Anchored by Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland’s Montgomery County is home to meetings destination heavyweights such as Takoma Park, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Rockville, as well as up-and-comers like Wheaton and the new Pike & Rose development in North Bethesda.
Served by three major airports and a full-service public transit system, this infinitely walkable destination offers groups a vibrant culinary palate sure to satisfy every sensibility.
“What’s interesting about Montgomery County is that the food culture is very focused on ethnic dining,” said Cory Van Horn, director of marketing for Visit Montgomery.
Van Horn, speaking from a background of culinary tourism, is enthused about the destination’s more than 900 ethnic dining establishments.
“We don’t exactly have, say, an iconic restaurant,” Van Horn said. “Really, what we offer is that mom-and-pop experience. It’s a community of hidden gems.
It gives meetings and leisure travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in various local flavors and cultures, he added.
Groups looking to expand their flavor horizons won’t want to miss Mykonos Grill in Rockville. The menu showcases a full range of fine Mediterranean cuisine, from avgolemono soup to spanakopita, all at accessible prices.
Mykonos can host groups of up to 50 for sit-down meals or 65 for cocktails and light fare in the banquet room. The main dining room can serve groups of up to 100. Dining spaces and the menu can be customized according to the needs of the group, and the venue offers reduced pricing for recurring events.
Located in Germantown, Da Marco, The Italian Place serves artisanal pasta, wood-fired stone-oven pizza and other Italian delights. The restaurant provides multiple event spaces and can host private events of up to 220 attendees.
“On trend with what’s happening across the country, we’re seeing an increase in local wineries, breweries and distilleries,” Van Horn said. “What I’m seeing in Montgomery County is that nearly all of them have some sort of tasting room. It’s not just being able to drink the beer or the spirit, but the tasting room itself has become part of the experience.”
Twin Valley Distillers in Rockville, the first distillery to operate in the county since the end of Prohibition, offers tours and private tastings for smaller groups.
For groups between 20 and 400, dog-friendly Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring serves handcrafted offerings in an offbeat and friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard in Dickerson can host events of up to 25 people for a seated meal and 40 for a standing tasting event.
Brookeville Beer Farm synergizes sustainable farming and brewing practices and hosts a Farmers Market with local artisans and food vendors every Saturday. The venue closes to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays in order to host private events of up to 100 attendees. Private events of 35 attendees or less can be booked on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Some venues in this category don’t serve food, but this isn’t necessarily a drawback.
“What’s cool about the venues that don’t offer food themselves is that they allow food to come in,” Van Horn explained. “That helps a lot with groups who have both budgetary and special dietary needs.”