The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2018 from The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2018 Gallery
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The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2018
When you ask someone what the best food in Maryland is, everyone’s go-to answer is the blue crab. Encrusted in Old Bay Seasoning, steamed, sautéed, or crafted into a cake, blue crab from Maryland has adopted many forms. However, there are more delicacies than that to enjoy in Maryland — if you know where to look. We’ve rounded up the best of the state’s eats as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Chesapeake Bay has been used for commercial fishing since the mid-1800s. As a result, Maryland has become a hub for fantastic seafood and other local eats. Local farmers offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, adding a fresh spin to restaurant dishes.
As a result, Maryland’s cuisine has a lot to offer in terms of flavor and experience. Want to find a destination with a stellar cold beer and a world-class crab cake to make the trip worth your while? Head to Maryland.
It’s got a crazy dessert scene, too, for those of you with a sweet tooth. The Smith Island Cake is an iconic Maryland dessert featuring up to 14 layers of moist yellow cake layered with smears of chocolate frosting. You’ll find Maryland’s other drool-worthy desserts on this list, compiled as part of our pursuit to finding the best food and drink in America.
Over the course of the past year we’ve honored everything from its best hot dogs and farmers markets to its best dive bar and craft brewery in our comprehensive and wide-ranging lists and rankings, compiled through extensive research and with input from a wide network of site contributors, bloggers, journalists, and chefs. We’ve compiled these into individual slideshows celebrating the best food and drink in every state.
Courtesy of Dangerously Delicious Pies DC
Best Apple Pie: Dangerously Delicious Pies, Baltimore
Each pie at Dangerously Delicious Pies is made by hand, from scratch, with no additives or preservatives, and is full of the best ingredients from the area. Among their best sellers is the apple crumb pie, with a sweet filling topped with oats, brown sugar, and butter — delish! They even ship their pies so you don’t have to miss out just because you aren’t in Baltimore. For an Apple Pie Streusel Cake recipe, click here.
Photo by The Brewer's Art via Yelp
Best Bar: The Brewer’s Art (Baltimore)
Located in an old row house built in the early 1900s, The Brewer’s Art is also famous for its Belgian-style ales. Two bars and a dining room provide three different atmospheres united by superb beers. The upstairs bar is light and classic with high-top tables, an ornate bar area, and a lounge area with a working fireplace; the downstairs bar is dark, loud, and popular with college students and locals; and the casual dining room serves chef Ray Kumm's seasonally changing European continental cuisine. There are six house-brewed beers offered, as well as plenty of options for non-beer drinkers: the bar serves several bourbon cocktails such as the Stein (Buffalo Trace bourbon, citrus black tea syrup, Charm City Meadworks honey, and cardamom bitters).
Best Beer: Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ Gose Gone Wile
Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ Gose Gone Wile is funky with “massive” amounts of Citra and Amarillo hops, but don’t worry. It’s still a crisp and sour gose with noticeable notes of yeast. At just 4.3 percent ABV, it’s insanely drinkable.
Photo by Xida C via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Peter Chang’s China Café, Rockville
The famously peripatetic chef Peter Chang, known for his superior Sichuan cuisine and a propensity to disappear… er… move about in the American Southeast, has been a little easier to find over the past five years since forming a business partnership with Gen Lee, a semi-retired Chinese chef. Indeed, the question has gone from “Where is Peter Chang?” to “Which of his seven Virginia restaurants is the chef cooking at on any given day?” Find more details on Peter Chang’s China Café here.
The quality is good at all of them, and the menus are almost identical. Peter Chang's China Café in Fredericksburg, neither the oldest nor the newest of his establishments, is a good place to start — but any of Chang's locations (also including Rockville, Maryland; and Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Short Pump [Richmond], Arlington, and Virginia Beach, Virginia) will provide a similarly satisfying (and spicy) experience. Try Chang's famous scallion bubble pancakes with curry sauce, and/or the Sichuan-style dry-fried eggplant, spicy dan dan noodles, fried boneless whole fish with pine nuts, pigs’ feet stir-fried with dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns, and most anything on the “Chefs’ Specialties” section of the menu.
Flying Dog Brewery
Best Craft Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick
Flying Dog originally opened as the Flying Dog Brewpub in Aspen. Now housed in a state-of-the-art facility in Maryland, this “good beer” company produces over 100,000 barrels annually. While the beer speaks for itself, Flying Dog’s iconic labels also have a fascinating history. When co-founder George Stranahan was introduced to English artist Ralph Steadman by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (who lived down the road from the brewery in a “fortified compound” in Aspen), he met the man who’d create his bottles’ unique look, beginning with the Road Dog Porter.
Best Cupcake: Flavor Cupcakery & Bake Shop, Bel Air
Sometimes the most beautiful things in life come in the most surprising packages. Though the cupcakes at Flavor are undoubtedly gorgeous, its no-frills, all-flavor attitude has landed it a loyal local base. Its triumphant win on season four of Cupcake Wars didn’t hurt either. The cupcakery surprises guests daily with a unique cupcake of the day and offers tasty flavors patrons can count on, like mint Oreo and Boston cream. Don’t fill up on too many cupcakes, as you’ll probably also want to dig into some Maryland crab. Don’t know how? Here are a few tips.
