Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 224: Power Hour at Morton's

A good friend of ours is leaving the area so a group of us gathered recently for happy hour to wish him well on his new endeavor.  Our “happy hour” ended up continuing on for many hours!  Before we knew it, it was 9:30 PM and we realized that we had not had any dinner yet!  Someone suggested we head over to Morton’s located at 7400 Wisconsin Ave inside the Hyatt Regency to enjoy their Power Hour bar bites and drink specials.  I had never considered Morton’s for happy hour but it was great!  Their website states that Power Hour is from Open – 6:30 PM and 9 PM – Close, although I thought I saw a sign inside that said 9:30 – Close.

The Cosmo

It was another perfect summer evening so we walked from Bethesda Row over to Morton’s where we were greeted by their friendly staff who seated us in the cushy chairs at one of their tall bar tables.  We ordered drinks first of course.  During Power Hour, they offer $5 beer, $6 wines and $7.50 “Mortinis” and Cocktails.  I opted for the Power Hour Cosmo which was very nice.  But the best was yet to come…the food!

Their Bar Bites menu is brief but not short on taste!  We selected quite a few items and found each one to be truly mouth-watering!

Here is the Bar Bites menu:

$5
Iceberg Wedge Bites
Blue Cheese Steak Fries
Chicken Goujonettes

$6
Mini Crab Cake BLT’s
Smoked Salmon Pizza
Three Prime Cheeseburgers
Four Petite Filet Mignon Sandwiches
Oysters on the Half Shell and Colossal Shrimp Cocktail also available (We paid $2.75 per shrimp but seriously each one was like a meal in itself!)

Truly Colossal Shrimp

Our favorite selections were the iceberg wedge bites and the four petite filet mignon sandwiches (awesome!) as well as the colossal shrimp cocktail – the largest, meatiest shrimp I think I have ever experienced!  But ALL the food we tried made everybody squeal with delight – even the men, although I am sure they would deny it!   We hit the jackpot at Morton’s Power Hour – my new favorite place to go for a late night munchies attack or for a bite to share after a movie or a visit to the Roundhouse Theater for a show.  Next time, I hope to check out the oysters on the half shell!   ~Amy

Day 205: BOGO Burger Day at Parker's Restaurant

Burger Day!

It’s Monday and that means it’s Burger Day at Parker’s Restaurant.  Parker’s is located at 4824 Bethesda Ave. and offers a casual dining area and sports bar.  Come dressed any way you like.  As we described on Day 37, we love going to Parker’s for happy hour between 3 PM – 6 PM weekdays.  Since it’s across the street from our office, it’s our own Cheers for RE/MAX!

Our cheeseburgers

Have the Monday blues?  A burger makes it better!  Take it from us – we just ate a couple!  The Monday deal is this – buy one burger (and two drinks) and you get the second burger for only $0.99.  Parker’s burgers are fresh-grilled and tasty.  There are four burger options: a good old-fashioned cheeseburger, the hickory burger, the bayou burger and the roasted Portobello burger.  We both opted for the cheeseburgers today but instead of fries, Brian tried a side of asparagus.  They were big, fat, nicely grilled asparagus stalks and they were really tasty!

The Restaurant

Parker’s is a great place to party and August 20th they are throwing their own 20th birthday party. The details are posted on their Facebook page which you can check out right here.  There will be a DJ, drink specials, food specials, door prizes, a raffle and more.  Sounds like fun.   I am sure they will have the drinks flowin’, the music hoppin’ and the food cookin’!  Let’s party!

~Amy

Day 202: Tia Queta – A Little Bit of Mexico in Bethesda

The boldly-colored Tia Queta on Del Ray Ave

A few days ago, Brian and I were invited to attend a happy hour party at Tia Queta for a friend leaving the area.  Tia Queta is located at 4839 Del Ray Ave.  I had never been there before and didn’t even know where it was.  It was a warm evening and we were late (as usual) but even though it was a Friday evening and the busy dinner hour, parking in the public lot next door was no problem at all.  Now that area parking lots offer Pay-By-Cell, we didn’t have to run to the car to re-fill the meter either.

When you walk in the door of the unassuming, yet boldly colored Tia Queta, you immediately feel transported to Mexico.  The festive music and brightly colored murals on the walls begin your attitude adjustment until such time as the tequila can finish the job!  On this particular evening, our party was held upstairs on their rooftop terrace.  What fun!  The evening was warm and so was our greeting.  The casual atmosphere of the rooftop terrace was the perfect backdrop for a lively gathering of friends.  We really felt like we were somewhere in Mexico, far away from busy Bethesda.

