view counter

Bay Weekly’s 2017 Dining Guide

Welcome to Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide, a tour of good eats and good eating. In this special, you’ll visit the many restaurants, delis, groceries and seafood markets whose advertising in our pages brings you Bay Weekly 52 weeks of each year. Most are locally owned, and all are in our neighborhoods.
    Each is unique in its offerings — from fin- and shellfish fresh from the Bay to fine beef to satisfying preparations and presentation whether home style or exotic to regionally famous wines and beers to inventive cocktails.
    Read, explore, enjoy — and as you taste your way to new knowledge, please say I read about you in Bay Weekly.


The Inn at Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove is a classic Chesapeake Bay waterfront restaurant on the West River, welcoming at all seasons. In winter three fireplaces, including the stone-fronted log-burning giant in the bar, warm you. In summer, the renovated Dock Bar is nice and airy with a Caribbean feel. Or you can stay cool and enjoy great water views in either the casual or main dining room.
    The food is better than ever under owners Michael Galway and Anthony Clarke. Chef Steve Hardison adds southern styling on Chesapeake favorites from land, Bay and sea. Bay-oriented specialties always include local crab, oysters and rockfish.
    Meat falls into the comfort range, with fried chicken and gravy, liver and onions, meatloaf and delicious steaks.
    Monthly specials combine fine tastes at bargain prices. Find them from your server or in Bay Weekly.
    The full bar has piratical brews, including the famous Pirates Punch, and a wide selection of rums. Enjoy happy hour in the bar weekdays from 3 to 7pm.
    Local musicians on Friday and Saturday nights make you want to linger. If you do, you can stay in Pirates Inn — the only lodging for miles — or in your own boat, at Pirates Marina.
    Pirates Cove always has room for parties, meetings and community benefits.

The Inn at Pirates Cove
4817 Riverside Dr., Galesville; 410-867-2300; www.piratescovemd.com
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. brunch

Jalapeños

Change your state of mind in Jalapeños, where décor and service lead you to believe you’ve just stepped out of the zocalo into a cool, timeless restaurant. You could be in Spain or in Mexico, and Jalapeños’ dishes will satisfy either taste.
    They are both authentic. Owner Gonzalo Fernandez comes from Spain, and owner Alberto Serrano comes from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the source of many of Mexico’s richest moles. Chef Obed Serrano, also from Oaxaca, studied his art in Spain.

Jalapeños owners Gonzalo Fernandez and Alberto Serrano.

    Create your meal to your taste by ordering from the menu of tapas, the original small plates. Four dozen choices include fish — calamari, mussels, salmon, scallop and shrimp — meat and vegetable.
    Gonzalo’s favorite is Gambas al Ajillo: large shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic, herbs and tomato finished with dry sherry. It is also served as one of two dozen large plates, many accompanied with beans and rice.
    Large plate or small, start with made-to-order guacamole and a margarita or sangria.
    Plus, as you’d expect, wide choices of burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and tacos.
    Bimonthly Flamenco dinners with live dancers, a singer and guitarist are so popular that shows sell out. Watch Jalapeños’ ads for the dates and reserve early.

Jalapeños
85 Forest Plaza, Annapolis; 410-266-7580; http://jalapenosonline.com
Lunch Mon.-Sat., nightly dinner and happy hour in the bar starting at 4pm

The Old Stein Inn/Bier Bär

A destination since 1982, the new Old Stein Inn draws lovers of Gemütlichkeit from far and wide to the Mayo peninsula. You don’t have to be able to pronounce Gemütlichkeit to love its components: good beer and wine, good food in the German style, good fellowship and good times. But if you can’t, Mike Selinger — son of founders Karl and Ursula — will teach you how to say the word that’s at the root of all you enjoy at The Old Stein.
    Renovated in 2011 after a New Year’s Eve fire, the new Old Stein is a contemporary American fusion of a German lodge and bierstube. Inside, you feel cozy camaraderie. Outside, the Biergarten Bier Bär — heated and covered — brings excitement in winter and rustic charm in summer.

Sylvia’s accordion playing is a favorite at The Old Stein.

    Friday and Saturday, musicians add to the sense you’ve come someplace special. Some nights feature locals; others traditional German musicians, instruments and flair.
    Food is, of course, the main attraction. You’ll be eating German cuisine in classic and modern variations, including The Old Stein’s legendary German take on crab soup. A variety of wursts, schnitzels and named specialties including Sauerbraten, Kassler Rippchen or smoked pork chops and Münchner Schweinhaxe, an ample pork shank. Wild game — duck, elk, quail and rabbit — is featured on the winter menu. Many dishes are served as either small or large plates.
    Vegetarians fare surprisingly well in this modern German inn, with salads, potato pancakes and spätzle, braised red cabbage and specialty dishes such as gemüse spätzle with steamed fresh vegetables. Fish is also served.
    Kids love lots at The Old Stein, including German pretzels, fries and pickles, dill or fried.
    Drink is part of The Old Stein experience, with 10 craft beers on tap and a library of bottled beers. German wine deserves the reputation it has earned among oenophiles.
    For weekend live entertainment and the latest news, check The Old Stein Facebook page and website.

