The sounds of sputtering grill tops, clattering utensils, and lively conversation fill the dining room at Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean Grill, earning it praise from the Washington Post in 2010 as "one of the most entertaining barbecues around." The menu brims with both familiar and adventurous meats, including pork belly, beef ribs, and pork neck. Diners soak in Korean culture via both the food and K-pop, selecting a protein-rich spread and watching as the servers sear their orders on solar-heated tableside grills.
In 1983, "Beefalo" Bob DiMartino began a small-scale catering operation built around no-frills, classic recipes of pit-roasted barbecue, growing his business to include a carry-out joint, sports bar, and even an upscale banquet hall. Bob's process is simple: slow cooking beef, ham, turkey, slabs of ribs and morsels of pork and chicken over smoking hickory fires and not cutting corners with gas jets or heat vision. The sports bar garnishes these backyard-style feasts with plates of oysters, lump crab cakes, and strip steak, as well as sports games on 20 big-screen TVs and rivers of cold beer.
True to its roots as a catering outfit, Beefalo Bob's supplies parties of up to 10,000 with bull roasts, crab feasts, and roasted pigs, as well as rentals of tents, tables, and moon bounces. Fancy occasions find a home in the 250-person Reflections Hall, decked out with chandeliers, DJs, a fireplace, hints of sparkly gold, and a wide-open hardwood dance floor.
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.
Jennings Cafe's epicurean curators craft an immense menu from family recipes that helped earn it a spot on the Baltimore Sun's 2009 list of Top 10 All-American Restaurants, and staff members deliver dishes with Zagat-recognized service. Crunch into a combination of fried openers on the Superfecta platter piled with classics including mozzarella sticks, breaded mushrooms, and chicken tenders accompanied by a cadre of dipping sauces ($10.95).
When Lord Baltimore granted 370 acres of land to the Reverend James Macgill in 1730, he never imagined that a restaurant would be built there. Macgill and his descendants lived on the homestead for more than 200 years before selling it for restaurant development in the 1960s. Today, their stately columned mansion provides a pastoral backdrop for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Intimate candlelit dining rooms foster a romantic atmosphere, which has prompted frequent proposals inside the restaurant. Voted Howard County's finest dining by Howard Magazine in 2012, The Kings Contrivance Restaurant plays host to flickering lights that illuminate plates of pan-seared filet mignon, roasted duck breast, veal, and sautéed shrimp, all selections on a traditional menu with hints of European and Asian influence. The knowledgeable staff can suggest the best wine to pair with any dish from the menu or a box of raisins brought from home.
The chefs at Koto Sake Japanese Steak House dazzle diners with their fast chopping and knife-wielding skills as they prepare Japanese seafood and steak meals directly at the table. “For those who are not familiar with the experience,” a reporter for The Baltimore Times wrote after a visit, “hibachi is a style of Japanese cooking in which the food is prepared in front of the patrons on a large iron stove. In addition to seeing your food cooked before your eyes, restaurant-goers are treated to a theatrical show that blends impressive utensil juggling, culinary acrobatics, and sarcastic comedy.”
Along with hibachi dinners, the cooks also fry rice and cook large pots of noodles. Like a spy movie set in a hotel for twins, the deep-fried and traditional maki rolls are full of surprises, from shrimp tempura to asparagus.