make the wash show the wood grain.  It does wonders for restoring vintage furniture.  The shop houses a vintage dresser painted using Annie Sloan and it looks amazing! 

Bahia, the boutique owner, is local to Silver Spring. She chose the name because she has always wanted to have a purple couch (wasn't there when I popped in but I hear its coming soon!) and also she feels the name goes well with her theme: reuse, renew, and conserve.

You can find really cool items to include slightly worn and new high and mid end designer apparel for women, children, and men, unique jewelry pieces, scarves, shoes, some furniture, belts, handbags and murses (new term I just learned even after my 7 year stint in the fashion industry - gotta love it - it means men's purses). On occasion you can find antiques, vintage furniture, home furnishings, art, sculpture, and china. 

Pricing for the apparel seemed reasonable and comprable to other consignment shops in the area. Also, she made really great use of the small space and avoided overfilling any wall or rack.  The spring like color palate is easy on the eye and visually pleasing. 

Consignments are accepted Monday - Friday from 11am - 5pm or by appointment.  Bahia can arrange pick-ups as well. You can reach her here for details on the consignment split and anything else you might need to know.  Note that she only accepts in season consignments, which keeps her store current. 

The official "Grand Opening" is this weekend Friday May 18 - Sunday May 20 where she'll have a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday and then open house on both Saturday & Sunday with music, make up artistry (Saturday), and drinks.  Check out her website:

On The Purple Couch 
955 Bonifant Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910 
TEL. 301-565-0010

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ate the World in DTSS

Checked out Taste The World in Fenton Village today.  Glad the weather held up because the event was a great success!

Scooped up my passport and my free "Taste the World" recyclable bag at parking lot 3 on Fenton and I was on my merry way.  I'd like to suggest to the organizers for next year they have an actual section (alongside Home, Restaurants, and Contact) on the website with specific instructions on where to go to pick up the passports. They did note it in one of their entries but it was easy to miss.  I know some first timers referred to Silver Spring Speaks who had the details and instructions spelled out clearly as opposed to going to the actual Taste the World website for details on what to expect.

They had 24 restaurants confirmed this year and I wish I could've tried each and everyone.  

List of Restaurants

Here are some pics from a few that I visited:

Of course I visited Jackie's towards the early leg of my food crawl. I didn't want to be too stuffed to miss one of my favorite spots in the area:

Mini Elvis Burger, Bhaj, Mango Basil Limeade

Stopped into Lotus Cafe for some dumplings (pot stickers). 

Next made my way down Georgia and popped into Pacci's.  I will say, I was a little bit disappointed with the only 2 options Pacci featured: Margherita and La Diavola small pizzas.  It would've been nice if they had a few appetizer options as well. The two they chose are staples for Pacci's and if you're a local from the neighborhood and you've been there before, you've most likely already had those. Yes - I understand that for someone stopping in to sample for the first time, those are great go-to's, but I would've liked to have seen other options in addition.  

La Diavola pizza was on point. They use San Marzano for the sauce. Delicious!

Swung by Abyssinia and they featured 4 of their vegetarian dishes at $5 a piece.

Piratz Tavern had quite a few options and even a kids menu. Can't go wrong with $3 sangrias or $2 modelos or a cup of Shrimp Bisque for $1.50.

Piri Piri Chicken 

Cod Fritters

I think next year the organization should require the restaurants to feature more than just 1 sample.  For example, Lessac Ethopian Cafe had only 1 item - vegetarian sushi.  That was a weak showing if you ask me. It would also be awesome if they could post what the restaurants were sampling on their website in advance. It would help us map out our tour in advance.

Overall, I thought it was well organized, the restaurants were ready and prepared for us, and the event had a great showing.  Would love to see more of these functions in the neighborhood!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Get Your Food, Art, and Party On This Weekend

This weekend is one of the busiest weekends Downtown Silver Spring has had so far this year with lots of events, festivities, and opportunities to roam the streets to all the wonted locales we stroll by day to day while consuming lots of great food and drink. All events are easily accessible/walkable from the Silver Spring Metro stop and there's free parking (still - phew!) after 6pm and on the weekends in nearby garages. 

Here's what's happening, in a nutshell:

Friday, May 4 - Downtown Silver Spring Cinco de Mayo Celebration Kickoff
The Fountain Plaza Stage
6:30pm - 8:30pm (*Note - Austin Grill will start the festivities at 5pm with tons of drink specials inside and outside on their patio.)
Featuring Grupo Latino Continental known more famously in Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, and Pereira in Columbia and throughout South America. Be ready to throw down all the dance moves you learned from re-watching "Along Came Polly", as this band plays lots of Salsa, Merengue and Cumbia. 

Ellsworth Drive
Saturday: 10am - 6pm
Sunday: 11am - 5pm
Featuring handcrafted artwork from local, national, and international artists. You can find paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry, glass, metal, wood, etc. If it's an art form - it will be there. 

Saturday, May 5 - General Cinco de Mayo local bar & restaurant festivities

Fajita Coast - 1115 East-West Highway 
$3 drafts all day. More margaritas than you'll be able to handle. The sand/beach patio bar will be open in full effect. They expect to be CRAZY so get there early! 
Open at 11am.

Mi Rancho - 8701 Ramsey Avenue
Drink specials all day. Large outdoor terrace with full bar. 
Open at 11:30am.

Austin Grill - 919 Ellsworth Drive
Drink specials all day - discounts on margaritas. Small outdoor patio. Keep in mind the Fine Arts Festival will be right in that vicinity so plan accordingly for crowds. 
Open at 11am.

1pm - 5pm
Fenton Village - 8206 Fenton Street
Enjoy food and music from around the world.  24 restaurants represented at this year's event.
This is a GREAT opportunity to sample the neighborhood's cuisine walking just a few blocks. 
Silver Spring Speaks has a great article with tips on how it works, where to start, and how to most effectively get your eat on.

Saturday, May 6 - Flower Avenue Market
(This is an ongoing event through December 23)
9am - 4pm 
8809 Flower Avenue
As per their website,  it's great place to shop for antiques, art, collectibles, crafts, jewelry, home d├ęcor, clothing, accessories, books, gifts and all kinds of eye-opening finds. 

With all the Cinco de Mayo festivities and celebrations, I thought I'd include a little blurb on what it is that everyone's celebrating, dancing, or drinking about.  Cinco de Mayo is often incorrectly equated with "Mexican Independence Day".  But in actuality, it marks victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It's actually celebrated more widely in the US through Mexican-Americans and Chicano communities and the American celebrations are often bigger than those in Mexico. 

You can read and learn more about it on