Food

Washingtonian Recommends: The Best Lunch Places in Bethesda

Our picks for Chinese dumplings, lobster rolls, buffalo dip, and more.
The lunchtime dim sum sampler at Q by Peter Chang. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Whether you need something quick and cheap, have a client to entertain, or are looking for a leisurely midday meal, we’ve got you covered.

Brickside Food & Drink
4866 Cordell Ave.
Don’t have to go back to work? This low-key bar serves some of our favorite nap-inducing indulgences: creamy buffalo dip, a sausage-and-pepper-laden flatbread, and Old Bay-sprinkled fries.

Jaleo
7271 Woodmont Ave.
If you’re looking to grab a quick business lunch, Jose Andres’s color-splashed tapas house is your spot.  The $16 lunch-in-an-hour deal is a good one, with hits like tomato bread, goat-cheese-stuffed peppers, potato-wrapped chorizo among the choices.

Luke’s Lobster
7129 Bethesda Ln.
Sometimes, you just need something fast. And this lobster-roll-slinging Bethesda Row chain is here to oblige.  The hot dog buns are stuffed with lobster dressed with both mayo and melted butter (it works)—and they take about two minutes to eat.

Mussel Bar
7262 Woodmont Ave.
Chef/restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier’s most casual restaurant (he also owns Siren and Marcel’s, among others) is the spot to dive into—you guessed it—a big old pot of mussels. Don’t skip the sweet potato fries, which are just as tasty.

Passionfish
7187 Woodmont Ave.
The menu has what feels like a thousand different influences (Po’ boys! Thai curry! Sushi!) but what underpins everything is good quality seafood. Spring rolls filled with shrimp and crab make a nice share, the raw bar is well-run, and bigger plates like steamed mussels with limoncello cream are plenty satisfying.

Q by Peter Chang 
4500 East-West Hwy.
The famed Chinese chef—who also has more casual restaurants around the area—has made this sprawling, quiet dining room his flagship. Start with the dim sum sampler then move onto Changian classics like the dry-fried eggplant, Szechuan kung pao chicken, and crackly-skinned peking duck.

Silver
7150 Woodmont Ave.
If you’ve got kiddos or teens to please, the Silver Diner’s upscale (not too upscale) sibling is a good bet. The menu of tweaked blue plate classics includes caramel-drizzled French toast, pickle-brined fried chicken with mac’ and cheese, and fancy grilled cheese. Plus, there are three kinds of avocado toast and plenty of veggies.

True Food Kitchen
7100 Wisconsin Ave.
This health-minded chain, founded by alternative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil, is a place where vegetarians, gluten-free, and dairy-free diners can go wild. Also nice: the cocktails are fashioned from fresh fruits and herbs.

Vace
4705 Miller Ave.
Some of our favorite pizza-by-the-slice can be found at this carryout-only deli, which has been going strong for over 40 years. Their twist: cheese goes on the bottom, sauce is on top (the white pizza with onions is pretty great, too).

Woodmont Grill
7715 Woodmont Ave.
At night, the low-lit dining room here is mobbed. Lunch tends to be a quieter affair, and you can still sample some of the restaurant’s biggest pleasures: creamy spinach dip, excellent veggie burgers and kale salads, and some of the best chicken tenders in town.

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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.