A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
At Quench, owner Michael Holstein and barman Matt Allred aim to live up to the hype stemming from the Favorite New Restaurant award they earned from the Restaurant Association of Maryland. They, along with their team of chefs, go beyond simply making food and mixing drinks—they prepare artful dinner specialties and unique, out-of-the-box cocktails. Though their meal creations arise out of seemingly simple ingredients—local produce, house-ground meats—the team crafts wildly creative send-ups of typical pub fare in addition to traditional comfort foods. Baby back ribs are braised for days in homemade cherry cola, and Natty Boh beer cheese, local crab, and nacho cheese chips add local flavor to mac 'n' cheese. Quench also plates healthy fare such as herb-roasted chickpeas and edamame hummus served with local cucumbers and apples, all complemented by inventive cocktails, and the seasonal dessert menu includes house-made donuts and gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. The drinks, with clever names such as Sex in the Burbs and Django Juice, draw on a palette of blood-orange juice, house-made foams, and uniquely infused spirits. Mixology classes prepare students to delight party guests, and Quench also hosts events such as Saturday and Sunday brunches scored by live music, and weekday lunches that feature 10 dishes priced at $10.
Built by a group of friends interested in camaraderie, cold drinks, and good food, Diamondback Tavern aims to put a contemporary spin on a traditional Maryland tavern, and its pub menu has earned accolades from the Baltimore Sun and Howard Magazine. Wrangling local meats, seafood, produce, and bread, the staff builds fresh sandwiches filled with garlic-braised pulled pork and caramelized bananas, crab-cake platters loaded with two 5-ounce jumbo lump crab cakes, and veggie risotto topped with grilled portobello.
Behind the bar, chilled local and domestic brews and sangria blended from a family recipe cleanse palates and put out fires after fire-eating competitions gone wrong. Diners enter under a traditional hanging tavern sign emblazoned with a brown diamondback-turtle shell before nestling into a spacious sports bar or dining room. Diamondback Tavern also hosts open-mic nights and screening events around NFL games to keep ears and eyes entertained as mouths gnaw on the minimalist, modern decor.
Pure Wine Café invites wine aficionados and casual winers alike to their welcoming space, where burnt-sienna tabletops nuzzle against modern aluminum chairs. A quiet escape from the outside world, the café focuses on providing healthy and inspired bistro cuisine to accompany the various flavor profiles of its carefully selected wines, including 2.5 oz. samples, 5 oz. glasses, and bottles (ranging $20 and up for bottles). Friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers are more than happy to educate curious customers in the ways of different wines and guide them toward their perfect liquid match. Drink in, or bring home a bottle from Pure Wine's generous stock of affordable whites, reds, and bubblies. You can also use your Groupon toward the more expensive Reserve Cellar Selections ($96¬–$135), which are an elegant choice for marking any rare occasion or Stratego victory.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, the streets of Ellicott City echo with the footsteps and laughter of revelers making their ways between the city’s pubs and breweries. Bar crawlers visit four local pubs; The Diamondback Tavern, Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Judge's Bench Pub, and La Palapa Grill & Cantina. Revelers sip domestic beers, spirits, and wines as they tactfully ignore bar-trivia rivals inside the Diamondback Tavern's rustic interior, between the wooden trim and hanging amber-colored lamps of Ellicott Mills Brewing Company and the Judge's Bench Pub, or between the exposed brick walls and colored glass mosaics at La Palapa. To help stomachs soak up excess alcohol, some bar proprietors lay out snacks for touring groups. Participants on both earlier and later crawls walk away with a souvenir T-shirt, as well as a new layer of bar-crawling memories to replace lingering remembrances of high-school-trigonometry lessons.