Friday, December 13, 2013

New Year's Eve Roundup

Here's a New Year's Eve Roundup in the neighborhood: 


6 course fixed price menu (attached) with early and late seatings
$75/person meat and fish, $65/person vegetarian

8407 Kitchen Bar

4 Course Chef's Tasting Menu
$65/person for early seating, $90/person with wine pairings
$75/person for late seating with amuse bouche, $100/person with wine pairings


Will open at 6 pm and will be offering normal cocktail menu alongside complimentary hors d'oeuvres (no regular food menu will be available). Additionally, for those who want advance reservations at Sidebar, they are offering an all inclusive open bar at $50/person. This guarantees you a seat.

Urban Butcher

No cover, standard menu, champagne toast at midnight, drink specials. Open until 2am.

Piratz Tavern

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Mascarade Ball. Dinner is 4 course for $45 or order individually.

Mascarade Ball: Wear a mask. Champagne Toast at Midnight, Pirate Party Favors, Pirates for Sail singing from 8:30 - 10 pm.

The Fillmore

10pm, Slightly Stoopid. $49.50

The Society Lounge

Special New Year's Eve dinner menu with two seatings, 6pm and 9pm. DJ and champagne toast. 

The Limerick Pub (Wheaton)

4pm - 7pm, traditional Irish music and champagne toast at 7pm to celebrate New Year's in Ireland. No cover. They also have a special New Year's Eve dinner menu. Reservations will be accepted: 

If there's anything I'm missing that should be on this list, please give me a shout.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Preview of Urban Butcher

Spanish chorrizo, bourbon punch, steak tartar, lamb empanada, spicy pepperoni, pig ears - those are just a few things I got to sample at Urban Butcher's preview. The decor and design was minimal with great use of space. My favorite part of the design was the garage doors that will open up during the summer, with stools to sit outside part of the bar looking in (think Pearl Dive Oyster Bar set up with the stools outside facing in).

Although I sampled the Lavender Margarita and the Rosemary Gin and Tonic as well, the Bourbon Punch was my favorite. Tasty but not overbearing and not too sweet, it hit the spot and went well with the spicy pepperoni. For more info on what we can expect, check out my previous blog post.

It was nice to get to know some of our neighbors and meet the restaurant staff and the owner/chef Raynold Mendizabal as well. Here are some pics:

Entrance at 8226 Georgia

Great decor. Beautiful space. They didn't miss a detail.

Sample Menu (subject to change)

Notice on the menu above that you can request a steak from the butcher counter an additional 50% of the price and they will cook it for you on site.

Beer list pictured above. This includes 10 beers that will be on tap in addition to sparkling wine on tap.

 Dessert list. Note the bacon-maple gelato. 

 Bar area. Come to me Bourbon Punch.

Curing Room with a bottle of champagne on the floor

Cheese counter to include sheep's milk, raw cow milk, cow milk. Blue paradise was one of my favorites.

Sous-vide cooking goodness

Cut that pig!

At this very moment, my eyes fixed on the pig and I knew there was one request I had to make to the Cuban chef Raynold: Pig ear please!

And just like that, the pig ear was mine. So crunchy and tasty.

Beautiful display. Check out those pork chops.

Lounge area up front facing Georgia

Hours: 5:00 p.m. – midnight (Monday thru Thursday), 5:00 p.m. – 2 a.m. (Friday & Saturday). 5 p.m. to TBD (Sunday). Dinner 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Sunday thru Thursday), 6 p.m. - midnight (Friday & Saturday), Happy Hour Open until close (seven days a week).
8226 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, just two blocks south of the Silver Spring Metro stop on the Red Line.

For more on Urban Butcher, go to or call 301.585.5800. Follow on Facebook and Twitter (@UrbanButcher).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Urban Butcher Opening Next Week

Carnivores rejoice; the day is near. Urban Butcher's official opening date is Thursday, December 12 at 5pm. The restaurant will initially offer dinner and happy hour, however, the butcher shop, lunch, brunch, and a coffee shop are planned for early 2014. They won't take reservations - something to keep in mind for future trips if you're headed there with a large party.