The Old Stein Inn/Bier Bär
1143 Central Ave., Edgewater; 410-798-6807; www.oldstein-inn.com
Dinner Wed.-Sun. plus Sun. lunch

Happy Harbor

Happy Harbor is comfort center for locals and sight-seers from far and wide.
    Come for comfort food, fresh seafood, a good strong Crush or Bloody Mary or a cold beer and a front-row waterfront view.
    Come to relax. At Happy Harbor, we don’t have to dress up. Come to hang out with the gang. To eat the best burger around, especially at Monday’s $5 special price. Cme to watch sports on 14 TVs. April thru September, come for live music on the dock every Friday Saturday and Sunday and local DJ’s on the second and last Saturday of each month.
    Come to Happy Harbor to get happy. And in summer, you can do it all outdoors, with your dogs.

Happy Harbor
533 Deale Rd., Deale; 410-867-0949; ­www.happyharbordeale.com
Winter: lunch and dinner daily, plus breakfast Sat. & Sun.

Umai Sushi House

Good sushi is where you find it.    
    Give yourself the surprise of finding very good sushi in a four-store shopping corner in Deale. If it were summer, you’d get a hint of good to come in the container garden that makes the parking lot a vibrant oasis. In the dead of winter, you enter on hope. Or perhaps you long for a steaming bowl of hot chicken soup.

    Step inside. Behind the sushi bar, the chef slices thin slivers of very fresh fish. Owner Chang Park, your likely waitress, greets you like a long-lost relation. Her warmth makes the 34-seat café hospitable. Much of Umai’s business is carry out, but with a pot of tea, a carafe of saki, a beer or a glass of wine, you may find yourself lingering at table.
    For good reason. Umai’s authentic Korean dishes you won’t find the likes of for many miles. Less rare nowadays, the Japanese side of Umai’s menu compares favorably with trendier competitors in Annapolis and D.C.

Umai Sushi House
657 Deale Rd, Deale; 410-867-4433; Facebook
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.

Thursday’s Bar & Grill

Thursday’s Bar & Grill — a sports bar with 12 TVs, the NFL Ticket and a great happy hour — calls to you as you work your way home, when you want to relax and when there’s a big game.
    That’s not its only call.
    Thursday’s Bar & Grill calls you for its $10 lunch menu weekdays 11am to 3pm. “That’s a deal,” says general manager Mitch LeFevre.
    Evenings and weekends call the family for good casual eating in the dining room.
    Much of the menu is homemade. Burgers are one-half pound fresh, never frozen, beef. Oysters and crabs — including steamed — are always local when in season. Fresh oysters are now in season. Thursday’s best-selling wings are fried in-house and repeatedly voted Best of the Bay by Bay Weekly readers.

Thursday’s Bar & Grill
1751 Horace Ward Rd., Owings; 410-286-8695
Lunch and dinner daily plus Sun. breakfast

Thursday’s Steak & Crab House

Atop an authentic decommissioned steamboat landing, Thursday’s Steak & Crab House offers casual destination dining. Because it’s at the end of the road in Galesville, you won’t find it unless you’re looking for it — or lucky. In summer, it’s a favorite destination by boat as well as by car, cycle or foot. Whatever the season you can’t beat the views — because you’re on top of the water.
    With that location, you’d guess correctly that Chesapeake delicacies top Thursday’s menu. Here fresh, local ingredients mean local oysters in winter and fresh rockfish whenever available. In season, crabs are dropped off at the dock daily. Order them steamed, soft-shell or in gluten-free crabcakes made with only Chesapeake Bay crabmeat and no filler or bread. Ask at other restaurants where your crab comes from, and you’ll see what a rarity this is.
    This time of year, crab lovers can switch to snow crab legs. Steamed shrimp with a house blend of seasonings are always popular, as is Thursday’s Orange Crush.
    Come summer, remember Thursday’s tiki bar, 25 boat slips and two dinghy docks. You’ll love it outside, and so will your dog. Thursday’s is so dog friendly that there’s even a doggie menu.
    About the name?
    “We’re where the weekend starts on Thursdays,” says general manager Monique Morgan.

Thursday’s Steak & Crab House
4851 Riverside Dr. Galesville; 410-867-7200; Facebook
Lunch and dinner daily

En-Tice-Ment Farm-Raised Meats

The Tice family are fourth- and fifth-generation farmers specializing in naturally raised local livestock.

En-tice-ment is central Chesapeake Country’s No. 1 source for farm-raised meat. That’s beef, pork and lamb plus chicken and eggs, all raised by the Tice family of fourth- and fifth-generation farmers.
    All animals are well cared for on the Tice’s Harwood farm. For their well-being and yours, they are grass-fed in a free-range environment with no hormones or steroids. The meat is butchered into convenient cuts, sealed and immediately frozen at family-run USDA-inspected processing facilities. 
    Enjoy hearty stews and roasts during winter. Check out these and all the cuts on En-tice-ment’s website.
    Unsure how to cook these delicious cuts? Ask the Tice family, who has long experience and recipes to tantalize your taste buds.
    “Customer demand for naturally raised local products started our business,” says Deana Tice. “Now we’re opening a farm store with longer hours for your convenience.”
    You’ll find every cut you want, plus some you may not have tried, on sale in Anne Arundel County. In winter, buy at the Sunday Anne Arundel County Farmers Market (10am-1pm) and at the Tice farm (Wed. 4-6pm and Sat. 8-10am).
    Find all En-tice-ment products online and at Facebook.

