Olney MD restaurant reviews from a local resident foodie
Olney Restaurants and a few nearby are near the top, the non-restaurant section is near the bottom of this page. I like the food at the Olney places and am irked by some DC folks who think burbs=only chain restaurants and the end of civilization.....This does not bother me that much. I was an inner city gal so I kind of understand, but good food can be found many places. I might be able to walk to more local restaurants with great cooking than many DC folks can. If you think I am nuts, you have to eat before you can speak. The worry I had in 2010 that Olney’s dining scene might go downhill has not fully come to pass even with rents going up and a Green Turtle plus more fast food moving in. A full wasteland that others fear exist is not here yet. All the more reason to keep eating in locally owned places with tasty interesting variety. Few of these are $100/head places, but that is part of the wonderful and why my friends come from DC and NoVA to eat in this little town/suburb/whatever you want to call it.
Olney MD Restaurants
First things first: The speed limits vary all around the Olney area and there are some cameras set up so even if you are not speeding watch for the tail-lights of those slamming on their brakes to go from 15 over to 10 under the limit. For some reason rarely at the limit. Keep an eye out for the signs and drive responsibly. I am sure the county jail outpost and local hospital while lovely places would prefer to not have your business, at least not for such reasons.
Georgia Ave, SOUTH of MD-108:
Wasabi Zen for sushi and le Mannequin Pis for Belgium.
Belgium has fixed price deals on certain nights. Next to each other in a hidden
strip mall and worth the time to find. BUT recently easier to find the strip
mall. Sharing the parking lot and out on Georgia/MD97 you will find a bigish
store and another great find restaurant. Next to the Mattress Warehouse (I kid
you not, and in front of the truck painting place and nail place and one
driveway south of Popeyes, yes they are all neighbors) is a wonderful Thai
place that faces Georgia. Now updated with seating in addition to the takeout
business they quickly built up. Who knew? Thai Cuisine matches the
Thai I was told I HAD to drive into DC to eat. At 1/3 the price and an easy
take out (dine in is ok as is delivery, but I usually pick it up) I will stay
in Olney. It tastes as good or better. The sweet and sour sauce which I usually
abhor is sublime and not a strange color. Stephen gives 50 thumbs up to the
Panang Curry and fried tofu. I have had multiple items and keep going back for
more. Find these three good local restaurants between a Popeyes and Shell
station. Hey, foodie friends in NoVA ask to come up to go to one of the three
on a regular basis.
Across the street from the sushi/Belgium/etc little strip mall you will see a BP (good for tires) and a Righttime Medical Care, and in between is the old blacksmith place, home to random chain pizza and more importantly al Sospiro Trattoria and Wine Bar Tasty. Husband cooks mom's Roma cuisine, wife makes desserts from the recipes, and you can get wine by the glass, bottle, or by the sospiro which is roughly 2 glasses. This is a great way to have different wines with each course for a reasonable price or to try wines as a group. The wine bar is not always staffed so go downstairs for service. Not great if you are leg impaired? If you let them know you have trouble with stairs they will care for you upstairs. Closed Mondays (as are several other Olney restaurants, actually).
Could there be more? Yes, lots more.
Along MD-108, EAST of MD-97/Georgia Ave:
Ricciutis also has a nice bar, but really is more dining. Good brick oven pizzas and plenty farther up the ladder from there. Lots of local, sustainable, green stuff put into the place. Read their website for more details.Pho-Grill is across the street and has great Vietnamese treats. I admit I mainly come here when I am sick (chicken pho, chicken soup close enough), but I have ordered other items when well and am happy every time.
In the same shopping center as Pho is
local favorite Mamma Lucia (a big one). If
you want takeout pizza or a big room to rent this is the place to go. I am not
here often, but plenty of others are.
Olney Ale House Recommend the beer, burgers, chili, stew, veggie options. I cannot easily walk here or I would go more often. Maybe. Across from a popular and good regional live theater, Olney Theater Center
Along MD-108, WEST of MD-97/Georgia Ave:
Really, there is only one shopping center with food in it. Here are the best local bets.
All the other restaurants are pretty ok, too. The seafood around Olney is usually pretty good and delivered daily to the restaurants. We have even seen the trucks.
