News & Politics

Old, New & Fun: Best of Silver Spring

Silver Spring has been transformed from an aging suburb to a lively hub of nightlife, dining, and entertainment. You’ll find great ethnic spots, a new concert venue, and a terrific seafood joint that hasn’t changed in 50 years.

Photograph of Joe’s Record Paradise by Erik Uecke

  • Photograph By Erik Uecke

    1 Chef at Work

    Pedro Matamoros makes June Cleaver look lazy. At his 8407 Kitchen Bar
    (8407 Ramsey Ave.; 301-587-8407), he
    handmakes everything from pickles to pastrami bacon. We like his heartier
    dishes, such as the Cuban sandwich, lamb Bolognese, and grilled rib

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 2 Clubby Cool

    In the mood for steak—or a quick bite before a show at the AFI
    or the Fillmore? You’ll find one of the best deals in town in the front
    lounge at Ray’s the Classics (8606 Colesville Rd.;
    301-588-7297), where the mood and the prices conjure a bygone era. For
    $22.99 you get a cup of lump-meat-packed crab bisque, a flavorful hanger
    steak, and sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The kitchen also
    slings the most popular burgers from sister restaurant Ray’s Hell-Burger
    in Arlington.

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 3 Films Galore

    The AFI Silver Theater (8633 Colesville Rd.;
    301-495-6720), the cultural center of the American Film Institute, is one
    of our favorite places to catch a movie. Three theaters play a mix of
    mainstream, art-house, classic, and seasonal films. But the biggest draw
    is the festivals. Every June, Silverdocs brings the world’s best
    documentary filmmakers together for a week of screenings, panels, and
    special events. Also popular: September’s Latin American Film Festival and
    the European Union Showcase in November.

    More Details on AFI Silver Theater ››

  • Photograph by Scott Suchman

    4 Terrific Thai

    Some of the area’s most vivid curries can be found at
    Kao Thai (8650 Colesville Rd.; 301-495-1234), a cheerful
    slip of a dining room. Temper the spiciness with soothing wonton soup and
    sticky rice with mango. Or ramp it up with an order of larb, the
    fiery minced-chicken salad.

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 5 Killer Music Hall

    Open since September, the Fillmore (8656
    Colesville Rd.
    ; 301-960-9999) has brought the likes of Blondie, Deadmau5,
    and Mary J. Blige to Silver Spring. Taking its cues from the historic San
    Francisco Fillmore, the venue can hold 2,000 and is decorated with vintage
    rock posters and four purple chandeliers. Many concerts end in time to
    take the Metro home, and snacks such as duck-fat fries and pork pot
    stickers are easy to munch during shows thanks to Chinese takeout

    More Details on the Fillmore ››

  • Photograph By Erik Uecke

    6 Arthouse Chic

    Metamorphosis Wardrobe & Accessories
    (811 Wayne Ave.; 301-588-8901) is filled with good
    options for the artsy shopper. Draped skirts, sweaters, and jackets come
    in warm shades of red, burnt orange, and brown, and the demurely cut
    cocktail dresses rely on bold patterns and color to catch attention. A
    collection of one-of-a-kind hats ($90 to $300) perch on cast-iron stands
    in one corner; at the checkout counter, you’ll find oversize cocktail
    jewelry with an African vibe.

  • 7 Fun for Fido

    The cheery pet boutique Living Ruff (8517
    Georgia Ave.
    ; 301-495-7833) has great finds for dogs, cats, and the people
    who love them. The focus is on organic and natural food (all products are
    wheat-, corn-, and soy-free), but you’ll also find a selection of toys,
    training equipment, dog coats, and a few gifts for owners.

    More Details on Living Ruff ››

  • 8 Delicious Dive

    When you walk into the basement-level Quarry House
    (8401 Georgia Ave.; 301-587-8350), all signs point to a classic dive bar: graffitied bathrooms and honky-tonk and garage-rock
    bands on the small stage. But the menu is a foodie’s delight. Overseen by
    Jackie Greenbaum of nearby Jackie’s Restaurant, the kitchen serves
    delicious house-made chips and organic-beef burgers, and the rotating beer
    list runs about 300 deep.

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 9 Red-Sauce Staple

    With its exposed-brick dining room and flowing Chianti,
    Olazzo (8235 Georgia Ave.; 301-588-2540) feels more Little Italy than bel paese. Plates come heaped with such
    checked-tablecloth staples as mozzarella-laden garlic bread, lasagna with
    red sauce, fried calamari, and chicken Parm’. On Monday night, bottles of
    wine are half off when you order an entrée.

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 10 Vintage Records

    Spotify-spurners and iTunes-haters, here’s the shop for you. In
    business since 1974, Joe’s Record Paradise (8216 Georgia Ave.; 301-585-3269) is a gigantic, pink-walled music-and-media emporium
    that moved from Rockville to Silver Spring two years ago. You’ll find
    records, CDs, even cassettes and VHS tapes (remember those?) from all
    genres and decades. In the “cheapie” section, records go for $1 to $3.50.
    For those who prefer to keep their tunes on an iPod, Joe’s is also a great
    source for retro wall art.

    More Details on Joe’s Record Paradise ››

  • 11 Creative Cocktails

    At the glam-punk lounge Sidebar (8081 Georgia
    ; 301-588-0899), the walls are painted black, sparkly chandeliers hang
    from the ceiling, and the craft cocktails—normally $9 to $11—are $6 during
    happy hour. The drinks are a mix of old classics such as the sidecar and
    more creative concoctions including the duck-fat-infused Quack-Quack-Erac.
    Chef Diana Davila-Boldin’s menu changes often, but you’ll likely find the
    Chicago-style hot dog and truffle-oil popcorn for a savory

    Read Our Full Review ››

  • 12 Local Flavor

    The kitchen at the Eastern Shore-style Crisfield
    Seafood Restaurant
    (8012 Georgia Ave.; 301-589-1306) might not be
    quite what it was a few decades ago, but with checkerboard floors and
    paper place mats, the 67-year-old neighborhood institution gets the
    atmosphere right. And it’s worth grabbing a stool at the convivial
    horseshoe-shaped bar if you stick to the simple stuff: buttery crab
    Norfolk; a cold seafood platter heaped with shrimp, crab, and lobster;
    baked stuffed shrimp; and slightly sweet slaw.

    Read A Full Review ››

  • 13 Latin Tastes

    At the Latin dining room Samantha’s (631
    University Blvd. E.
    ; 301-445-7300), look past the fajitas and
    enchiladas—they’re fine, but the real riches can be found in the
    house-specialties section of the menu. Go for the generous masitas de
    a Cuban dish of crispy pork with a whiff of citrus, or
    pan-fried Salvadoran-style trout.

    Read A Full Review ››

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.