Tia Queta

The drinks came first – mostly margaritas and Coronas of course.  Then came some wonderfully prepared dishes of all kinds.  The nachos and quesadillas were truly mouth-watering.  Loved the salsa too.  I think we also had what they call “miniature enchilada verdes.”  Sooo yummy!  I lived in San Diego for several years and enjoyed authentic Mexican food often.  The closest I have come to that since then is Tia Queta – and that’s saying something.

I am looking forward to a trip back sometime soon to enjoy a full dinner and perhaps some sopapillas for dessert.  I also noticed that Tia Queta offers catering services – an ideal option for a summer party.  But one of the best things that stuck with me about my visit to Tia Queta was the service and care offered by its owner, Roberto Montesinos, and his staff.  We received a warm greeting when we arrived and a big thank you when we left.  It felt like we had been visiting someone’s Mexican home.  If you have never stopped in for a meal at Tia Queta in its 31 years in Bethesda, it’s never too late to try it.  You’ll be glad you did.  ¡Buen Provecho!     ~Amy

Day 174: Outdoor Happy Hour and Free Parking at Gaffney's

Check out the patio

Today, Brian and I popped into Landmark Theatres Bethesda Row Cinema for an afternoon matinée of Incendies.  Regarding the movie, we both give it a thumbs up, but you should prepare yourself for a mentally turbulent experience.  It’s quite a movie!  Afterward, we decided to enjoy a glass of wine to relax.  We were seeking a casual atmosphere since we were both dressed in shorts and flip-flops.

We remembered the good food and nice, casual atmosphere we had experienced the last time we visited Gaffney’s located at 7141 Wisconsin Ave.  So we drove over to the parking lot just behind the restaurant and discovered that, unlike the Elm Street and Bethesda Ave parking garages, the parking lot behind Gaffney’s offered plenty of parking – surprising for a Friday night.  But an ever bigger surprise was the fact that parking for Gaffney’s patrons is FREE next door at the Farm Women’s Market parking lot after 5 PM.  Who knew?!

The patio at Gaffney's

We were also pleased to find that Gaffney’s has an outdoor patio.  It was a small but welcoming spot.  The weather was ideal this evening to sit outside.   Since we ended up coming in during Happy Hour (offered from 4 PM – 7 PM) we decided to enjoy some appetizers.  Although the appetizer menu was brief, it offered some tasty selections.  We ordered a plate of nachos and some Korean Beef BBQ.  The mouth-watering Korean beef BBQ was so good that we ended up getting a second order!  The portion pictured in the photo is actually smaller than what you’ll get but we had already eaten a couple of pieces by the time we remembered to take a picture.

Happy hour beers are $4 or $8 for the 32-ounce Super Mug option.  Wine and spirits are $5.  The service was friendly and they even had someone come around with free shots to sample a new drink option at Gaffney’s.  We declined to order the full drink but Brian sampled a second shot just to be sure of his decision!

Most of our Korean Beef BBQ

Our nachos

While we were chowing down on the beef BBQ, the staff quietly set up a cozy table for a group of 10 people in the patio who started filing in just as we finished up.  It was clearly a nice, intimate spot for a small party.  The dinner menu is terrific at Gaffney’s and we recommend a visit if you haven’t been there before.     ~Amy

Day 173: Meet Me at the Finn

Outdoor seating is available at BlackFinn

BlackFinn American Saloon located at 4901 Fairmont Ave in Bethesda offers a nice, upscale bar menu and a host of options for your entertainment pleasures – everything from a nice happy hour to a popular weekly Ladies Night to a lively late night party scene.  Plus, word has it that the bartenders are “the best” at BlackFinn!

Their menu is more extensive than the typical bar menu offering an array of great appetizer options, burgers of all kinds and some interesting entrees such as shrimp & grits, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and pecan-crusted rockfish to name a few.  Plus, don’t miss the dessert sliders!  Here is some of what you can expect from this local Bethesda fixture:

BlackFinn offers a nice environment to enjoy a drink after work or to share game day with your buddies.  You can wear just about anything you want to BlackFinn (except perhaps your birthday suit) and you’ll fit in just fine.  The late night scene is definitely a younger crowd and the place can be incredibly packed.  If you’re interested in that scene, check it out but if you prefer to avoid a sea of humanity, stick to visiting in the afternoons or early evenings for a more relaxed experience.  Personally, I am looking forward to stopping by there to watch my beloved Steelers play football this season where BlackFinn is a hive of black and gold!

~Amy

Day 170: Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Ruth's Chris Steak House

Tonight I went to a dinner meeting sponsored by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors® (GCAAR) and hosted by Jane Fairweather.  Top real estate agents in the local area were invited to attend a briefing by some of the leaders of the various national, state, and local political action committees for the Realtor® associations.  I won’t cover the specifics of the meeting in this blog; however, there are many significant legislative initiatives working their way through Congress that could have “catastrophic” impacts on housing if passed without modification.

