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.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
Adam Greenberg refers to himself as “the world's pickiest eater,” which may explain Bagels 'n Grinds’ distinctive take on the celebrated baked good. Greenberg’s self-professed culinary perfectionism led him to create a secret 10-step bagel recipe that involves a colossal water-purification system, visible to patrons through a glass wall. With scientific precision and occasional mad-scientist cackles, the newly opened shop's staffers create 16 types of bagels that manage the tricky balance of crisp surfaces and soft insides.
Patrons can smear their bagels with low-fat, housemade cream cheeses infused with ingredients such as strawberries or lox, or opt for one of the café’s other creations, such as Bagnini sandwiches topped with piles of meat or marinated portobello mushrooms. Water from the café's purification system also goes into free-trade organic coffees and three different iced-coffee brews. Custom salads incorporate gourmet ingredients such as hormone-free chicken, candied walnuts, or toasted-parmesan crisps, while six distinctive soups are served in cups or bagel bowls. Non-edible amenities inside the new shop include free Internet access, a semi-private conference area, an 18-foot coffee bar, outdoor patio, and flat-screen TVs.
Squisito Pizza & Pasta dishes out an immense, palate-pleasing menu of Italian favorites and innovative originals. Starters, such as the shrimp gondola paddling with parmesan-cream sauce in a toasted italian-bread canoe ($8.99), pacify peckish gullets. Seasoned chefs dress pasta in a variety of disguises, from the penne Popeye cloaked in grilled chicken, sautéed spinach, roasted red peppers ($12.99) to the fettuccine bolognese shrouded in creamy rosé meat ragu ($10.99). Piping-hot pizza pies come in Chicago, New York, and flatbread styles, crowned with both classic and gourmet ingredients. Bite into a healthy skyline with the New York–style roasted veggie pie, a foldable dough disk topped with zucchini, red peppers, roasted eggplant, goat cheese, and balsamic ($16.99), or dive into a flavorful Great Lake with the Chicago-style Squisito ($17.99), a deep dish dotted with pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, extra cheese, onions, green peppers, and optional anchovies ($17.99). Wee visitors to Squisito Pizza & Pasta receive a free ball of dough, a welcome alternative to children's typical dining distractions, such as flopping around on the floor and drawing leg mustaches on fellow diners.
Since 1933, servers and entertainers at Blob's Park have led crowds in authentic bouts of stein hoisting and singing over platters of delicious German cuisine. A hefty beer list stocks gatherings with a frothy selection of delicious libations, with familiar, neighborly domestics, such as a Yuengling lager, or exotic German imports, such as the Augustiner Edelstoff. Authentic German entrees sneak up and bear hug taste buds with savory servings of Nurnberger weisswurst and sauerkraut or schweinschnitzel, a dish of breaded pork loin with cranberry and tomato salad. In addition to dishing out sudsy brews and appetizing meals, Blob's Park treats lederhosen-laden guests to musical acts such as the folksy accordion waltzes of Leon Umberger & The Rheinlanders or the energetic shows of The Hubcaps, which celebrate the sounds of roots rock as well as Aerosmith's little-known back catalog of polka hits. The restaurant's dinner tables and dance floors cherish a long history of Teutonic shindigs, having the honor of hosting America's first-ever Oktoberfest as well as being the site of Baron von Steuben's celebratory keg stand after the Revolutionary War. In keeping with the venue's legacy of merriment and delicious fare, families and friends gather at Blob's throughout the year for feastings, celebrations of Sonnenwendfeier, and gregarious Karnivals.