En-Tice-Ment Farm-Raised Meats
231 Polling House Rd., Harwood; 443-336-8492; www.enticementfarmraisedmeats.com;
facebook.com/Enticement-Farm-Raised-Meats
www.facebook.com/Enticement-Farm-Raised-Meats-433238590079246/?ref=page_internal

Rogue Pierogies

Pierogies are Eastern Europe’s version of the stuffed dumpling, a food so comforting that many nations have their distinctive varieties, from kreplach to ravioli to samosa to wontons.
    The small pockets of dough known as pierogies are traditionally stuffed with potatoes, cheese and onions. Though rooted in that tradition, Rogue Pierogies owner Krista Sermon, of Annapolis, is an innovator. Her current list stretches to 15 varieties, from ethnic variations like Kaczenskys, Gandolfinis and two curries to American favorites like reubens and Buffalo chicken and blue cheese.
    Each little dumpling is handmade from local, fresh ingredients from Maryland farmers and without preservatives or artificial flavors.
    Fully cooked and frozen, they are quick and easy to prepare.
    Find Rogue Pierogies at Anne Arundel County Winter Farmers Market (Sundays 10am-1pm), the Kent Island Farmers Market (Thursdays 3:30-6:30pm), Graul’s Markets in Annapolis and Cape St. Claire and Green Valley Marketplace in Arnold. You can also order online. Best of all, buy where they’re made: 1825 George Ave., Suite 1, Annapolis.

Rogue Pierogies
1825 George Ave., Suite 1, Annapolis;
410-858-7088; www.roguepierogies.com;
www.facebook.com/Rogue-Pierogies-LLC-276918959077834

Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano

“Whatever your special diet — from gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or lower in calories — we can accommodate you,” says Luna Blu owner Erin Dryden.

Walk or drive on Inner West Street in Annapolis and you can’t miss Luna Blu, with its bright Mediterranean blue and sunshine yellow facade.
    “My building has to stick out,” owner Erin Dryden explains. “It’s the smallest place on the street; if you wink you will miss it, and in summer a tree completely blocks our sign.”
    Pulled in by the good vibrations of bright color, you discover a neighborhood place to retreat when you don’t feel like cooking. Yet it’s also a place to celebrate special occasions … or to gather a like-minded group for a wine-pairing dinner to benefit a favorite charity.
    Whatever your reason for coming, whoever you are, Luna Blu welcomes you.
    “I make all dishes to order, so they are fresh and customizable. Whatever your special diet — from gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan or lower in calories — we can accommodate you,” Dryden says.
    Also made in-house are all sauces and desserts plus fresh-baked bread.
    The range of authentic southern Italian dishes is enormous. You have to try and try again to discover your favorites.
    Luna Blu makes that easy with regular specials. Nightly, choose your antipasti, entre and dessert, served with house salad for $38.
    Monday and Wednesday, bottles of wine are half-price.
    Thursday evenings, try a special pairing of personal pizzas with half bottles of wine.
    Appetizers — the menu runs to a dozen — are half-price Sunday to Wednesday
5-6pm and Thursdays 5-9:30pm.

Luna Blu Ristorante Italiano
36 West St., Annapolis; 410-267-9950; ­lunabluofannapolis.com
Lunch and dinner daily

Sailor Oyster Bar

Sailor Oyster Bar is the exception you’ve been waiting for Annapolis to invent. Little wonder it comes from Scott Herbst, part of the brain trust that brings our steak-and-crabcake capital city Tsunami, the Asian fusion that made its debut almost 20 years ago, and Lemongrass, where Annapolis got to know Thai.
    Like Tsunami and Lemongrass, Sailor Oyster Bar shows the kind of new use imagination can make of the city’s early 20th century row houses. And like them, it’s unique. A place you couldn’t imagine until you saw it.
    What’s so different?
    For one thing, the kitchen. Herbst has neglected to install the conventional tools of commercial kitchens. No stove. No deep fryer. No steam table. There is a fridge.
    Refrigeration keeps Sailor’s all-fresh food cold.
    No problem with Sailor’s namesake. Oysters on the half shell crave only ice, and perhaps a touch of sauce, to be delicious. In their naked state, you can learn to savor the distinctive tastes of species and region. Sourced wild and domestic from local waters, both coasts and internationally, six kinds a day will please and educate you.
    Shells are recycled through the Oyster Recovery Partnership and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
    Also served raw are ceviche and salad, olives and pickles and a pair of Italian sandwiches, including Boloney (aka mortadella).
    Canned – but not in the way you’ve likely ever tried before — are calamari, mackerel, octopus and sardines. Jose Gourmet of Portugal, the source of these spicy canned fish, turns them into timeless classics.
    For heat, Sailor Oyster Bar has only a toaster and blowtorch.
    From the toaster come, well, toasts in seemly combinations: fig and prosciutto, avocado and pesto, octopus and sesame goat cheese, fungi and whipped fromage.
    Fresh cuts of fish — mackerel, ahi tuna, salmon and the exotic escolar — meet the blowtorch before they meet you.
    “If you, too, are tired of the same old thing, try Sailor for a slightly more sophisticated, adventurous experience,” Herbst says.
    As exotic as the food is the bar, where bartender Sean Clancy has come into his own with the newest cocktail list.
    “Typical rum drinks are a sugar bomb,” Herbst explains. “We take rum — and other spirits — and make balanced, fresh dynamic flavors.”
    In the Broken Hearted, Ballast Point barrel-aged rum combines with yellow Chartreuse, St. Germaine, Averna and lemon peel.
    The seasonal Dem Apples combines house-spiced hot apple cider with Rittenhouse rye, Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Averna and star anise.
    Appropriate beers and wines are also served.

