Why College Park’s Dining Scene Is So Interesting

Gong Cha College Park Terrapin Row

Creative Commons photo of Gong Cha by Flickr user @kynaborlasa

College Park’s dining scene will soon get even more diverse.

Six restaurants have signed leases for ground-floor space in the Terrapin Row apartment complex on the southern edge of the University of Maryland Campus adding to the town’s growing mix of interesting fast-casual spots.

They include SeoulSpice, which takes a Chipotle approach to Korean street fare and has locations in NoMa and Friendship Heights; Poki District, which takes a Chipotle approach to the Hawaiian poke trend and has a location in Penn Quarter; Gong Cha, a Taiwanese bubble-tea place with locations in New York and Texas; and Cheers Cut, a casual Taiwanese restaurant with a handful of locations on the East Coast.

Wings Over, which serves chicken wings, will also have a location.

The restaurants reflect the growing number of international students at the University of Maryland today — some 6,000 students from 129 countries in 2016 — as well as the most popular countries of origin. China tops the list, with 2,000 students in 2016, followed by India, with 1,000; then South Korea, Taiwan and Iran, with a few hundred.

That has spurred College Park to have a more interesting dining scene, if one that leans a little heavily in the fast-casual direction. Japanese restaurants like Kiyoko and Hanami; Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants like Northwest ChineseIvy Noodles and Ten Ren; Kung Fu bubble tea; Aroy Thai; Vietnamese restaurants Pho Thom and Pho D’Lite; Indian restaurant Krazi Kebob and South African chicken chain Nando’s.

Most of these places are good for a late-night bite or even a casual date on a Saturday afternoon (several were runners-up in our Best of Route 1 readers poll), but the new restaurants at Terrapin Row will be a welcome addition.

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