The Best and the Worst of DC, MD, and VA
Almost all of these were places I went to when I lived in DC from
5/1993 to 7/1997, so things might have changed somewhat (I also have
added a couple of places during my visits there so there might be some
This is a page dedicated to exposing all the lame places in and
around the Washington DC metropolitan area, and give some deserved
kudos to those establishments that make this a great place to live.
I also list places that've not gotten their act together completely,
but are not in the dumps either. For each place, I give reasons as
to why I think it belongs in that particular category. Note that
this is only our opinion, and should be taken as such. All the places
listed here have had at least two opportunities to present themselves
to me. The categories include:
- Ambrosia: Greek food on Rockville Pike, MD
- Great gyros. They only accept cash.
- Bob's Famous Homemade Ice Cream: Light fare located in Bethesda, MD
- This place has possibly the best ice cream in the area and
they play some awesome music.
- Bombay Grill: Indian food in Baltimore, MD
- The food is very good but the service is incredibly slow.
The first visit was amazing but we were less than impressed with the
second. If you don't mind waiting for your food, check this place
- Cactus Grill: Tex-mex on Rockville Pike, MD
- Fairly decent food. They have this cool tortilla making machine.
- Cafe Tel Aviv: Food from Israel in Bethesda, MD
- Great kabobs, live music (Israeli pop?), and really hot and
spicy green and red sauce. Make sure you ask for the sauce; it'll
surely enhance your
- Chopstick: Chinese food in Muddy Branch Plaza, Shady Grove, MD
- The food is cooked fresh and served hot. The service is quick
and the place is spotless.
- Clyde's: Excellent bar in Georgetown, DC
- One of the coolest places in Georgetown with a great vibe!
- Dave & Buster's: American food and fun at White Flint Mall, MD
- The service is a bit slow and the food is okay, but the game
room, which includes virtual reality, a casino, pool tables, and
other games, make this is a fun place to hang out.
- Eagle's Nest: Light fare on The American University campus, DC
- This place has the best muffins in the area.
- East Peking Restaurant: Muslim Chinese restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD
- Great spicy food, quick service, and huge portions!
- Felix Restaurant and Bar: Bar on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan, DC
- Nice atmosphere though it can be somewhat of a meat market.
- Faskisas Ethiopian: Ethiopian food on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan, DC
- Excellent Ethiopian food!
- Fuddruckers: American fast food on Rockville Pike, MD
- Great food, cooked fast with a variety of fresh topping
- Haandi: Fine Indian cuisine in Bethesda, MD
- This place has great food and excellent service. I've been
there many many times and every single time, the waiters have been
attentive, the food has been great, and it has been served fast.
- Hamburger Hamlet: American cuisine on Wisconsin Ave. in
Friendship Heights, DC
- (They have gone out of business, but we wish
to remember them as they once were.) The food is/was outstanding,
as are/were the drink sizes.
- Hard Rock Cafe: American food in downtown DC
- Tasty food accompanied by great music and atmosphere.
- Meskreem: Ethiopian food in Adams Morgan, DC
- Authentic Ethiopian food, fast service, and a variety in
- Metro Dhaba: Indian food near Shady Grove Metro, DC
- Very authentic "dhaba"-like atmosphere, cheap and good food.
- Nathans: Food and drink in Georgetown, DC
- Decent place to get some food or drinks.
- Pizzeria Uno: Pizza and a little of everything in Bethesda, MD
- Their pizza is out of this world and the atmosphere is great.
- Planet Hollywood: American cuisine in downtown DC
- The atmosphere is amazing and I've never had to wait more than
ten minutes for a table.
- Potowmack Landing Restaurant: American cuisine on the Potomac river in DC
- Great views of the river as well as planes taking off and
landing from the National Airport. The service is okay.
- Rainbow: West African cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD
- Excellent West African food cooked by a Ghanese chef, which is
a rarity in most other parts of the world.
- Sam's Brewhouse: Eatery in the Reagan-National Airport, DC
- Decent place to stop and get a drink.
- Sangam Restaurant: Indian restaurant on Glebe Road in Arlington, VA
- Pretty good Indian food.
- Schezuan Gallery: Chinese food in the heart of Chinatown.
- The food is fantastic and the service is first-rate.
- Sheraton National: American food in Arlington, VA
- The restaurant/bar for this hotel is quite decent.
