During their travels abroad, the owners of El Anafre Restaurant found themselves inspired by the small clay pots used for cooking in Honduras and other Central American countries. They decided to open a restaurant that used the traditional pots to serve hot dips such as queso fundido and other regional specialties. They even named the restaurant after them—the word anafre means pots or grills made out of clay.
El Anafre Restaurant serves other Central American specialties, too, including pork tamales, beef-tongue tacos, and pupusas—handmade corn tortillas that can be folded around meat, beans, and cheese and then mailed to a friend. The restaurant also caters to Tex-Mex fans, with chefs preparing cheesy quesadillas, enchiladas, and chimichangas.
In 1744, a brick tavern began pouring brews on the edge of the Patapsco River. James and Andrew Ellicott bought the establishment in 1810 and added a stately home for their family. More than a century later, when Daniel and Steve Wecker discovered the former Ellicott property in 1988, it had fallen into disrepair. But, seeing the promise in the neglected building and its surrounding 16 acres of flourishing linden, holly, and magnolia trees, the brothers convinced the state of Maryland to lease them the property. Together, they restored the rooms and much of the original 18th- and 19th-century craftsmanship, transforming it into what is now The Elkridge Furnace Inn. Today, guests walk over original longleaf-pine flooring and admire the stairway’s tiger-maple spindles and the molding’s Colonial-style dogwood motifs on their way to the historic dining room, whose atmosphere helped earn the restaurant a spot among OpenTable's 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the country.
The restaurant’s lavish French cuisine plays no small part in its success, garnering laudations and media attention from the likes of the Washington Post. Daniel Wecker takes the helm in the kitchen as executive chef, burying game meats—such as rabbit and quail—and fresh seafood beneath rich glazes and beurre blanc sauces. When faced with too many choices from an encyclopedic wine list, diners can consult the menu for recommended vintages to pair with their dish.
Though its gourmet pizzas pile on eclectic toppings from feta and hot peppers to buffalo chicken, that’s not the only variety available at Venice Pizza. A menu longer than Popeye's list of felony-assault charges spans from hot sandwiches to quesadillas and jumbo buffalo wings. Platters pile fries, fish, and other meats onto one plate, and strombolis, gyros, and pasta also accommodate eaters not in the mood for a slice.