I was quick to notice that Fridays and Saturdays they close at 2am yet dinner runs through midnight. At first I thought that was a little ambitious, as one of my pet peeves about our neighborhood is that things often shut down early, since people clear out by 11ish and there's a shortage of good food open late night for quick eats. Hopefully they are successful and they won't have an issue keeping the place packed. Our neighborhood is particular like that; restaurants that are well executed and do what they do well, tend to always have a full house. We'll patronize it over and over, we'll bring our friends, tweet about it, foursquare it up, and shout it to the mountain tops.

I can
 imagine happy hour will get busy early, so hurry over and claim your seat, as the bar seats 20. For dinner or happy hour, someone like me who loves to chat up our neighbors will enjoy the 24 seat communal table. Others might want more privacy with 50 seat dining room. I'm most excited for when the weather warms back up, as their outdoor patio will seat 50.  The aforementioned coffee shop will include a coffee bar that turns into a lounge area in the evening will seat 30. 

A few months back, Raynold Mendizabal told the Washington Post, "I'm not going to sell anything that I don't produce. I'm not going to sell prosciutto from anybody until I make it." In my opinion, for someone who knows what they are doing, homemade comes with an implied assumption of excellence. With hopes that it lives up to its expectations, I can't wait to give it a try and report back as soon as I do.

The restaurant will offer all kinds of charcuterie including verticals of different types of cured meats. Urban Butcher's PR rep mentioned that a vertical of ham prosciutto will include selections from different breeds of pig so customers can taste the difference between breeds and different farmers. Examples of different cuts of meat that will be offered include the Brazilian prime cut, picanha. Being that all the charcuterie is made in house, I can imagine they will have a limited selection to start. 

We can expect about 11 beers and 1 sparkling wine on tap. The wine list will be mainly focused on accessibility and they plan on having 100 labels to include smaller European producers as well as newer style from the US. The entire menu will be shared items to include selections from the meat cellar including charcuterie and salumi as well as terrines, pâtés and more. 

Raynold chose Silver Spring because he wanted to bring something new to the area and create a place where the community can come together and enjoy great tasting, honest food. 

Thanks, Raynold! We can't wait.

Hours: 5:00 p.m. – midnight (Monday thru Thursday), 5:00 p.m. – 2 a.m. (Friday & Saturday). 5 p.m. to TBD (Sunday). Dinner 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Sunday thru Thursday), 6 p.m. - midnight (Friday & Saturday), Happy Hour Open until close (seven days a week).
8226 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, just two blocks south of the Silver Spring Metro stop on the Red Line.

For more on Urban Butcher, go to or call 301.585.5800. Follow on Facebook and Twitter (@UrbanButcher).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keeping the Smalls in Business

Don't forget Small Business Saturday is this Saturday, November 30.

I couldn't include every single store, but here are some of my local small business favorites:

For fun trinkets, apparel, jewelry, gifts:

Fenton Street Market - Holiday Market 
Twitter hashtag: #ShopSilverSpring 

For ready-to-wear, designer and fashion apparel:

Erika Schrieber's online shop - designed and based out of Silver Spring

For an established tattoo and piercing shop since 1999:

Ambrotos Tattoo - 940 Bonifant

love the sign in their window

For great food, beer, wine and good people watching:

Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe - 8519 Fenton Street

For delicious Neopolitan style pizza:

Pacci's - 8113 Georgia Avenue

For homemade ice cream:

Moorenko's - 8030B Georgia Avenue

For custom sewing or sewing classes:

Think Outside the Store -  816 Thayer Avenue

Fenton Cafe - 8311 Fenton Street

For groceries, beer, wine (all at once!):

Snider's - 1936 Seminary Road

For one of the best selections of craft beer in the area:

Fenwick Beer & Wine - 1327 Fenwick Lane

For a delicious burger and old bay tater tots:

