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Oct. 11, 2006

Homecoming hot-list

by Julia Mazerov, Online Entertainment Editor
No matter what grade you're in, you can probably associate the month of October with one particular event—Homecoming! To many, it's much more than just a dance. Annually, over a thousand Blazers are decked in the fall's latest fashions and formal wear and go out to dinner, making the event more than just a dance. Well, Homecoming may be only a week away, but it's certainly not too late to make this year's experience unforgettable. Several of the area's best and most group-friendly restaurants have been hand-selected with an eclectic mix of cuisine, prices and locations for all your pre-homecoming needs. Make your reservation today!

Mi Rancho—8701 Ramsey Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
(301) 588-4872

This local Tex-Mex, undoubtedly a staple of Silver Spring, never gets old. With enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, nachos and more in abundance, Mi Rancho provides the best in Mexican food, with entrees ranging from $6 to $13. Mi Rancho's speedy service and casual atmosphere make it a great place to dine before dancing the night away.

The Melting Pot—9021 Gaither Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877
(301) 519-3638

For all you fondue fanatics, The Melting Pot is the place for you. Undoubtedly the most fun (and most expensive) on this list, The Melting Pot offers the best in cheese, steak, chicken and dessert fondue. There's plenty of time for socializing, for a good portion of the meal will be spent cooking your raw meats and veggies in the fondue pot. Plenty of options of different types of meat, vegetables and breads are available, which will sure satisfy everyone you're dining with, even vegetarians. Be prepared to shell out about $15 to $20 per pot of fondue for this elegance, but also keep in mind that these pots serve two to four people. Homecoming only happens once a year, so you don't have to feel too bad going all out.

Mamma Lucia's—1302 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 29010
(301) 562-0693

With locations in Silver Spring, Olney, Bethesda, and Rockville, Mamma Lucia's casual Italian cuisine is accessible no matter where you live. The restaurant provides a wide array of salads, pasta dishes and pizzas, ranging between $10 and $20. Also, Mamma Lucia's pizzas are a great option for big groups who want large slices for a not-so-large price. Magnifico!

Mongolian BBQ—7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-1080

The Mongolian BBQ's all-you-can-eat style is perfect for a light meal before the dance (you can eat as little or as much as you want). Diners grab a bowl and go through a buffet line where they load up on uncooked pastas, raw meats, cold veggies, spices and sauces. You can either make your own dishes or follow one of the many recipes the Mongolian BBQ provides. Once finished, you can take your bowl of raw goodies to a large grill in the middle of the restaurant where vivacious cooks with large knives grill it to perfection while putting on a small knife-throwing performance. With complimentary tortillas and white rice, you can hit the line again and again for as long as you like. At $13, the Mongolian BBQ is reasonably priced, and makes paying much easier since it's a flat rate for all dishes.

Eggspectation—923 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
(301) 585-1700

Located right in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring, Eggspectation's faux French cuisine is sure to be a close-to-home hit. With entrees priced between $10 and $20, Eggspectation's selection of burgers, pastas, salads, meat dishes and more provides the classics you crave at a great price. Senior Maura Druhan and her group of friends opted for this restaurant this year. She states, "We decided to go to Eggspectation because it was cheaper than most restaurants. Also, we got our own private room where we were able to customize our meal plan and it'll let us enjoy each other's company without other distractions." Whether you've got a private room or are dining traditionally, Eggspectation is an "egg-cellent" choice.

Jaleo—7271 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda MD 20814
(301) 913-0003

Time for tapas! Jaleo's Spanish-style food is perfect for those of you craving a light meal. Located in the middle of downtown Bethesda, Jaleo is both Metro-accessible and equipped with plenty of parking. You can choose from any number of paella dishes, as well as from a huge selection of tapas, which are light, small dishes that serve about one to two people. Jaleo provides cold tapas like eggplant and potato, hot tapas like grilled sirloin and shrimp, as well as soups and salads. Each tapa comes out to about $4 to $6, so order two each, share everything and pay only $15 for a portion of at least ten different tapas!

Benihana—7935 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814
(301) 652-5391

Benihana is everyone's favorite Japanese steak-house! If you're dining at Benihana, come prepared to have a filling and delicious meal as well as watch an amazing performance. All parties are seated around a table, at the center of which is a large grill. After you receive soup, salad and a drink, your chef makes his grand entrance. Thirty minutes of knife-tossing and juggling, beat-making, food-throwing and any other tactic imaginable with merely food and knives ensue. An array of options for the main course is available, such as steak, shrimp, chicken, fish and vegetable dishes. Though offered at a hefty price (after all, you are paying for dinner and a performance), Benihana's entrees are well worth the cash and served with a collection of sauces that perfectly compliment each piece of meat. Though delicious, your entrée won't completely fill you up, leaving you with plenty of energy for the dance ahead.

Dining In

Not up for going out? Try hosting a potluck with your friends in your own backyard! Potlucks allow for an almost unlimited amount of people, are less expensive and are easy to organize as long as everyone brings a dish! Many Blazers are opting for this painless approach. Senior Jessica Hallberlin and her friends attended a potluck before last year's Homecoming dance, and found it to be a great alternative to going out to dinner. She said, "The potluck was perfect because you aren't confined to one seat while eating. You can mingle and talk to as many people as you want. Plus, there are a million different dishes, rather than just ordering one meal." No matter what you opt for, choose one of these great restaurants and you're guaranteed to have a good time in good company.

Blair's Homecoming dance will be held of Saturday, Oct. 14 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.



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