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Mar 18, 2008 09:54 AM

Recommendations in Annapolis

Hello Fellow Hounds,

My boyfriend has a big birthday coming up in May and as a gift I have decided to get him a weekend getaway to Annapolis. Neither of us have ever been and he is a big history buff so I think he'll really enjoy an overnight stay there.

My planning is a bit in advanced since we aren't going until Labor Day Weekend, but I want to put together a box with everything we will be doing as his "gift" on his birthday.

I'm pretty sure we will be staying at the Historic Inns of Annapolis at 58 State Circle. Saturday night I'm hoping to take him out to a nice meal. We are both really into food and like tasting what is fresh and local to a particular area. I'm looking to spend about $40-50/person not including wine and tip. In addition, this is also our 2nd anniversary weekend so a dinner that is more on the romantic side (without being stuffy or overly cheesy) is always nice.

I've done a little research but have never been to Annapolis before so I'm not sure what's good.

Carrol's Creek Cafe in Eastport sounded great! We love seafood and would love something that has a real Maryland/Annapolis taste to it. From what I can tell, we can take the water taxi to the restaurant, which would be great since I want to avoid having to drive anywhere since we will be drinking wine etc.

2 other places that caught my attention are Osteria 177 and Yin Yankee. As I said above, we would love someplace that captures the local taste and feel (something on the water is always nice), but I'm open to other suggestions if they seem like a special occasion spot without being insanly expensive.

I'm also looking for good breakfast and lunch spots. (I heard the brunch at Treaty of Paris inside our hotel is really good. Anyone know pricing?) Also I hear there are alot of cool pubs near where we will be staying with outdoor seating etc. Any ideas on that end would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Hey Elyssa,

    Annapolis is changing so quickly...

    Go to Carroll's Creek, you will really like it and it does have very regional food, cream of crab soup, etc. It isn't romantic, but it is very nice and relaxing.

    I went to Osteria 177 when it first opened as wasn't thrilled. I would consider it trying to be like bebo or palena and not achieving it. For more local flare I would go to McGarvey's or O'Leary's (also in Eastport I haven't been lately, but it used to be the best seafood place in town). I also always liked Harry Browne's I think they have a brunch too. Lewnes is good for steak.

    I have been once to brunch at treaty of paris, they had uber rich but good cream of crab soup and normal buffet brunch. If you want something lighter Chick and Ruth's is good for bagels and eggs, but might be packed. Middleton's has decent brunch, but also a little pricey. Cafe Normandie used to have good brunch. Rockfish has a good brunch.

    I don't know if Yin Yankee is what it used to be maybe someone who has been recently can say... for sushi most people in Annapolis go to Joss or Tsunami.

    For good casual lunch there is a place called Sammy's by the dock which has good sandwiches (he used to be in the market but was kicked out when they thought Dean and Deluca was coming in, then when it didn't they filled it with junk).

    Reynold's Tavern has a lot of outdoor seating, Rams Head has a nice back patio area, although I think their food is hit and miss.

    Oh and if you want coffee and dessert 49 West reminds me of like Kramer's, it has a little back outside spot too.

    If you want to pick crabs Cantler's is a great spot and has outdoor seating, but you will have to drive. Or you could go across to the Kent Narrows.

    I hate to tell you this, but as much as I like Annapolis, if I hadn't booked yet for that kind of thing I would probably choose to go to St. Micheals...

    13 Replies
    1. re: ktmoomau

      Ktmoomau thanks so much for all your recommendations. I'm leaning towards Carroll's Creek for dinner. I heard Harry Brown's is very good but is it stuffy? The Zagats review mentioned that it was popular among politicians etc.

      I'll take into consideration St. Michaels. But I think my bf will love Annapolis. He has a thing for State Houses (don't even get me started) and I think he'll love the idea that our hotel was where a lot of Constitution signers stayed etc. Plus we both are interested in taking the tour of the Naval Academy.

      But I know close to nothing about St. Michaels. If it's less then an hour drive I'll check it out.

