Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Burgerbanism No. 10 – The Angry Jerk in Silver Spring, Maryland

After a somewhat less than illustrious gastronomic experience at Underground Pizza, I felt it was time to give another spot in Silver Spring a chance. I was given somewhat cryptic instructions from a friend, which I deciphered as “we are meeting at a restaurant called The Angry Jerk in downtown Silver Spring at 6:30pm.” I am pleased to report that it was well worth the trip. It’s a quick ten-minute walk from the red line– which one might say for most of downtown Silver Spring or Wheaton.

Nat checks out a Caribbean spot in Silver Spring, Maryland and thinks about the past, present, and future of the inner ring suburb and its favorite crowded thoroughfare and the glory of its culinary delights.
This same spot as it appeared in 2007. Note that the pawn shop on the left has been replaced by something extremely high-tech sounding called “I/O Spaces” (It’s actually a coworking space, check ’em out!). ¬©Google, please don’t sue me, Sergey Brin.

The Hood: Downtown Silver Spring centers around the confluence of several major corridors, most notably Georgia Avenue, which goes the whole way from the burbs into DC. Georgia is “the strip,” going a north-south path from Eastern Avenue, which forms the northeastern border of DC proper. Silver Spring has morphed from a mid-sized city with a modest downtown slash federal bureaucratic industrial complex edge city in the 1980s to something resembling a mixed-use, proper, larger city in the modern day.

The population isn’t that much higher than it was in 1970, but the past ten years especially have seen an explosive growth in residential development. The city boasts a population density of over 10,000 people per square mile, which puts it in the same tier as Boston, Washington, and Chicago (not to mention similarly dense suburbs that the average person hasn’t heard of, like Lakewood, Ohio, or, of course, my personal favorite, Hamtramck, Michigan!).

Across the street from Angry Jerk in Silver Spring: Fast forward from 2007 to 2022 and we’ve got a bunch of new construction high rises. Why hasn’t the population changed that much? Well, it could be a combination of population loss and lag between the census and now– the downtown has seen dozens of new buildings built in the past few years alone. There’s also a lot of vacancy in new construction, which is, as they say, a whole ‘nother thing.

What’s more notable than the density is that 37% of the residents were born outside the United States. And you know what that means! White Bread Replacement Theory, am I right, Tucker Carlson?! In other words, you’re able to get a lot of great food.

The Food at Angry Jerk in Silver Spring: Yelp reviews are mixed (except a five-star review from THIS Yelp Elite reviewer!) and if it’s because of the customer service, it isn’t exactly white glove hotel level service– I found it a bit hard to communicate with the person preparing the food because she was on the phone the whole time. I guess it is what it is. This didn’t impede my gastronomic enjoyment, but it is something I wonder about.

I got a bowl with rice and beans, topped with jerk chicken (diced chicken breast), shredded carrots, diced cucumbers, pickled onions, scallions, a pineapple/mango pico de gallo, and a vinegar-based slaw (they also have one of the more creamy ones, if you’re into that, and they both look pretty darn house-made, so I might even try it next time). Note the one lone plantain, but I actually got a whole order in a bag. The pico de gallo was next level. It’s not a complaint, but I thought that the jerk sauce was more akin to a Thai sweet chili sauce than to what I think of as jerk– think Godwin’s jerk sauce from Yum Village, which is liable to kick even my ass. It was still great! Just not quite what I was expecting.

Vegetarian and vegan options abound as well, so don’t worry if you’re about that. Walk it off with a trip to Denizens Brewing (1115 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910) after, or follow it up with ice cream from Moorenko’s (8030 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910).

Looking forward to coming back and ordering some portion of a chicken!

The Angry Jerk is located at 8223 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Follow the Burgerbanism series for more articles on Great Snacks And Their Urban Context! 

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

Leave a Reply