9. Lina’s Diner and Bar
The croque-monsieur ham sandwich with nutmeg-laced cream sauce and Gruyère cheese is called a croque-madame when it’s topped with an egg. Photo by Mike Morgan
Chef Joancarlo Parkhurst, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Manhattan, started cooking in restaurants while in college to pay the bills. He caught the restaurant bug and, after a brief try at law school (he hated it), started a 20-year career going back and forth between line cooking and management. A gig as a corporate trainer with Ruth’s Chris brought him to Bethesda 15 years ago. After other managerial stints with Blue Ridge Restaurant Group and Lettuce Entertain You, Parkhurst decided to go out on his own. Named after Parkhurst’s daughter, Carolina, Lina’s opened in May 2017 in Silver Spring, where he resides.
This is Parkhurst’s baby, and you can feel the warmth in the bright pink entrance. You pass through a small front room and down a narrow corridor with booths and papier-mâché bulls’ heads on the wall to reach a small back dining room and bar, plus a secluded outdoor patio that seats 30. Eclectic furnishings—shabby chic distressed sideboards, steampunk wall sconces encasing Edison bulbs, his grandmother’s plates depicting John James Audubon illustrations, a Swiss baking cabinet from his mom—give the place a homey, welcoming feel. So do the classic cocktails, among them a great Hemingway daiquiri that’s heavy on the grapefruit.
The quirky menu features a baker’s dozen of items, plus four “samwiches,” and tends toward the French, such as: a hockey puck-size round of velvety chicken liver and foie gras mousse with grilled country bread; perfectly moist sautéed rainbow trout almandine; a thick croque-monsieur ham sandwich oozing with nutmeg-laced cream sauce and gooey Gruyère cheese; and a steak frites that melts in your mouth and is so nicely seasoned that it doesn’t need its béarnaise sauce accompaniment. Save room for tiny pots of crème brûlée or chocolate pudding crowned with whipped cream and grated orange zest. Lina’s is the kind of neighborhood joint you want just around the corner.
8402 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring | 240-641-8061 | linasdiner.com