silverdocs_logoNext Monday, Silver Spring plays host to one of our favorite annual events – the yearly SilverDocs documentary film festival.  Held at the AFI Silver Theatre each June, SilverDocs packs an amazing variety of subject matter into its slate year after year.  Murderball?  They had it in 2005, complete with a Q&A featuring some of the stars.  Man on Wire was a big hit last year.  I’d say a good 10 percent of our Netflix queue has shown at SilverDocs since its debut in 2003.

As much as we’ve enjoyed the shows we’ve seen, SilverDocs has presented something of a challenge to us when we’ve tried to make a date night of it.  Silver Spring isn’t exactly a hotbed of dining destinations.  OpenTable has exactly three choices – Ceviche, Mrs. K’s Toll House, and Nicaro – and most of the other options tend toward quick-service and/or chains.

Fear not!  Whether you’re looking to dine before or after that screening of The Nine Lives of Marion Barry, there are some options that are definitely worth checking out:

Nicaro ExteriorNicaroAs we mentioned above, Nicaro is one of the three Silver Spring restaurants on OpenTable, so you can lock in your dinner plans now (woe to those who wait until the night of the show to find a place to eat).  On a recent visit, we checked out their weeknight deal – two courses for $25 from Tuesday through Thursday.  The best part?  You can choose whether your two courses are an appetizer and an entree, or an entree and dessert.

IMG_7741Chef/Owner Pedro Matamoros made a name for himself at the Tabard Inn before opening his own place, and his approach to updated American cuisine results in some truly impressive dishes (though there are some that don’t quite come together, as well).  The menu changes regularly, but we really enjoyed a housemade charcuterie plate and grilled squid as our appetizers.  Our favorite dish?  A mixed grill of lamb that included sausage, shank and beautifully rare loin cuts with a tomato chutney.

8229 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
Nicaro on Urbanspoon

Three more options for dining, drinks and coffee after the jump.

IMG_7742Jackie’sIn case the photo and the website aren’t hints enough, Jackie’s has a fun vibe that translates into a great place for drinks before or after a show.  When we put out an all-points Tweet asking for recommendations in the area, Jackie’s won for most mentions.  We didn’t end up eating there, but we definitely made it a point to stop in for a beverage.  A solid list of wines by the glass, beers on tap and in bottles, and cocktails that tend toward the ‘tini make for a good time.  The hard lines and concrete floors of the converted garage are softened by retro fixtures as well as colorful banquettes and pillows.

IMG_7743As it turns out, Jackie’s menu was developed in consultation with Ann Cashion, an arrangement very similar to that at the H Street Country Club.  And like local celeb Teddy Folkman, Chef Sam Adkins cooked under Cashion at her restaurant and spent some time at the Reef in Adams Morgan.  Entrees on the ‘recent menu’ posted as a sample at the restaurant’s site suggest upscale renditions of familiar favorites (especially the “nostalgia” plates that act as daily specials).  A mussels appetizer that features leeks, bacon and goat cheese sounds like the kind of combination that we’d be happy to see on the menu at Granville Moore’s.

Whether you’re looking for a full meal (the kitchen is open until 10:30 on Friday and Saturday) or just a place to hang out, Jackie’s has you covered.

8081 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
Jackie's on Urbanspoon

MayrogaMayorga Coffee – Named after its owner, Martin Mayorga, this local roastery has been serving up coffee, tea, sandwiches and salads to a steady crowd of laptop-luggers and groups looking for a spacious place to hang out.  The building is gigantic (a former factory), and the interior has room for a small army to gather.

In addition to the caffeinated beverages, Mayorga has beer, wine and cocktails so they can definitely accommodate you pre-movie, whatever your tastes.  Sandwiches and salads can be a bit pricey, but they make a great low-key meal if you’re not really looking for a full dinner.  Coffees are roasted on site, and teas come from Honest Tea, another local purveyor.

Mayorga’s location makes it something of a walk for those who are attending SilverDocs – it’s actually just beyond the overpass as you head down Georgia Avenue back toward DC.  Unfortunately they’re only open until 10, but if you’d prefer a laid-back place to unwind with a good book and a cup of coffee (or a stiff drink), Mayorga may be right up your alley.

Mayorga Coffee
8040 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD
Mayorga Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Photo by Carol Bengle Gilbert

Photo by Carol Bengle Gilbert

Ray’s the ClassicsThere’s no way you can go to SilverDocs and not think about dinner at Ray’s.  For starters, it’s right across the street from the theater.  Besides – it’s RAY’S!  We’ve written about our appreciation for The Classics before, but it definitely bears repeating.  If you haven’t already called for a reservation next week, you may be out of luck…but it’s absolutely worth a try.  Give them a call and see for yourself.

The biggest change since our last visit?  Ray’s President-approved Hell Burgers are now available to diners in the Bistro (bar area) side of the restaurant.  Between the burgers, the steaks and the house-made spiced cashews, the food here is far too good to pass up.
Ray’s the Classics
8606 Colesville Rd.
Silver Spring, MD