Black Market

Black Market can mean many things. Well, the most recent place I tested the name was at Jeff Black’s version of it in Garrett Park, MD, Black Market Bistro.


The last time I visited the place was probably 12 years ago and that was for brunch. Wow, it’s changed – it’s gotten much more popular and the menu is different.

Went on a Wednesday night and it was a solid 30 minute wait at around 7:45pm. Once we sat down, it didn’t take too long to decide what to get because we’d had a chance to glance at the menu while waiting. I will say, I ordered a heck of a lot of seafood!

So for the first course, the food that came to the table included:

Marinated Warm Grilled Squid Salad | $14 | Over Arugula in a Red Wine Vinaigrette with Kalamata Olives, Chili Flakes, Feta Cheese, Red Onions, Pine Nuts & Lemon Zest

First — the feta was genuine feta, so I could eat it. Everything other than the lettuce was hot-warm (which was perfect), and the squid was perfectly cooked. Heaven! I had to not eat it all because of the 2nd course.


Cornmeal Crusted Oysters | $13 | House Made Tartar Sauce

The plate was demolished, or the food on the plate was. Apparently perfect — crusted and cooked to perfection, with quite a tasty tartar sauce.



Second Course:

Swordfish special of the night. Can’t remember the entire description, but solid steaks, lettuce, nice vinaigrette, and delicious!


New Orleans Style Barbeque Shrimp | $27 | Sweet Corn & Scallion Grits, Wilted Swiss Chard & Toasted Baguette

Bring on the grit drool and mouth watering shrimp is what I determined/heard from across the table.



I took home a good amount of leftovers because both courses were big. The service was a bit slow and it was hard to get the waiter at some points, and then at others he was always there. But, as mentioned, it was a busy night.

A couple good wines were enjoyed, but forgot to take note of those. I think the food was the highlight of the night.

Check it out if you’re in the area. It’s definitely a hidden gem. Even if you know the area, you might have to pull out your phone to get you there from Strathmore Ave.


Fish Taco

I had heard so much about Fish Taco that I eventually had to try it. Also did it by taking a friend there as a thank you for picking me up from the airport. Good excuse, right?


Their background is ‘Our food is rooted in traditional flavors inspired by various regions including Baja California, Mexico and the Southwest. We embrace local, seasonal and authentic ingredients presented simply, yet prepared with passion and precision.’

It’s one of the restaurants where you go up and order and they call your number when it’s ready, the new fast-casual, or something along those lines. I had sort of wondered about that, or how exactly they worked. They have three locations in the DC-area, and I visited the one on Old Georgetown Rd.

Was torn on what to order. I was assuming that based on their background (and name) they’d have ceviche (or some sort at least), but no.

I ended up getting the Blackened Fish Salad; mixed greens, romaine hearts, baby kale, avocado, grilled mango, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cotija cheese, blackened fish, and our house made Lemon Cilantro Vinaigrette (minus the cheese) — $11.95. The seasoning was nice, but the fish was pretty greasy.


My friend went with the Adobo Barbacoa (Brisket) Tacos; fresh white corn tortilla, adobo marinated barbacoa, pickled jalapeno/carrots/onions, guajillo sauce — $8.95. This was apparently darn good, but not a very big portion.


To kill time we also ordered chips and salsa. It’s always a strike against when at a mexican restaurant (generic term) you have to pay for chips and salsa. And, it was $4! (and not that ample of a size).


I can see why this place gets hype. It was relatively quick and easy. But, I personally wasn’t all the impressed. I would rather cook at home. And it was overpriced for what’s offered/delivered. But, it is Bethesda/DC so you come to expect it. Glad I was able to pass the opinion myself.


So I actually went to see that movie about the guy who made all those computers that aren’t PCs.  No, I don’t own one.  It was interesting, though the end was a bit odd…could we not have brought us forward another decade+.

Ok, onto food…since the movie let out around 9:30, one must eat!  There has been such a change in downtown Bethesda in the last several years and even more so in the past 6 months.  So, new restaurants are popping up all over.  My friend and I checked out Silver.  I was unaware until that night that it is the posh version of Silver Diner.


We almost had to wait for a table at 9:30pm — it has to be good.  The interior design of this place is quite nice. The chairs alone have some leather that we couldn’t quite identify.  I almost felt under dressed!  The drink menu is extensive and some of the shakes — I almost thought they could curdle with the contents coming against each other.  Dang, sometimes I wish I could have one!

After way too much surveying of the menu (because I couldn’t decide) I opted for two appetizers, Crispy Brussels Sprouts that were cinnamon chipotle spiced, with apricots, cranberries, pecans, ranch (nixed that) and Wild Caught Scallops with lemon garlic sauce, wilted spinach, feta, cilantro.

This food was amazing.  I had to finish every single Brussels sprout on the plate.


And all the flavors of coming together on the perfectly cooked scallops…just take me to heaven now.


This place will be worth checking out for other meals.



