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.
Nestled in the rolling hills of Maryland's countryside, the Wakefield Valley Golf Club showcases three different nine-hole courses. Each course presents a unique set of challenges, with the green course showcasing lengthy par 5s and the white course challenging golfers with hilly terrain and water holes that lure errant shots and experimental scuba-tank golf bags. The gold course, meanwhile, sets up demanding tee shots into narrow fairways, as seen on its signature eighth hole, where water guards the green on all sides.
Golfers can warm up for rounds at the driving range and practice green or employ the swing-honing advice of PGA Professional Scott Magee, who teaches enough students to believe that he will find one who can pull a putter from a stone. Guests can also refuel rumbling stomachs with casual food and drinks at Fenby’s Restaurant.
Supper Thyme's goal is to de-stress the breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours by inviting visitors to craft hearty and nutritious meals beforehand. After perusing the monthly rotating menu, customers can select an assortment of calorie-conscious, family-friendly, or organically inspired dishes and schedule an appointment to come in and assemble the ingredients. Staff members then gather all of the necessary ingredients and utensils, ensuring that each meal can be assembled in as few as 10 minutes. In between portioning out servings, visitors can enjoy a snack while listening to music or chatting with fellow attendees in the shop’s casual, low-stress kitchen environment. The meals can remain safely frozen in homes' freezers, with easy-to-follow cooking instructions allowing customers to quickly thaw and cook entrees whenever they might need to feed families, guests, or a lost restaurant reviewer.
The strum of a banjo or the jangling of spurs would not be out of place at Gunner’s Grille at Taneytown, where wood planks line the walls and wagon-wheel fixtures flank the dining room. Gunner––owner Brooke Haggerty’s father––receives homage as Brooke and crew serve his favorite comfort foods, among them New England clam chowder and grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on potato bread. While the kitchen staff smothers chicken-fried steak with creamy gravy and the parsley baked potatoes with butter, Brooke has revamped other comforting classics to be healthier, blending bison and turkey into the meatloaf muffins, and stacking burgers with turkey or veggie patties. The kitchen staff procures as many local ingredients as possible, with some area farmers tending crops exclusively for the eatery. Beef and turkey arrives on the doorstep every day, and seafood flies in three times a week, hitching a ride with the storks. Diners can complement their meals with one of 60 beers or 50 wines, or the occasional musical act.
Fresh made-from-scratch ingredients collide in Mia Carolina's culinary carburettor, decorating plates and dazzling diners with a tasty fusion of New World and Old World Italian cuisine. Complement nibbles of its crisp bread with a faithful reading of its lunch or dinner menus, which yield appetite- and mind-stoking antipasti such as the cozze marinara's touching seafood anthology ($9 lunch, $10–$12 dinner) and the involtino di prosciutto di Parma's hearty paean to herbed goat cheese, grilled asparagus, and Italy's twinkling ham rivulets ($10). Pie jockeys can saddle up to the flavorful pizza margherita ($9 lunch, $10 dinner) or the veggie-infused capricciosa ($10 lunch, $12 dinner), and pasta promoters can treat their belly to the fettucine alfredo ($9 lunch, $12 dinner). Each tender cut of the veal marsala comes with fortifications of mushrooms, pearl onions, and roasted-garlic mashed potatoes ($23 dinner).
Smokin' Hot Bar and Grille specializes in drenching their hickory smoker meats in their house-made barbecue sauces, from pork and beef to entire turkeys. A buttery wooden bar stretches across the edge of the dining room, where visitors quaff drafts of Sam Adams or Smokin Hot's house ale, order classic or flavored martinis, and enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Beside their beers, the staff prepares smoked wings coated in one of nine barbecue sauces that range in heat from a pleasant brown sugar to a daringly fiery Black Jack. Steaks coated in house rub char to perfection on the grill, which also cooks pairs of 4-ounce cheeseburgers draped in two different sauces. The kitchen also serves hearty house-made mac and cheese four ways: straight, topped with chili, mixed with black beans, or fried with marinara sauce for dipping. Smokin' Hot Bar and Grille’s team prides itself on creating an atmosphere that’s fun and family-friendly, unlike an R-rated seminar on tax deductions.