The venue for tonight’s meeting was Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse located at 7315 Wisconsin Avenue on the main level of the Air Rights Center.  In spite of the stomach turning conversation about our legislators misguided attempts to regulate the mortgage business in order to eliminate the excesses of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, the steak I had tonight was one of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever had.  Did I mention I love steak?  Chocolate or steak?  Hmmm it’s a tough call.  How about both (more on that to come)!

First a little background on Ruth’s Chris.  The name is unusual but the story goes that the founder Ruth Fertel, at the age of 38, divorced and a single mother of two children, sees an ad in the local New Orleans classified for a “Steak House for Sale. $18,000.”  Falling back on her vast experience in the restaurant business (she had none), she mortgages her home and purchases Chris Steaks with little more than her desire and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.  A few months later the business is nearly wiped out by Hurricane Betsy but Ruth forged on.  Forty five years later, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse has become the world’s largest fine dining company.  And fine dining it is.  Ruth passed away in 2002 but her spirit and gusto for life live on in the company she founded on little more than a “shoe string and a prayer.”  Having gone public in 2005, the company today has 100 locations all across the U.S. and in eight foreign countries around the globe.

Mouth-watering steaks

I ordered a Rib-Eye steak tonight that was so perfectly cooked I wanted to kiss the chef.  Really, the flavor defined the term mouth-watering.  The steaks and seafood here are legendary and for good reason.  We were seated in one of their two banquet rooms (seat 20-60) and the ambiance here is unmatched, featuring soaring 20+ foot ceilings and deep rich wood paneling.  You feel like you’ve just walked into an old-line east-coast country club or Harvard library.  It’s a great place to host an event.  Some of my personal favorites on the menu include the barbeque shrimp, sautéed New Orleans style in reduced white wine, butter, garlic and spices, and jumbo lump crab cakes.  They should really issue you your own oven mitt here because the plates are hot enough to cook just about everything they serve (including your hands if you’re not careful).  Of course no fine restaurant would be complete without an extensive offering of fine wines and Ruth’s Chris does not disappoint.  Try the Sauvignon Blanc by Kim Crawford from New Zealand!  We finished off the steak tonight with a sinfully good “Chocolate Sin Cake.”  Yum.  Steak and chocolate in one night and I did not even have to confess my sins at the Pearly Gates!

Lastly, our local Ruth’s Chris has an amazing “happy hour” special they call “Prime Hours” Monday through Friday from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  During this time the entire Bar Menu of food is 50% off and that includes the popular 8 oz. New York Strip served over garlic bread as well as the fried Calamari.  All the Martini’s, cocktails and select wines and beers are also discounted as well.  So this week head over to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for Prime Hours and tell the manager Tim that Bethesda365 sent ya! You won’t be disappointed! ~ Brian

Day 11: Happy Hour Anyone?

Cafe Deluxe Bethesda - Elm Street

One of our favorite all-around good (but not too fancy) restaurant options in Bethesda is Cafe Deluxe.  It’s located at 4910 Elm Street in the heart of town.  They also have a restaurant at Tysons Corner in Virginia and 2 D.C. locations.  Cafe Deluxe is definitely a local favorite and Friday – Sunday evenings, you will probably wait a while for a table. 

It’s a great place to go for Americana with class.  Although they are known for their tasty fire roasted tomato soup and their Gruyère mac & cheese, they offer a delicious array of menu options for any palette.  Herb-roasted chicken breast is apparently the most frequently ordered item on the menu and I can tell you from experience, it is worth trying!  

On the appetizer menu, Brian and I most enjoy the crispy chicken spring rolls served atop a tangy sauce that is to-die-for.  We also love to get the steak Caesar salad with lots of ground pepper on top! 

Fire roasted tomato soup - a Cafe Deluxe favorite!

Cafe Deluxe offers a weekend brunch until 3 PM (mimosas anyone?) and a weekday happy hour in the bar from 3:30 – 7 PM.  It’s funny, I have never experienced either one but now that I know about it, I’m making plans!  Happy hour on Friday anyone?  The happy hour menu is quite appealing!  I am dying to know what their “cheeseburger spring rolls” are like!

I also discovered their frequent diner program – you know, typical rewards for porking out at their locations.  A good deal for “regulars” like us.  Located right around the corner from our RE/MAX office in Bethesda, we find that Cafe Deluxe is an ideal location for business meetings too.  If you have been to Cafe Deluxe, let us know what your favorite menu items are as well.  Maybe I will see you at happy hour!

~Amy