Food

Each May, Annapolis gears up to celebrate Commissioning Week at the United States Naval Academy—including yours truly, whose SEAL son graduated a few years ago. Seems like yesterday that family members flew in from San Francisco and Savannah to celebrate his graduation. While many folks rent houses for the week and others stay in hotels or B&Bs, where to meet and eat is an ongoing question for out-of-towners, so here are some suggestions.

Downtown

At the City Dock, McGarvey’s Saloon (8 Market Space) is a personal fave – “the real deal” thanks to owner and local celeb Mike Ashford. Great burgers, eggs Benedict, oyster bar. Middleton Tavern (2 Market Space) is prime time for al fresco dining and people watching. Best-ever black bean soup, chateaubriand for two, oyster shooters, live music. Big Cheese Deli (47 Randall St) is pricey but good source of picnic supplies.

Moving up Main Street, Joss Café (#195) is authentic sushi headquarters where skilled chefs preside at the sushi bar and a pretty patio beckons. Chick and Ruth’s Delly (#165) starts each day with a salute to the flag and is a legendary landmark for breakfast and stacked sandwiches. Osteria (#177) offers superb Italian fare in an elegant “special occasion” setting. For simple but good French-influenced cooking, discover Café Normandie (#185), a chef-owned charmer with a second floor “group room”. Red Red Wine Bar (#189b) and Dry 85 (#193b) are for those who appreciate whimsy with their wine or shots of high end whiskey–tempered with imaginative small plates and intelligent service.

Church Circle, at the top of Main Street, showcases St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, founded in 1692 as the city’s first official house of worship. Reynold’s Tavern (7 Church Circle) boasts a popular patio as well as two indoor dining rooms where afternoon tea is served. From this landmark, we arrive on West Street and a two block area known as “restaurant row.” Ramshead Tavern (33 West) is known for its spacious outdoor garden (the oldest grape arbor in the city) as well as for hosting nationally known musical performers. We love the artwork, the casual vibe, the outdoor patio (and the waffles) at 49 West.

Find fusion cooking and sushi at Tsunami (51 West) and enjoy artisan cocktails and tasty tapas at Level Small Plates Lounge (69 West). Thai fans are happy with Lemongrass (167 West) and lovers of mussels, upscale pub food and Belgian beers cheer for Baroak in the Loews Annapolis Hotel. Look for authentic Tuscan specialties at Carpaccio (1 Park Place) and Celtic cheer at Fado Irish Pub right next door. We’re happy to have you here – and hope you eat well and sleep sweet.

These are my personal picks, limited by both geography and space. Warning: Parking tickets in Annapolis can cost you a whopping $100. Park in a garage, is my advice. Visitannapolis.org provides details here.

Mary Lou Baker

Mary Lou Baker is a longtime food and travel writer who relishes the opportunity to tell her readers about good eating and drinking in the Chesapeake Bay area. Among her culinary credits are as a weekly columnist and restaurant reviewer for the Capital, (the Annapolis daily newspaper; a monthly columnist for Chesapeake Life Magazine; former food and wine editor for Baltimore Magazine; co-author of "Dining in Baltimore"; and co-author of Seafood Lover’s Chesapeake Bay: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the United States Naval Academy Gift Shop. A native New Englander, she is happy to have called Annapolis her hometown for most of her adult life. Cooking is her favorite thing to do, second only to sampling the talents of the chefs who make Annapolis and the Eastern Shore a mecca for food-loving visitors. She can be reached at [email protected]