Grilled steak, crab cakes, chicken dijon?the dishes at Aqua 103 may sound familiar, but the restaurant takes care to elevate its modern American cuisine while remaining true to the recipes' casual roots. Using organic produce as well as locally raised meats, the chefs create hearty meals with an emphasis on fresh flavors and artful presentation. Racks of ribs arrive glazed with a Rinehart Orchard's apple-butter barbecue sauce, the spicy pasta fra diablo overflows with shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels, and bacon-wrapped cuts of filet mignon are seared to perfection atop a cold fusion-powered grill.
Echoing the theme implied by the restaurant's name, Aqua 103's dining room features a striking cerulean-blue accent wall. This subtle maritime homage is echoed by the turquoise cushions on the patio lounge and the blue-lit waterfall flowing behind the space's bar, which was handcrafted from stone and wood according to Hagerstown magazine. Crisp white linens adorn the tables, catching the natural light that cascades through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows.
The chefs at Griff's Landing scour docks for freshly caught seafood to stuff plump crab cakes into massive, thick sandwiches and fry shrimp, clams, and scallops in flaky batter. Servers bear platters through the dining room's lime-green walls and tropical murals to tabletops covered with white cloths. Ornamental lights beam down from the tiki bar, where bartenders dole out beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. Outside, a wooden deck stretches out over a cheerful front patio to protect diners from sun, rain, and clouds that aren't fully nailed to the sky. Throughout the week, the restaurant hosts special events ranging from Wednesday-night trivia contests to Friday-night dance parties.
Tacos and tequila are pretty standard fare at any Mexican restaurant. But Casa Rico Tacos & Tequila ups the ante with gourmet fillings such as tilapia drizzled in chipotle cream sauce, and pork carnitas with roasted pineapple and red onions. As for the house tequilas, they're infused with spicy flavors including cinnamon and tres chilies. The latter goes into one of the restaurant's many specialty margaritas, a fiery concoction made with mango, fresh mint, and passion fruit involved in a torrid love triangle.
Since 1987, Casa Rico has been serving recipes crafted by owner and executive chef Renu. She prepares many regional specialties, including molcajete?a stew with cactus, potatoes, and cheese?as well as a Monterey-style grill combo with skirt steak and chipotle shrimp. In keeping with the food, the dining rooms have a south-of-the-border look; Mexican art hangs on pink and yellow walls, Spanish tile covers the ceiling, and striped blankets add a colorful touch to banquet tables.
In India's capital of New Delhi, there sits a small chunk of space called Delhi 6, where the region's food lovers congregate for the abundance of authentic Indian cuisine. So, when Seema Sharma and her husband, Ajay Kasana, made good on their dream and opened a restaurant in Frederick County, naming it Delhi6 was a no-brainer. "I grew up all my childhood eating that food," Sharma once told the Town Courier, "it's engrained in my mind."
Inside Delhi6, amber-colored walls mix with dark hardwood floors to create a warm, rich contrast. Through glass windows, visitors can peer into the kitchen, where chefs are busy grinding the restaurant's spices and cooking up daily-baked Indian breads. On the walls, Sharma made sure to feature decorative reminders of Delhi6's roots, including more than 8,000 Indian bangle bracelets, which hang as a nod to the vendors who line New Delhi streets doling out artisan goods.
Inside HoneyBaked Ham, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
To go with the meats, the kitchen whips up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
Following Baja Fresh?s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.