The Best of Rockville

With an outdoor ice rink, shops, restaurants, and Metro, Rockville Town Square offers city living in the suburbs.
Sushi Damo. Photograph by Andrew Propp.
Sushi Damo. Photograph by Andrew Propp.
  • 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
    revelation.

    Read Our Full Review of Bombay Bistro ››



  • 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
    finish.

    Read Our Full Review of Sushi Damo ››



  • 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
    croccante.

  • 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.

    Read Our Full Review of Taste of Saigon ››

  • 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 iceskating
    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
    about everyone.



  • 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.

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