Introducing Bon Appétit: Food Challenge 411

Updated 1/07/2015:

Check out updates to the planned list of restaurant visits below. Brookville Eatery and Eggspectations are out and Fresh Greek Grill is in!


Original Post:

Hey there!

I’m Jonna—resident of Silver Spring and owner/operator of jhPhotography. My husband, Cliff, is a professor at Prince George’s Community College and reporter for Soccer by Ives. Together, we’re on a mission. A food mission. The challenge: Eat at every restaurant in Silver Spring until we’ve sampled them all.

We’ll be reporting on our experiences through Silver Spring Inc. More on that later.

First, I wanted to tell you more about who we are. We don’t consider ourselves foodies, but we do love having new experiences and exploring new places. We’re both from Nebraska (Go Huskers!), enjoy traveling and are always on the lookout for a good dive bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

We moved to Silver Spring six years ago to pursue career opportunities that didn’t/don’t exist where we’re originally from. Over time, we’ve fallen in love with this community and have chosen to make Silver Spring our home. We used to live right in the heart of downtown, near the intersection of Georgia and Colesville, but recently bought a condo in the Sligo Creek area.

We’ve always said we’re going to try new and new-to-us places, but almost always fall back on our regular favorites. As a way to better get to know the community, spend more time together, despite busy schedules, and broaden our horizones, we thought it would be fun to have the ultimate Silver Spring culinary experience. Silver Spring Inc gives us a platform to share the experience with all of you. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to finish the challenge in a year and a half. Lord help us!

A bit about our culinary preferences: Cliff enjoys American-based food, and is especially attracted to beef (as any good farm-raised Nebraska boy would be)! He loves a good steak and is always on the hunt for that ideal burger. For him, the spicier the better. I usually avoid red meats, opting instead for vegetable-based dishes, though I’m not a vegetarian. I prefer ethnic cuisine and love trying new foods. With our palettes combined, we are Cap—oh, er… we believe we’ll make the perfect restaurant reviewers



It’s our mission to try every restaurant in Silver Spring. It’s a big challenge, but we’re game. To prove just how serious we are about the project, we’ve laid down some rules for ourselves—and for you, readers of this blog.

Here it goes:

  1. Eat Local. All restaurants will be based in Silver Spring. We’ll eat only at local establishments and small DMV-area chains only. (Sorry, Panera. It’s not you, it’s us).
  2. Enter here. Food trucks are out. Since we’re only able to do this on Friday evenings and weekends, we have to limit our eating options to brick-and-mortar businesses only. Love food trucks? We invite readers to do their own food-truck taste testing challenge!
  3. Lunch and dinner. Per the restrictions mentioned above, restaurants must serve a full menu and be open for lunch and dinner.
  4. ABC 123. By special request, we’ll start our journey with El Golfo. Otherwise, to be fair (and to keep easy records of where we’ve been and where we still need to go), we’ll go alphabetically down our list. (Please, somebody, pray for us!)*
  5. Keep the change. We are not receiving compensation from Silver Spring Inc or any of the eating establishments for this project.
  6. What’s cookin’? In each post, we’ll list the items we had along with prices.
  7. Playing favorites. We’ll identify restaurants we’ve previously eaten at. Since the goal of this project is to broaden our palettes, we’ll limit our menu choices to those options we haven’t previously tried.

Those are the pieces that aren’t open for debate. What is up for debate are the days and times we’ll try each place. We both have busy schedules. We hope to stick to something consistent—like trying a new place on our list every other weekend—but that may not always be the case. Additionally, while the majority of tastings will happen by the two of us, we don’t want to limit our outings. On occasion, we may try restaurants with friends, family or neighbors. The more the merrier, right?

