The Best Food and Drink in Maryland from The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2019

The Best Food and Drink in Maryland for 2019

Your guide to everything from crab cake to cupcake
Maryland best food and drink
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The Best Food and Drink in Maryland

The Best Food and Drink in Maryland
istockphoto.com

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 second annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.

The 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 brunch spot to its best bar and craft beer 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, and you can find our Maryland gallery ahead.

Best Airport Restaurant: Obrycki’s (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)

Best Airport Restaurant: Obrycki’s (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)

Jim L./Yelp

Since 1944, Obrycki’s has been known for bringing Baltimore delicious steamed crabs and fresh crab cakes. Its airport locations, both in Baltimore Airport, include a restaurant and bar, as well as Obrycki’s A-Bar, a smaller bar serving alcoholic beverages as well as finger foods such as their crab cakes; crab melts and other sandwiches; salads; and small plates, such as chicken wings, shrimp tacos, and a flatbread with crab meat and shrimp.

The Best Airport Restaurant in Every State

Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal: Hooper’s Crab House (West Ocean City)

Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal: Hooper’s Crab House (West Ocean City)

Robert K./Yelp

This Ocean City destination is only open for the summer season, and while its lobsters, crab cakes, and other local seafood dishes are on their own worthy of praise, it’s the All-You-Can-Eat Crab Feast that really puts it over the top. For just $40, you’ll be treated to a never-ending cavalcade of house spice-seasoned steamed crabs, steamed shrimp, fried chicken (!), corn on the cob, and hush puppies. When it comes to dockside dining, it doesn’t get much better than this.

The Best All-You-Can-Eat Deal in Every State

Best Apple Pie: Dangerously Delicious Pies (Baltimore)

Best Apple Pie: Dangerously Delicious Pies, Baltimore
Courtesy of Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

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. 

Where to Find America’s Best Apple Pies

Best Bar: The Brewer’s Art (Baltimore)

Best Bar: The Brewer’s Art (Baltimore)

Photo by The Brewer's Art via Yelp

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).

The Best Bar in Every State

Best Beach Bar: Seacrets (Ocean City)

Best Beach Bar: Seacrets (Ocean City)

Haley G./Yelp

Seacrets calls itself “Destination Jamaica, U.S.A.,” and you will definitely feel like you’re on spring break at this lively waterfront behemoth. Catch live music at any of the multiple stages, including the Tiki Stage and Pier Stage at ‘Da Bay, as you swill a Pain in de Ass, the house specialty made by layering frozen rum runner and piña colada.

The 25 Best Beach Bars in America

Best Beer: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick)

Best Beer: Gonzo Imperial Porter, Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick)

Flying Dog

Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter was named for a style of journalism famously practiced by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who used first-person narratives and satirical devices in his reporting. His close friend, Ralph Steadman, actually illustrated this imperial porter’s label. Beyond the name, the brew itself features roasted chocolate, coffee, and vanilla malt flavors with a unique burst of floral hops. That’s definitely worth writing about.

The Best Beer in Every State

Best Brunch: Miss Shirley’s Café (Baltimore and Annapolis)

Best Brunch: Miss Shirley’s Café (Baltimore and Annapolis)

Raquel A./Yelp

Miss Shirley’s has two locations in Baltimore and one in Annapolis, and it’s nothing short of legendary around these parts. It’s open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch every day of the week. It’s been run by chef Brigitte Bledsoe since opening in 2005, and the menu is super-creative and absolutely massive. We’ll list off just a few of the specialties, but you should check it out for yourself: loaded Southern-fried deviled eggs; monkey bread; benne seed chicken and waffles; shrimp or salmon and grits; crab cake and fried green tomato eggs Benedict; barbecue mac and cheese skillet; loco moco; a fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy omelette; Maryland omelette with jumbo lump crab, tomato, Swiss, and Old Bay; cinnamon Danish pancakes or waffles; make-your-own salads; pulled pork grilled cheese; seafood sliders; Angus cheeseburger; and some super-creative cocktails like chocolate covered pretzel hot cocoa. This place is an adventure.