Not Your Average Joe’s

A Not Your Average Joe’s opened up in the past several months in (North) Bethesda.  I have checked it out a couple times for happy hour (which has some decent specials) but haven’t ever eaten there.  I am on their mailing list and got a birthday email worth $15 towards my next visit to the restaurant.  Great.  Maybe I’ll go and actually try their food.


Decided to go last Friday.  It was very busy but was able to grab a spot at the bar.  Let the bartender know I had a $15 b-day email I was going to use, he was cool with that.  Made it towards the end of happy hour and snagged a margarita for a good price.  Sipped that for a bit while I enjoyed their amazing warm bread that they serve with olive oil, garlic (and normally cheese, but I get it without).  So addictive!   There were some decent menu items to pick from, some a bit restrictive for lactards.  I finally saw a seasonal item that the bartenders recommended — Cider Glazed Chicken Kabobs, which were grilled and glazed with zeigler’s apple cider, served over a warm farro golden raisin salad, roasted spaghetti squash and toasted pumpkin seeds.  Put an order in for that and shouted for a glass of red right before HH was over to have ready for when the food came out.

Eventually (maybe 30 minutes later) my food arrived.


The chicken was warm and the squash was cold, not even room temp.  I mentioned this to the bartender, he was very apologetic and the manager came and told me they would get me a new dish.  About 15 minutes later a new plate came out with half the chicken and still at lukewarm temps.  I picked at it a bit but was not really hungry.  The manager came to apologize and was kind enough to take it off my bill.

I still had the margarita and wine on my bill.  I presented them with the coupon I had from the email, which I had read VERY carefully prior to going to dinner about what it might or might not cover (aka alcohol).  No where did it say anything.  The ‘fine print’ read “P.S. As much as Joe loves birthdays, we’re obliged to include the usual disclaimers: This offer is nontransferable, not valid with other offers, only one per person and doesn’t apply to take-out.”

The bartender came back to me and told me that even though my coupon was for $15, I would have to pay for my $10 worth of drinks.  The manager made him do that, couldn’t do it himself.  Long story short, it was not pleasant, they eventually let me leave without paying, so I could fortunately leave the bartender a nice tip.  Overall not pleased with the restaurant, except for their great bread.


Gringos & Mariachis

Caught up with a friend the other night and we were in the mood for some good margaritas.  There are always the cookie cutter places.  Why we must we always go there?  Then I remember checking out a place in Woodmont Triangle (in downtown Bethesda) last year that I wanted to go to again.


It is so ‘hidden’ that it’s easy to miss.  We eventually tracked down Gringos and Mariachis on Cordell Ave.  I say hidden because there is no sign for it.  The exterior of the building is gray and their name is painted in black above the windows.  If you don’t know exactly where it is, amongst other popular restaurants, you walk right by it, as we did.  I only worked and lived near it for years and missed it.

Anyway, we walked in and it was packed on a Friday evening.  We snagged a (1) stool at the bar and (fast forwarding) were eventually able to get another.  They had a good variety of margaritas and I opted for the smoked one to begin.



The bartender said it’s the combo of the type of tequila and mezcal, and of course the special salt blend they use that makes it good.  Very unique and darn tasty!

We also got some staple food, from chips and guac to salsa.  Some of their salsa is super spicy!  They have tacos al pastor, which are very hard to find in the US.  I remember having them in Mexico.  It’s a pork taco and very good.  We also had their delicious seafood taco with Mahi Mahi.


Another great restaurant to check out, especially if you’re into margaritas.  And, it’s close to the Bethesda Metro and near many of the parking garages.

City Perch

There are some new restaurants/bars opening in the area and I was lucky enough to check one out courtesy of a client.  We visited City Perch in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD at Pike & Rose (outside of DC).


Quite the diverse menu, from drinks to food.  With several of us there, we covered the menu quite well.  I started with the Montgomery Blues — Greenbrier Small Batch Gin, Blueberries, Rosemary, Jack Rudy Tonic.  Delicious and the fresh rosemary was a nice addition.


Some of the others at the table were Dark + Stoutly — Stonewall American Rum, Ginger, Flying Dog ‘Pearl Necklace’ Stout.  It was very similar to a black & tan. One of them enjoying it stirred it to see if it would combine but it separated again.


Another at the bar was the Forbidden Garden Margarita — 100% Garden Margarita — 100% de Agave Reposado Applejack, Apple Cider, Applejack.  I tried some of that — very nice.  Was there really alcohol in that? That is what can cause some problems.


We also had some of the appetizers — olives, nuts, fries.  Addictive.  If you’re in the DC-area, totally check this place out.

Two New (Tasted) Brews

Checked out Mussel Bar in Bethesda the other day (hadn’t been since literally the day they opened) for some good beer on tap.  They have quite the selection!  Almost too many good ones to pick from.

