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We're going to see some friends play Friday night at an Irish bar called Flanagans on Cordell Avenue and want to have dinner beforehand. What's good these days in the moderate category near the bar so we can park early and then walk?

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[The following posts have been split into separate threads:

Flanagan's Irish Pub (ustreetguy)
Buono Sera (porcupine)
Kabob Bazaar (Pool Boy)
Bangkok Garden (Pool Boy)
Grapeseed (Choirgirl21)
Parking in Bethesda (jrichstar)
Tout de Sweet (jandres374)
Freddy's Lobster and Clams (jandres374)
Pizzeria Da Marco (Pool Boy)
Jetties (jandres374)
Bold Bite (Pool Boy)
bd's Mongolian Grill (jandres374)

Red Tomato (Pool Boy)]

Edited by DonRocks
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My favorite on Cordell is also what I think is the best Indian in metro DC--Passage to India. Reasonably priced Indian with a unique menu, divided into East/West/North/South Indian dishes. If you go, I highly recommend the Chutney Ni Murgi or the Chicken Makhani.

Also recommended is Faryab, a very good Afghani place just down the block.

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My favorite on Cordell is also what I think is the best Indian in metro DC--Passage to India. Reasonably priced Indian with a unique menu, divided into East/West/North/South Indian dishes. If you go, I highly recommend the Chutney Ni Murgi or the Chicken Makhani.

Also recommended is Faryab, a very good Afghani place just down the block.

thanks. Passage To India sounds great!

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So long as your first decision is not to eat at Flanagans, then you're off on the right track.

As noted, Passage to India and Faryab are both really good. So is Grapeseed, and I've heard good things about (though haven't tried myself) the Italian place at the corner of Cordell and Norfolk (name escapes me). If you're really in the mood for Thai food, Sala Thai, closer to Wisconsin, does a decent job.

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So long as your first decision is not to eat at Flanagans, then you're off on the right track.

As noted, Passage to India and Faryab are both really good. So is Grapeseed, and I've heard good things about (though haven't tried myself) the Italian place at the corner of Cordell and Norfolk (name escapes me). If you're really in the mood for Thai food, Sala Thai, closer to Wisconsin, does a decent job.

Are you talking about Olazzo? Also don't forget David Craig...

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I've heard good things about (though haven't tried myself) the Italian place at the corner of Cordell and Norfolk (name escapes me).

Cesco? I've only eaten there once a couple years ago, so my opinion doesn't count for much. Thought it was good but didn't feel compelled to go back.

I would like to re-visit the little French place on the opposite corner, Brasserie Monte Carlo. Also only ate there once, but enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

I second Rhone 1998's David Craig recommendation, though I'm not sure it fits the "moderate" criterion in mr food's original post. David Craig is in my top 5/regular rotation group, so I highly recommend it if you can swing $11/12 apps, $21-30 for mains.

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Cesco? I've only eaten there once a couple years ago, so my opinion doesn't count for much. Thought it was good but didn't feel compelled to go back.

I liked Cesco - have been there a couple of times in the past year. I thought it better than Grapeseed, in that price range.

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Cesco? I've only eaten there once a couple years ago, so my opinion doesn't count for much. Thought it was good but didn't feel compelled to go back.

I would like to re-visit the little French place on the opposite corner, Brasserie Monte Carlo. Also only ate there once, but enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

I second Rhone 1998's David Craig recommendation, though I'm not sure it fits the "moderate" criterion in mr food's original post. David Craig is in my top 5/regular rotation group, so I highly recommend it if you can swing $11/12 apps, $21-30 for mains.

Cesco, yes, that's the place I was thinking of (not Olazzo, which isn't on the corner). And while it wasn't me who recommended David Craig, I was very happy the one time I went there. Not moderately priced though (neither is Grapeseed, as I should have mentioned originally).

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Cesco, yes, that's the place I was thinking of (not Olazzo, which isn't on the corner). And while it wasn't me who recommended David Craig, I was very happy the one time I went there. Not moderately priced though (neither is Grapeseed, as I should have mentioned originally).

While I wouldn't call Cesco or Grapeseed bargain dining, I would say they're in the high range of "moderate". David Craig is at a FAR higher price point.

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Was in Bethesda last night and took a walk through the new Bethesda Row promenade. Rather than the usual chain suspects, it looks like there's going to be some interesting places here. There's the new Sonoma/Mendocino project (the name was on the window, but I forgot it), a Dolcezza shop, Le Creuset, Cork & Fork, and Le Pain Quotidien. Looks like most will be opening soon.

