Dining Out
 The summer months are here so get up, move outside and enjoy a meal al fresco.

Temperate weather has not only ushered in healthy foliage, blooming flowers and a longer list of weekend chores, it has brought the return of al fresco dining. Long popular in a county with its share of office buildings and shopping centers, outdoor dining is a style that often reflects the mood of the evening. Some establishments are known for their lively, festive atmosphere while others offer a quieter, romantic setting of candlelight, shadows and rock gardens. Either way, the al fresco season is all about enjoying food and drink without the crowd of a bar, hum of the air conditioner, clatter of the kitchen or blare of the TVs locked on the local sports channel. It’s a more casual and civilized night out. Give it a try at some of these outdoor dining favorites throughout the county.

Il Porto, Gaithersburg 301.590.0735
  A favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant in Gaithersburg, Il Porto is known for its generous portions prepared to order.
  The menu is simple, but extensive with a variety of hot and cold antipastas, 15 pasta dishes, seven spaghetti dishes, whole fish, fillets and perfectly seasoned veal and poultry. Some Il Porto favorites include calamari that is lightly breaded and quick fried while the roasted veal infused with rosemary and garlic is succulent and pleasing.
  The homemade tiramisu meets its definition of a “pick me up.” The outdoor patio is buffered by flowering pots and stands, adorned with red umbrellas and seats about 40.

Del Frisco’s, N. Bethesda 301.881.0308
  The neighborhood created in the mixed-use development at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda is an ideal setting for outdoor dining. A charming, walkable neighborhood with the buzz, but not the noise and clutter of some other popular areas, Pike & Rose is home to Del Frisco’s Grille, a modern bar and grille that is proud to be the new favorite place to “meat” up and drink up.
  The menu at Del Frisco’s is full of creative twists on American classics for lunch, brunch and dinner. From shareable apps like fresh ahi tuna tacos, and irresistible cheesesteak eggrolls to brunch and lunch favorites with Del Frisco’s signature red velvet waffles and prime grille cheeseburger, Del Frisco’s has something for everyone.
  Dinner, whether taken inside the contemporary decor or al fresco on the patio under a huge umbrella with heater and fan, is an excellent culinary experience. Whether it’s a drink at the bar, dinner on the patio or catching up with friends over brunch, Del Frisco’s Grille is the new neighborhood hot spot.

Quench, Rockville 301.424.8650
  A sleek, modern bar and restaurant, Quench has found the right balance of inventive cocktails and creative cuisine.
  The Rockville establishment is dominated by a large horseshoe-shaped bar in the middle of the room, but it also has a number of comfortable tables, oversized chairs and couches where patrons can enjoy Quench’s self-described “laid back luxury.”
  The cocktail menu has a number of intriguing selections, including 50 Shades, a mixture of vodka, vanilla, blood orange and mango puree, cayenne and Prosecco. The dinner menu is equally enticing and will thrill burger-lovers with its variety of options as well as those looking for a good crab cake, Asian noodle dishes or a fine steak.
  Even when Quench is busy, the acoustics are such that noise won’t overwhelm your personal conversation.
  Of course, the quietest tables at Quench are outside where they are tucked along a quiet side street off Traville Gateway Drive. Umbrellas, shade trees, string lights and some more comfortable furniture lined by a white picket fence enhance the al fresco experience at Quench.

Founding farmers, Potomac, 301.340.8783
   The tough decision is not whether to dine at Founding Farmers, but whether to sit inside or outside at the environmentally friendly and efficient restaurant in Potomac.
    The 80-person outdoor patio at Founding Farmers is a very pleasurable experience. Tables seat six comfortably and the atmosphere under your personal umbrella with lighting and heat lamps is enhanced by the garden setting where custom-made garden boxes stuffed with greens and flowers buffer the patio.
    There is even a living green wall that serves as a wind barrier. Inside Founding Farmers, the dining area is warm and comfortable in large part due to the use of reclaimed and recycled materials, like authentic barn wood, that are incorporated in the setting.
    The menu reveals a passion for food unrivaled in the area with Founding Farmers’ focus on serving the freshest and highest quality ingredients that have been sustainably farmed, including products from Maryland, Virginia and Montgomery County farms as seasonality allows.
    From the fresh catch of the day to Yankee pot roast to butternut squash mascarpone, the food at Founding Farmers is prepared from scratch every day.

The Comus Inn, Dickerson, 301.349.5100
  Few places in Montgomery County offer the spectacular combination of historic buildings and property overlooking Sugarloaf Mountain with outstanding food and the ability to cater to most any size group – from a small intimate dinner to a wedding reception.
  Although The Comus Inn doesn’t offer traditional outdoor dining, it does offer the magnificently appointed Grand Room that can sit up to 70 people with a private bar and dance floor.
  Better yet, the room opens onto the inn’s flagstone terrace that can be tented for large groups. The terrace is expertly landscaped with seasonal flowers, a water fountain and the priceless views of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Nantucket’s Reef, Rockville, 301.279.7333
    Seafood lovers of all stripes will love Nantucket’s Reef for its variety, affordable prices and casual, comfortable setting.
    Located in the Traville Gateway Shopping Center, Nantucket’s Reef is a New England-style seafood restaurant that puts a fresh spin on fresh fish, lobsters, mussels, crab cakes and now – hot steaming crabs.
    There is plenty of room inside and even more elbow room on the patio with picnic tables to bang crabs and enjoy the evening air.
    Nantucket’s Reef also has a full service bar with craft beers, signature cocktails and an extensive wine list. Its $10 lunch specials, featuring fish or shrimp tacos, fish and chips and oyster rolls, are some of the best bargains anywhere.
    Nantucket’s Reef has craft beers on tap, excellent wines from around the world by the glass or bottle, and signature drinks made with – what else – Nantucket Nectars. Its Happy Day out-does other’s happy hour with fantastic drink specials.



Montgomery Writes

WHERE ARE YOU?You need to get off the beaten path to find this piece of Montgomery County history, but the red sandstone should be your first clue. Photograph by Ryan Cogswell

One winner will be randomly selected from all correct answers received by May 10.
Jono Sirovatka of Bethesda recognized the bridge over the Fishladder Channel of the Potomac between Olmstead Island and the C&O Canal and wins the framed print.
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