Now onto the main event—that ridiculously long list of eating establishments*

El Golfo

8407 Kitchen Bar


Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant

Addis Ababa Ethiopian Restaurant

Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe

Asian Bistro

Austin Grill

Bete Ethiopian Cusine and Cafe

The Big Greek Cafe

Blair Mansion Inn Restaurant

Bombay Gaylord

Cameron’s Seafood

Charm Thai Restaurant

The Classics

Copper Canyon Grill

Crisfield Seafood Restaurant

Crisp & Juicy


Da Marco Ristorante Italiano

The Daily Dish

Denizens Brewing Company

Dragon City

El Aguila Restaurant

Ethio Express

Fire Station 1

Fresh Greek Grill

Gebeta Ethiopian Restaurant


Golden House

The Greek Place

Ikko Sushi

Jackie’s Restaurant

Jerry’s Sub Shop

Kaldi’s Coffee Bar

Kao Thai

La Bamba

La Casita

La Madeline Country French Café

La Malinche Restaurant

Laco Melza Ethio Cafe

Langano Ethiopian Restaurant

Lebanese Taverna Cafe

Lesaac Ethiopian Cafe

Lotus Cafe – 8077 Georgia Ave

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant

Mandalay Restaurant

Mandarin Restaurant

Manny & Olga’s Pizza

Masa Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi

McGinty’s Public House

Mi Rancho Restaurant

Moby Dick House of Kabobs

Mrs. K’s Toll House

Mulu Ethiopian Restaurant

Nai Nai’s

Nando’s Peri-Peri

Negril Express

Negril Jamaican Eatery

Odalis Restaurant & Bar


Oriental East

Pacci’s Neapolitan Pizza

Parkway Deli

Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza

Pho-Hiep Hoa of Silver Spring

Piratz Tavern

Quarry House Tavern

Red Maple

Roger Miller Restaurant


Scion Restaurant

Sergio Ristorante Italiano


Spring Garden Restaurant

Sushi Jin

Tastee Diner

Thai at Silver Spring

Thai Derm

Thai Market and Carryout – 902 Thayer Ave

Tropicana Majahual

Twisted Willow Restaurant

Urban Butcher

Vicino Ristorante Italiano

Woder Ethiopian Carryout & Market

Zed’s Cafe

Zensai Restaurant


Jonna Huseman
I have a degree in journalism and have worked in non-profit communications for the last six years. I am also owner/operator of Jonna Michelle Photography based here in Silver Spring. I am passionate about art, travel, animals, supporting the rights of working people and supporting small, local businesses in my community. On a personal level, I would like to get to know Silver Spring better both as a neighborhood and as a community. I want to better know the people who live here and who make Silver Spring such a fabulous place. I would also like to see a better relationship between pedestrians and drivers, and an official opening to a transit center that is both functional and safe.

  • Jonathan Bernstein

    Jonna & Cliff, you go folks! Only thing is, add Ethio Express Grill 😉

  • Alicia

    Great challenge! It’s going to be tough keeping up with the influx of new restaurants! Good luck and we look forward to your reviews. You mentioned a few chains restaurants in your list, btw….

  • Kate

    Wow, that sounds like a fun project and as a fellow Silver Spring resident, I’ look forward to reading your reviews. I hope that you have fun and enjoy lots if delicious food. However, I do have one question because I’m persnickety about facts and details. How did you determine which chain restaurants were DMV? I say this because I recognize a couple of restaurants that I’d consider national/international chains (I’ve eaten at La Madelaine’s in Austin, TX and pretty sure I went to one in Northern CA eons ago and Nandos Peri Peri is an international chain [I know it’s very popular in parts of the UK].

  • Jose Leandro

    Eggspectation is a chain. I don’t think it is local or based in DMV. I’ve eaten at Eggspectation restaurants in Maine. Good luck.

  • Katie

    Great idea! When we go out in Silver Spring, we try as hard as we can to eat at indepedent, local establishments. In going through your list I saw a few chains that extend out of the DMA area- Potbelly’s, Nando’s and zPizza. Obviously it’s your challenge, your choice (and all are delicious) but I thought I’d let you know. Best of luck, can’t wait to hear the updates!

  • Mike

    Fantastic! Should be a great culinary adventure. Woodside Deli definitely belongs on that list, though. Long time Silver Spring establishment.

    Happy dining!

  • Mike

    Also looks like 8407 Kitchen Bar was left off the list. And that crepe place on Fenton, near the comic book store. And that newer Vietnamese place on Colesville near the county liquor store.

  • elizabeth

    There is a Vietnamese restaurant right on Colesville Road that you don’t have on your list: Pho Tan Vinh ( I highly recommend it!

  • Angie Segal

    great idea, but you have quite a few chain restaurants on here. You might want to do a little more research.

  • Josh

    Oh god you have to wait so long to get to Urban Butcher! At least you have 8407 early which is fantastic along with the Big Greek and Charm Thai. Definitely all favorites. Mix Bar and Grille should be open by the time you reach “M” as well (I hope). I think you might have to check into Denizens. They don’t actually serve food to the best of my knowledge. They’ve partnered with a BBQ food truck to bring small plates, sandwiches, and picnic plates but I think they violate rule 2 & 3. However, looks like a great list! Good luck!

  • Spotluck

    Sounds delicious! We feature Silver Spring in our local dining community. We only work with LOCAL restaurants as well and you could save a few bucks on your lofty mission. Looks like all the Spots of Spotluck Silver Spring are on your list! The app is free and its all about supporting local food.

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