Where Expats and Ethnic Experts Eat
Diplomats, foreign correspondents, international economists-the Bethesda area is full of frequent-fliers, expats and head honchos from other countries. So where do they eat when they're hankering for a taste of where they've been or where they're from?
Elaine Shannon, former correspondent for Time and Newsweek magazines and author of three books.
“I write about drugs and terrorism, so I love food from Miami (Cuban), Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Thailand, Burma and, lately, Afghanistan,” says the Chevy Chase resident, who’s now editor-in-chief and publisher of the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C.
Among her favorites: Bethesda’s Tia Queta (for the chicken mole and fish Veracruz style); and Silver Spring’s Cubano’s (yucca, plantains, black beans).
Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who served in Brussels, Belgium.
La Ferme in Chevy Chase “has the French country-style of food and ambience I associate with Belgium,” says Eizenstat, who now lives in Chevy Chase and is head of Covington & Burling’s international legal practice in the District. “The wonderful soufflé is my favorite.”
(7101 Brookville Road, Chevy Chase, 301-986-5255, www.lafermerestaurant.com)
Saeed Akhtar, retired division chief of financial systems for the International Monetary Fund in D.C.
A Pakistani native, Akhtar finds most local Indian and Pakistani restaurant food sorely lacking.
However, during the 33 years he lived in North Potomac—he retired to Ijamsville, Md., four years ago—he did take a shine to Rockville’s Bombay Bistro, where he’d order the Mussels à La Bistro, a dish in which the mollusks are steamed with garlic, shallots, tomato, coconut milk and curry leaves. “Very good, very consistent,” he says of the restaurant.
(98 W. Montgomery Ave., Rockville, 301-762-8798, www.bombaybistro.com)
David Welna, NPR’s congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C.
Welna, who spent four years working in Buenos Aires and has also traveled in Portugal, likes Tavira in Chevy Chase. “It’s evocative of both Portugal and Brazil, and the food really is authentic,” says Welna, who now calls Bethesda home. “It has the kind of menu you would find in Lisbon.”
Welna usually chooses the bacalhau as his entrée. “They really know how to transform a piece of dried, salted cod into a not-too-salty, tender and flavorful morsel,” he says. But “anything that swims on the menu is a good bet.”
(8401 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-652-8684, www.tavirarestaurant.com)
Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute in the District and son of a Lebanese-born father, has traveled extensively in the Middle East. But when he’s home in Chevy Chase, D.C., he likes to hit Bethesda’s Lebanese Taverna.
“There’s something about the airiness of the place, the care they took in the design, that makes it classic Lebanese,” he says. “My favorite is their kibbeh nayeh (lamb tartare)—a uniquely Lebanese dish, which they do well.”
(7141 Arlington Road, Bethesda, 301-951-8681, www.lebanesetaverna.com)
Steve Weisman, former reporter and deputy foreign editor for The New York Times.
Now editorial director and a public policy fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in D.C., Weisman likes Faryab in Bethesda, where he lives. “I recommend it to lots of people as authentic, based on my memories of some time spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he says.
He particularly enjoys the aushak (scallion-filled dumplings topped with yogurt, meat sauce and mint) and chalow sabsi (cooked spinach with basmati rice).
(4917 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-951-3484, www.farandawaycycling.com/Faryab/index.html)
Ellen Laipson, president and CEO of the Stimson Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on international peace and security.
Laipson, who directs the center’s Middle East/Southwest Asia program, also enjoys Faryab. But the Chevy Chase resident frequents Moby Dick House of Kabob, as well, where she’ll often order the kubideh (ground beef kabob) platter. The restaurant “is great for a carryout meal midweek, but also for catering,” she says.
(7027 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, 301-654-1838, www.mobysonline.com)
Diana Parker, retired director of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
“I eat almost exclusively vegetarian when I’m in India,” the Bethesda resident says. And so she heads to Bethesda’s Passage to India when she’s craving traditional tastes.
“They do so many wonderful things with vegetables and paneer [homemade Indian cheese],” Parker says, adding that the begumi khazana, a selection of the restaurant’s vegetarian best-sellers, is a great sampler.
(4931 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-656-3373, www.passagetoindia.info)
Gregorio Laso, press officer for the Embassy of Spain in D.C.
“Probably the best is Jaleo in Bethesda,” says Laso, who attributes its high quality to well-known chef-owner José Andrés. Laso, who hails from Madrid and now lives in Bethesda, likes Jaleo’s paella because he finds it so authentic. But he has also been known to order the seared piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese, slightly spicy chorizo wrapped in crispy potato with quince aioli, batter-fried shrimp, and the soupy lobster rice.
Laso also enjoys the tapas at Guardado’s in Bethesda (he recommends the deep-fried calamari, Spanish omelet and béchamel fritters with chicken and Serrano ham) and La Tasca in Rockville (particularly the grilled lamb chops with green peppercorn sauce; chicken brushed with garlic, white wine and spices; and shrimp sautéed in garlic and olive oil).
(Jaleo, 7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301-913-0003, www.jaleo.com; Guardado’s, 4918 Del Ray Ave., Bethesda, 301-986-4920, www.guardados.com; La Tasca, 141 Gibbs St., Suite 305, Rockville Town Square, 301-279-7011, www.latascausa.com)