No Idea Tavern cultivates a lively sports-bar atmosphere with craft beers, pizzas, burgers, chicken wings, and ample opportunities for watching football, baseball, hockey, and European Premier League soccer. There's a vast array of games and entertainment here—you can fill the bar with a danceable soundtrack from the Internet jukebox, challenge friends to games at the beer-pong table, or impersonate firemen at the pole in the lounge area. Meals such as crab pretzels, margherita pizzas, and cheesesteaks make for excellent tailgating fare as fans watch every Penn State, Jets, and Liverpool match. Brunches kick off weekend mornings with spreads of bloody marys, maple-syrup-drenched pancakes, and french toast.
When the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department moved into a larger building, retired firefighter Jeremy Gruber saw an opportunity to combine his two loves. He had grown up with a passion for food—his grandparents opened the New York City restaurant Gruber’s back in the 1930s—so after a few failed attempts to eat the old firehouse, he decided to buy it and open his own restaurant instead.
Though the firehouse vibe lingers with cinderblock walls and large, sectioned windows that resemble garage doors, Jeremy gave the space a modern update with bamboo floors and LED lighting. Inside the transformed dining room, patrons extinguish their hunger with orders of five-alarm wings or firehouse chili paired with cheddar-jalapeño corn bread. In the microwave-free kitchen, cooks also prepare entrees as varied as portabella burgers and seafood risotto. Locals will recognize added treats such as Gifford’s ice cream and craft beers from Red Brick Station.
A small piece of the Deep South thrives at Wild Cajun Seafood and Bar. That's because all of the restaurant's crawfish hails from Louisiana, as do its chefs. These chefs also incorporate fresh catches from the nearby Mid-Atlantic coast, meaning Maryland crab cakes sit side by side next to po'boy sandwiches stuffed with crispy tilapia fresh from the fryer. Elsewhere on the menu, the gumbo's dark, smoky roux complements its chicken and sausage and shareable pots of Cajun-style, steamed seafood mix crawfish, shrimp, and king crab legs with sausage, corn, and potatoes.
Much like its menu, Wild Cajun Seafood and Bar's dining room demonstrates a general passion for the wide-open oceans. One wall features an enormous, floor-to-ceiling mural of a seascape at sunset, complete with actual sails jutting out over guests' heads. High-topped tables are scattered throughout the vast, intimately lit space, providing diners with unrestricted views of the flat-screen televisions broadcasting sports as well as commercials for vintage particle accelerators.
Gilly's Craft Beer & Fine Wine sets out cultivated craft offerings of beer and cheese for inquisitive palates. The rotating seasonal menu serves duos six craft beers and one cheese sampler plate, with quartets receiving a twofold supply to accommodate their larger group size and higher propensity toward food fights. Each person fills their trio of glasses with pours from the shop's draft selection, which rotates frequently but might include fermented favorites such as Heavy Seas Black Cannon, Chimay Cinq Cents, and Long Trail blackberry wheat. In between sips, diners can nibble on cheese plates stuffed with olives, toast, nuts, and cheeses such as cave-aged gruyere, petit basque, cabrales blue, and Five Counties cheddar. The quirky, bustling store stocks shelves with a plethora of artisanal delicacies, outfitting homes and fallout shelters with timeless appetizers and deliciously aged libations.
Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits has been a local go-to since the 1930s. Over the years, this neighborhood institution has developed a national reputation as a fine curator of alcoholic beverages. While it may be called Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits, this liquor store may be best-known as an international cornucopia of beer. There are more than one thousand craft beers from which to choose, including twelve-ounce bottles, 25-ounce bottles, cans and six-packs. While the beer selection is unparalleled, the long and narrow store also packs in a wide selection of wines, and often hosts Saturday afternoon wine tastings. The store also has a full range of spirits, and there’s even free parking in the back.
Crazy Lil’s banishes hunger with a massive menu of meaty burgers, spicy chalupas, and more than 10 kinds of macaroni and cheese. Dairy-loving diners can warm up with an appetizer of Chesapeake tots, topped with crab dip and cheddar jack ($11), before moving on to bacon- ($12) or broccoli-cheddar- ($13) trimmed mac 'n' cheese. The fromage-phobic may delve into non-cheesy specialties, including pierogies and bratwurst served with a spicy bourbon mustard ($11.50), or a chipotle-chicken chalupa, which tastily toasts palates as it twists tongues ($9). Peckish philosophers sate themselves on the paradoxes of Lil’s Hell Yeah burger, whose ground beef, bacon, and sautéed onions come in the mayonnaise-enriched grip of two grilled-cheese sandwiches ($12).