Quarry House Tavern - 8401 Georgia Avenue

For the only Saturday bottomless brunch in Downtown Silver Spring:

La Malinche - 8622 Colesville Road

For quick and honest car repair:

Murray's Auto Clinic - 999 Philadelphia Avenue

For a top notch meal with outstanding service and great bartenders:

Kitchen Bar - 8407 Ramsey Avenue

For good sushi with great service:

Sushi Jin Next Door


Ikko Sushi - 1215 East West Highway

Coming soon:

Third Space Wellness - Downtown Silver Spring

Not in Downtown Silver Spring but definitely worth a mention:

For some of the best empanadas in this area:

Kantutas - 
2462 Ennalls Ave (Wheaton)

For tasty gelato using fresh and creative ingredients:

Dolci Gelati Cafe - 7000 Carroll Avenue (Takoma Park)

For tasty ramen:

Ren's Ramen - 11403 Amherst Ave (Wheaton)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Efficient Travel Options in Downtown Silver Spring

A few reasons my husband and I selected the Downtown Silver Spring area a place to call home include the walkability factor, affordability (back in 2010 at least), being close to the metro, and living within a few miles of our nation's capital. We wanted to live in a walkable area where we wouldn't have to deal with parking drama for house guests or ourselves yet we could go without a car if need be. I know that at the time that sounded like a tall order for our Realtor Joe from Metro Homes Realty, but he pulled through and led us to this great neighborhood.

My bigge
st public transportation challenge so far has been the unreliable red line and it's ongoing issues. It's also a little pricey especially during peak hours. In the past few months I've been experimenting with different means of transportation to see what's the most feasible and efficient option (with the perk of exercise thrown in if possible) for different

ecently on a gorgeous Sunday, I had plans to meet friends for a bottomless brunch in Chinatown. Instead of riding my own bike due to the circumstances of free flowing mimosas, I decided to Capital Bikeshare down so I could Metro back. My other options were: zip car, bus, or cab to Chinatown.

Eight Bikeshare stations now in Downtown Silver Spring


Metro takes approximately 24 minutes (including approximate walk to the station). Cost is $2.70 off peak or $3.45 during peak hours. Depending on your proximity, you can get in some good walking and come closer to your daily quest of hitting 10,000 steps on the pedometer. However, since I needed to get to my destination with the certainty that I would make it on time, I immediately ruled out metro there because of the ongoing saga that the trains have no consistency on the weekends. I still decided to take a peek to see if by some stroke of chance this would be my lucky Sunday, but unfortunately, there was no sign of a red line train towards Shady Grove. 

Capital Bikeshare

Being that I now have a new Bikeshare station just two blocks from my place on Spring & Georgia, it was a gorgeous 58 degrees out and I hadn't been to the gym yet, that seemed like the right thing to do. I knew I had to plan for the time it would take and leave extra early since it would take me three times as long as if i took metro (when it's on time).

It took me about 50 minutes (with two quick stops for an ATM and water). Granted, I'm not an avid biker and I normally just use my own bike around DTSS to run errands, go to the grocery store, go out to dinner, etc. In fact, in the past ten years, the furthest I've ever been on a bike prior to my recent Bikeshare escapade was to Mark's Kitchen in Takoma (which by the way had really great food; that's for another blog post). So as you can deduce, someone who is a more experienced biker would probably make it in less time. Bikeshare cost a total of $9 ($7 for the 24 hour pass and then $2 for exceeding 30 minutes but not going over 60. Had I gone over the 60 minutes, I would've been charged a total of $13 ($7 for the 24 hour pass and then $6 for going over 60 minutes but not exceeding 90).

Most of the ride was downhill with three small up hills so it made for a relatively easy bike ride for someone of my elementary bike level. I also enjoyed a friendly Sunday morning DC, with many "good mornings" from locals sweeping or hanging outside which was nice. When I arrived to Chinatown, I quickly pulled up the Bikeshare app to find the closest dock to park. Luckily it had a few spaces left. 