Opted to first try the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red


Per the menu: “Our “Velvet M-80” is a hefty, dry hopped double-red ale with a nose full of aroma, a sticky mouthfeel, a malty middle and unctuous hop flavors. G’Knight sports a surprisingly sensuous finish for a beer of its size (8.7% ABV, 60 IBUs)…”

Very nice and smooth, not too hoppy.  Great for a summer night outside.  Did not taste like 8.7%…

After awhile decided to sip on another and went for Dogfish Head’s Sixty-One.



From the menu:  “The name Sixty-One is a reminder that this beer is Dogfish Head’s best-selling 60 Minute IPA plus one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. The label, painted by Sam, is a twist on a typical watercolor…”(6.5% ABV, 60 IBU)

Could definitely taste the grape in there.  A bit sweet, but not overbearing.  However, definitely couldn’t drink more than one of these.

Great to try these new (to me) brews.  And it was a perfect night out so got to enjoy them outside.  Has anybody had them or had others they can share feedback on?

Domestic ‘Irish’ Beer

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, another storm hit the area, which means there is no work.  It even means I don’t get to teach class at the gym tonight.  So, after meeting a friend for lunch (and walking there and back in the nice (?) slush and snow to attempt getting a workout) I was on a mission to get a (n)ice cold beer for the day.  I stopped by a great local beer store in Bethesda, Beer, Wine & Co. to see what I could snag one bottle of vs. a 6-pack.  Of course I couldn’t get Guinness or Harp in a single, so a bottle by great local brewer, Flying Dog, was suggested.  It was their Lucky SOB Irish Style Red.  Very nice and perfect for the day.  Just a traditional red, crisp and what I wanted.  And, they say it’s brewed with 4-leaf clovers, you can never go wrong with that!


From Spanish to Asian

There was a stat a few years ago that Bethesda has the most restaurants per capita in the country.  Not surprising.  And, as mentioned on a recent post, new places are opening all the time.  What can also be great about living right here is that these new restaurants send you coupons for FREE food.  Ahh, that lovely, rarely heard word.  Love it.  So, recently, another new place that opened its doors is Shophouse.  Ever heard of a place called Chipotle?  Yeah, thought so.  Owned by the same people, Shophouse just took inspiration from another continent.  So, the Asian flair is coming into play now and it’s pretty cool.  You (only) get a bowl (as in no burritos, my friends), pick your rice, meats, veggies, sauces, toppings, check out, eat.  They also note that the entire menu is dairy free and gluten free.


To start, you get brown or  jasmine rice, noodles or salad.

Then you pick meat — grilled chicken satay, grilled steak laab, chicken & pork meatballs or tofu.

Next veggies — broccoli, charred corn, eggplant and thai basil or green beans.

Then sauces — tamarind vinaigrette, green curry, spicy red curry.

To be followed by garnishes — green papaya slaw, pickles, herb salad.

And rounded out by toppings — toasted rice, crispy garlic, crushed peanuts, thai chilis.

You can get samples of everything so it’s a great way to get a taste of things.  They have fires/flames next to options that indicate levels of heat.  As in the green beans, hello!  You can also divide ingredients, as in get half/half.  So, say get corn and broccoli.  But, you can’t go three ways without paying extra.

I opted for a brown rice and lettuce with grilled chicken satay.  Then topped it with broccoli, corn and eggplant (yes, went extra), papaya slaw and herb salad and peanuts.  Then handed them my nice FREE coupon so the price was great (got the 3rd veggie for free because it was my first time there, so nice!). The regular cost for the chicken bowl was about $6.80, and it was huge.  I easily got 2 meals out of it.  So, another place to check out if you want to add to your list.


Spanish Food, Good Taste, Nice Price

There always seem to be new places opening in this area and it’s fun to actually check them out.  There is this new one in Bethesda, MD (part of a franchise) who’s name is tough to figure out based on the font but after discussion, wine, food, more wine and deep thoughts, we find out the official name is 100 Montaditos.  And what is this place?  Deep research tells you “100 Montaditos was founded in 2000, near the Spanish southern city of Huelva. Recreating the atmosphere of a traditional 19th century Spanish tavern, the restaurant specialized in montaditos, crunchy Spanish rolls baked to order and jam-packed with traditional ingredients as Serrano ham, Spanish tortilla, chorizo sausage and Manchego cheese.”

They have a huge menu of bite size food (basically little sandwiches) with great meats and cheeses.  They are all about $1-$3!  They also have some options for salad and meat plates.  My friend and I split a Spanish Gourmet platter of Serrano, Chorizo, Salami, Manchego, arugula and great bread.  It was $9 for more than enough goods.


For wines, she had some nice white for $4/glass.  I started with sangria — there are several options of basically wine and soda.  They are $3!  After that I opted for (straight) red wine for a whopping $4/glass.  Very nice house selections.

IMG_2533We sat at the bar so had service right there.  Otherwise you walk in, order at the counter, get a number, then they deliver your food to your table.  But a waiter continues to come to your table to see if you need anything.  Nice casual place.  Affordable, tasty, can be quick, or you can stay awhile.