Best Dive Bar: BAR, Baltimore
When a place is called simply BAR, you know it’s a true dive. That’s certainly the case for BAR in Baltimore. The décor is simple, just vinyl-covered stools and a black and white checkered floor. The beers are dirt cheap, especially the Natty Light, and the bartenders are crabby. Just drink your beer, do your shot, and leave.
Photo by Reynald A. via Yelp
Best Doughnut: The Fractured Prune, Ocean City
The Fractured Prune is undoubtedly the center of Ocean City’s boardwalk food offerings. The glazed doughnuts are available at this small chain’s stores across the country, but this is definitely its most notable outpost, where everybody goes crazy for the mocha or marshmallow glazed pastries.
Courtesy of Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts
Best Farmers Market: Baltimore Farmers’ Market, Baltimore
Every Sunday year round, Baltimore Farmers’ Market, Maryland’s largest producer-only market, sells fruits, vegetables, and an extensive array of meats, including bison, goat, rabbit, lamb, and seafood. They also offer weekly chef cooking demos. Craft artisans and flea merchants sometimes sell alongside the Sunday market.
Best Food Truck: The Jolly Pig, Baltimore
It’s difficult to use the phrase “Maryland food trucks” without mentioning The Jolly Pig. The pink truck has been a mainstay (if you can use this phrase to describe a mobile restaurant) in Maryland for several years now, and is constantly racking up awards, nods, and other accolades. As for the food, there’s an awful lot of pork (mostly of the pulled variety) on the menu. Of course, by “awful” we mean “delightful,” because the options include tacos like the Korean barbecue, Jamaican jerk, Peking, Carolina, and Al Pastor, in addition to sandwiches like the Cuban, the “Figgy Piggy” (with mortadella, or “Figgy No Piggy” without), and the Carolina Sliders. Now that you’ve got the rundown, it’s time to pig out!
Best French Fries: Thrasher’s French Fries, Ocean City
In a city known for its beachside fries, the ones at Thrasher’s stand head and shoulders above the rest. If you’re visiting Ocean City in the height of the season, expect to wait quite a while for your fries, and don’t be concerned when you notice a sign telling you that they don’t serve ketchup (just go with it — the apple cider vinegar they offer instead will work wonders). Order up a bucket of freshly fried potatoes, sprinkle with salt and vinegar, and then chow down while you make your way down the boardwalk.
Photo by A.R. P. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: Wegmans
Wegmans just marked its 100-year anniversary and, though the chain was founded in Rochester, New York, it has earned its spot as Maryland's best grocery store. According to one local, “Make this a stop at all costs. Inexpensive and high quality. Has everything to do with being organized and neat, not overpriced and cliché.” (Note that Balducci's, now headquartered in Maryland, was a close contender but was knocked because of its high prices.)
Best Italian Restaurant: La Tavola, Baltimore
Located in the heart of Baltimore’s Little Italy, the elegant La Tavola showcases the cooking of Venice-born chef Carlo Vignotto. His lineup of traditional Italian classics is buttressed by creative uses of fresh local ingredients, and all of Vignotto’s skills are on display with dishes like a light and crispy fritto misto; traditional veal saltimbocca; house-made ravioli topped with cream sauce and sautéed mushrooms; house-made gnocchi; and a legendary lasagna bolognese.
Veronique L./ Yelp
Best Jewish Deli: Attman’s, Baltimore
The highlight of Baltimore’s “Corned Beef Row” since it first opened its doors in 1915, Attman’s is a counter service landmark that’s a textbook Jewish deli, unchanged for decades and run by the fourth generation. Corned beef and pastrami come out of steaming kettles throughout the day, and the matzo ball soup, homemade pies, brisket, rare roast beef, knishes, and jumbo potato pancakes are spot-on. Regulars also swear by Attman’s jumbo hot dogs and the (decidedly un-kosher) barbecue ribs, and it’s one of the last places in Baltimore where you’ll find coddies, deep-fried balls of cod and potatoes sandwiched between two saltine crackers with a dab of mustard.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Tortilleria Sinaloa, Baltimore
This perpetually packed restaurant is consistently drawing crowds for the homemade tortillas and fresh, plentiful fillings. Don’t miss the tamales, pozole, and special tilapia tacos with Old Bay butter sauce, but the menu’s standout is the al pastor, tender and flavorful with chunks of grilled pineapple mixed in.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Charleston, Baltimore
Open since 1997, restaurateur Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf’s Charleston has been the go-to destination for well-to-do Baltimoreans. The tasting-menu-only restaurant’s prices start at $79 for three courses ($135 with wine pairings), and stretch up to $124 for six ($212 with wine pairings).
Best Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Grilled Cheese & Company
Grilled Cheese & Co. has four Maryland locations, and their signature sandwich is the Crabby Melt, which sandwiches a heaping portion of crab dip and Monterey Jack cheese between two slices of grilled ciabatta. Other favorites include Smashed Meatball (provolone cheese, meatballs, marinara, and Parmesan) and Sweetest Thing (Brie, raspberry mascarpone spread, and chocolate chips).