Bus (#70) would take 68 minutes total time (includes walking .5 of a mile from where I live to catch the bus) but the cost would've been most feasible at $1.60 if I had that kind of time.


Uber would take about 30-40 minutes and would cost about $34-$43 (total including tip) to Chinatown, assuming the demand is low and there are many cars around. However, Uber can be a tricky option coming home from that area, because if there is an event (ie, H Street festival) and many people are looking for cars, Uber can cost as much as $75 to return to DTSS in some cases. The upside is you don't have to use cash or even have your credit card with you. Everything gets charged to your account and you hail your car with the touch of a button. There is also usually very little wait time.


Sun Cab fare would take about about 30-40 minutes and would cost about $20-$23 plus tip. The pick up is at your residence and if a car is available within ten minutes from when you call, they are reliable. You could also walk over to Kitchen Bar and scoop up a cab there as well for a similar price range but then you have to factor in the walk time to the cabs.


Zipcar would take about 45-60 minutes total including walking to the car location and the drive down. Assuming you've already paid the $25 one time application fee, it would cost $8.25/hour. The upside is that it's on your time frame and if you had friends with you, you could split it and it would be very cost effective. The downside is you have to drive around and look for a zip car spot to park it in.

I'm curious as to what Rapid Bus Transfer would cost and the time it would take or how far down Georgia it would even go.

Bike Lane Woes

My biggest issue with Bikeshare was not from Bikeshare itself, it was from the lack of bike lanes in Downtown Silver Spring and part of DC. It got a little worrisome at times because some cars had no awareness and I almost got steamrolled when a car decided to turn right on green and didn't think that there would be a biker that would be going straight in a makeshift bike lane to the right of him (which was also my mistake). So after that near catastrophe, I shifted to the sidewalk where I got a mean-mug from a group of people who wanted to enjoy their beautiful Sunday walking very slowly five deep across the sidewalk. And I can't blame them - why would I have had the need to be on the sidewalk if proper bike lanes were in place. So back onto the street I went. Once I reached Georgia and Q near Petsworth, bike lanes surfaced and I had no issues and the rest of my bike ride was a pleasurable experience.

 no bike lanes, but they really don't want you to turn on red

no bike lanes by Bonifant

sans bike lanes on Georgia in DTSS

The bikes themselves felt really durable and not too heavy. They have three gears, a bell, and handy storage space up front. Although my bike seat was a little high up, it was fine and didn't bother me at all. I'm not sure if or how you can adjust the seat if need be. Aside of the chronic bike lane issue, the only inconvenience to Bikeshare was that I had to carry my helmet to brunch and then back on the metro (#firstworldproblems). That's a minuscule worry and my choice for safety. 

So in conclusion, for my specific trip to Chinatown, Metro and Bikeshare were my best options for efficiency, green living, and cost effectiveness. Of course everyone's situation is different and it will change with destination, urgency, what the day brings with weather, the ongoing traffic situations, and depending on the time of day. Regardless, I'm really happy to have so many options here in Downtown Silver Spring. It's nice to not have to be so car dependent and have many choices within walking distance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Denizens Brewing Co. Q&A: Local Brew Coming to DTSS

Out with the sandpit and in with the growlers; beer drinkers rejoice. There's a new local brewery-restaurant-bar-beer garden coming soon to 1115 East-West Highway.  Started up by local Downtown Silver Springers, this is just what the neighborhood has been thirsting for. Emily Bruno, co-owner of Denizens Brewing Co., tells us a more about their upcoming venture.

Can you explain your overall concept? It sounds like you'll be brewing your own beer in house?

Denizens Brewing Co. will bring the craft beer tradition, style and expertise to Silver Spring in an urban brewery setting. We will serve traditional European-style lagers, American-style ales, Belgian-inspired beers, and sour beers, and our customers will be able to drink beer right as it is produced and ask our staff questions about it. We’re also partnering with a restaurant to offer a full menu making Denizens a food destination in Silver Spring as well.