Sailor Oyster Bar
196 West St., Annapolis; 410-571-5449; www.sailoroysterbar.com
4-11pm Tues.-Sun.

Anthony’s Bar and Grill

Anthony’s owners Ronnie and Charlene Ward.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Anthony’s has become a favorite gathering spot for good food, drinks and good times in and around Dunkirk.
    “We make Anthony’s feel like a second home,” says co-owner Charlene Ward.
    Food offers the comfort you remember — or wish you got — from home: slow-cooked, hand-pulled BossMan’s pork BBQ, mouth-watering pork chops, and classic sandwiches including reubens and Cubans. Many dishes, including really good coleslaw, are made in-house from special recipes. Daily specials give you tasty bargains to look forward to.
    In drink as well as food, Anthony’s wants to make you welcome. The bar is an easy place to relax, try a new craft beer, a glass of wine or something harder. There are daily drink specials as you mingle with the crowd, meet your neighbors and make some new friends.
    You’ll find, or make, friends in staff as well as customers. Everybody at Anthony’s — from bartenders and waiters to cooks and support staff — works to make you feel comfortable, welcome and eager to return.
    You go to Anthony’s for fun as well as comfort. Play trivia, then join in Best of the Bay-winning karaoke and ladies night on Thursdays and World Tavern poker games Sunday afternoons. Take your fun further by joining leagues to compete in darts and corn hole.
    Friday evenings bring music to jump-start the weekend. On Stage Saturdays invite you to make the music.
    Community events and fundraisers also find a home at Anthony’s.
    “This is our community, not just where we’ve chosen to own a business,” says Ward. “So Ronnie and I are proud to give back our support.”

Anthony’s Bar and Grill
10371 Southern Maryland Blvd., Dunkirk;
301-327-5219; www.anthonysdunkirk.com
Open lunch Thurs.-Sun., afternnoon, Mon.-Wed. to the wee hours

Sam’s on the Waterfront

“Everything we serve is made fresh in our kitchen,” says Sam’s owner Andrew Parks.

Sam’s on the Waterfront is the kind of place worth the drive, though the residents of Chesapeake Harbour, the gated marina community where Sam’s makes its home, don’t need to.
    It’s a scenic destination: cottage-lighthouse-styled with waterfront views wrapping three-quarters around for great views all seasons. You’ll also find cozy corners.
    Food is new American. Expect traditional and regional favorites made with local ingredients and inventively reimagined in dishes that look as good as they taste.
    “Everything we serve is made fresh in our kitchen,” says owner Andrew Parks, who opened Sam’s — named for his grandfather and daughter — to “bring diversity and creativity to the Annapolis food scene.”
    He recommends a couple of light dishes: lobster mac and cheese or Sam’s seafood pasta with jumbo shrimp, blue bay mussels and sea scallops served over linguini with tomato, spinach and Old Bay in Sam’s house cream sauce.
    Wine and liquor are as carefully chosen as food.
    Nightly specials give you happy hour 3-7pm Tuesdays through Fridays. Local musicians entertain most Friday and Saturday nights.
    Find daily news, including specials, events like Full Moon parties and entertainment, on the active SamsWaterfront Facebook page.

Sam’s on the Waterfront
2020 Chesapake Harbour Dr. E., Annapolis;
410-263-3600; www.samsonthewaterfront.com
Dinner Tues.-Sun., lunch Thur.-Sat., plus Sun. brunch

Cakes and Confections Bakery Café

Cakes and Confections owners Michael and Julianne Brown.

There are many reasons for visiting Cakes and Confections, an intimate café and bakery in Severna Park.
    People go to pick up a pie or a cake for a dinner party. Ranked highest on the Cakes and Confections’ popularity chart are key lime and fruit medley pies, Smith Island cake, chocolate coconut macaroons and gluten-free chocolate decadence cake. With a display case full of baked goods, you have many choices.
    Cakes and Confections’ biggest claim to fame are beautiful custom-designed cakes for every occasion created with as little as 48 hours’ notice.
    Hungry people stop into Cakes and Confections for breakfast or lunch of sandwiches, omelets, grilled paninis, homemade quiche and delicious soup. Favorites for breakfast include breakfast sandwiches on fresh-baked croissants or giant buttery biscuits.
    Others stop in for a mid-afternoon coffee and treat. 
    Owner and pastry chef Michael Brown, a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine, promises that you will feel right at home when you walk in and smell the baking.