Non-food and drink?
Olney Toys is on 108 and is one of my favorite places to shop. The staff have steered me well over the last several years plus the prices are reasonable. The range of toys is impressive, with classics and about to be huge hits. Graeves Auto and Appliance does a good job with both. I love doing business with them, which is saying something given my general disposition when my car or home appliances are not working. The website is interesting. They only have GE and Maytag appliances, but Scott is great to work with as are the delivery people. If you need a gas dryer, you will get it installed, first time, and they come when you schedule them which is much better than taking 3 different days off to wait and not get what you wanted. They are great dealing with cars of all types and for lots of problems and treat me like a human doing business with them (unlike some condescending people dealing with auto repair). Prices are reasonable, too. I only have ever gotten a quote at Wilson Tire & Auto Service (Goodyear) but they were efficient. Fletchers BP has been reliable for tire work and the garage is open on Sunday.
North Rockville/Coming to Olney from the South (more Rockville/N. Bethesda is below):
Coming to Olney from the south or
Rockville along Norbeck, you will see a great TexMex place, Villa Maya
I am from TX and
most TexMex or Mexican food around the DC area is really closer to El
Salvadorean food. The tamales are really tamals, but they typically are labeled
as such and otherwise I adore this place. Just go, order pretty much anything
on the menu, get the best margarita made to order in the area, and that salsa,
that my friend is made from freshly roasted peppers so that black is not black
pepper it is blackened peppers and it may be hot in temperature depending on
when they were roasted but the salsa has just the right spice to make all
different tastebuds happy. It will vary in flavor because fresh vegetables vary
in flavor. It will be tasty. If you want sure spice ask for the green
salsa (it will look more paste like). They have two types of guacamole on the
menu plus a make-tableside cart (I go for the cart but they all are fine just
adjusted for different palates). They tinker with the food and usually for the
better. The shrimp dishes are spot on. Ceviche is wonderful. Outside of cooking
up a storm at home or flying back to TX, this is the spot. I am not alone; this
place is packed but you will sit down soon.
North from Norbeck on Georgia you will see the ICC. North of there is a little strip mall on the West side of the road. What was the gelato place and an old inn is now Sister's Sandwiches and Such. Pretty tasty. Take the whole family. Seating is outside with a few tables inside. The 'such'? You can buy the painted furniture if you wish. By Roots which is a good store if you have gluten allergies and a good small grocery store in general.
Brookeville (North of Olney up MD-97/Georgia Ave):
Splurge time? Up Georgia Ave. in Brookeville is The Inn at Brookville Farms and they have the "I really need to say I love you" kind of restaurant. Some rooms are kind of country, but um you will be in the country. Not terribly spendy, they have some deals, and you will not be disappointed in the food and rarely in the service. Good Sunday brunch and common wedding reception location. Speed cameras right outside the restaurant where the limit drops to 30 mph.
Sandy Spring (East of Olney on MD-108):
A few years ago Urban BBQ tripled the size of their outpost here, adding tables of all sizes and a bar area to the previous take-out (primarily) location. Interesting furnishings include old bowling lanes turned in to furniture, some arcade games, and some cool retooled and refurbished items. The menu is not healthy but it is tasty, plus they have outdoor seating. Bar is good but this is a beer (lots of drafts to choose from) and liquor (huge selection) place. They technically have wine but that is not the specialty.
Etchinson (West of Olney on MD-108):
Not open Sundays. The store at the T where 108 hits 650 (and 108 makes a 90 degree turn; not in Ashton, you want the other intersection of 650 (New Hampshire) and 108). It is the only store there and you want the BBQ sandwich. The sandwich is not as good as it used to be, but it is still tasty. Plus it marks the kink in the road.
