The Needle: Spices, Ray’s to the Third, Woodberry Kitchen

What's hot and what's not in the region's dining.

By: Jessica Voelker, Ann Limpert

Spices
Lots of Cleveland Park residents use Spices for takeout and delivery, but the food is at its best in the warmly lit dining room. We dug into a tangy salad of green papaya, mango, and red cabbage, and another Vietnamese classic—grilled shrimp over cold vermicelli with nicely crunchy spring rolls, cucumber, mint leaves, and peanuts. Less inspiring: gummy drunken noodles with flavorless minced chicken and the limp, over-steamed edamame. 3333-A Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-686-3833. —JV

Ray’s to the Third
We took the casual route at Michael Landrum’s latest restaurant. The enormous Mack burger—with American cheese and tangy “heck” sauce—was juicy perfection. Tender slices of rib eye elevated a sandwich that included melted American and provolone and grilled onions on a Lyon Bakery sub roll. A side salad lent lovely contrast to the sandwiches, and a boozy shake with bourbon and bacon bits made an indulgent ending. 1650 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-974-7171. —JV

Woodberry Kitchen
Spike and Amy Gjerde may have their mind on new projects, but that hasn’t diminished anything at their farmhouse-cool flagship. Our table became cluttered with terrific snacks: cucumbers seasoned with fish pepper, crab dip with a shot of sherry, a crisp salad of charred sugar-snap peas. Excellent desserts—from a blackberry meringue pie to a marshmallow-and-malt sundae—helped make the meal one of the best we’ve had here. 2010 Clipper Park Rd., Baltimore; 410-464-8000. —AL

This article appears in the September 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.