Though devoutly British in name, Union Jack's British Pub is actually a transatlantic blend of both English and American conventions. Inside the expansive space, stone walls and a fireplace bear a distinctly European feel, though HD plasma TVs and projection screens broadcast games of hockey and American football. The food menu retains a similar dichotomy, offering up options such as Maryland crab cakes, fish and chips, and Caribbean jerk chicken sandwiches. The two nations fully unite at the handsome wooden bar, where guests can sip on one of 16 drafts, ranging from Fuller's London Porter to state-sourced Samuel Adams. Should cultural clashes persist, patrons can retire to the billiards room after their meal to settle disputes over the proper pronunciation of "aluminum."
This sophisticated and inviting establishment is the hatchling of master restaurateur and rhyme master, Chef Geoff Tracy. He’s built a menu with great latitude, covering a wide variety of dishes served throughout the day. Sunday brunch features classic egg dishes such as steak and eggs (NY strip, sunny-side-up eggs, and golden Yukon hash, $18.95) and lunchier sandwiches like Lia’s burger with tomato, pancetta, sautéed onion, and provolone ($10.95). Take a lunch break to the Mediterranean with a big salad ($13.95–$16.95) such as the crispy calamari caesar (with tomato, prosciutto, scallions, and grana padano) or a feta, black olive, tomato, and pepperoncini pizza pie ($12.95). Check out the hours each menu is offered here.
The allure of Bill Bateman's Bistro increases exponentially with a glance at the wide-ranging menu. Locally lauded for its superlative wings, Bill Bateman's Bistro's offers glazed poultry in a variety of sizes and sauces. Combine cuisines with 10 ($8.49) of the Sweet Thai Chili Wings, or firmly uphold winged tradition with 30 original buffalo wings ($22.99). Fifty Wings from Hell ($36.99) will sate the fire-deprived tongues of fearless wing devourers and can be ordered via a Ouija board that until recently was just a game. The shrimp-melt wrap ($10.99), jalapeñoed Heat Wave Burger ($8.99), and grilled-chicken-topped California Salad ($10.99) are but a few of the numerous bites capable of complementing the various cold draft beers. For the full rundown of possible palate pleasers, see the complete menu for each participating location: Parkville, Severna Park, Glen Burnie, and Reisterstown.
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.
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.
Let’s face it: Red Derby is a dive bar, but only in the best sense of the term. It’s a fun place to hang out and have a burger and a beer (served only in cans) in an unpretentious space. The extensive brew list features many blue-collar-turned-cool-again brands like Natty Boh and Schlitz, along with foreign suds and craft beers from around the country. Enjoy ample rooftop seating or stay inside and play arcade or board games while you wait for your order to come up. The menu is filled with gooey comfort foods like quesadillas, burgers and po’ boy sandwiches, and a weekend brunch menu features the usual basics, plus make-your-own mimosas. For all its popularity, Red Derby remains cash only, though your hard-earned $20 goes a long way. Drinks are cheap, especially during happy hour, and only a handful of menu items cost more than ten bucks.