Food & Drink in Columbia

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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.

9400 Snowden River Pkwy.
Columbia,
MD
US

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.

8850 Columbia 100 Pkwy
Columbia,
MD
US

The fragrant aroma of freshly ground ginger and cinnamon wafts from Akbar’s Restaurant’s kitchen, mingling with the smoky scent of meats simmering in a traditional tandoori oven. Rife with spices, buttery marinades, and cream-based sauces, the eatery's Northern Indian cuisine nabbed the title of Best Indian Restaurant from City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2010. In the dining room, romance sparks amid classical Indian music and walls laden with traditional art and lists of pun-free pickup lines.

9400 Snowden River Pkwy
Columbia,
MD
US

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.

10700 Charter Dr
Columbia,
MD
US

A kickboxer earlier in his life, chef Robert Gadsby honed his culinary skills as executive chef in kitchens across Europe, Asia, and the United States, but it was his competitive spirit that earned him a chance to face off against Mario Batali on the Food Network's Iron Chef America. Gadsby's Bar American in Columbia is the product of several years' work and the chef's pursuit of excellence. The menu here is more American than a bald eagle throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game, featuring foods from cross the country, including Washington mussels, Oregon truffles, Wisconsin Cheese, and California wines. In the sleek modern dining room, visitors can indulge on Carolina-style pulled pork and seared Nantucket Bay scallops, all while enjoying open views of the kitchen and rustic stone accents.

8850 Columbia 100 Pkwy.
Columbia,
MD
US

Jesse Wong was born in Taiping, Malaysia. In 1984, he left for Washington DC, where he discovered a passion for the culinary arts and began his training to become a chef. Over the next 14 years, he worked his way up through the industry—from a dishwasher to an executive chef. He has since lent his name and know-how to Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro, where he evokes Asia's diverse cultures and customs through atmosphere and food. At the full bar or inside a bistro-style dining room, visitors can sample his Atlantic salmon, pan-fried and sautéed noodles, Burmese-style pork, and chicken simmered in green curry or teriyaki sauce. On most nights, this dining space also features live entertainment such as piano music or—on the weekends—performances from solo jazz vocalists, trios, and quartets.

8775 Centre Park Dr
Columbia,
MD
US