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.
Deftly blending New American and Spanish culinary propensities, Nicaro's menu changes daily to accommodate fresh flavors and culinary innovations. Recent offerings include bold, seafaring starters such as the shrimp bruschetta and the blackened, grilled, or barbecued salmon bites (each $9). The blackened chicken sandwich ($12) is served with steak fries and chipotle aioli, and the tossed house salad ($4.50 for a small and $8 for a large) unites julienne peppers, mushrooms, croutons, and bruschetta tomatoes in the perennial battle against boringly bagged grocery-store salads. The fettuccine with Alfredo sauce and basil pesto ($24) and the grilled vegetable platter ($15) both come stamped with the chef's recommendation.
For more than a quarter-century, Addis Ababa has delighted epicurean taste buds with rich, authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Toast the completion of a rigorous Thumb War reenactment with a crispy triangular sambusa appetizer, available with beef ($2.50) or lentil ($2.25) fillings, before perusing the menu's reams of rich entrees. Sink teeth into the lega t'ibs with sautéed beef, onions and peppers ($11.20), or tackle the more adventurous gored gored, with chunks of raw beef seasoned with butter, mitmita, and pepper ($11.50). Other entrees employ fresh lamb, shrimp, and tuna, while a suite of vegetarian options such as the cabbage-rich tikil gomen ($9.10) or garlicky, split-lentil mesir wat ($9.10) sing winsome four-part harmonies to herbivorous palates. Liquid Ethiopian flavors include the Sidamo coffee ceremony ($21 for groups of three or more), as well as honey and gudar wines ($6.50 per glass) and Harrar beer ($5.50). With the kitchen and dining room open late most nights, peckish night owls can stop in for a unique after-hours tête-à-tête or chance run-in with Edward Hopper. During warmer months, diners enjoy these flavorful, finger-friendly foods atop the restaurant's rooftop patio.
Part of a growing community of Ethiopian eateries in Silver Spring, according to the Gazette, Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant has served up generous portions of authentic east African fare since 2009. Goblets of traditional honey wine accompany plates of cubed lamb marinated in red-wine sauce or vegetarian dishes with lentils, cabbage, and collard greens. Guests can sop up buttery sauces with spongy sourdough injera bread, or use them to finger-paint admiring portraits of the live musicians who occasionally perform in the dining room.