The Best Brunch in Every State

Best Burger: The Abbey Burger Bistro (Baltimore)

Best Burger: The Abbey Burger Bistro (Baltimore)

Ruth R./Yelp

This local pub is renowned in Baltimore, and its burgers are phenomenal. You can build your own from a wide selection of patties (including bison, lamb, Black Angus beef from local Roseda Farm, game meats, or crab cake), 15 cheeses, and more than 40 toppings (ranging from crab dip and raspberry jalapeño sauce to peach and herb salad). We suggest you go to town and build your dream burger, but if you’d rather have them do it for you, try either Harry’s Bistro Burger (topped with a fried egg, bacon, and Cheddar on an English muffin), or the Baltimore Burger (topped with crab dip, bacon, and Cheddar). For the full Abbey Burger Bistro experience, stop by for the specials during an Arsenal F.C. game — Abbey is Maryland's official Arsenal America outpost.

The Best Burger in Every State

Best Chinese Restaurant: Peter Chang’s China Café (Rockville)

Best Chinese Restaurant: Peter Chang’s China Café, Rockville

Photo by Xida C via Yelp

The famously peripatetic chef Peter Chang runs seven Virginia restaurants. 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.

The Best Chinese Restaurant in Every State

Best Chocolate Shop: SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier (Gaithersburg)

Best Chocolate Shop: SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier (Gaithersburg)

SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier/Yelp

Rich. Luxurious. Decadent. Those are just a few words one can use to describe SPAGnVOLA. This Maryland shop’s signature bonbons are impeccably decorated and boast a variety of classic and innovative flavors (ginger-plum and rosemary olive oilchocolates sit next to caramels).

The Best Chocolate Shop in Every State

Best Coffee Shop: Artifact Coffee (Baltimore)

Best Coffee Shop: Artifact Coffee (Baltimore)

Justin K./Yelp

 

Artifact Coffee is a coffee and espresso bar that's big on community, regularly holding events such as readings, pop-up shops, and meet-ups. On the menu, you'll find a solid espresso bar, as well as a coffee bar that includes pour-over coffee, Chemex, and Japanese cold brew. Tea lovers will also appreciate the different flavors — both hot and cold — at the tea bar, and the drinks menu also includes wine, cocktails, and whiskey, rum, or amaro for your espresso.

The Best Coffee Shop in Every State

Best Craft Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick)

Best Craft Brewery: Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick
Flying Dog Brewery

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.

The 50 Best Craft Breweries in America

Best Cupcake: Flavor Cupcakery & Bake Shop (Bel Air)

Best Cupcake: Flavor Cupcakery & Bake Shop, Bel Air

Flavor Cupcakery & Bake Shop/Yelp

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. 

The Best Cupcakes in Every State

Best Dive Bar: BAR (Baltimore)

Best Dive Bar: BAR, Baltimore

Tessa S./Yelp

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.

The Best Dive Bar in Every State

Best Doughnuts: The Fractured Prune (Ocean City)

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.

The Best Doughnuts in Every State

Best Farmers Market: Baltimore Farmers’ Market (Baltimore)

Best Farmers Market: Baltimore Farmers’ Market, Baltimore
Courtesy of Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

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.

101 Best Farmers Markets in America

Best Food Truck: The Jolly Pig (Baltimore)

Best Food Truck: The Jolly Pig, Baltimore

Jason L./Yelp

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!

101 Best Food Trucks in America

Best French Fries: Thrasher’s French Fries (Ocean City)

Best French Fries: Thrasher’s French Fries, Ocean City

Diana C./Yelp

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.