The location at 1115 East-West Highway is ideal - we will have a comfortable outdoor beer garden, seating for dining in the space upstairs, and a bar downstairs where the brewing takes place. Between having three spaces for drinking and dining and a diverse food and beer menu, we will have something for everyone in Silver Spring.

Do you own other restaurants in the DC Metro area? Why Downtown Silver Spring?

Denizens Brewing Co. is a start-up brewery, although our brewer has years of experience in the industry in the Pennsylvania and Colorado craft beer scenes. 

After years working as a head brewer, he is founding his own brewery in partnership with Silver Spring locals who are also residents of downtown Silver Spring. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements of our brewer and restaurant partners over the next few weeks!

What type of food can we expect on the menu? 

Our menu is currently being developed and we plan to serve seasonal food that pairs well with our beer and also accommodates the different settings for drinking and dining. We plan to have full courses if customers want a meal and also serve smaller plates perfect for sharing.

Will you only carry your beer or have other beers available as well? 

Denizens will provide a top-notch alcohol menu for our customers. We will carry our beers, including our flagship beers that you will be able to find at other bars and restaurants throughout the region, as well as specialty beers that you will only be able to drink at our brewery. We will occasionally have guest taps open to breweries we like from across the country, but Denizens beer will be the main focus.

While we think everyone can find something they love among the many types of craft beer we will produce, we will also have a unique mix of wines and liquor available, with a particular focus on craft distilleries from our region and local wineries.

Will we be able to buy your beer "to go"?

Our customers will be able purchase and fill growlers at our bar. So you can have a taste of several styles, drink a pint with your friends, and then take a growler home for later.

Denizens Brewing Co. plans to unleash its doors summer 2014. You can follow them on Twitter @DenizensBrewing, on Facebook Denizens on Facebook or on Instagram denizensbrewing

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Spooky, Creepy, and Fun

As Halloween creeps around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to round up local Halloween related events in the neighborhood. This is my favorite time of year in DTSS because there's always so much going on.

I was really happy to hear that Zombie Walk is back since this is my third year living in the neighborhood and last year's wasn't official. I'm still trying to talk my sister into bringing her kid zombies but she's on the fence. I saw a good amount of baby and mini zombies throughout Ellsworth Drive last year which was adorable since they seemed to be enjoying all the other zombies. I like that we take our Zombiness seriously in Downtown Silver Spring. 

Here is my list. If I'm missing a ghoulishly awesome must attend event, please give me a shout give me a shout and I'll add it!

October 10 – 19
Spooky Horror International Film Festival 

From their website, "the eighth annual Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival showcases the best in new horror cinema from around the world, and once again the entire festival (more than 40 shorts and features)."

October 12 – November 4 
Halloween on Screen
AFI Silver Theatre
Lots of creepy and scary Halloween films to include the old school version of Carrie. I distinctly remember sneaking down the stairs when I was about 6 and my parents had it on the big bulky tube. I proceeded to sit and watch it through the railing and then go on to have nightmares for days. 
AFI Silver Theatre

October 17, 6 - 8pm 
The Daily Dish
Local Author Book Signing Series
The Daily Dish, Local Author Book Signing Series [Press release]:
"Beginning October 17 from 6-8, with a little Halloween horror fun, That Which Should Not Be and a ghost story from Haunted Tuscaloosa, by Brett J. Talley. That Which Should Not Be is an award-winning (2011 HWA Bram Stoker Finalist for superior achievement for a First Novel; 2011 GoodReads Choice Awards Semi-Finalist; Winner of the 2011 JournalStone horror writing contest) supernatural thriller and Haunted Tuscaloosa, a ghostly jaunt through city's shadowy history with tales of the jettisoned insane asylum, lingering antebellum mansions housing the ghosts of the original dwellers and haunted cemeteries where the specters of Confederate soldiers still march. 
Flying Dog’s limited edition The Truth Imperial IPA and The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale will be featured along with haunting candlelit atmosphere."
This sounds like a cool event in an off the beaten path spot. I went to The Daily Dish for brunch not too long ago and my first experience was a great one. Good food and value, people were friendly, and in a random location.