Yelp/ Eliza B
Best Pasta Dish: Spaghetti Neri al Granchio at La Tavola, Baltimore
Located in the heart of Baltimore’s Little Italy, the elegant La Tavola showcases the cooking of Venice-born chef Carlo Vignotto. His lineup of traditional Italian classics is buttressed by creative uses of fresh local ingredients, and all of Vignotto’s skills are on display with his Spaghetti Neri al Granchio. It starts with housemade squid-ink spaghetti, which is tossed with garlic white wine sauce, cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, and plenty of fresh local blue crab meat. It’s simple, perfect, and an ideal showcase for the famed local crustacean.
Yelp/ Mia-Aurelia A.
Best Pizza: Johnny Rad’s, Baltimore
This casual skater joint pub boasts some stellar local beers, arcade games, and some of the best pizza around. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Johnny Rad’s is a massively popular local hangout, and chef/ owner Rich Pugh is turning out some seriously creative gourmet thin-crust pies. You can’t go wrong with the A-1 Meats (fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, bacon, prosciutto, sopressata, and basil) or the BBQ Chicken (barbecue sauce, Caesar cheese blend, fresh mozzarella, grilled chicken, and red onion); but if you’re looking to go vegetarian, eat what Guy ate and go for the Trainwreck, with tomato sauce, mushrooms, baby spinach, black olives, fresh mozzarella, and sea salt. Make sure you start with the risotto balls.
Photo by Amanda M. via Yelp
Best Sandwich: Pit Beef at Chaps Charcoal Restaurant, Baltimore
Chaps Charcoal Restaurant came from humble beginnings, but has grown to serve some of the best barbecue-style sandwiches on the East Coast. It opened in 1987 in a 12-by-15 shack with no phones or electricity; fast-forward 25 years and Chaps is still in the same location and thriving (with a slightly larger space). The restaurant was on The Citys Paper’s “Baltimore’s Best” roundup from 1991 to 2013, and has been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and the Cooking Channel’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Their best-known sandwich is without a doubt the Pit Beef sandwich, for which they take an entire bottom round and grill it whole before slicing it to order. It’s then grilled again to the perfect temperature and placed on a roll with your choice of toppings.
Best Seafood Shack: Woody’s Crab House, North East
At Woody’s Crab House, you can expect to find local Maryland blue crabs crawling all over the menu, — Chesapeake Bay is the world’s largest exporter of blue crabs, after all. Woody’s is known for its Chesapeake Bay-sourced dishes, and its award-winning crab cakes are made fresh every day from jumbo lump crab meat.
Yelp/ Douqi W.
Best Soup: Crab Soup at Schultz’s Crab House, Essex
Going strong since 1950, Schultz’s is a Baltimore-area institution that’s famous for its hot steamed crabs and its expertly crafted soups. The one to order is Schultz’s Original Crab Soup, a tomato-based concoction that’s loaded with fresh picked crab and vegetables. If you’re looking for Maryland in a bowl, this is it.
Yelp/ Kia W
Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace, Baltimore
This Baltimore landmark is half-deli, half-grocery, and there are lines out the door on a daily basis for a very good reason: Everything served here is astoundingly delicious. Seriously, you can drink the marinara sauce straight if you want to. Going strong for more than 100 years, the closely guarded meatball recipe doesn’t appear to have changed at all since day one. Order spaghetti and meatballs and you’ll receive two perfect meatballs alongside a heap of evenly sauced spaghetti and a slice of fresh Italian bread.
Best Steak for Less Than $20: Tuesday T-Bone Night at The Mt. Washington Tavern, Baltimore
Going strong since 1979, the spacious Mt. Washington Tavern is best known for its jumbo lump crab cakes, which are among the city’s best. But if you drop in on Tuesday night you can take advantage of one of the best steak deals anywhere: a 16-ounce wet-aged T-bone served with a Caesar salad and roasted fingerlings for just $16.
Best Steakhouse: Lewnes’ Steakhouse, Annapolis
In business since 1921 and in its current incarnation since 1989, this refined and classic institution is an Annapolis legend. The focused menu is full of all the steakhouse classics: Start with shrimp cocktail or stellar jumbo lump crab balls (this is Maryland, after all), follow it up with a New York strip or rib-eye with some hash browns and sautéed spinach, and chase it down with a selection from their ample wine list. A couple Greek specialties, like garides scortholemono (Aegean-style shrimp) and a popular Greek salad, are nods to the owners’ heritage.
Photo by Christina S. via Yelp
Best Taco: Al Pastor at Tortilleria Sinaloa, Baltimore
This perpetually packed restaurant (with a second location that opened last year) is consistently drawing crowds for the homemade tortillas and fresh, plentiful fillings. Don’t miss the tamales, pozole, and special tilapia tacos with Old Bay butter sauce, but the menu’s standout is the al pastor, tender and flavorful with chunks of grilled pineapple mixed in. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.