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Guide to Silver Spring
Silver Spring is home to both well-known chains and original, independently owned stores. A car can take you to some outlying areas, but plan on walking around to find the lesser-known gems. By Kate Nerenberg
Comments () | Published March 24, 2008

Closest Metro stop: Silver Spring (Red line)

SCENE
In the recently revitalized downtown section, residents push strollers and meander among a sunny cluster of kid-friendly restaurants, shops, and salons. It’s well worth the trip along busier avenues, however, to seek out more hidden Silver Spring spots. If you tire of the commercial scene, take a walk through wooded areas on the Silver Spring Green Trail, easily accessible from major thoroughfares.

SHOPPING

Marimekko (8519 Georgia Ave.; 800-656-3587). Bold colorful prints adorn everything from dresses and children’s clothes to shower curtains and dining sets at this chic catchall store. Stock up on kids’ books, funky fabrics, and one-of-a-kind bags.

Roadhouse Oldies (958 Thayer Ave.; 301-587-1858). For those of you who prefer tape decks to mp3s and record players to DVDs, this is the place for you. Since 1974, two oldies-station DJs have been selling rock-’n’-roll, doo-wop, and Motown favorites on 45s, LPs, and cassettes. The best CD to take away is the one you can custom-make from more than 300 songs.

DINING

CakeLove (935 Ellsworth Dr.; 301-565-2253). Don’t leave Silver Spring without popping into this tiny bakery—an outpost of the original on DC’s U Street—where you can watch pastry chefs making cakes from scratch. For an on-the-go option, try a chocolate-dipped cupcake or a peanut butter “buzz ball.”

Ceviche (921-J Ellsworth Dr.; 301-608-0081). Try a multitude of versions of the namesake marinated-fish dish at this trendy Latin hotspot. The atmosphere is rustic raw timber and iron mixed with modern leather seats and green glass chandeliers.

Crisfield Seafood Restaurant (8012 Georgia Ave.; 301-589-1306). You’ll get exactly what you order at this Silver Spring institution, which has made few changes to the tried-and-true seafood menu or its interior design since it opened in 1945. Choose from classics such as a-soft shell-crab sandwich, clam chowder, or fried oysters. There’s a kids’ menu, too.

Eggspectation (923 Ellsworth Dr., 301-585-1700). For a kid-friendly option that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try this fun, colorful restaurant in the center of the shopping district. There’s something to please everyone, from juicy burgers to crispy salads and eggs in every form.

Mandalay (930 Bonifant St.; 301-585-0500). There are more menu options than you know what to do with at this spacious Burmese restaurant. Highlights include KyetThar, a pickled mango-and-chicken curry and the Let Phet Thoke, a green-tea-leaf salad topped with fried garlic.

Negril (965 Thayer Ave.; 301-585-3000). At this small Jamaican eatery, the sweet aroma alone will make you drool over authentic curries, savory turnovers, and fried plantains. Its sibling next door serves a limited takeout menu. Don’t leave without the sweet, buttery coco bread.

ART & FUN

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (8633 Colesville Rd.; 301-495-6777). This restored and expanded Art Deco landmark considers film an art form and educational tool. It celebrates all forms of the moving image (including mainstream movies) from around the world and often hosts panel discussions and musical performances in conjunction with screenings.

Kibana Spa (921-A Ellsworth Dr.; 301-588-8858). At this ultramodern salon, it’s worth the splurge for some pampering. Choose from an extensive list of hair, skin, and body treatments, including a hot stone massage and a spa pedicure. Kibana’s specialty, though, is makeup; cable’s TLC channel recently featured the spa on a makeover show.

Roundhouse Theatre (8641 Colesville Rd.; 240-644-1100). Enjoy a live performance in the intimate black-box theater—a branch of the original Roundhouse in Bethesda—which puts on everything from literary adaptations to contemporary works. Call ahead to find out if the “cooks”—artists, producers, writers, and actors who use the Kitchen, the Roundhouse’s theater lab—are putting on a free public reading or presentation.

Silver Spring Green Trail (various access points, including in front of the Marriott Hotel, 12521 Prosperity Dr.). A hiking, biking, and running path that runs parallel to the central business district, the trail connects with Sligo Creek Park and will soon connect to the Capital Crescent Trail, an 11-mile path that snakes into nearby Bethesda and into Georgetown.

GREAT ITINERARY
There’s no better place in Silver Spring to start your day than at Space 7:10 at Kefa Café (963 Bonifant St.; 301-589-9337), a charming family-run cafe. Sip on international fair-trade coffee among locals and choose from one of the bargain blackboard breakfast options (you can also come back for a sandwich or a scoop of gelato).

Next, pass through the heart of downtown, Ellsworth Drive, on your way to the Saturday-only farmers market to find local fresh produce. Wander down Georgia Avenue to Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (8230 Georgia Ave.; 301-608-9101), a nonprofit dedicated to the print and bookmaking arts. You can walk through an exhibition space, talk to artists working in their studios, and watch Kunstvault, a new form of graphic media.

Continue down the main drag to try one of more than 30 flavors at Moorenko’s Ice Cream (8030-B Georgia Ave.; 301-588-5656). The creamiest ice cream around will keep you fueled for more exploring.

Want more neighborhood guides for DC, Maryland and Virginia? Click here.

This article is part of Washingtonian's Visitors' Guide. For more articles like it, click here.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 03/24/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles