Area restaurants continue to receive local and national recognition for their quality and diversity, including Mandalay Restaurant & Café and Zinnia in the Washington Post’s 2023 Spring Dining Guide.
Among the 25 best restaurants in the area, Mandalay’s green tea leaf salad and curries were praised by food critic Tom Sietsema:
The owner’s wife is Mandalay’s chef, Latt Naing, who relies on Myint family recipes. Recent delivery and in-person takeout showed care in the packaging — pieces of cardboard separated cold and hot dishes — and encouraged future orders from the epic list. Among the hits were green tea leaf salad, lightly crunchy with cabbage, yellow peas and roasted garlic; a standout curry marrying tender chunks of pork and pickled mango; and sliced beef in a cilantro-punched tomato curry. The doughnut-like gram fritters are fluffy sops for the sauces, including the onion-laced, fish-based mohinga, a dusky gold soup eaten with rice noodles and considered the national dish of Myanmar (also known as Burma).
Mandalay, which reopened its dining room in February, has received critical praise since returning to downtown Silver Spring last summer. Sietsema previously featured Mandalay as one of his six favorite places to eat in February, emphasizing that spicy is indeed spicy:
Sure enough, the fried jasmine rice mixed with shrimp and sour mustard greens I request “spicy” is packed with dynamite in the form of roasted Thai red chiles. Ground before it goes into the dish, the TNT is invisible to the eye. But the tongue immediately detects a bonfire, which hotheads will appreciate.
Mandalay was selected as the Best Burmese Restaurant last year in Washington City Paper’s Best of D.C. Reader’s Poll. Additionally, the restaurant was recently named Best Customer-Fueled Comeback in MoCo360’s Best of Bethesda 2023 issue.
Zinnia, which was previously listed as one of Sietsema’s 6 Favorite Places to Eat Right Now in January, was praised for its cocktails, smoked salmon toast, and fried chicken:
My most recent taste of the place, from the owner of Takoma Beverage in Takoma Park, included a perfect gimlet; a raft of toast spread with smoked trout dressed with pickled onions and walnuts; a plate of golden fried chicken with a crock of chunky potato salad, and a burger that would have been better without the slice of ice-cold cheese in its center. Not every selection is a rave, but that still leaves plenty to like on the list — and off. Did I mention the downstairs tavern hosts live music Wednesday through Friday nights? Zinnia knows what you want, and delivers.
Zinnia opened in October 2021 in the former home of Mrs. K’s Toll House at the intersection of Colesville Road and Dale Drive in Silver Spring. Mrs. K’s closed and was offered for lease in 2020 after marking 90 years in business.
Last September, The Restaurant at Zinnia opened under the direction of former Republic chef Danny Wells, bringing together the gardens, the tavern, and the recently opened café to offer customers a variety of dining options. Republic, which Wells opened in Takoma Park in 2013, closed last September after a nearly ten-year run.
Photo: Zinnia / Instagram