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Was in Bethesda last night and took a walk through the new Bethesda Row promenade. Rather than the usual chain suspects, it looks like there's going to be some interesting places here. There's the new Sonoma/Mendocino project (the name was on the window, but I forgot it), a Dolcezza shop, Le Creuset, Cork & Fork, and Le Pain Quotidien. Looks like most will be opening soon.

Last I heard the Sonoma/Medocino project was named Redwood.

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[Full disclosure - I actually didn't move it down so much as I (tentatively) moved Visions up. I stopped into Black's about a month ago and asked for six of their best oysters, and they were great. Black's also has the best wine list in Montgomery County, and very good service as well. Now I'm rethinking Faryab - can I really "rank" this higher than Black's? Tough call, and a fine example of the (forgive me ...) "fruitless" comparison between apples and oranges. For such a high-volume restaurant, Black's is impressive.

Edit: I just now found out Todd Wiss has taken over as chef de cuisine (Todd was sous chef working with Rob Weland at Poste). I haven't had anything out of Todd's kitchen here, and am now looking forward to being "Back in Black."]

Wow, talk about clueless. All this time I thought the restaurants in your dining guide were listed randomly by location, not by informal ranking. Definitely will check back with a more discerning eye.

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Wow, talk about clueless. All this time I thought the restaurants in your dining guide were listed randomly by location, not by informal ranking. Definitely will check back with a more discerning eye.

The recent posts about Black's Bar and Kitchen have prompted me to revisit the Bethesda portion of the Maryland Dining Guide. As most of you know, we only have dining-guide entries for which there are threads, and yes, I do make a loose attempt to "rank" the restaurants vis-a-vis each other within their geographical locations (click here for details). What strikes me about the 33 Bethesda restaurants is that people have had good things to say about nearly all of them, from Passage To India to Foong Lin - this, despite Bethesda having a terrible reputation as a dining town. So, is Bethesda really a "sea of mediocrity," or is it merely a "sea of good but not great?" I'm going to be spending time revisiting some Bethesda restaurants in the near future (I've begun this recently), and I hope everyone here will continue to chime in, and most importantly, begin new threads for the restaurants that have yet to be discussed (Bethesda and otherwise). Also, please PM me if you think I'm making an obvious mistake in any of the dining guides, and I will investigate, and correct if necessary - it's difficult to stay up-to-the-minute current on everything although I do try my best. Cheers, Rocks.

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Bethesda reminds me of a vast feeding trough some weekend evenings. I think the overcrowdedness/popularity of the area as a restaurant center may provoke a(n over-)reaction among people who take food seriously, leading to a condemnation of the scene/area as a whole, but with everyone retaining a bit of goodwill/appreciation for (different) particular spots. Maybe another way to put it is that Bethesda is a whole that may be less than the sum of its parts.

That said, with the exception of David Craig, Bethesda is never where I go when a want a food-centered evening. It's where I go when I want to see movie or am taking visiting family out. Out of towners appreciate the street life there -- as one friend put it, "it's like a college town for affluent grownups."

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There are a lot of factors that are somewhat unique to the area that I think affect Bethesda as a dining destination. First, there's such a huge number of restaurants in such a small space that it's inevitable that most of them WON'T be great, hence the reputation for mediocrity. Given sky-high rents, it's hard to find "bargains" there - even neighborhood Chinese places have to charge a few bucks more for every dish than they would in Rockville. And, though there is a LOT of money in Potomac/Bethesda, which should support some great restaurants, there is also a lot of silver hair, so early birds and "safe" dishes drive many places. The insane Mont Co wine/beer/liquor sales laws do not help. But, with a few exceptions, Bethesda has very few chains, so at least you're supporting a local business most of the time.

One thing that's not deserved is the parking reputation. Except for the south tip of Bethesda at prime time on Fri/Sat, the garages never fill up, which means you're never more than 1-2 blocks from parking. A number of the high-end places have valet parking. And a secret is that the NORTH end of Bethesda garages never fill up, and they have a free shuttle that runs from there to the south end!

The only thing that's clearly missing is a "top 10 in the DC area" destination restaurant. We don't have a Komi, Eve, CityZen, Citronelle, etc. Lots of cheap eats a few minutes away in Rockville, and there are many very good moderate-to-expensive places, but nothing top-tier. Maybe that also drives the mediocrity reputation.