      1. re: Elyssa

        In addition to McGarvey's, Ram's Head (just off the main circle) is a great spot for live music on weekends but regardless, a good bar/rest. for lunch.

        There's an independent coffee shop a few doors down from Ram's Head that I love. Great spot to linger over the paper on Sunday morning. Good breakfast's too.

        Have only been to Carrol's Creek for brunch and loved it. If going for dinner, suggest going before dark to enjoy the views.

        1. re: Meg

          Good call on making an earlier reservation (we usually eat at around 8 or so) so we can maybe see the sunset etc.

        2. re: Elyssa

          Well as someone who worked in the state house it is cool. I think you can tour most of the signors of the Constitution from MD's houses, the William Paca House, The Carroll House. Also right by the Hammond-Harwood house with the prettiest door in America and the Chase Lloyd house which I don't think you can tour, but another signor there is a great coffee shop called city dock which has great coffee and beverages. There is also one down by the water. They have great iced drinks in the summer too.

          Harry Browne's is popular with the senators when they are in session because it is right across the street, but they won't be in session. Sen Astle from Annapolis is there a lot in the summer though. But it is dark wood, old school type of place. For more laid back go to somewhere down by the water. If you like crab dip I think McGarvey's has the best. They also have good crabcakes. On Thur night if you are there for a thur night they have a happy hour mussel special that you would love you get a whole huge plate for like $3 in the bar area, and it is really cool inside.

          Oh and 49West often has Jazz at night so it is fun for dessert and Jazz or other musicians too, in addition to Ramshead. It is kind of beatnick type of place where St. Johns kids like to hang out.

          Oh and for lunch there is this little spot called Potato Valley that has the best baked potatoes with all sorts of toppings. I ate there all the time when I worked there, I crave it to this day.

          1. re: ktmoomau

            This is all so helpful! Now I'm exciting to go!! Unfortunatly I have to wait another 6 months or so :(

            1. re: Elyssa

              Oh and do a walking tour. In the hot summer time I like the Historic Annapolis Foundation's taped one so you can stop off and get ice cream or etc.

              BTW terrific gelato place down by the water right by phillips. And there is an ice cream place with penguins in the window on Main St. that has homemade ice cream, if they have blackberry cobbler ice cream, it is sinfully good. We bought it by the pint because it was cheaper than a couple servings meaning to have some leftover for the freezer but that rarely happened.

            2. re: ktmoomau

              A Potato Valley just opened recently on E St. NW, between 6th and 7th Sts. They are apparently starting to branch out! Haven't had the original, but really have enjoyed this one!

            3. re: Elyssa

              Elyssa, knowing your usual recommendations, I have to recommend Harry Browne's. Their menu is lovely and it's a gorgeous spot, plus quieter than a lot of the hustle and bustle of downtown. The art deco decor is amazing, with light fixtures that were recovered from the Normandie.

              I've been for lunch and dinner, and really enjoyed both.

              1. re: katecm

                Thanks for your recommendations. With your description it doesn't sound nearly as stuffy as I originally though.

                1. re: katecm

                  I have also been to Harry Brownes for the Sunday Brunch with another couple. We had a very good meal there. Their Crumb cake for desert was to die for . I actually asked for and received the recipe. It was great at Christmas time parties. I would also like to add that Treaty of Paris is no longer having a brunch. We made reservations and they never told us this on a Sunday morning. When we got there everything was locked up tight.

                2. re: Elyssa

                  St. Michaels is another hour east across the Chesapeake Bay. Its very charming, tho. Annapolis has more history. FYI- Labor Day weekend will be very crowded.

                  1. re: keithdcil

                    I know Labor Day weekend will be crowded but its the only time we can do it since we are in a long distance relationship and it's also our anniversary.

                    I have settled on Annapolis and booked a room at the Historic Inns of Annapolis.

                    While I'm doing my planning in advance and things can change I would love some good brunch options near our hotel (and I'm aware of the brunch in our hotel but I'm not a big fan of buffets). Walking distance is prefered (or we can take that water taxi thing I've been hearing so much about). I just don't want to drive, I hear it's $20 or something everytime I want to use the valet at our hotel. So we'll hopefully just park it once for the day and be able to walk everywhere.

