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Dining in Silver Spring


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I love great food. I will travel far and wide for it. However, I have a dilemma in my own neighborhood. Two of my favorite restaurants are The General Store and the Sub Urban Trading company and I frequent them often, but I always leave with a bad feeling. A feeling that I was not welcomed or invited. A feeling like I would feel if I went over to a friend's house whose mom was a terrific cook and fed me a great meal, but scowled as she served it and made me feel like I wasn't invited (even though I was) and intruding in her space . It seems to me that if you do not want to serve people with a smile then why bother opening a restaurant?

It's getting bad. I often drive by The General Store and chills go up my spine and I think "thank god I'm not hungry so I don't have to go in there." Today at Sub Urban Trading Company, I was treated rudely by one of the staff and it is impossible to tell the owner because she is just as rude as the employee and doesn't care. It's a shame, I love the food at both places, but I am not emotionally strong enough to go to them any more because the rest of my day gets ruined. I guess I will just have to go back to Popeye's for my fried chicken -- at least the staff there is friendly.

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I have yet to check out the new Dama Cafe that opened next to the county liquor store downtown. The SS Penguin was not keen on the food, but far more effusive in their praise of the desserts.

Quick note to add that this isn't on Colesville Rd. It's next to the liquor store parking lot around back.

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The following post is from another thread and really should be here instead.  I wrote this because in the other thread there was a response of surprise when I mentioned Silver Spring's background in the 50's and '60's.  I thought I would give a bit more detail and, as typical of me, became quite verbose.

___________

Silver Spring is complicated.  I grew up there moving from Wheaton in the mid '50's where we moved from "River Terrace" off of Benning road where I was born.  I stayed in Silver Spring until 1988 and basically gave up on development, married and moved to Reston.  I've testified (just a member of the public) at several public hearings for development but nothing ever got off the ground until I left.

1.  Silver Spring had a population of around 66,000 in the early '60's and a very real downtown with the Silver theater and Roth's Silver Spring on Georgia between Ripley and Bonifant.  There was a real binge of high rise growth in the mid to late '60's.  Jerry Wolman created a real stir when he built the largest apartment building in the metro D. C. area, Georgian Towers which is the 8700 block of GA and something like 900 units.  More high rises went up around the same time including the buildings across the street, a block away-Twin Towers, Silver Spring House (816 Easley), two buildings at Colesville and Spring, Pickwick Towers on Roeder road, a second and a third 16/17 story building in Blair Park with another 15 story across from them, 1316 Fenwick and 15-20 more high rises. The Sheraton Silver Spring at Colesville and Spring was a showcase which we were proud of when it opened.  My guess is that by the mid '70's Silver Spring had 25-30 buildings 10-18 stories tall.  Factor in the three department stores I mentioned above and Silver Spring promoted itself as the largest shopping area in the Washington metro area.  It was solid middle class and those of us at Blair thought we went one on one with B-CC.    I remember all this because I drove a cab in Silver Spring for several years while going to college, later Bethesda through the mid to late '70's part time.

2.  There was a sewer moratorium in Montgomery County dating to sometime in the early (?) 70's which essentially rationed development and eventually stopped it.

3.  When Martin Luther King was killed there was terrible rioting in parts of D. C.  I lived at 710 Roeder road and remember standing on the high rise roof and watching smoke rise from the Georgia Avenue corridor four or five miles to the south and, in the distance, smoke rise from 14th street (Park road to near Thomas circle) and H street, N. E.  Much of this area-many, many blocks-literally burnt to the ground.  The next day there were tanks rolling down Georgia near Walter Reed with the smell of smoke in the air.  As a result of this and the closing of so much shopping in the city, the ethnicity of eastern Montgomery County accelerated in its change..  Note:  when I was 15 or 16 I worked at the Safeway at 14th and U.  I had a close friend who went to Howard and remember seeing James Brown with him at the Howard theatre.  I mention this because in '63 or '64 although I was white I felt very comfortable walking on 14th, walking on U street.  This changed in the late '60's.  As part of 14th street became very poor, so did part of Silver Spring.

4.  Silver Spring's image gradually changed as did Langley Park and parts of Takoma Park.  I grew up near Piney and Flower.  This area never had a name.  I played baseball and basketball at the Long Branch recreation center.  Somewhere along the line somebody decided to start calling this area "Long Branch."  I have no idea what they are talking about.

5.  Montgomery County tried to spark development but was not able. There was some building in the '70's but eventually it ground to a halt.   Into the '80's nobody wanted to invest in Silver Spring.  It's image had changed and the county was very much aware of this.  Over time a line between Silver Spring and Bethesda had "hardened" at Rock Creek Park.   Triple 5 who had built West Edmonton Mall (8 million sq ft) and the Mall of America (5 million in Minneapolis) wanted to come into Silver Spring and build on the block bounded by GA., Colesville, Fenton and Ellsworth.  The County was encouraging them.  It never got off the ground.

6.  Eventually the County spurred the redevelopment of Hecht's and later Discovery followed.  After Discovery came the Silver Theatre and, in the last ten or so years, it has really taken off.

Silver Spring is coming back.  I give the county enormous credit for standing by it.  Discovery?  They are heroes.  NOAA, too.

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I read it. (the description of Silver Spring)  Its a great history.  Very interesting and informative.  You laid out in a way how that former urban center was bypassed by Bethesda.

Having moved to the area in the late 70's I had no idea of Silver Springs significance before then.  Now we all have to populate that topic with references to its restaurants.  Once I got to Silver Spring I did start eating at both the original and shorter lived 2nd version of Chrisfield's.  Wonderful place, and as you describe it, the epitome of a certain style of seafood.  Can't beat sitting at the counter and dining on spectacular seafood delights.

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Meeting a few friends for dinner on Saturday night. They went to and enjoyed Jackie's last week and suggested going back. I haven't eaten there in a long time having had mixed feelings on previous visits although I love Sidebar for a cocktail and a snack. Anyway, thinking about suggesting Urban Butcher instead. Also considered 8407 but I haven't been since the last chef change. Has anyone been to any of the 3 recently and have a suggestion on which is likely to be the best choice? Or anything I might be forgetting? I don't think Rays works for this one. Thanks!

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Meeting a few friends for dinner on Saturday night. They went to and enjoyed Jackie's last week and suggested going back. I haven't eaten there in a long time having had mixed feelings on previous visits although I love Sidebar for a cocktail and a snack. Anyway, thinking about suggesting Urban Butcher instead. Also considered 8407 but I haven't been since the last chef change. Has anyone been to any of the 3 recently and have a suggestion on which is likely to be the best choice? Or anything I might be forgetting? I don't think Rays works for this one. Thanks!

I'm sorry you didn't get an answer about this - where did you end up going? Personally, I hadn't been to either of the three in the past year (Crisfield's crab-stuffed rockfish calls my name whenever I'm there.)

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Sergios in the bottom of the Hilton on Colesville  is a nice, reasonable Italian choice. Corkage ok and they have upgraded their stemware.

I've lived in Silver Spring for a couple of years now but haven't been to Sergio's yet. How do you think they'd feel about a (usually pretty well behaved) 2-year-old diner?

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Urban Butcher, Classics, Kao Thai, the takeout counter at Thai Market, Denizens for the beer garden, Pacci's,

Kaldi's for coffee.

There are now about 562,349 Ethiopian restaurants around if that's your taste.

And finally, the deli in the Georgian apartment building still makes the best gyro in SS.

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