Over the last several years, downtown Silver Spring has morphed into Montgomery County’s version of Brooklyn. New hot spots have popped up alongside cool neighborhood institutions, giving the area a unique character and hip vibe that’s hard to find among the many town squares and planned developments that dot the rest of the county.
Here are some of the highlights—no beard or plaid shirt required.
The local offshoot of the iconic San Francisco music venue is fast becoming a legend in its own right. The 2,000-capacity double-decker club with blingy chandeliers and walls covered in red curtains has hosted high-profile headliners galore—from the alt-rock band Paramore and pop sensation Ellie Goulding to Mary J. Blige, who anointed the stage with its debut performance in September 2011.
Eco-minded concertgoers can feel good about attending shows at the LEED-certified venue, which meets rigorous standards for environmental friendliness.
8656 Colesville Road; (301) 960-9999; www.fillmoresilverspring.com
Silver Spring Library
Identify strongly with the movie Rushmore’s extracurricular-obsessed Max Fischer? Always on the hunt for a new hobby? The new five-story, glass-and-steel, 90,000-square-foot Silver Spring Library hosts a bounty of activities, including a chess club, a nontraditional games meet-up (Anyone up for a round of Battle Sheep?) and a support group for novelists. Patrons will also find a high-tech media lab, free Wi-Fi, study rooms and organic coffees from Kefa Cafe on the ground floor.
900 Wayne Ave.; (240) 773-9420; www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library/branches/silverspring.html
The Record Exchange
This mecca for music lovers features a floor that’s inlaid with old records, and a 1980s-era boom box jazzed up with pops of day-glo paint. The shop attracts vinyl junkies who appreciate the ever-changing selection of limited-edition new releases and near-impossible-to-find older titles—from recent reissues by Led Zeppelin to rare Sun Ra albums. Open in this location since last April, the store also carries CDs, DVDs, video games and pop-culture memorabilia.
8642 Colesville Road; (301) 495-0766; recordexchangeofmd.com
Quarry House Tavern
After a fire ravaged this beloved subterranean dive bar last March, owner Jackie Greenbaum moved the operation across the street and into the former Piratz Tavern space (she says she hopes to reopen the original location at 8401 Georgia Ave. in March). Don’t worry, half-price burger Mondays are still in effect, the addictive tater tots are still on the menu, and the beer selection is just as robust.
8401 Georgia Ave.; (301) 587-8350; www.facebook.com/quarryhouse
Calling all carnivores. This combination restaurant, bar, lounge, meat shop and curing room, which opened in late 2013, is best known for its creative house-made charcuterie—think lamb bacon, smoked duck breast and Berkshire pork prosciutto.
From there, you move on to small plates (the foie gras mousse shrouded in a layer of salted caramel is a favorite) and entrées, such as slow-cooked ox brisket. Cocktails (including a spot-on Old Fashioned) are good, too.
8226 Georgia Ave.; (301) 585-5800; www.urbanbutcher.com
Joe’s Record Paradise
Over the course of four decades and five locations, this family-owned business has been helping record collectors stock up on vintage vinyl. The 6,000-square-foot shop houses nearly 100,000 records, including plenty of titles priced to move. Plan on rolling up your sleeves and spending some time browsing the genre-spanning collection—from African tribal music to zydeco. The inventory is constantly in flux, so you never know what gem you might find.
8216 Georgia Ave.; (301) 585-3269; joesrecordparadise.com
Bump ‘n Grind
The baristas at this coffee shop/record store hybrid work with locally roasted beans from Vigilante Coffee Co. in Hyattsville and Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis, transforming them into hair-raising espressos, silky lattes and a bracing cold brew. The carefully curated selection of nearly 700 records includes lots of local artists and labels, and the communal record player is stocked with perennial favorites from the likes of the Beatles and John Coltrane.
1200 East West Highway; (301) 588-8000; bumpngrind.co
Damon and Georgia Callis spent a decade and a half making wine at home, continuing her Greek family’s tradition, before they opened the county’s first, well, urban winery in June. Sourcing grapes from around the globe, the couple crafts everything from dry white viognier to a rich red zinfandel on-site, as well as fruit-forward sweet wines. Vino fiends can even take workshops on how to make their own varietal.
949 Bonifant Street; (301) 585-4100; www.theurbanwinery.com
Whether you want to deep dive into a work project or catch up with friends, this 2-year-old coffee shop is happy to play host. Last year’s expansion more than doubled the indoor space, where you’ll find a smattering of comfy couches and chairs, as well as a dining room (a roof deck is set to debut this spring). Bonus: The baristas here create Instagram-ready foam art so fetching that you almost won’t want to take a sip of your latte. Almost.
918 Silver Spring Ave.; (800) 607-1324; m.mainstreethub.com/kaldisocial
Denizens Brewing Co.
Boasting a two-story taproom and a beer garden crisscrossed with white lights, this year-old craft brewery is a haven for hop heads. Jeff Ramirez, the director of brewing operations, stocks the lines with a mix of always-available standards—including red ale, pilsner and India pale ale—and seasonal specials, such as the “Bocho Bandido,” a tripel-meets-wheat beer aged in mescal barrels.
1115 East West Highway; (301) 557-9818; denizensbrewingco.com