A Late Bite Out
The night owl's guide to dining in the Bethesda area
The midnight hour is approaching. The movie you went to see has just let out. The show at The Music Center at Strathmore has ended. Or maybe you just wrapped up an intense, late-night workout at the gym. And you’re famished.
Most restaurants shut down their kitchens around 10 p.m., but an increasing number are staying open later these days. That means nighthawks don’t need to settle for cold leftovers at home, fast-food giants or the grab ’n’ go case at the 24-hour CVS. There are plenty of tasty options that span the culinary spectrum—from Caribbean-inspired small plates to Mediterranean favorites to American comfort food. Some are only open late on weekends, but several stay open late most nights. Here, listed in alphabetical order, are a dozen.
8407 Kitchen Bar
8407 Ramsey Ave., Silver Spring, 301-587-8407, 8407kb.com
11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday; 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday
From open to close, this cut-above neighborhood favorite offers a breakout menu of house-made charcuterie, cheese platters, salads, sandwiches and seafood. Whether you’re stopping by for an intimate tête-à-tête with a friend in the lounge or to mingle with the bar crowd, you can’t go wrong with fan favorites such as flash-fried buttermilk calamari served with a zesty salsa verde ($11), or the Cuban sandwich made with slow-brined roasted pork and pepped with a swipe of chimichurri sauce ($10).
American Tap Room
7278 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-1366, americantaproom.com
11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday;
10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday
Diet-be-damned appetizers take center stage at this downtown corner standby. The amended menu—offered from 10 p.m. until close Sundays through Thursdays and from 11 p.m. until close on weekends—includes fried deviled eggs (yes, you read that correctly) with a spicy pepper aioli ($6), and grilled Camembert cheese accompanied by honey-soaked walnuts and toasted bread ($10). This comfort food is an excellent accompaniment for watching the game on one of the many flat screens strategically positioned throughout the restaurant.
Black’s Bar & Kitchen
7750 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-5525, blacksbarandkitchen.com
11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday; noon to midnight Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
When the sound system starts playing songs like Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and “Good Night” by the Beatles, last call can’t be too far away. But don’t be hasty: The final hour on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Jeff Black’s Bethesda bistro is the only time you can access a special bar bites menu. You can never go wrong with fresh-shucked oysters ($2.25 to $2.95 each) or the chive-flecked crispy calamari ($11). But it’s the barbecued duck laid out in a fried tortilla with a creamy avocado spread and crème fraîche ($16) that should be your last bite of the night.
Bold Bite Dogs & Fries
4901-B Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-951-2653, boldbite.net
11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday
In the Windy City, hot dogs are a late-night tradition. Honor that custom here by picking up a Chicago dog ($3.99), an all-beef frank nestled in a steamed poppy-seed bun and topped with diced onions, sliced tomatoes, pickles, sport (meaning “hot”) peppers, a squirt of mustard and a dash of celery salt. It goes best with sea-salted, skin-on fries ($1.99-$4.50) with a side of creamy truffle whip ($2) and the slightly spicy, house-made Cajun ketchup. On weekends, be prepared to hang out with pub crawlers and party people.
Brickside Food & Drink
4866 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-312-6160, bricksidebethesda.com
4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. to
1 a.m. Sunday
From 10 p.m. on, this brick-lined eatery offers the late-night crowd all of its pizzas (except for the rolled version) and about five rotating selections from its bar bites menu. If you’re lucky, they’ll be firing up the polenta-crusted fries with blue cheese dip ($5.95) and the suppli-style risotto balls with their core of molten mozzarella ($6.95)—both are dishes worth losing sleep over.
Du-par’s Hamburger Hamlet
10400 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, 301-897-5350, Facebook.com/DuParsHamburgerHamletBethesda
Open daily, 24 hours a day
Two L.A. icons joined forces to create this 24-hour diner-bakery, which is the perfect pit stop for connoisseurs of savory and sweet alike. Nearly two dozen pies crowd the cases, including tangy sweet rhubarb ($4 a slice) and rich pecan ($4.50 a slice). Pump up any piece with a scoop of ice cream or a slab of melted cheddar ($1.50). You can’t go wrong with a burger here, either. The Caliente gets a kick from serrano chili pesto and pepper jack cheese, while the Napa Valley comes crowned with an earthy goat cheese, sweetly pungent roasted garlic, and peppery arugula (both $12.50).
Mussel Bar & Grille
7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-215-7817, musselbar.com
11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
The entire dinner menu is available until closing at this beloved local hangout. You can never go wrong with the mussels, especially the spicy Thai ($24), perked up with cilantro, basil and green curry. The Thanksgiving-style turkey sandwich ($18), brimming with mushroom stuffing, tart cranberry sauce and a ladling of gravy, is another surefire bet.
Quarry House Tavern
8401 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-587-8350, quarryhousetavern.com
4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday
This subterranean watering hole offers its entire menu of gloriously greasy comfort food until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 11 every other night of the week. After that, tipplers hanging out to catch a live band can munch on bar bites, including a basket of crispy, crackly house-made chips ($4), and hot dogs or veggie dogs, each of which comes with a side of chips ($5).
9712 Traville Gateway Drive, Rockville, 301-424-8650, quenchnation.com
4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
This Rockville newcomer offers late-night munchies starting at 10 on weeknights and at 11 on weekends. Go the savory route by scooping up some smoked pimento cheese spread with pretzel chips ($3). Or indulge your sweet tooth with one of the ice cream sandwiches ($3), which come in ever-changing flavors, including red velvet cookies bookending cream cheese ice cream. The bustling bar scene makes this a great place to catch up with old friends or to make a few new ones.
36-G Maryland Ave., Rockville, 301-340-8010, sushidamo.com
11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday
A deal is a deal, no matter what time of day. On Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 till close, this Rockville redoubt offers a small-plates special (two for $10) that’s worth staying up for. Top picks here include the chicken yakitori, spicy salmon roll and crispy edamame. These shareable dishes and cozy couch seating make this a perfect spot for a late dinner date.
7731 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-652-3970; 8601 Cameron St., Silver Spring, 301-589-8171; tasteediner.com
Open daily, 24 hours a day
It may still be dark out, but you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at this round-the-clock favorite. When it comes to diners, follow the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. That’s why you should opt for the oversize malted waffle slathered in butter and puddled with maple syrup, or the half-pound bacon cheeseburger with a side of golden fries. Both are greasy, but good, and definitely worthy of a mention on any show hosted by Guy Fieri. Prices vary by location.
The Society Lounge
8229 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, 301-565-8864, societyss.com
11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
Family recipes inspired Guyanese restaurateur Jason Miskiri when he started designing dishes for his live music lounge, which keeps the sound system cranked for a diverse crowd till the wee hours. Accordingly, the late-night menu, which is available after 11 p.m., features jerk chicken wings ($10) and crispy Caribbean spring rolls with a cooling avocado and mango dip ($11).
Nevin Martell lives in Washington, D.C., and frequently writes about food and culture.