Cakes and Confections Bakery Café
342 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park; 410-757-7100; www.cakesandconfections.com
Mon.-Fri. 7am-6pm, Sat. 8am-4pm

Chesapeake Grille & Deli

Chesapeake Grille & Deli shift supervisor Michelle Marinaccio.

In all three of its locations, Chesapeake Grille & Deli is the kind of place you can’t do without. It sustains the modern lifestyle. You can rush in off the road, choose a good meal and carry it out or eat it in. It’s all cooked to order, but service is fast and friendly. So how much time you want to spend is up to you.
    Food is fast, fresh and satisfying.
    You get what you expect: burgers, barbecue, crab cakes and flatbreads, soups, salads and sandwiches, gyros, reubens and Rachels, melts, wraps, and hoagies.
    You can get what you hope for: meatloaf, chicken potpie (with the addition of a touch of the Bay) and real Smith Island cake for dessert.
    You can get way more than you expect: grilled fresh fish, beer-battered rockfish, seafood skewers with grilled veggies and new potatoes, crabby mac and cheese.
    “Everything we serve has been carefully created, thoughtfully prepared and given the attention and fresh ingredients it deserves,” says manager Chad Wagaman.
    Chesapeake Grille, Deli and Market, across from Herrington Harbour South in Rose Haven, adds the convenience of breakfast and a market where you can pick up quick supplies, including wine, beer and liquor.

Chesapeake Grille & Deli, Dunkirk
10092 Southern Maryland Blvd.; 410-286-5939
Lunch and dinner daily
Chesapeake Grille & Deli, Bowie
6786 Race Track Rd.; 301-262-4441
Lunch and dinner daily
Chesapeake Grille, Deli & Market, North Beach
7150 Lake Shore Dr.; 410-257-7757
Breakfast, lunch and dinner all day everyday
http://eatchesapeake.com

Brick Wood Fired Bistro

“From steaks to fish and oysters to wings, almost all of our dishes have touched the fire one way or another,” says Brick Wood Fired Bistro owner Jason Nagers.

Brick comes first in Brick Wood Fired Bistro for a reason. Brick is the word you see mounted on the stone turret of the sprawling mostly brick building when you turn off Rt. 2/4 onto Sherry Lane. Inside, brick — works with open views and big, airy windows that unify the dining rooms and huge bar of what is surely Calvert County’s largest restaurant.
    You can throw a big party here.
    Or — though you may not believe this until you try it yourself — you can settle into a booth and be your own island in the midst of the crowd. Because, at least in the evening hours, Brick Wood Fired Bistro is always crowded though, because of its size, there’s seldom a wait.
    Clearly, the trio behind Brick Wood-Fired Bistro has succeeded in “bringing a fun and modern atmosphere to our hometown neighborhood.”
    The second goal — “retaining that small-town local feel” — works, too. You’re typically greeted by one of the partners, Jason Nagers or mother and stepfather Ronda and Tim Tracy. Staff are local, friendly and helpful, going above and beyond to provide each guest with a memorable experience again and again.
    Food continues the local theme. “We source the freshest ingredients possible and let them show in our dishes,” Nagers says. Many, he adds, “highlight the flavor of the Chesapeake Bay region in new and exciting ways.” There’s even a rooftop herb garden.
    The bar features local breweries on tap, the area’s premier wine and bourbon lists, as well as a scratch-made cocktail list crafted seasonally by beverage manager Lewis Foster.
    So how do you get from brick to wood fired? Imported Italian wood-fired ovens supply that ingredient.
    “We want people to know that we’re much more than pizza,” Nagers says. “From steaks to fish and oysters to wings, almost all of our dishes have touched the fire one way or another.”
    Nagers recommends you try wood-fired appetizers such as wings, meatballs and oysters.
    Live music and half-price wine on tap makes Wednesdays special, and Thursdays are all new with a craft burger and brew special for $15. One burger choice is the Weekly Winner, with the kitchen team battling for bragging rights and that week’s featured burger.

Brick Wood Fired Bistro
60 Sherry, Ln., Prince Frederick; 443-486-5799; www.brickwfb.com
Lunch Wed.-Sat., dinner and carryout daily,
plus Sun. brunch

Plaza Mexico

Plaza Mexico does double duty.    
    In North Beach, it’s a favorite neighborhood hangout. For northern Calvert and southern Anne Arundel counties, it’s the best — and only — Mexican restaurant for 12 miles to the south and 24 to the north.

“We try to bring some flair from Mexico, so our customers enjoy it.” says Plaza Mexico manager Eddie Murillo.

