Husband-wife duo Julio and Lily Soto opened Azul 17 to celebrate not only Mexican cuisine, but to also embrace the culture through music, vibrant design, and a selection of more than 100 tequilas made with 100% blue agave. Their chefs all hail from Mexico and bring family recipes to the kitchen—including one chef's grandmother's recipe for black beans. It's “old world style with updated presentation,” says manager Peter Bonohue. Peter has been in the restaurant business since he could legally work, and to him, Azul 17 has an especially fun atmosphere. “I love tequila now,” he confessed.
While chefs simmer their signature mole sauce and servers add fresh lime juice to margaritas, guests recline atop white leather banquettes or modern chairs. Eyes dance with murals and shimmering blue-tile mosaics splashed against white walls. Those whites are illuminated with a multicolored neon glow as DJs spin club, house, and Mexican tunes starting at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On Thursdays at 8 p.m., guests can spice up their tired hokey-pokey routine with salsa lessons.
When Lord Baltimore granted 370 acres of land to the Reverend James Macgill in 1730, he never imagined that a restaurant would be built there. Macgill and his descendants lived on the homestead for more than 200 years before selling it for restaurant development in the 1960s. Today, their stately columned mansion provides a pastoral backdrop for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Intimate candlelit dining rooms foster a romantic atmosphere, which has prompted frequent proposals inside the restaurant. Voted Howard County's finest dining by Howard Magazine in 2013, The Kings Contrivance Restaurant plays host to flickering lights that illuminate plates of pan-seared filet mignon, roasted duck breast, veal, and sautéed shrimp, all selections on a traditional menu with hints of European and Asian influence. The knowledgeable staff can suggest the best wine to pair with any dish.
Great Harvest’s devotion to the art of bread making is audible in the early morning, when its onsite mill softly hums as it grinds grain into high-fiber flour. Within minutes, this wholesome powder forms the foundation of baked sweets and healthy, homemade breads that are packed with flavor and free of preservatives. After being kneaded individually by hand, each freshly baked bread bundle emerges from the oven plump and fluffy. The bread selection changes each day according to a weekly schedule, but often includes loaves of honey whole wheat and Dakota bread—a baked bundle of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and millet. For guests who prefer treats that are easily juggled, Great Harvest bakes scones, muffins, cookies, and cinnamon rolls, and deli sandwiches and Cafe Pronto coffee stand ready to round out lunches.
Over the roaring, 1,800-degree char grill, the chefs of Greystone Grill sear medallions of beef, soused in peanut sauce. They also sizzle freshly caught filets of mahi-mahi and ahi tuna alongside blackened shrimp, in addition to grilling skewers of rosemary-marinated chicken. Their selection of 'green' wines from vineyards that grow the fruit for vinos without use chemicals or pesticides includes Californian chardonnays and an Argentinean malbec. The Greystone staff also maintains a wine room with audio-visual and Internet capabilities, allowing for multimedia presentations. The staff renders the eatery comfortable for guests by decorating the interior with sleek wood accents and elegant stonework and barring the cast of any Stephen King movie from staring at you while you eat.
MangoGrove Restaurant bases its menu of vegetarian Indian fare on the ancient philosophy of Ayurveda, which calls for food to help dictate a flow of health and holiness between the body, the mind, and the spirit. Each spice and herb used at MangoGrove, for example, has been selected for its specific therapeutic value. Keep all three wheels of wellness on your bio-tricycle in order by kicking off consumption with the chef's pick appetizer, Aloo Ki Tikki ($4.95), in which Delhi-style potato patties are combined with hearty flavors of ginger and cilantro. This dish––like all of MangoGrove's appetizers––is served with mint and date sauces and either chutney or sambar, a stew made with fresh vegetables, lentils, and a variety of spices. Curb hunger by cannonballing into a curry, such as the Kumbh Makai Mutter, featuring mushrooms, baby corn, and green peas ($12.95), and the Paneer Pasanda, which includes wedges of cottage cheese simmered in an almond cream sauce ($14.95) that curries favor with the chef. Dosai crêpes come stuffed with potato, onion, and cheese fillings ($10.95–$12.95).
Husband and wife Tom and Sandy Nash might as well have mustard flowing through their veins. They both boast rich pasts in food service, as they explain in an article in the Baltimore Sun. Tom spent 18 years as co-owner of a deli in Silver Spring before launching Charter Deli with Sandy, who has plenty of expertise to lend to the venture thanks to growing up in a family of grocers.
Their New York–style deli stacks thin-sliced meats such as corned beef, pastrami, kosher bologna, and genoa salami to create sandwiches whose surrounding bread nearly quakes from the weight. All sandwiches, from basic BLTs to those piled high with shrimp salad, can be made on the customer’s choice of bread and with the customer’s choice of condiments. Morning meals include bagels with lox and scrambled-egg sandwiches.