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.
Though the specialties at LaLa's Ice Cream Parlor and Hot Dogs are obvious, the menu is anything but simple. Staffers scoop up traditional and inventive ice cream flavors with names such as Playdough and Superman. Scoops taste great fresh from the ice cream tree or adorned with hot fudge, apple topping, or melted marshmallows in sundaes. Shakes make a dulcet partnership with one of the parlor's all-beef, natural-casing hot dogs. Choice toppings add flavor beyond ordinary ketchup and mustard. The Chicago gets a kick from sport peppers and relish, while the New Yorker gets its bite from sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.
Inside Nora Cafe & Bakery, housemade cakes and Italian-style cookies gather in the long, sloping pastry cases that line one side of the casual dining room. Referencing generations-old recipes, Nora’s team of bakers craft handmade dough to create fluffy puff pastry, pies, and cakes. The restaurant also serves Italian dinners, with plates of lasagna, spaghetti, and steaks complemented by garlic bread almost as warm as a blanket that’s on fire. The team serves those dishes between bright, orange walls flecked with framed photos, amid a sea of red tables with cushioned chairs.
What Candle Light Inn considers home, others call a landmark or monument. The house in which the restaurant resides has been part of the Catonsville community since the mid 1800s, when it was first built into the area's rolling farmland and called Five Oaks Estate. Since its birth, the building has survived various name changes, a multitude of owners, and even a fire in the 1970s, which left it vacant and with a terrible cough until the present owners, the Lombardini family, purchased it in 1979.
Today, the inn has fully recovered, and models a host of renovations that includes a covered outdoor patio canopied by forestry and surrounded by landscaped gardens. Different tones swirl through each of the house's quarters, along with the wafting scents of the hearty American fare that fills plates for lunch and dinner daily.
Formerly known as Honey Pig Dumpling, Honey Pig Chicken now broadens its menu beyond steamed bundles of flavor. Even when she isn't present, the pink cheeks and puckered lips of co-owner Mickey Kim still watch over Honey Pig Chicken. Depicted as a warm, friendly cartoon, Kim looks out from a banner that hangs over the counter inside the Catonsville Lotte Plaza's Asian grocery store. That playful personality is reflected in Honey Chicken's aesthetics as well as its menu, which encompasses seven sweet-bun dumplings: beef bulgogi, pork, mixed vegetables, curry with potatoes, shrimp, chicken, and kimchi with ground beef. Newer dishes include spicy Korean-style fried chicken or pork and ddukbokki—a traditional plate consisting of fish and spicy rice cakes.
Plates at Kabab Hut brim with traditional Bangladeshi dishes including curries, tandoori chicken, and skewered kebabs. A selection of 27 combo meals load these spicy, simmering entrees onto beds of rice along with sides such as fries or naan. The eatery also welcomes families with a kids' menu that reduces each dish to smaller portions without the need to root around for the shrink ray Mom keeps in her purse.