The Montgomery County Council is considering saying good-bye to Uncle Julio, the popular restaurant on Bethesda Avenue. The restaurant would be replaced with another high rise under the County’s newest plans.

Good-bye to Uncle Julio

Rendition of new Building
A new look on Bethesda Ave

Federal Realty Investment Trust has proposed construction of 245 residential units as part of a proposal to remake a stretch of Bethesda Row, replacing the Mexican restaurant Uncle Julio’s at Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road.  The current development plan shows an L-shaped residential tower on the block, behind existing retail space. The new building would have retail space on the first floor.The 275,000-square-foot mixed-use development would keep much of the retail space intact, but we would say good-bye to Uncle Julio.

What Federal Realty Proposes

Federal Realty is proposing a 275,000 square foot mixed-use building.  It will be 70 feet high in some parts and 100 feet high at its highest point,   Located in a commercial-residential zone, the building can be up to 90 feet high. However, the developers can ask for the building to exceed that height limit.  The developer can exceed the maximum height restriction if they include more than the minimum requirement for affordable housing, known as moderately priced dwelling units.

Montgomery County requires that at least 15% of the units be considered affordable, based on 65% of the average median income. This project is scheduled to have 17.6%.

Good-bye to Uncle Julio – Community Response

The developer stated at the county council meeting on Monday that it intended to say good-bye to Uncle Julio.  Some people expressed disappointment about the possibility of the departure of Uncle Julio’s.

Located at the corner of Bethesda Ave and Arlington Road, the Bethesda restaurant is very popular.  It is a go-to location for sizzling fajitas and other fresh Mexican favorites. Opened in 1987, it was Uncle Julio’s second location and the first to open in the greater Washington D.C. area. It is known locally as the Rio Grande Café and is a short walk from the metro.  Many Bethesda natives count it as a favorite restaurant because of the good food, chips, and  frozen swirl margaritas.  The covered outdoor patio is a perfect place to bring your dog for dinner.

When Uncle Julio’s first opened in 1987 in a repurposed warehouse style building in the Woodmont Triangle, George Bush Sr. went there for dinner.  The restaurant saved his chair, painted it red, white and blue and then left it in the restaurant for others to enjoy! I remember eating there once and my ten year old son got the honored seat.  He was very excited!  A few years later, Uncle Julio’s moved to its current location at Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road.  Natives may remember that previously that site was home to Mahoney’s Concrete Plant!

Proposed Closing of Uncle Julio's
Bethesda Avenue,
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