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

Day 108: Houston's – Woodmont Grill

Woodmont Grill - Houstons

My all-time favorite restaurant in Bethesda is the Woodmont Grill located at 7715 Woodmont Avenue.  Formerly known as Houston’s, this restaurant has been a local favorite since I began selling real estate in the Bethesda area in the early 1990’s. The architecture outside the restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the Art Deco movement with an impressive concrete block entrance with an integrated working clock located above a sweeping curved metal awning.  On the awning is the restaurant’s moniker “HOUSTON’S” emblazoned in sans-serif, oil-rubbed, bronze letters.  Awnings extend from the restaurant providing the interior much needed shade from the sun.  There’s a nice outdoor seating area with tables and this is a delightful spot on a spring or fall day to enjoy your meal.  In the summer, guests are often seated outside while they await their table.  Parking is free for patrons in the adjacent supervised lot (which often fills up) and there’s plenty of parking on the street and in the Woodmont Avenue garage across the street.

Houston’s is a part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group based in Los Angeles, California.  The concept behind the restaurant group goes against the grain of conventional franchising.  Instead of creating a mega-brand and duplicating the concept over and over ad nauseam,  this group creates unique, one-off restaurants in each locale with a signature style all their own.  One thing that is in common with all the restaurants is a capital-intensive decor that creates a warm rich environment for the patron, exceptional food and friendly efficient service.  To compete with the flood of restaurants in Bethesda the Houston’s format was changed into a more sophisticated experience a few years back including the introduction of a live Jazz band in the evening.

The piano awaiting the Jazz ensemble

Inside is a warm inviting restaurant with deep wood paneling, natural brick accent walls, and flagstone flooring.  You have a clear line of sight into the kitchen where the chefs are preparing all kinds of grilled seafood and steak.  I prefer to sit in a booth and nearly every table at this restaurant, including the bar area, is booth seating with soft leather cushions.  With the high backs in the booths I like the privacy this affords for conversation.  The wait staff here is second to none.  Houston’s was the first restaurant I experienced where you had more than one server.  This concept means that you order with a single waiter or waitress but your food, drink or request is delivered by the first available wait staff.  Each waiter has an assigned section but all the waiters rotate throughout the restaurant.  The result is faster service and the difference in the temperature of your food and the enjoyment of your overall dining experience is very noticeable.

They have a nice selection of wines.  Try the Selaks Sauvignon from New Zealand, its crisp and refreshing.  My favorite dish here is the New York Strip steak with a “loaded” baked potato with sour cream, chives and shredded cheese.  All the steaks choices, filets and bone-in specials, are great.  My daughters especially like the Hawaiian rib-eye.  My second favorite dish is the grilled Salmon with summer corn and tomatoes.  Here’s a local tip.  They used to have a Chicken Tenders Platter available.  It disappeared from the menu but locals enjoyed it so much the restaurant still stocks the kitchen with it.  All the servers know this because there are locals like me that have been coming here for nearly 20 years and we won’t be denied.  With the chicken tenders (which is also available in a salad they call “The Club”, also not on the menu) come some of the best tasting french fries you will ever have.  They are made on site and the restaurant makes its own ketchup that could give Heinz a run for its money!  Some other favorites are the Thai Steak and Noodle Salad and the Jumbo Lump crab cakes.

The front page of the paper. How convenient!

Here’s some trivia I’d like to share for the ladies.  Ever wonder why your man takes longer to refresh himself in the men’s room here?  It could be because at the urinal there’s a framed front page of today’s Washington Post. What better way to make a man feel at home? (Ladies ask your father, husband or brother what this is all about).

After dinner try one of their signature desserts.  My favorite is chocolate of course.  You won’t be disappointed by the Five Nut Brownie sundae served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.  Imagine a warm brownie topped with chopped almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and macadamia nuts.  In the old days they used to have a champagne and custard concoction drizzled on top of all this chocolate, ice-cream and nut creation (now there’s no alcohol but it’s still divine!).  This is a great place to have a business lunch or entertain out-of-town guests.  I can’t believe it took us 108 days of blogging before we got to a blog about Houston’s (It will always be that to me).  I’ll be meeting my father there tomorrow for lunch.  Stop by our table and say “hi” and don’t forget to try the sundae! ~Brian

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