SILVERDOCS begins Monday night and Silver Spring is about to become the world capital of all things documentary. While I probably won't have much time to blog during the festival itself, I will definitely give my annual wrap-up on the festival and conference.
But I did want to send out one advance entry because I know there are quite a few filmmakers and film industry folks from outside the area who will be descending shortly on Silver Spring (which, if you're not bored with me saying, also happens to be the town -- make that, "unincorporated area" where I grew up and lived through my 20s).
I've heard from more than one filmmaker in the past that the one thing they don't like about downtown Silver Spring is that it's all corporate chain restaurant food choices. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. You just may need to venture a few blocks away from Ellsworth (also known as "the fountain street") to partake in Silver Spring's delectable (and largely mom-and-pop) dining options.
Here are a few suggestions (and nobody's paying me to promote them -- though, come to think of it, that might be a good way to finance my next film - must remember that for future)...
Adega Wine Cellars and Cafe - 8519 Fenton Street (in the same mall as the Whole Foods, Adega not only sells lots of wine, the food's not bad either. Some great salads, flatbreads, and wraps) Website
Mandalay Restaurant (Burmese) - 930 Bonifant Street (If you want a place to reserve for a large group, Mandalay could probably accommodate you at one of its large round tables. AndBurmese food is a delicious (and spicy, if you dare!) fare drawing influence from both China and South Asia) Website
Mi Rancho (Tex-Mex) - 8701 Ramsey Avenue (OK it ain't really Texan or Mexican, but it's got a festive vibe, semi-outdoor seating, and decent fajitas) Website
Moby Dick's House of Kabob (Persian) - 909 Ellsworth Drive (of all the chain places on Ellsworth, this is the only one deserving of being included on this list. You LA folks may not think it's up to the standards of Shamshiri or any other place in Tehrangeles, but the kabobs and service are way better than Lebanese Taverna) Website
Negril Jamaican Eatery (Carribbean) - 965 Thayer Avenue (One of the many mom-and-pop Silver Spring eateries to have been around for years and keep folks wanting to come back. Don't let its hole-in-the-wall look fool you. It's good hearty eating) Website
Oriental East (Chinese) - 1312 East-West Highway (This place is in the little shopping strip where the Giant grocery store is. Since you have to cross to the other side of the Metro, it may seem a little off-the-beaten-path, but it has the best dim sum in the area, so is worth a little venture if you've some time between 11 am and 3 pm) Website
Roger Miller Restaurant - 941 Bonifant Street (A taste of West Africa in Silver Spring. Unique and delicious) Website
The Tastee Diner - 8601 Cameron Street (probably the eatery in downtown Silver Spring with the most history behind it - it was actually declared a historical property to protect it from demolition when Discovery Channel moved into its former space - the whole place got moved and expanded. Solid diner food. You may even be served by a waitress whose been working there for more years than you've been alive) Website
There's also any number of Vietnamese and Ethiopian restaurants and Salvadoran Pupuserias, representing the diverse cultures which have made Silver Spring home.
Among the slightly pricier fare (but nice options if you want to wine and dine an industry bigwig or potential mate):
Cubano's - 1201 Fidler Lane (a posh Cuban restaurant not far from the Tastee Diner and Mi Rancho) No website.
Taste of Morocco - 8661 Colesville Road (just inside the City Place Mall at the corner of Colesville and Fenton; you may even get a bellydancing show) Website
For cafes with more personality and individuality than Starbucks or Panera, try:
Kefa Cafe - 963 Bonfant Street (good coffee, soup, and ice cream) No website.
Mayorga Coffee Factory (Cafe) - 8040 Georgia Avenue (OK, this is a bit more of a hike -- almost to the DC line, but if you want a cool coffee house vibe, this is the closest thing Silver Spring has). Website
These are just a few places. You may have some other suggestions, so feel free to note them here. For more options, you may also want to research any of the following websites:
Silver Spring Downtown Restaurants (also includes a handy map)
Washingtonian Magazine Restaurant Guide (can search by price and location and includes reviews)
Silver Spring Penguin (a local blogger with lots of dining reviews)
See ya in Silver Spring!