All in all, I think Bethesda is a far better dining destination than it was 5 years ago, and between Bethesda, Rockville (and RTC), I rarely have to leave Mont Co to find whatever I want to eat, from cheap eats to special occasion.

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The only thing that's clearly missing is a "top 10 in the DC area" destination restaurant. We don't have a Komi, Eve, CityZen, Citronelle, etc. Lots of cheap eats a few minutes away in Rockville, and there are many very good moderate-to-expensive places, but nothing top-tier. Maybe that also drives the mediocrity reputation.

Didn't Michel Richard say in a local magazine/newpaper (Bethesda Magazine?) that he was looking to open a restaurant here? I swear I read that somewhere. And I wonder if it would be more like Central or his new place in LA. But maybe there was just interest and no commitment.

Pax,

Brian

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Reference map here.

oooh. That is a good map. Lot 40 is also jam packed on weekend evenings (yes, the lot across the street from Passage to India). I've had good luck w/ lot 11 also.

Bethesda... do I ever have the best dining experiences of my life there....no....but I've had several satisfying dining experiences in Bethesda, particularly at the price points. Living in the District, I sometimes find the lack of decent mid-priced restaurants discouraging ... Matchbox, Bar Pilar/Cafe St Ex, Merkado, are good, but it sometimes doesn't seem like enough of them, and they're often packed; etc. In Bethesda, it seems they're more plentiful and many are good (the good Raku, Haandi, Passage to India, etc. I've also liked Red Tomato Cafe for what it is; and I miss the Original Pancake House... though the one I went to more frequently was in Rockville). Does anyone remember when Tung Bor was the only dim sum in town?

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OK, so I have a new job after 14 years with 5 owners of the business unit I ran. Better job, better situation, better everything. Woo-hoo!

Now, where must I go? What is particularly good, RIGHT NOW? I eat everything and price point is not really important as I only eat out for lunch about once every week or two (Weight Watchers kind of forces me to be selective on this front). But dinner is an option as my wife can metro up to meet me here. I guess some suggestions for good cheap eats would be welcome, too. By the by, I work at the corner of Fairmont and Old Georgetown Road.

I've already hit Chicken on the Run (yum!), but now I need to lay off for two weeks. Urp.

TIA!

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Black's and David Craig are outstanding; both are within a couple of blocks of your office.

Rock Creek is a low-calorie high-flavor concept place that I've enjoyed a couple of times. Indulgence without breaking Weight Watchers!

Passage to India is amazing. Grapeseed is a pretty good wine bar with food to match. Bacchus does a good job with Lebanese. Mia's Pizza. Jaleo has good days and bad days, but I keep returning. Redwood recently opened; I haven't been yet. And there's always Bethesda Crab House.

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Overall I agree with DanielK's list and most of his evaluative comments. Also consider Faryab (Afghan food), which has far too many kebab options to be interesting, but what you get is fairly tasty (except for that pathetic iceburg leaf side-salad). I've been more pleased with vegetarian options than the meat options. BGR Burger Joint is the best place to get a burger in Bethesda. Lunch can be hectic and slow b/c everything's cooked to order and one person works the grill. Not sure if you can call ahead. Tuesdays I think is the farmer's market across from BGR and there's a guy who makes his own pickles and olives that are really good (he's at other markets, too, and mentioned that he was in talks with Whole Foods but wanted to grow responsibly). I went to lunch at Redwood during the "soft opening" period so I didn't post on pluses and minuses as requested, but one plus was the taste of the fries (one minus was the price of $6 for a side at the time I felt was too high for lunch). Raku is not Sushi Ko, but it's the most interesting and tasty sushi in Bethesda (IMHO). Maybe my favorite part of the place is its real positive energy. People seem really happy when they're eating there. If I want wings, I go to Hard Times. As for happy hour, pretty much all of the Bethesda bar food sucks.

Overall there's really no place that I get really excited about in Bethesda, though I think the places mentioned are mostly better than average. Even Passage to India was very disappointing my last visit 2 weeks ago. But the places where I consistently feel the most satisfied when I leave are Mia's, Passage to India, and Burger Joint, probably in that order. My most recent (but much more limited) experiences of the more expensive places would probably rank them Black's, David Craig, then Grapeseed--without having been to Redwood for dinner.

