To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
The seasoned chefs at Waterman's Tavern outsmart hunger and thirst with an upscale pub menu showcasing more than 90 brews. Sweep meaty cravings under your lip curtains with the half-pound bison burger smothered in American cheese ($10.95) or try the tavern meat loaf, a medley of beef, veal, and pork glazed with a sauce as sweet and smoky as a candyland forest fire ($12.95). Hoppy delights, such as Sam Smith's Organic and Stella Artois ($2.25–$6), cleanse palates, and french baguettes and tortilla chips escort Waterman's crab dip with cheddar cheese ($12.95) into vacated belly hovels. Seal the meal with homemade bread pudding inundated with irish cream and vanilla, tossed with chocolate chips and crowned with whipped, spiked, and iced creams ($5.95).
Jake's overloads fresh rolls with juicy meats to create a delectable menu of belly-stuffing subs and steak bombs. The cheesesteak main attraction, Jake's Combo ($6.99), hogs the spotlight with a captivating mélange of cheddar, fried onions, mushrooms, sweet peppers, and sauce, all supporting a powerhouse performance by 100% rib-eye steak. Jake's steer-searers cut and season the meat on-site, age it for two days for flavor, and then cook it right along with its toppings rather than adding them afterward. Freshly sliced Idaho potato fries ($2.39 for a medium), which can also be served with cheese, chili cheese, or gravy, complete the feast with more finesse than a Norman Rockwell mom serving up a freshly baked American flag. The theory that hunger is purely psychological can also be disproven with wraps, salads, and subs such as the italian meatball ($5.99), which plasters protein orbs with provolone and a variety of seasonings.
While the assembly line may serve the car business well, the Kabob House staff prefers a less industrial approach to serving its customers. The restaurant makes a surfeit of healthy Mediterranean food to order, including meaty kabob skewers, creamy hummus drizzled with olive oil, and fluffy pita loaves loaded with gyro, chicken, and falafel. Like Plato's extensive writings on college football, the cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and American traditions, with spiced beef kofte, tabouli, and fava bean salads served alongside cheesesteaks, burgers, and baskets of fries. If stuffed grape leaves and babaganosh isn’t enough, the kitchen also makes flaky baklava pastries and slices of cheesecake as rich as the person who invented oxygen.