- Spinnakers: American food in Lake Forest Mall
- The food is good and the atmosphere is quite inviting. Try
their flower pot bread, the smell is enough to make you hungry.
- Subway: Fast food submarine sandwiches in Bethesda, MD
- Basic fare but served quickly and in a clean environment.
- The Rhino Bar and Pumphouse: Bar in Georgetown, DC
- Decent place to get a drink.
- Village Green: Aremenian food in Montgomery Village, MD
- Great kabobs and rice; cheap food.
- Wendy's: American fast food on 355.
- The best french fries out there and the home of the Frosty.
- Zio's: Italian food off Shady Grove Road, MD
- Great souvlaki and pizza!
- Aangan: Indian food in Bethesda, MD
- Expensive, semi-decent food. Nice atmosphere. Not the best
Indian restaurant you could pick.
- American City Diner: American diner food in Bethesda, MD
- The good part is that they are open 24 hours and have a really
cool jukebox that you can requests songs off from your table. The bad
part is that the food is a little greasy and the service isn't always
- Bombay Bistro: Indian food in Rockville, MD
- Decent food, decent atmosphere. The buffet is a good deal.
- Burger King:
American fast food on Route 28 near Travilla Road.
- Fast is not always better.
- Cactus Cantina: Mexican food on Wisconsin Ave in DC
- The food is alright, but not very spicy. The atmosphere is
nothing thrilling. The service was fast and the prices are not too
- Denny's Resturant: American food located in Gaithersburg, MD
- The food is usally good but the service can be extremely slow.
They also charged too large of a tip onto my credit card once
(accident or not?).
- El Zunzal: Mexican and Salvadorian food in Falls Church, Virginia.
- The food is nothing to rave about, but you do get free chips
- Friendly's Resturant: American food and ice cream.
- Decent food, great ice cream, but no Tabasco!
- Front Page: Bar on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, VA
- Decent bar with an okay crowd.
- Front Page: Bar on New Hampshire Avenue NW in Dupont Circle, DC
- Excellent bar with a pretty good crowd.
- International House of Pancakes (IHOP): breakfast 24 hours a day on 355 in Gaithersburg, MD
- More expensize than Denny's but the food is decent and
- McDonalds: Tenleytown on Wisconsin.
- The food is typical but there is NO parking. Whose brilliant idea was this?
- Ruby Tuesday: American food on 355 near White Flint
- The food is pretty good but not outstanding.
- Ruby Tuesday: American food near the Ballston Metro
- The food is pretty good but not outstanding.
- Taco Bell: Fast food Mexican on US Rt 1. in College Park, MD
- This place isn't the cleanest in the world.
- Taco Bell: Mexican fast food on Rockville Pike, MD
- Standard fare as far as fast food goes, but quick and clean.
(The place has been moved down to waffler level because at the
last visit the woman at the counter claimed that we ordered
something we did not order and did not do anything helpful to
remedy the situation. Rudeness will not be tolerated.)
- Tandoor/Madurai: on M street in Georgetown.
- Portions are kinda small but the food itself was adequate.
Down side: they did not accept credit cards.
- Udupi: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine in College Park, MD
- The food was incredible the first time but round two left a bit
to be desired.
- Hamburger Hamlet: American fare in the Rio complex, Gaithersburg, MD
- The food is alright but the wait is what puts it in the worst
- Taco Bell: Fast food Mexican in the Engineering building of University of Maryland at College Park.
- This place doesn't package its burritos properly, and misses
out on sour cream every once in a while.
- Taco Bell: Fast food Mexican on Annapolis Rd (rt. 450), MD
- This is the slowest Taco Bell I've been to.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Metro yellow or green line (Archives/Navy Memorial)
- Although we don't agree with everything they do they offer a
great firearms exhibit and demonstration. You should check this out
to see if you can spot any secret agents in your tour group. Free.
- Kennedy Centre in downtown DC
- High class atmosphere. Good for mainstream theatre.
- The Mall on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian) in downtown DC
- Great place to hang out and people watch. A must see for all
visitors to the nation's capitol, complete with the reflecting pool
and great views of most of Washington's major monuments.
- National Air and Space Museum on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian)
- One of the best museums on the mall. Great IMAX movies. Free.
- National Crypotologic Museum near Baltimore, MD
- A project of the National Security Agency (NSA), this offers a lot of good history
involving the application of crytography in American espionage, but
has little to do with the technical aspects of crypotology itself.