America's 50 Best French Fries

Best Fried Chicken: Chicken Basket (Wheaton)

Best Fried Chicken: Chicken Basket (Wheaton)

Left: Bob B./Yelp; Right: Marisa/Yelp

This 40-year-old fried chicken mini-chain serves no-frills fried chicken, ribs, seafood, and sandwiches. It has multiple franchised locations throughout the state, but each location’s fried chicken is perfectly fried to order, golden-brown, and addictively delicious. The location in Wheaton, run by an older married couple who single-handedly run the shop and have attracted a group of loyal regulars, is widely regarded as being the one to visit.

The Best Fried Chicken in Every State

Best Grocery Store: Wegmans

Best Grocery Store: Wegmans

Photo by A.R. P. via Yelp

Wegmans has been going strong for more than 100 years, 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.)

The Best Grocery Store in Every State

Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner: Pete’s Grille (Baltimore)

Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner: Pete’s Grille (Baltimore)

Steph S./Yelp

If you go to this old-school 28-seat breakfast counter, a longtime Baltimore staple, you don’t need to order what Michael Phelps used to order there back in his training days — three fried egg sandwiches, an omelet, a bowl of grits, three slices of French toast, and three chocolate chip pancakes — but no one can fault you if you do; after all, the versions of these diner classics you’ll receive will be basically perfect. Going strong for more than 50 years, Pete’s is a family-run affair (owners Dave and Darlene are there every day), and it’s the kind of place where the head waitress is named Debbie and she’s been there for more than 30 years. It’s open at 7 a.m. during the week and 8 on weekends, and if you go, don’t forget that it’s cash-only.

America’s Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diners

Best Hot Dog: Curtis’ Famous Weiners (Cumberland)

Best Hot Dog: Curtis’ Famous Weiners (Cumberland)

Rami S./Yelp

In business since 1918, Curtis’ is an old-school lunch counter with a handful of swinging stools, some old wooden booths, and plenty of old-time charm. It’s owned by Gino Giatras, whose grandfather George started the business, and he’s whipping up the coney sauce according to the old recipe and serving it atop griddled hot dogs with chopped onions and mustard, classic coney-style. Not only are these hot dogs edible history, they’re also delicious.

The Best Hot Dog in Every State

Best Hotel Restaurant: Rec Pier Chop House (Baltimore)

Best Hotel Restaurant: Rec Pier Chop House (Baltimore)

Rec Pier Chop House/Yelp

The Sagamore Pendry is an old Beaux-Arts pier that’s been converted into a luxury hotel, and it’s home to chef Andrew Carmellini’s Rec Pier Chop House, an “Italian rosticceria” specializing in 28-day dry-aged prime steaks from Virginia and Nebraska. As many ingredients are locally-sourced as possible, seafood is sustainable, and chicken is farm-raised and organic. Antipasti, salumi, cheese, and entrées including Maryland rockfish cacciatore and porcini-dusted veal chop round out the dinner menu. But Carmellini is best-known for his pastas, so don’t leave without trying his linguini with spicy Maryland blue crab, rigatoni with lamb bolognese, or spaghetti and stuffed meatballs.

The Best Hotel Restaurant in Every State

Best Ice Cream Stand: The Charmery (Baltimore)

Briona L./Yelp

A big favorite among students at Johns Hopkins University, The Charmery has tons of flavors, including cool ones like Baklava, Black Sesame, and Mint With Figgy Lime Swirl. Plus they serve color-changing “magic” spoons! Magic!!!

The Best Ice Cream Stand in Every State

Best Indian Restaurant: Toosso (Rockville)

Best Indian Restaurant: Toosso (Rockville)

Jo M./Yelp

In Urdu and Hindi, “toosso” means “stuff” — as in “stuffing your face,” which is exactly what Pakistani restaurant Toosso is perfect for. Toosso looks to encapsulate the laid-back, typically South Asian aesthetic of a dhaba, or roadside café, that one would find on the streets of Lahore or Karachi. With beautiful decor inspired by Pakistani marketplaces and Karachi trucks, it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy a bun kebab (a typically Pakistani snack in which a spicy beef or potato kebab is eaten on a bun with onions and chutney), mirchi fries, or some chicken tikka. Come on the weekends for the classic breakfast of halwa puri (a popular combo of halwa, a flour-based sweet, with puri, an unleavened and deep-fried bread), nihari, or haleem (a stew of lentils and beef cooked with spices and garnished with fried onions, ginger, and lemon).