    It’s got the looks for both jobs. Its central location, big windows on a walkable town, generous dining room and long, popular bar with side tables and televisions draw in locals and the Bayfront town’s many visitors. Touches of Mexico, as well as the menu, earn it its name.
    “The original Plaza Mexico is a famous shopping area in the heart of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico,” says owner Benny Ayala. “We try to bring some flair from Mexico, so our customers enjoy it.”
    As well as the flair, Ayala brings his hometown food to Chesapeake Country. Beyond the traditional tacos, burritos and quesadillas, fajitas and chori-pollo translate seamlessly to American tastes. Guacamole made at the table should start your meal because it’s so good. Mexican beer and margaritas make tasty additions.
    As the weather warms up, you can enjoy it all outdoors on Plaza Mexico’s large patio.

Plaza Mexico
9200 Bay Ave., North Beach; 443-964-6381; www.PlazaMexicoMaryland.com
Lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat.

Rocco’s Pizzeria

Rocco’s Pizzeria is the pizza of choice in Annapolis since 1974. Awards hang in double layers on the wall for display. The Gargano family has owned and operated Rocco’s from the beginning.
    Walk in and you will be overcome by the aroma of a New York style pizzeria. Customers keep coming back for the fresh-out-of-the oven experience. This local restaurant prides itself on being the place where everyone knows your name and your pizza! What else would you expect after 43 years?
    It goes without saying that you should order pizza: thin-crusted New York style or the thick-crusted Sicilian. Roccos Pizzeria is all fresh. The dough and sauces are made daily using the family’s own recipes as well as shredding the whole-milk mozzarella. fresh! fresh! fresh!

Rocco’s Pizzeria
954 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis; 410-236-9444; roccospizzashop.com
Lunch, dinner, carryout and delivery daily

Chick & Ruth’s Delly

Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main Street in the heart of the city is that iconic spot locals tell visitors and newcomers you’ve got to visit if you want to claim you’ve seen Annapolis. In its narrow two-story precincts, locals, politicians, midshipmen and their families rub shoulders in booths and tables and at the counter. Grilling is done right there in plain sight, while breads, pies and donuts the way they used to taste are baked in an basement kitchen.

Ted and Beth Levitt keep up the tradition started more than 50 years ago by his ­parents at Chick & Ruth’s Delly. Part of that tradition includes reciting the Pledge of Alleigance each morning and the monster Six-Pound Colossal milkshake.

    Started by Chick and Ruth Levitt in 1965, Chick & Ruth’s Delly is, like its spelling, unique to Annapolis. Son Ted and his wife Beth continue to run a family business. “We make all our customers feel like family,” Ted says.
    The friendly, bustling delly is a Maryland institution built on the foundation of a traditional Jewish deli. Corned beef is made in-house, and so are jumbo lump crab cakes, claimed Maryland’s Best.
    Sandwiches are the specialty, served on fresh homemade rye, seven-grain bread and kaiser rolls, but you can get just about everything you want: breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
    Chick & Ruth’s has a legendary sweet tooth. Choose from over 30 varieties of pie, both fruit and cream, made to order. Also made fresh are donuts, apple fritters (to die for), whoopie pies and black-and-white cookies.
    Old-fashioned milkshakes and malts go from big to bigger: Regular 20 ounce, Jumbo liter or the Famous Six-Pound Colossal Milk Shake.
    Chick & Ruth’s satisfies harder beverage tastes, too, with the best prices in town on beer and wine, always just $2.99, and Mimosas at $3.99.

Chick & Ruth’s Delly
165 Main St., Annapolis;
410-269-6737; www.ChickandRuths.com
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina

When you’re wishing for a quick meal without sacrificing quality, flavors and your diet — Salsarita’s satisfies with fresh Mexican cuisine made to order.
    “I have always had a passion for good food and beverages made with quality ingredients,” says owner Ronda Tracy.
    Prepared in-house daily are sauces, salsa, grilled meats, guacamole and chips that are way too good. You choose what you want — burritos, bowls, nachos, quesadillas, salads or tacos — and how you want it. Proteins include chicken, ground beef, pork, shrimp, steak and veggies. Then finish off your customized meal with a wide selection of fresh salsas, guacamole and condiments — all included in the price.
    You can carry out, but Salsarita’s newly renovated bright location is so attractive that you may want to dine in and enjoy a margarita with your queso-smothered burrito. That’s right, Salsarita’s serves beer, wine and the area’s best margaritas.
    With easy parking, Salsarita’s is conveniently located in the heart of Prince Frederick.
    Have a special occasion coming up and in need of affordable, quality catering? Salsarita’s has you covered as well, covering Calvert and southern Ann Arundel counties with fresh food delivered right to your party.

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina
906 Costley Way, Prince Frederick;
410-535-5580; www.salsaritas.com
Open daily for lunch and dinner

The Melting Pot

Every visit to The Melting Pot feels like a party. You know you’re going to eat well, but what will you choose? Cheese fondue with crusty bread and apples for dipping? Steak, shrimp or vegetables to dip in oil, in keeping with the Swiss tradition, or broth if you want to go lighter? Seasonal specials? Chocolate fondue in delicious variations for dessert — if you save room? Wine and craft beer to make a special evening mellower?
    Anticipation increases the thrill. Cooking at table doubles the fun. Sharing the experience unites you with friends, sweethearts or family.
    So it’s a good thing that The Melting Pot is at such an accessible intersection, as it’s the only place for miles around you can have the fun of fondue.
    Event nights like Girls Night Out on the first and third Monday of every month add to the enjoyment.
    The Melting Pot Annapolis owners Kevin and Julie Mason are devoted to keeping standards high so you’ll enjoy the same good experience that brought them into the franchise as owners 14 years ago.
    So go treat yourself.