Mt. Airy (farther West of Olney, just north of I-70 at MD 27 and part way to Frederick which has some good eats and art of its own):
Laurienzo's oh my the brick oven pizza of my dreams. Garlic cheese bread is wonderful (essentially, a full 12" cheese pizza that is super tasty). Pizza toppings bursting with flavor that shows the kitchen cares, every morsel. Pasta was well balanced and with just the right sauce. Waitstaff anticipate what we want and made us aware of potential missteps (like the size of the cheese bread) to make sure we were sure. Sandwiches are good if you want a smaller meal; Maryland Crab Soup and other frequent seasonal specials are on target most of the time. Menu is short and to the point with plenty of options. Really cool bathrooms, too, that if you are handicapped were actually honestly pretty accessible. Could have an interesting bar from the looks of things, but we tend to be there at decidedly non-bar times and only once during Friday night rush. Many thanks to Sarah at Black Ankle Vineyards for pointing me here. We keep coming up with reasons to make the drive back and see more of that cute old downtown. We do tend to have so many leftovers we decide we should head home.
Brick Ridge is up the road from Mt. Airy's downtown, such that it is, and each week offers cuisine from a different state. It does so shockingly well. There is a standing menu, too, with the highlights and favorites from the trips. Nice way to make sure you are mixing it up and a nice place for a meal.
Check out the Washingtonian Cheap Eats and Dirt Cheap Eats
The magazine keeps changing links so hope you find what you seek. For good professional guidance Ask Tom at the Washington Post. You may have to register and you will find more DC and VA stuff than I have space for here.
Make reservations all around the DC area (and other US cities) at Open Table
Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Ellicott City MD
Rockville and N. Bethesda along "The Pike":
Why eat at the
White Flint Mall when you can eat across the street at Addie's?
Well that was the case except now it is closed! A minor ode: looked like a
cute little yellow house, seafood and service nice, but parking was a pain. Now
you have to deal with harder parking at Blacks in Bethesda if
you want the good food, but potential reservations.
Vegetable Garden (vegetarian Chinese; quite a few of this style of restaurant around Rockville) was on Rockville Pike near the N. Bethesda Marriott (south of Old Georgetown Road, North of Marinelli) but is now in Leisure World in Silver Spring. The restaurant (that was next to it on Rockville Pike) with Middle Eastern food is good, too.
Mamma Lucia (local Italian chain)
If you drive around the side of the shopping center with Mamma Lucia you will find Seven Seas, another good Chinese place.
Joe's Noodle Shop is north on 355
A&J (1319 Rockville Pike) is authentic northern Chinese Dim Song. Good in many people's opinion, but might not be your thing. Cash only.
more in Rockville; lots of Asian. Lots of vegetarian. Some Greek place I cannot
remember the name of. Oh, and Matchbox now has an
Thinking of Twinbrook Parkway in Rockville, just a block off The Pike, Gilly's is a useful beer and wine store and a deli across Chapman from Guitar Center. Lots of tastings and fun. In the same strip center next door is the original Urban BBQ. They have other locations now including another place in Rockville in the same shopping center as Villa Maya and more UBQ love in Sandy Spring! Some Texas love here. Yummy food. They have remodeled, so if you read an old review they have beer and seating now, the food is even better and it was winning lots of positives before. They did stop making BLTs and my coworker has sworn them off because of that. It was likely one of the best BLTs because they made it the old fashioned way which is pretty time/worker intensive. Greens are better than mine or my grandma's most days. (Running to hide from Grandma; naw she would be happy I had some to eat.)
Need Kosher food or catering for special
events? Wonderful knishes (freeze well and come full and mini) perhaps even
with local ingredients? Need Kosher advice for planning a party or
accommodating relatives or friends on a kosher diet or how to keep kosher on a
budget? Want to talk with a wonderful man and a great family? Erick Gilbert is the man to contact. Ask any direct
question and he will give you a straight answer. (Hope he does not mind this
plug. He is going to special order only, and I miss his knishes and family at
the Olney Farmers and Artists Market.)
General Montgomery County food and drink
When you are irked one of these places is out of a wine, has a poor looking list, or no beer on SuperBowl Sunday, keep in mind they could have screwy ordering but more likely they have to deal with MoCo liquor insanity. This is the bane of many restaurants and stores in the county. Enough about food for now, on to activities to burn the calories.
Activities & Places around the DC Metro area that you may or may not find on your own
Gettysburg is not a long drive (if not going at rush hour) and has great places for children to run around. Let them play and try to see where everyone hid, died, and figure out why Devil's Den and other areas earned their names.