                    I'm leaning toward Carrol's Creek Cafe for dinner.

                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Never been to Carol Creek, but hear it's good. Brunch options in town: Sly Fox Pub, Middletown Tavern and Harry Browns.

              2. Psha - take him to Quantico for a taste of history and FABULOUS food.

                There's a dunkin donuts right off base!

                now that you can't beat!

                (I kid, I sounds like a lovely trip :) )

                1. 1. If your BF is a steak lover , take him to Lewnes across the Harbor in Eastport. Huge slabs of beef.
                  2. Nothing captures Annapolis more than having hardshell crabs at Buddys. Cantlers has the best crabs in the area, but Buddys is right on the Wharf (very touristy). Order a 1/2 dozen jumbos and a pitcher of beer - don't do their buffet.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: keithdcil

                    Eeeuuuuwwww DO NOT GO TO BUDDYS!!! It is a huge tourist trap, swamped with screaming kids, don't even go for crabs... much better places. Not the kind of ambiance you will want.

                    1. re: keithdcil

                      He's not really a steak house/beef type of person. Much more likely to order fish or pasta etc.

                      He'll probably want someplace with crab cakes on the menu at some point

                      1. re: keithdcil

                        I've thought about doing crabs on our ride back to DC on Sunday (even though we will be stinking up our ZipCar after the crab feast.) I'm not sure if my boyfriend is into deshelling crabs himself. But I love whacking away and eating with my hands (I'm a New England girl after all.) I'll have to play that one by ear. After seeing his struggle with a lobster last summer I have my doubts :) It's very "Maryland" though and so much fun!

                      2. For light breakfast, light lunch, coffee or a sweet fix I'd suggest Hard Bean & Booksellers (Market Space at the end of Main St.). It's a neat spot, like a really tiny chip off Kramerbooks in DC. Skip the Ben & Jerry's; down on City Dock you'll find Storm Bros. ice cream. I like it for being the rare parlor that still offers rum raisin.

                        Kyma (on West Street) is a pretty hip spot for cocktails and Tapas. More trendy than it is local color, but it's a fun evening destination nonetheless. You might need reservations to dine upstairs. Nano (on Main Street) is a new Thai/sushi fusion joint, decent food but boasting weird seating arrangements. They give you a pillow on a wooden podium instead of a booth seat, and you have to watch your posture to avoid bumping the diner behind you.

                        If you seek crabcake glory, you might want to travel. Word is the best crabcakes anywhere are currently being served at Hella's, on Veterans Hwy. beside I-97 about 20+ minutes north of town.

                        I agree that Ram's Head is a great spot. One of my favorites in town. I've heard nothing but good about Harry Browne's as the place to go for fancy feasting. 49 West is great for coffee, wine, music and ambiance, though to my mind their entrees are overpriced for the quality you get. Cafe Normandie serves up good food and is probably one of the better fixtures on Main Street. Chick 'n Ruth's seems to be one of those love or hate places, though I've not yet formed an opinion.

                        1. I would recommend Piccola Roma on Main Street for upscale Italian cuisine

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: amethiste

                            Jerry's Seafood is now on West Street in the Metropolitian space. We went a few weeks ago and I think they have the best crab cakes for downtown Annapolis. I like them better than Carroll's Creek, which to me is stuffy. I know others will disagree. Carroll's is good for brunch with a view, but a special dinner, not really. You can have a good seafood dinner at Jerry's and head to the roof top bar for drinks, or down a block to the Purple Tooth wine bar. To be honest I might stay on West street instead. The new bars and restaurants in the area are the hip spots right now. Avoid Kyma and Luna Blue if you head to that strip. They are not very good.

                            Wahtever you do, don't even think about going to Buddy's. Harry Browne's is off my list ever since I got treated poorly by a rude server. I also agree that it is a bit old school and I find the food to be pretty boring but solid.