Illustration by Amanda Smallwood

Editors' Pick

Restaurant Dream Team

Owners, Zena Polin and Jerry Hollinger

The Daily Dish in Silver Spring and The Dish & Dram in Kensington 

Polin and Hollinger are partners in two warm and inviting restaurants, but we’re especially partial to The Dish & Dram. The food is tasty, delightfully unfussy and made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. (If the duck confit with braised Boston beans is a special, order it.) The cocktails are terrific—the top-notch Manhattans are garnished with Amarena cherries—and the warm service staff makes you feel like family. That’s everything a neighborhood restaurant should be—any day of the week. Hollinger is the chef, and Polin creates desserts that make us smile at the end of each visit, especially the dreamy Shoofly pie. Add to that the duo’s devotion to philanthropy (Chefs for Equality, Harvey relief, The Keegan Theatre) and you have the very definition of community.

Illustration by Amanda Smallwood

Chef, Phak Duangchandr 

Thai Taste by Kob in Wheaton

More than 20 years ago, chef Phak Duangchandr moved to the D.C. area from Bangkok. After running a Silver Spring carryout for 10 years, she opened Thai Taste by Kob (“Kob” is her nickname) with nephew Max Prasertmate in 2014. For her authentic home-style Thai cooking, Duangchandr turns to family recipes with base flavors she prepares from scratch. She grinds chilies to create made-to-order seasonings and pastes, makes her own vinegar condiments, and puts her own twist on traditional sauces and dishes. Pad Thai at Thai Taste is revelatory, not hackneyed as at many other Thai eateries. 

Illustration by Amanda Smallwood

Bartender, Brian McGahey

Owen’s Ordinary in North Bethesda

McGahey is a certified Level II Sommelier, but he’s responsible for the cocktail program at Owen’s Ordinary at Pike & Rose. Aside from the gregariousness that immediately puts bar guests at ease, McGahey’s cocktail creativity is notable. He loves to highlight Maryland ingredients, such as McCutcheon’s apple butter in the Jack and Helen cocktail, and Sagamore Spirit rye in the Can’t Beet It (yes, made with beet juice, along with Nocello walnut liqueur, lemon juice, chili peppers and ginger).

Illustration by Amanda Smallwood

Manager and Beverage Director, Andra Johnson 

Macon Bistro & Larder in Chevy Chase, D.C.

Johnson has held many jobs in the restaurant business (busser, host, barista, bartender, server, wine director), and she recently earned her Level I Sommelier certification and Level I Cicerone Certified Beer Server status. She handles the door and floor at Macon Bistro with élan and happily discusses her tattoos—her right arm reveals her interest in the Yankees, the left shows various potables. She’s an expert in both subjects, so chat her up, especially if you’re a whiskey lover.

Illustration by Amanda Smallwood

Server, Eric Corpancho

Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda 

Corpancho, a Gaithersburg native, grew up in the restaurant business doing odd jobs for his father, who manages an outlet of the Manny & Olga’s Pizza chain. He worked his way up from host to food runner to server at Bethesda’s Mon Ami Gabi, moving to Kapnos Kouzina when it opened in 2016. There, he’s all smiles, delivering efficient service that is friendly and informed without being overbearing or obtrusive. He gets extra points for remembering your name and the number of olives you like in your martini, and for going easy on the menu spiel. After a full week at Kapnos Kouzina, Corpancho still picks up late-night shifts at Manny & Olga’s to help his dad.