1 Some Like It Hot
The first restaurant in a mini-empire that now includes Indique
and Indique Heights, Bombay Bistro (98 W. Montgomery
Ave.; 301-762-8798) is still turning out fiery Indian specialties at its
20-year-old downtown Rockville location. Simple dishes are often the best:
smoky black dal, tender calamari spiked with shallots and hot
peppers, and a whole rockfish redolent of ginger, garlic, and spices
cooked in the clay oven. And don’t forget the extras: Gently spiced raita
and the overstuffed red-onion-filled kulcha are a
Photograph By Andrew Propp.
2 Kid Heaven
Whether you’re looking for a shiny blue harmonica, a cartoony
Kettler trike, or an oversize plush giraffe, you can probably find it at
Toy Kingdom (36-C Maryland Ave.; 301-251-0220). This
sprawling shop straddles new and old with such brands as Alex, Bruder,
Playmobil, Ravensburger, and Creativity for Kids. The rack of Mad Libs
books—On the Road edition, anyone?—is pretty impressive, too.
3 Crazy Good Rolls
Stylish digs and clever cocktails make the New York import
Sushi Damo (36-G Maryland Ave.; 301-340-8010) one of the
livelier Japanese spots around. Offbeat rolls such as the Rockville, a
briny-crunchy bite of shrimp, rice crackers, and crab, and the Blue Ocean,
a mash-up of salmon, lobster salad, and blue curaçao-wasabi mayo, work
well, as do more familiar takes on sushi, sashimi, and tempura. House-made
lychee sorbet—really almost a granita—makes for a clean
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
4 Life’s a Beach
Keep the summer-house vibe going all year with accessories and
linens from the Cottage Monet (36-H Maryland Ave.;
301-279-2422). Creamware pitchers, blue glass vases, jazzy printed cotton
pillows, and aluminum serverware by such lines as Vietri, Mariposa, and
CatStudio are all here. Our favorite recent finds: clear blown-glass salt
and pepper shakers shaped like pigs and a tongue-in-cheek wooden sign with
the words seas the day.
5 Italian Chic
Oro Pomodoro (33-A Maryland Ave.;
301-251-1111) is the sort of casual-chic restaurant that children and
their parents adore: fun wood-oven pizzas, savory pastas, interesting
wines, and more than a modicum of style. We can vouch for lemony octopus
carpaccio, robust fettuccine Bolognese, and briny spaghetti with clams.
Pizzas sport well-charred crusts and toppings such as buffalo mozzarella
and spicy salami. For dessert, consider the chocolate cake with one creamy
layer of ganache and another of caramelized sugar and almonds known as
6 Eat and Run
The Vietnamese sandwiches known as bánh mì at
Pho & Rolls (33-E Maryland Ave.; 301-340-2856) make
for a quick and portable meal. We like the classic with head cheese and
Vietnamese ham as well as the grilled pork and beef versions. All are on
crusty French bread with pickled vegetables. The cafe also has decent
pho with assorted meats including brisket, eye round, tendon, and
tripe to add to the anise-scented beef-and-noodle soup. Sweet Vietnamese
iced coffee does double duty—as a drink and dessert.
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
7 Pajama Time
The jammies are almost as wild as the pottery at the
Friday-night Pajama Party at Color Me Mine (33-F Maryland
Ave.; 301-251-2010). Popular with teens and families, Pajama Fridays mean
if you show up in PJs between 5 and 8, the studio fee is waived (usually
it’s $7 to $10). The lineup also includes Ladies Night Wednesdays, Mommy
and Me Mondays, and Two for One Tuesdays. The drill is familiar whenever
you go: Pick your unpainted bowl or objet ($12 to $80). Gather
paints and stencils. Create.
8 Sustenance and Style
Red and purple lanterns glow in the two-story dining room at
Thai Pavilion (29 Maryland Ave.; 301-545-0244), while
metal and stone sculptures add urban edge. The showstoppers are duck
rolls—the moist meat filling a crisped pancake—and black-pepper sea bass
fragrant with sesame, garlic, scallions, and soy.
9 Pancakes for Dinner
The oversize Saigon crepe stuffed with shrimp and chicken at
Taste of Saigon (20-A Maryland Ave.; 301-424-7222) is a
meal on a plate. You could stop there, but then you might miss other
pleasures at this modern, color-splashed Vietnamese eatery. Clusters of
crunchy chili and tamarind give fried calamari a new twist, and pork- and
shrimp-filled dumplings are nicely crusted from pan searing. If you thrill
to the low, slow burn of black pepper, ask for the eatery’s signature
dish: black-pepper shrimp—and tell them to turn the heat on.
10 Get Artsy
Take a class, check out an exhibit, or duck into the studio of
one of 19 resident artists at VisArts (155 Gibbs St.;
301-315-8200), a three-story nonprofit art space sponsored by the city of
Rockville, Montgomery County, and private donors. In addition to changing
gallery shows, there are classes in painting, drawing, photography, glass,
and jewelry. Also check out Cocktails & Canvas, a regular event at
which participants can enjoy wine and snacks while finishing partially
sketched canvases inspired by artists including Georgia O’Keeffe and
Vincent van Gogh.
Photograph courtesy of Federal Realty.
11 Triple Lutzing
Starting November 2, a 7,200-square-foot expanse of Rockville
Town Square turns into the largest ice–skating
rink in Montgomery County. Rent skates ($3) and arrange for
lessons ($85 for five classes) at the Rockville Ice
Skate Shop (131 Gibbs St., 301-545-1999).
12 Girl in the City
Geared to the young and young at heart, Cloud 9
Clothing (130-B Gibbs St.; 301-340-1061) is the place to find
trendy, bohemian frocks to wear on the weekend—and out on the town. Think
uneven hems, strapless bustiers, and retro maxis, plus jewelry and
accessories to finish the look. There are more-sedate threads, too:
patterned button-downs, loose blouson tops, and jeans that work on just
Photograph by Andrew Propp.
13 Cocktail Culture
Craft cocktails are the draw at Quench (9712
Traville Gateway Dr.; 301-424-8650), which opened in May. A spritz of
absinthe perfumes the wonderfully tart Corpse Reviver #2, made with gin
and Lillet Blanc, while applewood-smoked cherries and a black-tea/cardamom
reduction liven up a Maker’s Mark Manhattan. Even the classic Hemingway
daiquiri gets extra zing from fresh grapefruit.
14 Burgers and Steaks
Matchbox (1699 Rockville Pike; 301-816-0369)
is a sprawling industrial space with a killer beer roster. Go for sliders
on brioche buns (we like them with smoked Gouda) or tackle a full-size
Angus burger with cremini mushrooms and melted Gorgonzola. Rib eye, rubbed
with earthy porcini-mushroom jus, is a winner on its own, but
spicy rapini and mashed potatoes loaded with bacon, sour cream, and cheese
take the plate way over the top.
This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.