It's a bit dinky, but it's free.
- National Gallery of Art on the Metro yellow or green lines (Archives/Navy Memorial)
- Two wonderful building full of art from everywhere. There is
even a cool underground tunnel connecting the buildings. Free.
- National Geographic Society on the Metro red line (Farragut North)
- Great place to kill a couple of hours. You get to take cool
pictures that appear as the cover of the National Georgraphic
- National Museum of African Art on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian)
- Nice building, and the exhibits are really cool: there's a
lot of great history to learn.
- National Museum of Asian Art on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian)
- Read entry for National Museum of African Art.
- Old Post Office Pennsylvania Ave. on Metro red/blue/orange lines (Metro Centre)
- Great place to hang out. Stores, food, live music and plenty
- Shenandoah National Park in VA
- Absolutley beautiful park in which one can go hiking and enjoy nature.
- Union Station on the Metro red line
- The movie theatre is decent, the food is good, and there are lots of shops.
- Vietnam Veteran's Memorial on the Mall in downtown DC
- This monument is incredible. Much bigger than you might expect
and brilliantly engineered.
- Washington Monument on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian)
- Great view of the city if you goto the top, especially at
night. Kinda dinky viewing windows, though. Free.
- Baltimore Aquarium in the Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD
- The aquarium itself is spectacular to look at but the
objectification of the animals is just plain wrong. Read this essay on pets for
- Great Falls in MD
- Nice view of the polluted Falls river.
- Great Falls in VA
- Better that the MD side, nice view of the polluted river but
they have some excellent rocks to climb on.
- Holocaust Memorial Museum on the Metro blue line (Smithsonian)
- The special exhibit is the best part of it. It all comes off
as a bit too Hollywoodish to me (appeal to emotion rather than
intellect --- I recommend reading the Maus comic books by Art Spiegelman
for one of the best treatments of the holocaust). Free.
- Ford's Theatre on the Metro red line (Metro Centre)
- I think you need to check this out to see how crappy it is. Way
- National Zoo on the Metro red line (Woodley Park)
- The only good thing about going here is to learn a lesson about
objectification of animals. Check out this essay for my detailed
thoughts in this matter.
- Bender Arena on The American University campus, Tenleytown, DC
- Decent acoustics. Not bad for a small arena.
- Boots club (now Zaxx) in Springfield, VA
- Great sound, great view, and cozy atmosphere.
- Constitution Hall in NW DC
- Great sound. Great view from almost anywhere in the hall. The
seating is kinda cramped, so you can't move around much. Parking is a
- Capitol Ballroom in SE DC
- Decent sound and acts. The place has a nice atomosphere, and I
think it's a good place to watch bands up close, but it's in a crappy
- Kennedy Centre in downtown DC
- High class atmosphere. Good for mainstream theatre.
- Lisner Auditorium on The George Washington University campus, DC
- Great view and great sound. Seating is a bit cramped.
- Modern on M street in Georgetown, DC
- A great place for dancing!
- Nation on Half Street SE in Washington, DC
- Excellent club with several large stages and a party crowd.
- Nissan Pavillion in Manassas, VA
- Bit of a drive from DC, but the acoustics are great. The view
is excellent wherever you're seated.
- Patriot Centre on George Mason University campus, Fairfax, VA
- Decent acoustics. Good view.
- RFK Stadium, on Metro orange or blue lines (Stadium/Armory)
- Nose-bleed seats can be a pain, but it's a great venue for huge
- UMBC Field House on University of Maryland at Baltimore County campus, Baltimore, MD
- Not too big and not too small. Nice acoustics and view.
- Warner Theatre
- Good sound. Reasonable view (from any location in the
theatre). Kinda cramped.
- Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA
- Metro-able. Great acoustics. Great view. Awesome atmosphere.
- Woolly Mammoth Theatre, NW Washington, DC
- Small. Cozy. Comfortable. Student discount.
- Xhale in Frederick, MD
- This might be the club that replaces Hammerjacks in
Baltimore. This appears to be an all-in-one club (they had cages,
apparently for dancers) and disco lights, but we saw Dio and
gothic doomsters My Dying Bride there. The club is a bit bigger
than Jaxx (probably holds around 1500), has nice acoustics and the
shows begin and end early!