The Melting Pot
2348 Solomons Island Rd., Annapolis;
410-266-8004; meltingpot.com/Annapolis
Dinner nightly 5-10pm
Neptune’s Seafood Pub

Neptune’s has long been North Beach’s favorite hangout. Its tiny original barroom edged with tables — full of coming and going, talk and the noise of a couple big-screen TVs — is a dynamic center of energy. The later addition of a dining room takes off the edge.

Neptune’s server Danielle Amster.

    Burgers and Prince Edward Island mussels (prepared six ways and bargain-priced every Monday) are the origin of Neptune’s food fame.
    But under Chef Bill Sherman the menu goes a long way from there. “I try to keep ingredients seasonal. Most food is cut by hand and prepared in-house.” Bites of scallops and tuna seasoned are way upscale, and delicious. Catfish bites let you take a bite out of an invasive — but tasty — species, the blue catfish. Entrees live up to the Seafood Pub claim, with all the usual you expect plus a few not-so-usuals, including shrimp and chorizo tacos and seafood biscuits — sauteed shrimp, scallops and crab under bacon-pepper jack cream sauce with two poached eggs.
    Specials raise the ante way up. For appetizers this month, local oysters Rockefeller. For soup, Southwestern-style clam chowder with New Mexican chiles, spinach and kale. For full plates, mahi mahi grilled, broiled or blackened with two sides — or grilled with Guajillo chile, cumin and lime and served over coconut curry cauliflower and red lentils.
    There’s plenty of meat, including filet mignon meat loaf‏ with smoked gouda mashers and pulled pork and smoked gouda fried tacos. Pizza, sandwiches, soups — including corn and crab chowder — and salads make for more choices than you’d think could be managed in so small a kitchen. But Neptune’s has been managing well for more than three decades.
    Pub action is lively, with about 20 popular beers, a half dozen wines and a full bar featuring a handful of seasonal drinks each month. Nightly happy hour takes 25 percent off the price of all drinks in the bar.
    As for Bill Sherman, cooking has always been his passion. “I cooked my first omelet when I was four and grew up watching my grandmother in the kitchen.”

Neptune’s Seafood Pub
8800 Chesapeake Ave., North Beach;
410-257-7899; www.neptunesseafoodpub.com
Lunch and dinner daily, plus Sun. brunch

Thai Paradise

Health, flavor and speed are the unbeatable combination you get from Thai Paradise. Open since mid-December, the Severna Park carryout may be the authentic Thai source you’ve been seeking.
    “Variety and complexity best describe the dishes at Thai Paradise. We emphasize lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge,” says Nathan Thiesse, the lucky husband of owner and chef Tanida Thiesse.

Tanida Thiesse prepares the traditional dishes she ate growing up in Surin Province, Thailand, at Thai Paradise.

    Paradise Noodles, for example, combine green beans, bell peppers and chili paste with seafood.
    Som Tom is a papaya salad combining green papaya with tomato, Thai chili, garlic peanuts and dressing; it is spicy.
    Not all recipes are spicy. While most curry items are spicy, Massaman Curry is like a delicate stew combining potatoes, peanuts and meat or seafood.
    Tanida Thiesse, who hails from Surin Province, brings to Severna Park the traditional dishes she ate growing up. She uses only dry ingredients imported from Thailand plus the freshest meat, seafood and vegetables.
    Order online at www.thaiparadisemd.com or call 410-544-7622 for speedy carryout or delivery.

Thai Paradise
57 W. McKinsey Rd., Severna Park;
410-544-7622; www.thaiparadisemd.com
Daily lunch (except Sun) and dinner; closed Feb. 17-20 closed Feb. 17-20

Chesapeake Seafood

Chesapeake Seafood is central Anne Arundel County’s place to go for seafood — though its freshness draws seafood lovers from much farther.
    Walk in and you’ll see the glass display case filled with seafood, from blue crabs all year long to sushi-grade fish. Some of what you’ll see is so local that Chesapeake Seafood watermen caught it and brought it. Choose your favorite and take it home to cook for dinner.
    You don’t have to wait that long to enjoy Chesapeake Seafood. Much of what’s there can be cooked to order for take-out. Blue crabs are steamed to order whenever you want them. Everything on the extensive carryout menu — including key lime pie — is fresh, homemade and delicious.

