Brickside Food & Drink: Look Beyond the Booze

Bethesda’s newest sports bar has a booming happy hour, loads of flat-screens—and some surprisingly good food.

At Bethesda’s Brickside Food & Drink, cocktails come in the form of martinis and punches. Photograph by Scott Suchman

About Brickside Food & Drink

4866 Cordell Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814

“Vote Against Prohibition,” reads a faux-faded sign on the
ruddy brick wall at Brickside Food & Drink, downtown Bethesda’s latest
hangout. And though that issue is relevant only in the history books, most
of the twentysomething crowd on a recent weeknight was enthusiastically
showing its love of the hard stuff—swilling rye-spiked punches in Mason
jars and, at happy hour, $10 buckets of Miller Lite. But as the bar was
packed three-deep, the dining room’s cozy leather booths stayed mostly

That’s too bad because hidden among the usual sports-bar fare—a
tangy-creamy spinach-and-artichoke dip, chicken fingers and wings—are some
unexpected gems. Chicken “pops” translate to hefty, sweetly glazed
drumsticks with a cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce. They’re a nice starter,
as are fried wedges of soft polenta with blue cheese. A slightly spicy
tomato broth makes a restrained portion of mussels worth ordering, and
it’s even better as it soaks into garlic toast.

There are misses to watch out for: Overcooked cauliflower with
garlicky tahini sauce was a mushy, white-on-white mess. A sauceless pizza
arrived on a good, lightly charred crust but was bogged down by gluey,
flavorless Armenian string cheese. And a thinly pounded, breaded pork chop
emerged bland and tough from the fryer.

When it comes to bigger plates, it’s no surprise pastas are a
draw. Andrea Pace—chef/owner of the ambitious Italian dining room Villa
Mozart in Fairfax—is co-owner of Brickside. His orecchiette with sausage
and broccolini is straightforward and satisfying, while linguine is
twirled around shrimp and slicked with a lovely tomato-brandy sauce. It
might seem odd that they share space with racks of barbecue ribs, but no
matter—those are pretty tasty, too.

No doubt the Mason-jar cocktails will keep flowing, but the
kitchen deserves some attention.

Tangy-sweet chicken “pops” are paired with a cooling yogurt sauce. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Orecchiette pasta with sausage and spicy tomato sauce. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

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.