Go see the O's!
National Aquarium is actually in Baltimore and fabulous albeit expensive. Look for Friday night specials and other bargins, or shell out the cash. It is worth it.
Maryland Science Center is good for all ages
Lexington Market is kind of sketchy outside, but go to Faidleys for the best crab cakes. Yes you need the expensive Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and yes you will stand to eat them and then yes you will be weak in the knees. Yum.
Sandy Spring Museum
Underground Railroad: Oakley Cabin Underground Railroad: Hikes from Woodlawn Manor. If you go on Saturday mornings April-early November and other special times volunteers lead guided hikes. Check the webpage for details and if you are a large party, please email/call a few days in advance so they can plan to have extra guides.
Would not head near College Park if there is a sporting event at the University of Maryland, but otherwise you may want to check out the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant. The 94th Aero Squadron over looks the runway of College Park Airport, the oldest, continuously operating airport in the world. The entire dining room faces this historic airport. I hear the beer cheese soup is tasty.
Brookside Gardens has a light show every December and early January and gorgeous gardens year round.
You can do all the tourist stuff. Here are a few regular items from that list and a few new ones.
You actually cannot go into the stacks, but you can take a tour of the Library of Congress and go visit my dissertation. I know, you are heading out right now!
Georgetown: Dumbarton Oaks
Eastern Market has much to share and many say go direct to the Flea Market
The Navy Memorial (at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station) is really interesting. It has some great movies and exhibits and people can look up any Navy personnel they know, from way back-- like grandparents, and find out about them, see their Navy pictures and what ships they served on.
The National Arboretum has a gorgeous greenhouse right in front of the Capital Building on the Mall. If you are going to be up there looking at the Smithsonian or any of that (and the Native American Museum is up that end of the Mall, too), it's a beautiful place to stop in. Very jungle -- lots of orchids and stuff in bloom, which in the winter is a nice change.
The World War II Memorial in the center of the Mall. It's pretty impressive -- lots of fountains.
The FDR Memorial over by the Potomac is very nice, too, especially since it is right on the river.
Make sure to see the Korean War Memorial. At night it is spooky but it should be.
A few of the
museums you may need to pay for but are worth it:
Holocaust Museum (you should order tickets early)
Dulles Air and Space (actually, you pay to park and technically this is in VA)
Arlington Cemetery While at Arlington make sure you visit Women In Military Service For America Memorial which currently has a great exhibit: USNS Comfort Quilt. The Comfort Quilt, the Memorial's newest exhibit, features the quilt made aboard the USNS Comfort during her 2003 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The exhibit includes photos and a video discussion with crewmembers. The Comfort Quilt is on exhibit indefinitely. Was in a class at work with one of the contributors and its making is quite a story.
About 8 miles south of Old Town Alexandria on the George Washington Parkway is Mount Vernon, George Washington's home, and if you continue on the parkway to where it crosses Route 1, you'll come to a Frank Lloyd Wright home you can tour, the Pope-Leighey house. This tour is up for debate, though, since I keep hearing the house is being sold and no more tours. Make sure to check.
Parks are plentiful, but here are a few
C&O Canal you can rent bikes in Georgetown and ride all the way to Cumberland MD if you really want to (and can physically do it)
Rock Creek Park is closed to cars on the weekend. Take advantage of it!
Sugarloaf Mountain (VA)
Catoctin Mountain and Cunningham Falls State Park) (MD)
Seneca Creek State Park (MD) is surprisingly (to me) one of my dad's favorites. He knows his parks and trails.
Bull Run Occoquan trail (VA)
Shenandoah National Park (VA) and the Blue Ridge Parkway
In addition to Gettysburg you may want to see Antietam (MD), Harpers Ferry (WV), Manassas (VA) Wilderness/Chancellorsville/Spotsylvania (VA)
I will say it over and over: Take Metro if you can, although at some times and too many places (like easily to Olney), you cannot. Traffic can be horrible. Chill out and keep plenty of money for parking with you. If you need to park at a metro lot I recommend parking early, or try Twinbrook or White Flint along the Red Line for slots on weekdays after 7/8am and before 3:30pm. Metro's website has lists of places where spots are usually available.