El Gavilan Restaurant
This El Salvadorian restaurant combines a great atmosphere and affordable prices. Lit almost like a nightclub and decorated with beautiful Latin American art, patrons will feel classy but comfortable in El Gavilan. The only unpleasant aspect of eating at El Gavilan is the occasional live music act, which, although it may spark patrons' interest, prevents any sort of conversation.
•Pupusas ($1.50): The pupusas here are chock full of cheese and cooked just crisp enough.
•Platanos Fritos con Crema y Frijoles Fried Plantains with Cream and Beans ($4.25): The platanos are both sweet and soft, contrasting deliciously with the cream and beans.
•Quezadilla Special ($5.99 for a small): Although quesadillas are available at pretty much any Latin American restaurant, these have the perfect texture; dry and not too buttery or crusty. Plus, they come with great guacamole.
•Tacos al Carbon ($12.99): A slightly pricier option, but worth the extra money. The fried onions are great, but the real reason to get this entry is the succulent meat—go for beef, not chicken; cow just tastes better with onions, especially on a sizzling plate.
To drink: Horchatas are the way to go. A traditional beverage in El Salvador, this concoction has a unique, almost grainy texture and a flavor that is difficult to describe but well worth trying. The drink is made from ground horchata beans and milk.
8805 Flower Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Outside Chinatown, Oriental East is the best place to go for Dim Sum. Anyone who has never tried Dim Sum should stop by any day between 11a.m. and 3p.m. for a dining experience they won't forget. Instead of ordering specific dishes, diners remain seated (either at one big table with strangers or at an exclusive table), while waiters bring carts around with a wide variety of dishes, such as sticky rice, dumplings, sausages, soups and pastries. Waiters give each table a card with various prices and tally each dish the customer orders. Dishes range widely in price but it's possible to eat pretty cheap- a recent party of two consumed dim sum there for about $11. And they ate a lot. Weekends are busy so get there early.
(If not at Dim Sum)
•Egg Drop Soup ($1.50): Warm and comforting, this soup would cheer anyone up on the coldest fall day.
•Barbeque Ribs ($6.50): These ribs are mouth-watering enough to recompense for making you look like the sloppiest eater in all the land.
•Vegetable Lo Mein ($6.50): Nothing like classic Lo Mein to fill customers up. This noodle dish contains a wide variety of veggies that won't bore legume lovers.
To drink: Tea is the obvious choice, but if you want something cold have a Shirley Temple. This beverage is a refreshing mix of clear soda and cherry syrup.
1312 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Friendly and cozy, the Woodside has a deli-like atmosphere. But the Woodside is not just any ordinary eatery; the restaurant asserts it's lively personality in every framed nostalgic photo and magazine cover that adorns the walls. Even customers with the smallest attention spans won't get bored eating here; there's simply too much to look at. And when your eyes get tired, just behold your scintillating order.
•Hummos Plate ($4.75): One of Woodside's Mediterranean specialties, this hummos is a vacation to taste-bud heaven.
•Matzoh Ball Soup ($4.95): Feeling Jewish? A traditional Passover food, this soup is great comfort food.
•Italian Cold Cut Sub ($5.95): Stuffed to the brim with meats and cheeses, this classic sub will satisfy any deli cravings.
To drink: No way to go but a root beer float to get your caffeine and sugar fix all in one.
9329 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD, 20910
This Italian Delicatessen and Pizzeria is home to some great desserts. Another great feature is the all-you-can-eat buffet (Wednesday-Friday from 5-8p.m.). For just $10.95, customers can enjoy all the unending supplies of Italian treats such as lasagna, sausages, manicotti, ravioli and eggplant parmigiana they can stomach.
•Cannoli ($1.25): A traditional Italian dessert with a hard shell and cream filling that will leave sweet-tooths hungering for more.
•Pasta con Fagioli ($4.95 for a small): A Sicilian pasta dish prepared with beans and vegetables.
•The "SUPER" Italian sub ($5.50): A great deal of meat that is also reasonably cheap. This baby's got provolone, cipicolla ham, genoa salami, sopressata and pepperoni.
•White Pizza ($6.95 for a medium): Called "white" because this pizza doesn't have any tomato sauce, Lucia's white pizza is an elegant pizza with a twist. The dish has a hint of parmesan and plenty of herbs.
To drink: A cappuccino or a latte, which have Starbucks taste without the Starbucks price.
2409 University Boulevard
Wheaton, MD 20902
Moby Dick Sushi and Sashimi
Step into a little piece of Japan right in the middle of downtown Wheaton. Moby Dick is the ideal locale for sushi and Japanese dumplings near Blair. Although sushi is normally pricey, Moby Dick's won't empty patrons' wallets.
•Miso Soup ($1.50): A staple of Japanese cuisine, this soybean soup with scallions and tofu is one of the great tastes of the east.
•Green Tea Ice Cream ($3.95): Although a little odd to an American palette, this dessert is pleasantly sweet. The unique flavor is refreshing.
•Gyoza (6 pieces for $4.95): These dumplings are an excellent choice for an appetizer. The dumplings have sticky skins and are stuffed with aromatic beef filling.
•California roll and Eel roll (12 pieces for $6.95): The best combination order of sushi ever. Eel might sound bizarre, but it actually has a sweet flavor. California rolls are a delicious mix of imitation crab and avocado, among other tastes.
•Alaskan roll (6 pieces for $7.95): For a fresh taste of seafood, go for this salmon, crab and avocado stuffing, all packed together in this delectable roll.
To Drink: Tea is pretty much a given when ordering sushi.
11220 Triangle Lane
Wheaton, MD 20902
This treasure trove offers up authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Once past the tiny barred door, up the creaky stairs and passed the bustling kitchen, clients will find themselves in a small space but a comfortable atmosphere.
•Shredded pork skin rolls ($2.95): These rolls are a great dumpling appetizer, featuring pork, vermicelli and vegetables, all wrapped in rice paper.
•Grilled beef on skewers ($4.95): Kind of like a kabob, these unique skewers are also available for the same price with pork.
•Phö ($5.95 for a small): A noodle soup which can be ordered with a variety of meats and vegetables, Phö is filling, soothing and stress relieving.
•Sesame Chicken ($8.95): This sesame chicken is a delight to smell and taste, and it is also reminiscent of Chinese cooking.
To drink: Tea. What else? Green or Jasmine tea are especially appeasing with their magical calming properties.
11220 Georgia Avenue
Wheaton, MD 20902
Although most Takky Park residents are familiar with this Old Town restaurant, most Takoma Park outsiders have never heard of Mark's Kitchen. Possessing an eccentric blend of American and Korean dishes, Mark's is an eclectic locale for a meal. Mark's also has a great deal of vegetarian and vegan dishes to please all customers.
•Man doo (5 for $2.95): Korean vegetable dumplings which come steamed or pan-fried. Man doo is pretty much paradise in a food. Why would anyone seek enlightenment when they could be eating man doo?
•Mung bean pancakes (3 for $2.50): Don't order this dish expecting pancakes with Aunt Jemima's syrup. Mung bean pancakes are made from mung beans, red pepper, onions, spinach and cabbage. The pancakes may consist of vegetables, but they are somehow just as satisfying as the kind that comes with syrup.
•Bulgoki ($6.75): Thin slices of Korean steak marinated and served with broccoli, bean sprouts and fried rice.
•Grilled chicken and avocado club ($6.75): This layered sandwich is an extraordinary combination of chicken, avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato.
To drink: Cappuccino milkshake, period. This beverage should be renamed ambrosia. Other great choices are the raspberry mocha, orange-strawberry fruit blend and an iced chai tea latte.