Pax,

Brian

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I recommend a place called Yin Yankee on Fairmont to my friends. They started in Annapolis but opened a Bethesda location in the last year. It's a pretty innovative seafood place that does sushi and a lot of Asian-inspired fusion-type dishes. When I went they had excellent sushi, and I enjoyed the duck spring roll we got as an appetizer. Their website says it's under construction, but google revealed their menu page if you're interested.

I really like a Spanish place on Wisconsin called Divino Lounge. A really nice interior with lots of art on the walls and a lovely seating area. They have the usual selection of tapas, but skip those for a meal (maybe appropriate for an appetizer) and go for the paella. I was there a couple weeks ago and got the lobster paella and it was amazing. The only disappointing part of the meal was the flan we got for dessert - very unattractive presentation and pedestrian taste. But the paella and our goat cheese salad (and the copious sangria) were all incredible.

Last recommendation off the top of my head is for a place on St. Elmo called Red Tomato Cafe. Kind of a smaller Italian place that has standard pasta dishes, but the standout are the wood-fired pizzas. You can't go wrong with any of them. They also have a full wine bar and very knowledgeable servers. Last time I was there the server recommended a shiraz that was so great I'm kicking myself for not thinking to write down the name. It's a great cozy date restaurant.

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Yin Yankee closed awhile ago, not long after opening.

I second and third the recommendation for Mia's - we always have a great meal there. There's also Black's Bar and Kitchen, they have a decent happy hour deal at the bar with food specials from 4-7pm.

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Depending on your taste in pizza styles, one of my favorite cheap eats standbys in Bethesda is Vace. Sandwiches are always yummy as well (I always order with non "standard" filling so they make it fresh).

Headed in the other direction, Cornicopia has some various sandwiches as well.

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By the by, I work at the corner of Fairmont and Old Georgetown Road.

I've already hit Chicken on the Run (yum!), but now I need to lay off for two weeks. Urp.

I don't eat lunch out too often these days, but Burger Joint has been my fall back lunch on going out days. Black's & David Craig are very good but both on the very pricey side. Hard Times is just down the road from you too.

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Thanks for all of the suggestions! I remember Red Tomato from back in the day and I am glad to hear it is still around. The office ordered some pizzas recently from Pizza Castle (I think) and it was kind of charred-cheesy, which is not bad, but I thought it was pretty average in a non-average way. I'll have to remember to head over to Red Tomato. And Mia's sounds good too.

The higher end places sound great, and I will definitely hit those places up as time and wallet permit. Sushi stuff is also on my radar, so thanks for the tip on Raku. Is Tako Gril still good on this front too?

And thanks for the tip on Vace, my wife actually pointed that (and others mentioned here) this afternoon, too.

What's the best Thai in Bethesda?

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I just finished splitting the Bethesda portion of the Dining Guide into North Bethesda and South Bethesda, using Wilson Lane as a dividing line. One thing that strikes me is how many restaurants have closed north of Wilson Lane, relative to their southern counterparts.

Cheers,

Rocks.

P.S. Please do PM me with any corrections (and yes, feel free to start new threads for restaurants not already covered).

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The Ben & Jerry's closed. I never went there, but it's gone.

Oh and near the space that used to be Athenian Plaka (which is now a Gaylord's lamps store) is a new pastry place. Not open but coming soon. Some kind of sticky sweet sounding name but we'll see what it is like when it opens.

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Hey Rocks, how do you deal with places that are *in* Bethesda, but are part of micro-chains (say Georgetown Cupcake, Lebanese Taverna, etc)....Just curious.

[Well, here at 2:50 AM on a Sunday morning, I just split two of your posts off from this thread (Bangkok Garden, Kabob Bazaar) into their own threads (which are indexed in the Multiple Locations guide). Note the topmost post in this thread for split-offs.

Not to worry, by the way, it's my job to organize these threads properly. But if anyone here thinks I don't work hard, I'm going to fricassee their testicles and have them tomorrow morning for breakfast! Either that or an Egg McMuffin.]

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[Not to worry, by the way, it's my job to organize these threads properly. But if anyone here thinks I don't work hard, I'm going to fricassee their testicles and have them tomorrow morning for breakfast! Either that or an Egg McMuffin.]

Is it okay to ask what you had for breakfast? and , ummmm, who you had breakfast with?

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From The Post:  A family ate at every restaurant in downtown Bethesda in 2014, and this is the father's account.  (They didn't all eat at every restaurant.  The rules/parameters are explained in the article.)