Chesapeake Seafood
135 Mayo Rd., Edgewater; 410-957-8956; ­www.chesapeakeseafoodinc.com
Carryout 11am-8pm daily

Garry’s Grill

Is Garry’s Grill a shopping center restaurant? That’s what its location and big plate-glass windows suggest.
    Inside, the display counter on one side and long row of booths on the other say diner.
    “An upscale diner,” says Eddie Conway, who worked his way up from dishwasher to owner of the 26-year-old restaurant. “With a cosmopolitan menu and full bar,” he adds.
    Take a look at that menu, and you’ll see what he means.
    At a diner, you expect breakfast. Garry’s serves six styles of eggs Benedict, plus six omelets and nine healthy choices plus favorites like waffles or country-fried steak. Plus a couple of hearty skillets, rising from a base of hash-browned potatoes. Plus shrimp and grits. Plus tacos, burritos and huevos rancheros.
    “We’ve made a resolution never to give up breakfast,” Conway says.
    For lunch and dinner, you can play it diner style with soup and sandwiches, burgers, wraps, paninis and salads. Or you can go cosmopolitan with herb-crusted salmon, Maryland rockfish and Marsala.
    Staff have the friendly vibe you expect in a diner. Good thing as with so much on the menu, newcomers may have to trust their advice.
    “I really focus on customer service with my staff,” says Conway. “My feeling is if you take great care of your staff, they will then take great care of your customers.”
    Which is another reason why Garry’s customers are in no hurry to leave and are glad to come back.

Garry’s Grill
553A Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park; 410-544-0499; garrysgrill.com
Breakfast, lunch & dinner daily from 7am,
plus catering

Mamma Lucia

Mamma Lucia is Little Italy for Calvert County. Sal and Maria Lubrano pioneered real Italian cuisine in Calvert, beginning in 1997 in Dunkirk. Ever since, when southern Italian cooking is what you want to eat, Mamma Lucia is where you’ve gone.
    Everybody knows it. That’s why a third Mamma Lucia is going up in Chesapeake Beach, with an April opening planned.
    That’s why Bay Weekly readers have repeatedly voted Mamma Lucia the Best Italian Restaurant.
    Ambiance is part of the Mamma Lucia recipe for success. With murals affording Mediterranean views plus Roman columns and personal service, you feel like you’ve arrived at someplace special. The menu carries the theme through, with antipasti, delize dal mare, polo, vitelli and — because Italians love sweets — dolci and espresso. An extensive wine list completes your dinner visit to Italy.
    You’ll find a romantic spot for two, big tables for tutta la famiglia and banquet space for parties. Mamma Lucia is also the region’s favorite Italian caterer.
    Find special events including music and wine-tasting dinners on Facebook.

Mamma Lucia Prince Frederick: 862 Costley Way; 443-486-4701
Mamma Lucia Dunkirk: 10136 Southern Maryland Blvd.; 301-812-1250
coming soon: Mamma Lucia Chesapeake Beach: 8323 Bayside Rd.
Lunch and dinner daily
www.mammaluciarestaurant.com

Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill

Ruddy Duck owner Carlos Yanez.

The Ruddy Duck is Southern Maryland’s original — and only — microbrewery and gastropub.
    Built (in a generous parking lot) to create a fun, upbeat and comfortable atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, it combines the look and landscape of a German beer hall with the stainless steel tanks of a working brewery.
    Freshly brewed in those tanks are a dozen continually rotating signature craft beers, ranging from IPAs to ambers, stouts and bocks, plus a crisp and fruit-forward gluten-free beer brewed with brown rice. Enjoy them in house, or take them home in growlers.
    In true beer hall tradition, the Ruddy Duck is family and kid friendly. In warm weather, pets are welcome at the outdoor seating area.
    Like Ruddy Duck beer, food is artisan-crafted. All dishes — from pizza to salad dressings, sauces and desserts — are made from scratch with the freshest ingredients, many with a touch of handcrafted beer.
    You won’t find beer in Ruddy Duck crab cakes. You will find jumbo-lump fresh, never frozen crabmeat in a cake baked, not fried, so the naturally delicate flavor shines through.
    Live local music, specials for every day of the week and monthly events add to the fun. February’s feature is beer-pairing dinners. Check online for what’s up when.
    That’s all summed up in the Ruddy Duck philosophy: Be a vibrant space serving artisan-crafted food and beer, delivered with passion.
    A large private dining room invites wedding rehearsals, business meetings and parties. Pleasant as the Ruddy Duck is, you can also order carryout, Ruddy on the Fly and catering.

Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill
13200 Dowell Rd., Dowell; 410-394-3825; www.ruddyduckbrewery.com
Lunch Thurs.-Sat., dinner nightly plus Sun. brunch

Angelina’s Italian Kitchen

Angelina’s Italian Kitchen located on Route 214 in Edgewater is a small, quaint carryout with four tables should you choose to dine in. Named after the owner’s great-grandmother, Angelina Canestra, who found so much joy in cooking for family and friends, the restaurant prides itself in serving all homemade Italian food daily.
    Pizza dough, lasagna, meatballs and marinara are all freshly made for you. Homemade desserts, including fresh cannoli, round out the meal. Very affordable prices and traditional New York-style pizzas make Angelina’s a great place to order out or the bring the family.
    This family-owned and -operated small business moved to Edgewater after 15 years in Bowie and was promptly voted Best Pizzeria in Edgewater and Davidsonville area on Patch.com and Yelp.com.

Angelina’s Italian Kitchen
827 Central Ave E., Edgewater, 410-798-0700;
facebook.com/Angelinas-Italian-Kitchen-and-Sub-Shoppe
Lunch and dinner Wed.-Sun.