October 18, 9pm
Fire Station 1
Costume Contest with Prize $5 cover, 9pm 

Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26 from 6 - 10pm
The Haunted Garden
Justice prevails! Well, kind of. Judge Mitchell ruled the Haunted Garden could remain open for two of the five nights.

Saturday, October 26, 9:30pm
McGinty's is having their annual Fancy Dress Halloween party and costume contest. $100 gift certificate for the best costume. Live music by Wendy and The Lost Boys. Might make for a good stop by after the Zombie Walk.

Saturday, October 26
Whole Foods Fall Festival
There will be a Pumpkin Patch, Apple Mart, Bratwursts, Caramel Apple Station, Pumpkin Pies, and live music.
1pm-1:30pm: Halloween Costume Competition (for the kids)
3pm-4pm: Apple themed craft class (for the kids) 

Saturday, October 26
Gathering time, 8pm. Walk time, 9pm
Silver Spring Zombie Walk
Walk starts at Sligo & Georgia Avenue.
Get 20% off for dining in costume at Jackie's. Because of construction on Georgia Avenue, there will be a different route for the walk.
The walk ends at AFI, where at 10:15pm they will be a showing of Return of the Living Dead and the midnight showing of Shaun of the Dead.

Sunday, October 27, 4 - 7pm
The Limerick Pub (just 2 stops from the Silver Spring metro station to Wheaton)
Third annual pumpkin carving contest. Prizes and giveaways. 

Friday, November 1, 4 - 7pm
The Paw Stop Howl-o-ween
The Paw Stop, 8122 Georgia Ave. Costume party for Fido and he can win prizes. 
You guys remember this dog from the Silver Spring South Fest? I wonder what its costume will be

Other awesome happenings in the neighborhood:

October 18 - 20 
AFI Silver Theatre
18th: 5:15pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm
19th: 7:30pm, 9:45pm
20th: 5:15pm, 7:30pmCool Disco Dan Screenings
Documentary on DC culture, graffiti, go-go, street teams/crews, drugs, and history in general. Features icons such as Chuck Brown, Marion Barry, and more. 
For the 5pm screenings, Cool Disco Dan himself plans to sign memorabilia in-person at the event.

October 23
Adega Wine Cellars
Beer Event with Union, Brewers Art and DC Brau
Come out and support Maryland and DC's breweries!
Brewers or brewery representatives from The Brewer’s Art (Baltimore), DC Brau (Washington), and Union (Baltimore) will be on hand, with free samples of their canned offerings! Their tap lines will be taken over with special or rarely-seen drafts from all three breweries. You can expect to be on draft: Brewer’s Art, brand-new seasonals or one-offs from Union, Steal-The-Pint with DC Brau. If you're a beer lover and you live in the neighborhood, you can't miss this.

November 14 - 18
Community Stories Festival (coming to Silver Spring & Takoma Park)
Docs In Progress present a series of screenings and workshops reflecting the stories of our local communities in Silver Spring and Takoma Park. There will be filmmaking workshops in addition to two nights of screenings of films on local people and places. Events are free and open to the all, however, RSVP is appreciated. For more info, visit here.Two festival events that sound really interesting:

"Share Your Story" on Sunday, November 17 from 2 - 5 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building (1 Veterans Place): Longtime residents and newcomers can come together to share past and present Silver Spring stories in an interactive oral storytelling workshop. 

Silver Spring Stories Films on Monday, November 18, 7pm at the American Film Institute Theatre and Cultural Center (8633 Colesville Road): Following a Community Reception at 6:30 pm, Docs In Progress will screen 10 short films produced by adults and youth first-time filmmakers about local topics. This will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers and film subjects. Among the topics in this year's festival: Artpreneurs at the Fenton Street Market, Shepherd's Table, the Silver Spring Library, Fenwick Beer and Wine, the National Capital Trolley Museum, and SSTCI's own Asian-Latino Pop-Up Museum programmed earlier this year jointly with the Smithsonian.