Best part of this article:  "At first, my biggest concern had been the cost. We live in Bethesda, so we're not destitute, though up-county we could be described as "Bethesda working poor." Our Zip code is the declasse 20814; when we visit friends in 20817, they ask who let us into their neighborhood. We bought a Cape Cod in 1996, when a house cost only slightly more than a weekend at the Inn at Little Washington."

True and sad at the same time. 

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From The Post:  A family ate at every restaurant in downtown Bethesda in 2014, and this is the father's account.  (They didn't all eat at every restaurant.  The rules/parameters are explained in the article.)

This is really interesting. My favorite part is this, hands down, because I'm certain it's true and always ignored:

"It wasn't the food. It was the dozens of owners, managers and staff who enjoy what they do. Almost every deli proprietor served us with pride and an enthusiastic smile. The young man who opened Heckman's Delicatessen has a passion to serve great kosher-style food. The owners at Guardado's extended their kids-eat-free deal to Ellie, who technically didn't qualify. A manager at Stromboli Family Restaurant remembered me from years before and asked me where I'd been. For a city rated among the snobbiest, we found plenty of humble and dedicated workers."

On the merits of the food, the writer has more than enough humor and humility to not begrudge him his Best of Bethesda pick but, MY GOD...DID THE GUY EVEN INCLUDE GRAPESEED IN THIS?!?! I'm guessing they did not.

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On the merits of the food, the writer has more than enough humor and humility to not begrudge him his Best of Bethesda pick but, MY GOD...DID THE GUY EVEN INCLUDE GRAPESEED IN THIS?!?! I'm guessing they did not.

Or Passage to India. This sounds like a fun piece, but it belongs in the Style section, I would think.

I remember, decades ago, a newspaper - and it might have been The Washington Post - ran a piece called, "The Man Who Ate 100 Hamburgers." His favorite, at the conclusion of the article? McDonald's. I'm using a memory for this that's probably 30-40 years old, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

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I read this and if he listed Persimmon as one of the best, I'm not sure he knows what good food is. A recent meal there was quite unmemorable. Service WAS good though. We're going to Raku Tuesday for the first time. Any recent visits? 

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On the merits of the food, the writer has more than enough humor and humility to not begrudge him his Best of Bethesda pick but, MY GOD...DID THE GUY EVEN INCLUDE GRAPESEED IN THIS?!?! I'm guessing they did not.

I was wondering this too, but it's possible Grapeseed fell under #4 in their rules:

4. No counting restaurants we'd tried before 2014.

Or Passage to India. This sounds like a fun piece, but it belongs in the Style section, I would think.

It was in the Magazine, so doesn't that overlap some with the Style section?

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I was wondering this too, but it's possible Grapeseed fell under #4 in their rules:

4. No counting restaurants we'd tried before 2014.

May be right. But then, if it was a serious accounting, you'd think it might have been mentioned as either best or that run of 3 or 4 that were close to "outstanding" in his view. Se la vie.

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May be right. But then, if it was a serious accounting, you'd think it might have been mentioned as either best or that run of 3 or 4 that were close to "outstanding" in his view. Se la vie.

Without sounding critical of the Gips family and their ambitious project, it might have been better to make it clearer that they were not including restaurants they went to prior to 2014.  There's just that brief sentence buried in the list of rules.

Since we have no idea of them and their tastes before reading the article and no sense of what places they favored before the experiment, there's no way to know which places aren't showing up because they found them deficient vs. those that are covered by #4 on the list of parameters.

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Without sounding critical of the Gips family and their ambitious project, it might have been better to make it clearer that they were not including restaurants they went to prior to 2014.  There's just that brief sentence buried in the list of rules.

Since we have no idea of them and their tastes before reading the article and no sense of what places they favored before the experiment, there's no way to know which places aren't showing up because they found them deficient vs. those that are covered by #4 on the list of parameters.

I agree. In thinking about this more, I land where Don did. The reason why this should have been Style or not published is because it has real impact on businesses and does a bit of a disservice to readers who'll take it seriously.

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I agree. In thinking about this more, I land where Don did. The reason why this should have been Style or not published is because it has real impact on businesses and does a bit of a disservice to readers who'll take it seriously.

Wow, you guys are taking this way too seriously. It's very clear what the article is, and isn't.

I can't imagine any impact on Bethesda restaurants that isn't positive from this piece.

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