Before he owned K Town Bistro, Gonzalo Barba busied himself with feeding presidents and politicians at the Watergate Hotel. This experience, along with the rest of his 40 years in the restaurant industry, bred a respect for the careful balance of upscale cuisine and familiar atmosphere that characterizes many prestigious eateries. Gonzalo preserves this relationship today, serving K Town Bistro's European-inspired dishes in a warm, friendly setting marked by coral-colored walls and lace curtains.
The bistro's chefs pull from American, French, and English traditions when arranging their entrees. Beef wellington—filet mignon surrounded by a mushroom-liver mousse—is a crowd favorite, though it vies for the spotlight with seared salmon and lamb shanks. Lunchtime heralds crab-cake sandwiches and the omelet of the day, all of which are in the running to become the omelet of the eon. Guests can also pick their courses from a prix fixe menu and pair them with wines from Spain, France, Chile, and the United States.
Perch on high-backed chairs to peruse the exhaustive menu of Latin-American flavors and start with a beefy app such as the taquitos ($8.95) or the Mexican pizza with melted cheese, guacamole, and shredded beef and chicken ($8.95). Vegetarians can advance directly to platanos con crema y frijoles ($6.95), an order of deep-fried sliced plantains sided with sour cream and beans for dipping. For heartier appetites, try an order of fajitas for two. The combo platter includes marinated steak, shrimp, chicken, and pork ribs, served with grilled veggies (tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers) and south-of-the-border toppers (guacamole and ranchera sauce), all for $31.95. For an authentic mouthful of El Salvador, stick your fork into a few pupusas ($1.75 each), cheese-stuffed corn tortillas with a choice of six fillings, served with pickled cabbage and carrots. Diners will also find a variety of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and egg-centric entrees.
The dark wood façade of Mezeh’s Mediterranean Grill creates a stylish, modern presence in the food court at Annapolis Mall. Patrons walk along the eatery’s glass case, first selecting a base for their meal—salad, rice, tortilla, or fresh-baked pita—to complement one of five fillings, including crisp rounds of falafel and morsels of chicken shawarma. Their dishes can be topped with tahini or spicy harissa sauce, along with vegetable blends such as red cabbage slaw or pickled turnips. All items on the menu are crafted without trans fats or preservatives, making them a healthy alternative to making ham sandwiches out of other ham sandwiches.
Elevation Burger’s grillmasters build environmentally conscious burgers that anchor buns with 100% organic, grass-fed, free-range beef rich with nutritious omega-three acids. A blanket of cheddar cheese and strips of bacon sheath each juicy patty, which comes packed with meat ground onsite and free from the touch of antibiotics, pesticides, and radioactive butchers. Fresh toppings such as caramelized onions and tomatoes customize each meaty handheld, and a bouquet of french fries sizzled in healthful olive oil accessorizes meals. To further bolster its Earth-friendly philosophies, Elevation Burger uses locally sourced ingredients when possible and strives to achieve LEED certifications for all its locations.
At Quench, owner Michael Holstein and barman Matt Allred aim to live up to the hype stemming from the Favorite New Restaurant award they earned from the Restaurant Association of Maryland. They, along with their team of chefs, go beyond simply making food and mixing drinks—they prepare artful dinner specialties and unique, out-of-the-box cocktails. Though their meal creations arise out of seemingly simple ingredients—local produce, house-ground meats—the team crafts wildly creative send-ups of typical pub fare in addition to traditional comfort foods. Baby back ribs are braised for days in homemade cherry cola, and Natty Boh beer cheese, local crab, and nacho cheese chips add local flavor to mac 'n' cheese. Quench also plates healthy fare such as herb-roasted chickpeas and edamame hummus served with local cucumbers and apples, all complemented by inventive cocktails, and the seasonal dessert menu includes house-made donuts and gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. The drinks, with clever names such as Sex in the Burbs and Django Juice, draw on a palette of blood-orange juice, house-made foams, and uniquely infused spirits. Mixology classes prepare students to delight party guests, and Quench also hosts events such as Saturday and Sunday brunches scored by live music, and weekday lunches that feature 10 dishes priced at $10.