- 9:30 Club in downtown DC
- Has some good acts, but caters mostly to the "trendy"
crowd. The new location is an amazing improvement over their old
one: the bathrooms are actually clean, it's no longer hot and
stuffy, and there's lots of room and prime viewing spots. The
acoustics are better too. Good atmosphere.
Black Cat club in downtown DC
- Mediocre acoustics, kinda small, and some good acts.
Charles Town Race Track in Charles Town, WV
- Pain getting out after the show.
Hammerjacks in Baltimore, MD
- Mediocre acoustics, and can get crowed at times; but has a
few good acts. (This club was closed in 1997.)
Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, MD
- Acoustics are okay and the drive is long from DC Good
Michael's Eighth Ave in Baltimore, MD
- Decent acoustics.
- Ritchie Coliseum on the University of Maryland at College Park campus, MD
- Mediocre acoustics, kinda small.
U.S. Air Arena, Landover MD
- Lousy acoustics.
- WUST Radio Music Hall in DC
- Mediocre acoustics, good view, and cozy atmosphere.
- DC Armory in DC
- Dark and gloomy.
- Best Buy in Rockville, MD
- This place has an incredible selection and cheap prices. If
you're looking for something in particualr, check them out first.
- Big Planet in Bethesda, MD
- Excellent selection of comic books. Nice service and
- Border's Music in White Flint Mall in Rockville, MD
- They have just about everything you could want, and a
desert/coffee bar in the store. Willing to sell consignment indie
albums. Great place to spend a few hours browsing.
- Blockbuster Music
- Good selection but high prices.
- Kemp Mill
- High prices with only a decent selection.
- Sam Goody
- High prices, decent selection but the stores are kinda grungy
for my taste.
- The Wiz
- High prices, decent selection.
- Tower Records
- For a large chain they are really nice to the indie artist,
in that they will sell your album on consignment. They are also a
somewhat convenient way to get tickets. Special kudos for staying open
- Waxie Maxie
- High prices, decent selection.
- Baltimore, Maryland
- The perfect place to take a day trip. Science Museum and
huge Aquarium right on the water. Inner Harbor is not to be
missed. Camden Yards is right next door.
- Bethesda, Maryland
- Indian food, comic book stores, public parking and a park
with tables and chairs to sit at. The perfect place to spend the
- Chevy Chase, Maryland
- About as close as you can get to DC without actually
entering. They have the Mazza Gallerie, some of the only good
shopping in the area.
- Chinatown, in DC
- Authentic Chinese food and groceries. You have to check out
the arch, it is amazing.
- Dupont Circle in DC
- Famous for it's traffic circle, this area is filled with
coffee shops and unique boutiques. Tres trendy.
- Fairfax County in VA
- During the Fair season, this is a great place to spend the day:
Food, carnival games, rides, informational tents and vertical
- Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD
- This is a fairly cool place with two pavilions for shopping
and eating along with walkable access to the Baltimore Aquarium and
Science Museum. The view at night is beautiful.
- Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC
- Greate place to be one with nature. It's hard to believe such
a "serene" park is in the middle of a relatively crowded city.
- The Mall in DC
- No trip to the big city is complete without some time at the
Mall. Just sit back and watch the people go by.
- Pennsylvania Avenue in DC
- Home of Bill and Hill, Old Post Office, Planet Hollywood,
etc. It's a must see.
- Rockville, Maryland
- Home of the Centre for Advanced Research in Biotechnology (CARB), where I did my graduate work.
- Adams Morgan, in DC
- They have a little bit of everything you've been looking for
but haven't been able to find. They even have Adams Morgan's Day, a
big street festival with music, food and crafts. Kinda dirty though.
- College Park, Maryland
- Near UMCP, this has small town feel with little to do. There
are a few nice places to eat though.
- Falls Church, Virginia
- Small town feel, clean, quaint. Worth visiting, especially
when en route to Wolf Trap, but I wouldn't want to live there.
- Gaithersburg, Maryland
- Metro Dhaba, Denny's, Border's and a mall.
- Twinbrook, Maryland
- Home of the high class Double Tree Hotel, there is little
else there except for Ambrosia, a wonderful Greek resturant.
- White Flint, Maryland
- White Flint Mall, Kinkos, Taco Bell and metro service. What more could you want?
- Tenleytown, in DC
- You'd think that a place this close to a college campus (AU)
would have more going for it. They are trying, though, with the
addition of a Fresh Fields and Hollywood Video. Dirty and empty sum
this place up.
Ram Samudrala ||