America’s 25 Best Indian Restaurants

Best Italian Restaurant: La Tavola (Baltimore)

Best Italian Restaurant: La Tavola, Baltimore

La Tavola/Yelp

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.

The Best Italian Restaurant in Every State

Best Jewish Deli: Attman’s (Baltimore)

Best Jewish Deli: Attman’s, Baltimore

Veronique L./ Yelp

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.

America’s 20 Best Jewish Delis

Best Lasagna: Amicci’s (Baltimore)

Best Lasagna: Amicci’s (Baltimore)

Tj L./Yelp

Family-owned and -operated since 1991, Amicci’s is a casual eatery and bar located in Baltimore’s Little Italy. This spot is great if you’re looking for a nice meal near the National Aquarium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Fells Point, Harbor East, and many other downtown attractions. The lasagna is made with lots of ground beef, ricotta cheese, pasta, homemade marinara sauce, and topped with mozzarella before being baked to perfection.

The 25 Best Places to Get Lasagna in America

Most Outrageous Restaurant Dish: Spaghetti Pizza, Pasta Mista (Multiple Locations)

Most Outrageous Restaurant Dish: Spaghetti Pizza, Pasta Mista (Multiple Locations)

Cory C./Yelp

A Neapolitan-owned and operated pizzeria that takes pride in its classic Italian cuisine, Pasta Mista's three locations are particularly known for their creative pizza pies. Try the chicken ranch, pesto Margherita, or the ziti and sausage. The most intense, in our opinion, however is the carb-loaded spaghetti pizza, made with a double crust and stuffed with spaghetti, tomato sauce, and mozzarella, Parmigiano and ricotta cheeses.

The Most Outrageous Restaurant Dish in Every State

Best Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Grilled Cheese & Company (Multiple Locations)

Best Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Grilled Cheese & Company

Grilled Cheese & Company/Yelp

Grilled Cheese & Co. has three 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).

Where to Find the 15 Best Over-the-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in America

Best Pancakes: Happy Jack Pancake House (Ocean City)

Best Pancakes: Happy Jack Pancake House (Ocean City)

Kayla D,/Yelp

This Ocean City landmark, located just a block from the ocean, is a must-visit what at this seaside town. Going strong for more than 50 years, Happy Jack offers a whopping 19 varieties of pancakes, all made with a batter recipe that hasn’t changed in decades. The classics are all spot-on, including blueberry pancakes, pecan pancakes, and golden old-fashioned pancakes; but we suggest you opt for something a little bit wilder, like Peanut Butter Lover’s (filled with Reese’s pieces and peanut butter chips and topped with peanut butter and whipped cream), S’mores (filled with crumbled graham crackers and chocolate chips and topped with marshmallow), and Cinnamon bun (seasoned with cinnamon and topped with icing). The bacon pancakes are also an egg’s best friend.

The Best Pancakes in Every State

Best Pizza: Inferno (Darnestown)

Best Pizza: Inferno (Darnestown)

Kim C./Yelp

Chef Tony Conte honed his chops as executive chef of D.C.’s Oval Room and executive sous chef at New York’s Jean-Georges before decamping to the D.C. suburbs to open Inferno, his vision of an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. The centerpiece of the casual restaurant is a custom-tiled wood-burning oven, and it’s turning out a roster of pies that changes seasonally, based on what’s fresh and local. If you want to hug the baseline, stick with the classic D.O.C. Margherita, simply topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte, olive oil, and basil, but be sure to order at least one other pie: the pizza with ember-roasted potatoes, roasted onions, and smoked mozzarella. There’s almost a pizza-as-naan thing that happens, and it’s really something special. Inferno is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, and stays open only until they run out of dough.

