Instead of limiting themselves to one type of cuisine, S & J Crab Ranch has included two of their favorites?Maryland seafood and southern barbecue. Local flavors pile up at the raw bar, where diners can order gulf shrimp by the pound or plates of clams and seasoned mussels; however, as the restaurant?s name implies, crabs are the signature item. They can be steamed and served whole, as jumbo lump crab cakes, or in a creamy soup spiked with a bit of sherry.
Of course, the seafood seeps into the southern-inspired meals as well. A selection of classic southern sandwiches includes fried catfish with creole mustard. Regional cuisine builds out the rest of the menu, giving diners options such as slow-cooked Texas brisket, Carolina-style pulled pork, and st. louis ribs rubbed with secret spices. Even the classic American dishes take cues from S & J?s penchant for the ocean?fresh crab meat bulks up the mac ?n? cheese, and pulled pork and barbecue sauce enhance a pile of nachos.
As the official history explains it, Jedediah Bumphus founded Wits End Saloon in 1867 "with a dream to serve cheap whiskey and freshly made raccoon sandwiches to the locals." If that sets your stomach growling, prepare for disappointment?it's completely untrue.
By its own admission, Wits End's history?including a bit about Jedediah's dual enlistment in both the Union and Confederate armies?is "fantastic and completely fabricated." The comedic touch makes sense for a saloon located at Magooby's Joke House, where local comedians take the stage every Tuesday, filling out a calendar of live events that also includes live music and trivia nights. While you won't find raccoon on the menu, there are plenty of classic bar bites including veggie quesadillas, Creole-style catfish tacos, and burgers made from local grass-fed beef. As for the whiskey, that might be the only part of Wits End's history that's actually true, as bartenders pour shot of more than 50 varieties, along with craft beers and handmade cocktails.
Sully’s strives to keep it classy. With a clean-comedy policy and a two-monocle dress code, the club hosts a lineup of regular and traveling comedians who have honed their timing everywhere from Comedy Central to HBO to Last Comic Standing. Winner of the 2011 World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas, Ryan Dalton takes the mic on August 17 and 18, opining with in-your-face glee on the health risks of exercise and vegetables, and the best way to inform someone they are not a triceratops. Also taking the stage is Nick Cantone, who transforms his mustache into comedy gold by meditating on its effect on his dating life and the sophistication it embodies. While laughing along, audiences can munch on classic pub eats or sip signature cocktails such as the Silly Sully, a blend of Malibu rum, blue curacao, and pineapple juice.
When the tavern opened its doors in 1831 at a depot nestled along the B&O Railroad, the owners didn't know that one day its rooms would shake to the sounds of classic rock. The Woodstock Inn bridges two worlds; though it serves as a showcase for local singer songwriters, country musicians, and classic-rock quarters, it also champions the town's and area's histories. On the dining room walls, mounted jockeys' jerseys recall decades of equestrian sport, photos depict downtown Woodstock in older times, and display cases hold pieces of Harley-Davidson memorabilia. Outside, a hitching post awaits riders bringing their horses in from surrounding riding trails, which were reportedly laid in the 1600s by local Native Americans. Chef Pedro Fajardo and his kitchen crew also draw from local heritage to create a menu filled with regional comfort food such as crab cakes, blackened tuna, and cheesesteak sandwiches. Chefs assemble their core menu and weekly specials from local ingredients, frequently using beef from an Ellicott City farm, bread from a Baltimore bakery, and tomatoes from the tavern owner's farm down the street. Servers ferry these dishes, along with local microbrews such as Flying Dog and Heavy Seas, on trips around pool tables and between rustic wood-paneled walls. The space fills with music during open-mic nights on Tuesdays; live acoustic karaoke on Wednesday; and live country, blues, and classic rock on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon's Chicago-based piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
Lisa Markiewicz lends more than her zen-like surname to the wine bar and lounge she recently opened in Mount Vernon. Her extensive knowledge of pan-Mediterranean cuisine?including grecian tapas and grecian lamb chops?informs the menu at Waterstone Bar & Grille, and her love of the region?s signature libation shines through in a drink menu that features more than 100 wines sold at retail price.
The restaurant?s chic lounge space, recently opened for lunch in addition to dinner, strikes a balance between Old-World elegance and the hipness of the Mount Vernon neighborhood that surrounds it. Exposed-brick walls give way to plum pastels?a contrast mediated by the gauzy black curtains draped over windows and doorways, and the restaurant's prime location puts theaters such as the Hippodrome, Lyric, and Centerstage within close walking distance.