New restaurants in Bethesda: Mussel Bar, American Tap Room, Taylor Gourmet Deli, Vapiano

Four new restaurants just opened in Bethesda on Woodmont Avenue, all near the intersection with Elm Street.  This won’t be a review, as I’ve only been to one of them, but i just think it’s interesting.

Mussel Bar replaced Levantes, which served middle eastern food.  I thought Levantes was pretty good, but Mussel Bar has been successful so far.  It has been described as like a “New Jersey bar.”  The inside has dark brown tables and there are picnic tables outside.

Next door is American Tap Room.  It looks good, and it’s nice to have traditional American restaurant in an area with Indian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Italian places, which are all great, though Austin Grill was cheap, good, and kid-friendly.  Cafe Deluxe is another kid-friendly option.

Across the street is Taylor Gourmet Deli, which has a wide variety of hoagies, and Vapiano, serving pasta, panini, and pizza.  I had one of the pizzas and it was very good.  The food is made from fresh ingredients right in front of you.  I’m not sure if they have wait staff – it seems like you go up and order and then you bring it to your table when your beeper goes off.  The place is large with rustic tables and some lounge-type chairs.  Seems pretty cool, but it could be one of the least likely to survive because it’s the furthest from the epicenter of lower Bethesda (Barnes and Noble), and there isn’t much else on Hampden Lane.

So the number of restaurants has increased by two overall on that corner.  On Bethesda Avenue, Organic to Go, across from Sweetgreen, went out of business.  I asked them once why they served Coke and Sprite since they were supposed to be healthy.  “Demand,” the guy said.  Well, looks like that didn’t work out too well.  Most of the places in downtown Bethesda do well, but if you’re even a block off the beaten path (Thai Corner, on Bethesda Ave. on the other side of Woodmont, and Pizza Zero, on Bethesda Ave. on the other side of Arlington Road, both went out of business) you can struggle.

All four places have outdoor seating.


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