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Street Smart: What to do in Downtown Silver Spring

Downtown Silver Spring
8500 - 8700 Colvesville Road

Home of the AFI Silver Theatre and the Fillmore, downtown Silver Spring has experienced a renaissance in the past decade, evolving from a quiet city center into a lively arts and entertainment hub. Spend the day roaming; make friends with a life-size T. rex; or dine on authentic Ethiopian or Italian cuisine.

The Fillmore Silver Spring
8656 Colesville Rd.
(301) 960-9999

Thousands of signatures of performers grace the backstage walls, a tradition at this 2,000-capacity concert hall. All of the gig posters hanging behind the three bars and depicted in the large collage in the main hall are custom-designed by artists who are fans of the performers. A few musical acts receive a copy of their custom poster after the concert as a gift. You might catch performers dining out before showtime at 8407 Kitchen Bar or celebrating afterward at McGinty’s Public House and Quarry House Tavern.

Discovery Communications headquarters
1 Discovery Pl.

You can’t miss the 13-foot-tall, 40-foot-long replica T. rex skeleton towering over the lobby. Stan, a fixture since the global media conglomerate’s arrival in 2003, is named after amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison, who discovered the original remains in 1987. Also, catch George Rhoads’s intricate kinetic sculpture — transfixing for kids and adults alike.

Da Marco Italian Restaurant
8662 Colesville Rd.

Regulars love Da Marco’s Tuesday pizza night, featuring thin-crust, Roman-style pizzas. Other days, try the housemade pasta and wash it down with a Grappatini (what owner Marco Fortinirefers to as Italian moonshine). But don’t come by on Sundays. Since Fortini’s parents opened the restaurant in 1979, that night is reserved for family.

Abol Ethiopian
8626 Colesville Rd.

“I cook it just like home,” says owner and chef T. Mamo, who has been in the restaurant business since managing her parents’ restaurant in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, at 17. Customers praise her chicken and lamb stew and her kitfo, a traditional dish made of finely chopped tender sirloin that Mamo seasons with herbed butter sauce and serves with homemade cheese.

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
 8633 Colesville Rd.

Check out the silver wave pattern inlaid on the lobby doors. This 1938art deco movie, built by architect John Eberson, was designed to evoke the feeling of boarding a luxurious ocean liner (the height of modernity of the era, mind you). The venue is a favorite spot for screenings of classics and foreign movies and documentaries.

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