A mixed medley of people from varying backgrounds and ethnicities inhabit Burtonsville and collectively form a diverse but welcoming community. Many residents identify with several ethnic groups and range in age from college students and young professionals to seasoned white-collar employees with families. The small census-designated place rests 17 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County. People looking to plant roots in an up-and-coming community with a moderate commute to both the city and nearby employment hubs choose Burtonsville for its quiet pace and work-life balance provided by a blend of standard amenities and ample outdoor space.
Restaurants & Nightlife
A lavish food scene overshadows most other aspects of life in Burtonsville. Residents appreciate the congregation of excellent restaurants along the Old Columbia Pike for both their variety and rich flavors. From exotic Afghan cuisine to traditional American favorites, Burtonsville has it all on the main stretch. Start with Cuba de Ayer, a Caribbean café reputed for its beef empanadas and tangy, from-scratch mojitos. For dinner, order the avocado salmon to savor the flavors of the citrusy ceviche salad with fresh fish. Locals say you can't go wrong with anything on the menu, but ordering a side of crispy plantains proves essential to the experience, especially if they're dunked in the homemade hot sauce. Wash it all down with a Cuban coffee and tres leches cake for a meal that leaves you seeing stars.
Resident foodies make pit stops at Maiwand Kabob for zesty curries and meat-packed kabobs. However, this restaurant remains known for exquisite specials and secret recipe sauces. For more classic meals, head to Ted's Hickory Grill & Bar to find small plates with a Greek twist and mouthwatering pub snacks. Locals praise the diverse menu and particularly adore the cocktails.
Zen Asian Grill & Sushi serves up the finest Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine in town, with every dish cooked to order. Try the Cherry Blossom roll, tasty jumbo lump crab meat with asparagus, steamed shrimp, rice and scallions. If you order the Buddha bowl for two, you can get it with either tofo or shrimp, chicken, and wontons.
The nightlife scene in Burtonsville is restricted to a few select bars and one music venue, The Blue Beetle Bar. This venue hosts live bands on a regular basis and slings strong mixed drinks across the full bar. Social people who get the munchies praise the Tex-Mex menu that pairs perfectly with a cold beer. The social atmosphere and packed schedule make this the prime location for after-hours fun. With game tournaments and drink specials constantly drawing in crowds, the establishment proves to be the tried-and-true scene for Burtonsville residents. While no other place exists exclusively for the purpose of a good drink, most restaurants feature happy hours and cater to locals in need of a weeknight pick-me-up. Chapala Restaurant and Zen Asian Grill and Sushi make up just two of the combination bars where beer mavens indulge in craft brews or first-rate martinis.
History & Culture
Originally called “Burt’s,” Burtonsville developed after Isaac Burton bought his siblings’ share of land to become the majority land owner in 1825. With 17 children of his own, Burton’s family gradually fostered a sense of community by concentrating development along the Old Columbia Pike. By 1850, Burton was the postmaster for the area and operated the business out of his store at the intersection of Route 29 and Maryland Route 198. This intersection, still considered the heart of the community, houses many local establishments conducting business alongside Burton’s former store.
Without any museums in the area, residents who want to escape into history head to Laurel or Sliver Spring. Laurel and West Laurel also give residents access to trendy art galleries and performing arts venues, since Burtonsville has none of its own. However, residents proudly celebrate Burtonsville Day every year with a carnival-like festival in summer.
Residents in Burtonsville need a car for most of their day-to-day transportation. In fact, 88 percent of residents depend on automobiles, including temporary rides, such as taxi services or Uber. Most destinations remain too spread out to reach on foot, and cyclists linger along the Old Columbia Pike and Blackburn Lane since these roads have Burtonsville’s only bike infrastructure. Parking spots come easily, but traffic creates the biggest problem around town. Professionals who commute to D.C. take buses to help avoid the stress of waiting in long lines, though driving takes half the time. Routes Z6, Z9 and Z29 connect to the Silver Spring Station, where locals hop on the S2 to ride into the city. However, access to major roads, such as the Columbia Pike, Interstate 95 and the Intercounty Connector, makes traveling any direction seamless.
Compared to D.C., residents of Burtonsville get decent bang for their buck with an average cost of living about 1 percent lower than the city’s. Residents pay less for all goods and services, such as health care, groceries and utilities. Housing and transportation costs are also slightly more affordable in Burtonsville, with fuel prices sitting only a few cents more than the national average. Additionally, newcomers face average monthly prices of $1,203 for a standard one-bedroom apartment. Overall affordable prices compared to other neighborhoods with similar offerings make Burtonsville quite appealing, especially since residents enjoy a beer for $3.75. Fare for a one-day WMATA bus and rail pass costs $14.50, though residents who commute on a daily basis can get better deals for regular use.
Retail options prove limited in Burtonsville, though residents can pick up all the necessities from chain stores and convenience shops, such as CVS Pharmacy and Giant Food. Most retailers operate on the west side of the Columbia Pike, around the intersection with Spencerville Road. The most popular retail outlets in this area include strip malls and plazas, such as Burtonsville Crossing. Fashion lovers and thrift enthusiasts venture outside Burtonsville to Laurel for a wider selection of local vendors and specialty shops. No boutiques or high-end stores reside in Burtonsville, but locals say the area constantly evolves and adds new amenities for residents.
Grab groceries from the Burtonsville Farmers’ Market on Spencerville Road for a selection of locally grown produce and artisan goods. Frequent shoppers praise the selection and affordability, especially for delectable goods, such as fluffy breads and cold-pressed olive oils. The market makes for a perfect Sunday out, since it frequently hosts live bands, a petting zoo and a medley of small events, including wine tastings.
Locals head to Fairland Recreational Park on Greencastle Road to stretch their legs outdoors. The spacious wooded area consists of paved hiking and bike trails through scenic wooded areas and designated sport fields and courts. Families with children appreciate the playground and swings, while pet owners head along the paths with their furry friends on leashes. Locals appreciate the free parking and no entrance fees, as this park holds the reputation of being the best place in town to take in a bit of fresh air. Residents also make pit stops at Columbia Park, another free, 25-acre neighborhood play center on Old Columbia Pike Road. Athletes and kids prefer this park over cyclists, since the primary facilities are playgrounds, ballfields and picnic areas.