The Best Pizza in Every State

Best Restaurant: Charleston (Baltimore)

Best Restaurant: Charleston (Baltimore)

Rachel L./Yelp

Open since 1997 on Baltimore’s waterfront, Charleston is helmed by restaurateur Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf, a five-time James Beard Award finalist (2006, 2008, and 2014-16).Rated the best restaurant in Baltimore by Zagat for years, Charleston’s cuisine is (as the name might imply) inspired by the Lowcountry of South Carolina, but it also makes good use of local ingredients and serves to showcase Wolf’s French training. There are four tasting menus ranging in price from $79 (three courses) to $124 (six courses), and the menu changes on a daily basis. Sample menu items include whiskey, foie gras, and potato soup with fresh black winter truffle oil; cornmeal-fried oysters with lemon-cayenne mayonnaise; pan-roasted wild rockfish with mushroom fricassee and lemon beurre blanc; pan-roasted New York squab with fresh black winter truffle risotto and port wine reduction; and sweetbread en cocotte with seared foie gras, maitake mushrooms, macaroni, and cognac cream. Foreman’s wine list is 800 bottles strong, and definitely worth exploring.

101 Best Restaurants in America

Best Sandwich: Pit Beef, Chaps Charcoal Restaurant (Baltimore)

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’sBaltimore’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.

The Best Sandwich in Every State

Best Seafood Shack: Woody’s Crab House (North East)

Best Seafood Shack: Woody’s Crab House, North East

Khanh V./Yelp

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.

America’s 40 Best Seafood Shacks

Best Soup: Crab Soup, Schultz’s Crab House (Essex)

Best Soup: Crab Soup at Schultz’s Crab House, Essex

Yelp/ Douqi W.

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.

The Best Soup in Every State

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace (Baltimore)

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace, Baltimore

Yelp/ Kia W

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.

Where to Find America's Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

Best Steak for $20 or Less: The Mt. Washington Tavern (Baltimore)

Best Steak for Less Than $20: Tuesday T-Bone Night at The Mt. Washington Tavern, Baltimore

Jacob B./Yelp

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 around: a 16-ounce wet-aged T-bone served with a Caesar salad and roasted fingerlings for just $16. And if you come back on Wednesday, $16 will snag you one of the finest prime ribs you'll find anywhere.

15 Great Restaurant Steaks for Less Than $20

Best Steakhouse: Lewnes’ Steakhouse (Annapolis)

Best Steakhouse: Lewnes’ Steakhouse, Annapolis

Matt G./Yelp

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.

The Best Steakhouse in Every State

Best Taco: Al Pastor, Tortilleria Sinaloa (Baltimore)

Best Taco: Al Pastor at Tortilleria Sinaloa, Baltimore

Photo by Christina S. via Yelp

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.

The Best Taco in Every State

Absolute Best Thing to Eat: Crab Cake, Faidley Seafood (Baltimore)

Absolute Best Thing to Eat: Crab Cake, Faidley Seafood (Baltimore)

Sophia Y./Yelp

In Maryland, crab cakes are a religion, and Faidley’s, located in Baltimore’s Lexington Market since 1886, is its high altar. The crab cakes here (which were created in 1987 by matriarch Nancy Faidley-Devine) are unlike any you’ll find anywhere else, and locals are unanimous in their praise. To make these crab cakes, whole jumbo lump Maryland blue crab meat (the highest grade available) is tossed with broken saltines, Old Bay, and a secret mayo-based sauce before being formed into fist-sized balls and flash-fried in very hot oil. The end result is a golden-brown crab cake, brimming with huge chunks of fresh crab, and light and creamy on the inside. It’s about as good as it gets. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2019.

The Absolute Best Thing to Eat in Every State

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The Best Things to Eat and Drink in Maryland