Maynard’s Cafe's flavor slingers craft a surf 'n' turf menu brimming with oceanic delights and land-locked meats. Dining companions can warm up for competitive chew-offs with the Maynard’s Combo, an amalgam of finger foods that include crab balls, jalapeño poppers, chicken tenders, and steamed shrimp among other handheld poppables. Then order up a heftier entree, such as the chicken fettuccini, crab legs and drawn butter, or fried oysters. The new york strip steak cohabitates with crab cakes and brings two sides to the table. Guests can savor their meals while oogling karaoke performers crooning after 9 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday or watch cards go flying during rounds of Texas Hold 'em or high-stakes Go Fish on Thursdays.
If there's one thing that shapes the food at Carmelo's Italian Restaurant more than the chefs, it's Mother Nature. In the tradition of the Northwest and Sicily, the kitchen uses only local, organic ingredients when possible, and imports some Old World staples straight from Italy. The result is a menu that shifts with the seasons. Using a base of penne noodles splashed with a vodka sauce or the thin crust of a pizza, chefs might feature spinach, red peppers, or feta cheese grown in a nearby field. And since Carmelo's is a BYOB eatery, diners can complement their meal with a hand-selected bottle of wine or jar of bathtub gin.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
John Lindner of the The Baltimore Sun left Banksy’s Café raving about one item in particular: the roast-beef sandwich. After eating the sandwich, which he describes as “stacked so high that, with the curved roll, [it’s] nearly round,” Lindear seemed anxious to try more of what the quaint café had to offer, calling the roast beef “a convincing ambassador for Banksy’s.” Brimming with culinary creativity, the menu of gourmet fare lives up to the hype. Chefs Will and Rob dollop chilled beet soup with tangy greek yogurt, and turn up the heat on a classic caesar salad by first grilling the romaine. Heartier appetites tuck into wild-caught-salmon burgers, turkey sandwiches blanketed by melted muenster, and the SuperNova flatbread pizza, piled with red onions, tomatoes, and capers. A full espresso bar energizes meals with organic and fair-trade coffee drinks from Baltimore Coffee & Tea, while glass display cases stage homemade cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. As the chefs build meals in the kitchen, the restaurant’s diner-style décor invites visitors to relax and wax nostalgic about a bygone era. In addition to hosting framed art prints, the café’s wall showcases eight clocks to remind enraptured diners of the existence of time.
In the dead of night in 1976, the Abi-Najm family boarded a cargo ship bringing only what they could carry; an escape from Civil War in Lebanon called for a quick getaway. They traveled across the ocean to safety in Arlington, Virginia, where they were able to open a small cafe in 1979. To save money, they changed the eatery?s name from ?Athenian Taverna? to ?Lebanese Taverna? so that they only had to update one word on the eatery?s marquee.
From these modest beginnings grew a series of eateries that today comprises of six cafes and four quick-service caf?s, all still operated by the Abi-Najm clan. One look at the menu explains the success: chicken shawarma, spicy hummus, lamb tartare?all Lebanese staples that helped the restaurant earn a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's list of 25 Iconic Eats. There's even kibbeh, or stuffed meatballs, which blend ground beef, lamb, almonds, and pine nuts into fried spheres suitable for felling miniature bowling pins on top of the table before entrees arrive. The decor is as striking as the cuisine; inside the Bethesda location, light filters through the colored glass lanterns that decorate the dining room.
Chef Rocco Gargano grew up in Matera, Italy. The son of a farmer, Rocco developed a deep appreciation for fresh, sun-kissed ingredients at an early age. Both father and son relocated to the United States in 1962, and Rocco longed to use his skills in a fine-dining setting.
Now, inside Rocco's Capriccio in Little Italy, Rocco and his kitchen staff filet fresh fish for specialties such as the grouper livornese with a sauce made from freshly chopped tomatoes, capers, and olives. They thinly slice prosciutto and melt shredded fontina cheese into a cream sauce before spreading both across cuts of filet mignon or models in public-service announcements about food fights. The chirping sound of ice against glass drifts from the bar, where mixologists blend dessert-appropriate martinis made with limoncello and Godiva chocolate liqueur, along with coffee drinks enriched by rum, Baileys, amaretto, and whipped cream. An exhaustively researched and described wine list draws heavily on sangiovese, canaiolo, and trebbiano grapes—Italian fruit much like the crops Rocco tended as a child.