Surge of New Restaurants Strengthens Greater College Park’s Food Scene
If you’re sad about the recent closing of a certain all-American chain restaurant just south of the university, this story about the flourishing international dining scene in Greater College Park might not cheer you up.
But for everyone else who enjoys eating good in the neighborhood, the walk to something intriguing and delicious that you’ve never tried before is getting ever shorter.
In recent months, locally based, fast-casual restaurants with an ethnic bent have been surging into the city, including Cava (Mediterranean), SeoulSpice (Korean) and Taqueria Habanero (Mexican). Thumb a few more pages back on the calendar and add Ten Asian Food Hall (pan-Asian), Poh-Yo (Peruvian) and Riviera Tapas (Spanish-Mexican). Others that have been announced include Poki District (Hawaiian), LaTao (Japanese) and Cheers Cut (Taiwanese).
It’s no surprise a longtime college town would host a huge variety of pizza joints, Asian takeout and bubble tea places, particularly at a university as diverse as this one—UMD counts over 6,800 international students from 134 countries.
But providing a diverse array of businesses, residents and visitors creates an inviting, interesting cultural atmosphere to all demographics. That’s central to the success of Greater College Park, the $2 billion public-private initiative to revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor.
“One of the things that thriving, innovative, energized communities have is diverse restaurant options,” said Ken Ulman, the university's chief strategy officer for economic development. He cited the eclectic menu at MilkBoy ArtHouse and fine dining at the Old Maryland Grille among many other excellent options across the community designed to attract a broad audience, year round.
“We’re working hard to recruit more restaurants to come,” he said. “This is a population that’s curious, innovative and wants to try new things.”
Below are a few of the latest restaurants where you can do just that:
1. Taqueria Habanero | 8145 Baltimore Ave.
The popular D.C. joint opened a second location in College Park in December, offering handmade tortillas and authentic Puebla-Mexican dishes. The menus includes standards like tacos and fajitas with the addition of less familiar dishes tlacoyos and nopales (cacti). The restaurant’s use of traditional cooking techniques, like making table-side guacamole and serving meats on a hot stone, make this new spot unique to the area. “College Park is an interesting community involving both students and the surrounding neighborhood, so we’re really excited to offer food to the whole spectrum,” said William Martinez, general manager.