Only a stone’s throw from the national capital of Washington DC, Bethesda is one of America’s most liveable cities, according to Forbes magazine. This small yet wealthy Maryland community is also a great place to enjoy top culinary experiences, from French and Lebanese to Iranian or Italian. We’ve updated our guide to Bethesda dining to make sure you don’t miss the top 10 spots in this vibrant city.
Named after the ancient masterpiece from Baalbeck, Bacchus of Lebanon brings more exotic culinary temptations to Bethesda. Very popular among both tourists and locals and famous for offering some of the best Lebanese dishes in town, the restaurant is definitely a treat for anyone wishing to take a break from an all-American diet. The menu highlights the typical tastes of Lebanon: olive oil, garlic, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon and parsley, and includes the well-known shawarma, falafel, kebab, stuffed vine leaves, moussakas and, of course, the extremely sweet and tasty baklava for dessert.
Established more than 40 years ago, in 1961, the Bethesda Crab House is a culinary institution and one of the oldest eating venues in town. A family business since it’s doors first opened, the Crab House is one of the best seafood places around, luring visitors with platters of crab cakes, served with corn, tartar sauce and a sweet and spicy cocktail sauce. Specialties include raw oysters, snow crabs or king crab legs, with a special offer available for the hungriest of guests: all-you-can-eat crabs at a fair market price.
A winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’, Chef Tony’s is a central restaurant specialized in seafood, Mediterranean food and tapas. Working with local and artisanal producers, Chef Tony’s aims to ‘deliver food that nurtures, delights and reminds people that life is short and to enjoy a great meal more often’. The menu highlights fresh local products and is an irresistible temptation for anyone who enjoys shrimps, crabs, catfish, lobsters, oysters, paella, zucchini or goat cheese as main ingredients. The restaurant also proposes a six-course tasting menu that includes the very best from Mediterranean cuisine.
One of Bethesda’s hidden gems, the local family-owned restaurant Guardado’s is the perfect place to savour the tastes of Spanish and Latin America gastronomic traditions. Opened in 2007 by Chef Nicolas Guardado, the restaurant quickly became a favourite of the Bethesda community. Faithful to its background, Guardado’s celebrates ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’ between September and October with a special menu that includes black bean soup, tapas, tilapia and shrimp with rice and string beans, lomo salteado and tres leches cake, flan or deep- fried plantain for dessert.
Kabob Bazar has been serving the best Iranian food in Bethesda for more than 20 years. Opened in 1993, the restaurant is the right place to explore Persian culinary heritage: with a décor that highlights traditional objects, including samovars – traditional tea pots – and instrumental Iranian music playing softly in the background, Kabob Bazar is not to be missed. The menu offers also low carb fish-based options besides its more famous beef, lamb and chicken kabobs.
An incredibly romantic spot, Le Vieux Logis is a family downtown restaurant that brings to Bethesda the charm and flavours of the Champagne region of France. Its highly-experienced French Chef Christian Gautrois creates true culinary wonders and proposes a menu that offers both the French classics and local seasonal specialities. It includes their personalised interpretation of the traditional French duck with orange, roasted salmon in potato crust, pan- seared sea scallops, roasted shrimps, crème brulee or berry salad with cherry sorbet and vanilla madeleine for dessert.
Awarded with TripAdvisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014, Newton’s Table is one of the top restaurants in Bethesda. The venue is run by Chef Dennis Friedman – a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, with vast experience in restaurants across the United States and a winner of the Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament. Dishes on offer at Newton’s Table include short rib risotto, salt and pepper shrimp, mushroom ravioli, sea bass, fillet mignon and ‘pig brittle’, considered by the Food Network one of the ‘50 best ice cream desserts in America’.
Opened in 1977 by President Kennedy’s Italian au pair and Italian chauffeur, Positano is a reference point in Bethesda when it comes to the best Italian restaurants around. After almost four decades, the restaurant is still a local favourite. Open each day of the week, all weeks of the year, Positano offers the very best home-made version of Italy’s most famous dishes: mozzarella caprese, fried eggplant bruschetta, lasagne bolognese, eggplant parmigiana, fish soup, veal parmigiana, osso bucco, tiramisu or cannoli alla siciliana.
Founded in 1998 by a Bethesda chef, Persimmon American Bistro is the perfect place to get the feeling of an authentic local restaurant. Awarded with Trip Advisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ in 2014, Persimmon features a contemporary menu well-matched by a refined list of wines, with specials from California, France, Italy and Chile. The dishes include steamed Prince Edward Island mussels with frites; pan seared sea scallops with orange, radish, fennel and arugula salad; sautéed jumbo lump crab cakes; pecan-crusted barbecued lamb with mustard potato gratin or warm apple cinnamon empanada for dessert.
Raku Asian Dining is all about Asian style dining, sushi and sake, and is therefore a true treat for Eastern cuisine enthusiasts. The bento boxes deliver the best value for money, offering a selection of teriyaki-marinated meats with rice or noodles. Nonetheless, the menu proposes a wide variety of choices, with a la carte fresh sushi as the main attraction, and both warm and cool sake options.