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Eater DC: Bethesda’s Restaurant Scene Is About to Get Way Less Boring

Chinese-Korean fusion and Spanish breakfasts are en route to the upscale Maryland suburb

by Tierney Plumb  Oct 19, 2020, 2:31pm EDT

Last week included major restaurant news for Bethesda, the well-to-do Maryland suburb that skews awfully corporate in comparison to D.C. Chiko, the casual Chinese-Korean hit from chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno, announced its fourth total location will land in the Montgomery County town sometime this winter. That followed news that José Andrés’s ThinkFoodGroup plans to replace the Jaleo outpost there with a second location for Spanish Diner, the egg-centric all-day spot that has been a critical success in New York City’s Hudsons Yards development. Both represent big developments in a downtown where national restaurant groups at Mon Ami Gabi (Lettuce Entertain You), Woodmont Grill (Hillstone Restaurant Group), and Uncle Julio’s take up prime spots.

Some recent arrivals in Bethesda include Italian restaurant Piccoli Piatti Pizzeria and small batch scoops shops Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream, both situated in Wildwood Shopping Center. Other independent favorites include Q by Peter Chang for Chinese, brasserie Duck Duck GooseHinata Sushi, and the Guru Grocery and Chaat House.

The following five restaurants are poised to draw more interest from D.C. diners.

A trio of snacks from Chiko including generously-sized spring rolls
A trio of snacks from Chiko including generously-sized spring rolls
 Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.


Chiko will expand to Bethesda Row this winter with a location at 7280 Woodmont Avenue, which was most recently the home of chef Michael Schlow’s fast-casual Italian place, Prima. Fried Rice Collective founders Drew Kim, Lee, and Drewno debuted the brand on Capitol Hill in 2017, followed by subsequent outposts in Encinitas, California, and Dupont Circle. Options will include Sichuan hot fried chicken sandwiches, pork-kimchi pot-stickers, wok-charred noodles, and Wagshal’s chopped brisket bowls, notes Washingtonian.

Spanish Diner

Celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés will sub out the Bethesda location of his pioneering tapas destination Jaleo with an offshoot of NYC’s hit comfort foods spot Spanish Diner. The 6,500-square-foot replacement, billed as Andrés’s “Iberian take of the classic American all-day restaurant,” plans to open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner next spring at 7271 Woodmont Avenue. Spanish Diner debuted last year to much critical acclaim inside ThinkFoodGroup’s Mercado Little Spain.

The best-selling huevos rotos Casa Lucio (top) and other egg orders take center stage at Spanish Diner.
 Liz Clayman/Spanish Diner

Hawkers Asian Street Fare

The growing group of Southeast Asian restaurants across the Southeast U.S. will make a D.C. area debut this fall along Bethesda Row (7115 #B Arlington Road). A lengthy menu full of dishes from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, China, and elsewhere includes best sellers like roti canai, a Malaysian flatbread served with curry sauce, soft shell crab in chile sauce from Singapore, and dry Sichuan cauliflower. Founded in 2011 in Orlando, Hawkers is also en route to Ballston next year.

The Riggsby

Schlow’s throwback American fine dining venue in Dupont Circle announced plans last December to open inside the former Kapnos Kouzina space in Bethesda RowAs of August the opening was “delayed indefinitely” due to the pandemic, notes Bethesda Magazine. Eater reached out to Schlow’s team for updated opening plans.


A new “fine casual” Greek eatery from team Cava will soon land at the foot of a shiny new office building at the Pike & Rose complex in nearby North Bethesda (909 Rose). Melina, named after Cava co-founder Dimitri Moshovitis’ daughter, will focus on veggie-forward Greek dishes like salt-baked baby beets with roasted lemon Greek yogurt, candied pistachios and dill, pork belly “gyro” with homemade pita, and charred octopus with red onion marmalade. The first Cava Grill debuted at Bethesda Row in 2011, and the brand has since ballooned to over 100 restaurants nationwide.

This article originally appeared in Eater DC. Read it here!