Best of the Bay 2007
Written by Carrie Madren and Diana Beechener with Sandra Olivetti Martin and Ben Miller
We asked you to choose your favorites of 2007 in 62 categories from the best doughnuts to the best use of public funds. Here’s how your votes tallied.
The Best of Bay Weekly
Best Bay Weekly Feature Story of 2007
Carrie Madren’s Micro-Monsters Lurk in Chesapeake Waters; June 21: No. 25
“I took a very real, serious danger and broke it and the science behind it down into ways people can relate to,” says Madren of how she wrote your favorite. “Bacteria count, for example. We explained what the numbers actually mean.”
“I just hope it didn’t scare people away from the water. That wasn’t my intention. So I also tried to explain how you can play it safe to keep micro-monsters from spoiling your fun.”
Best Bay Weekly Columnist of 2007
No surprise here. Bill Burton is king of the mountain all other columnists aspire to climb. Year in and year out, among friends and strangers, in every competition he rises to the top.
How does he do it?
“Listen to your readers,” he says of the source of his success. “You learn after a while that your readers, not your editors, are the key.”
Those are the words he spoke to his editor.
Politics on the Bay
Again in 2007, you say Bernie Fowler is the Bay’s hero. Could it be that you perhaps voters everywhere? respect a person who takes a stand and stays on spot? That’s Fowler, whose passion for the Patuxent River continues into its ninth decade.
2007 is the 30th anniversary of the retired state senator’s landmark lawsuit to force his own state and the federal government to clean up the nitrogen- and phosphorus-laden sewage its treatment plants poured into the Patuxent River.
He’s still leading political charges to get that done. In 2006 and 2007, he championed legislation to set nitrogen limits on every wastewater facility big and small on the river. In 2008, Bernie is pushing again to get the House and the recalcitrant Senate to take that vote.
2007 is also the 20th anniversary of another of charge Bernie leads: The famous Patuxent River Wade-In that yields the annual Bernie Fowler Sneaker Index. Each year the line of waders stops when they can no longer see their shoes. But the charge won’t end until river clarity is restored to the length of Bernie’s long legs.
“I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Bernie. “That’s was always my way. My Lord won’t let me do any different.”
Best Bay-Area Political Happening
We love our national wildlife refuges. Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is on the Eastern Shore, across the Bay from Cove Point in Calvert County, but we consider that bird-rich 27,000 acres of freshwater impoundments, brackish tidal wetlands, open fields and mixed evergreen and deciduous forest as sacred as our own backyards.
What we’re celebrating with your vote this year is the state’s decision, finalized by the Board of Public Works, to defend Blackwater’s borders against development. Instead of a 2,700-unit resort, only (still sounds like a lot!) 675 new homes will be built, and the reserve will be buffered from them by 728 acres purchased with $10.3 million Project Open Space dollars. We Marylanders fund Project Open Space with each real-estate transaction we make.
Best Use of Public Funds / Biggest Issue Needing More Attention
Cleaning up the Bay
Again this year, you’ve told us that you so revere Chesapeake Bay as the great life force of our region that you’re willing to give it more of your money and more of your time. That’s good. Because we’re each of us going to have to do just that: give saving our Bay more of our time and our money. It’s time to make a New Year’s resolution to look into our own hearts and households to find ways we can do that in 2008.
Worst Political Decision
Shutting Calvert Country Market
We love our marketplaces. Last year, you voted the failed revitalization of Market House in the heart of Annapolis the worst use of public funds. This year you gave that dubious distinction to shutting down Calvert Country Market.
Calvert Country Market opened with great anticipation in June of 2002 as Chesapeake Country’s largest (an old A&P grocery story), most regular (daily) and all in-doors farmers’ market. Bringing customers and local producers together in a market would help both sides: Calvert agriculture would thrive as citizens bought from local farms, supporting the agricultural economy and eating well.
The real evolution was different. Local crafters and merchants far outnumbered farmers, and the market never achieved financial independence. At the five-year mark, Calvert County Commissioners voted to end its subsidy, thereby effectively closing the market.
It’s a sad ending to a worthy experiment; we hope it’s not the end to entrepreneurial ways to sustain our agriculture heritage and enrich our changing communities.
Worst Use of Public Funds
Chesapeake Hills Golf Course
Calvert County could have asked Anne Arundel: Golf courses are a specialized enterprise; running one well eats up money.
When a county gets in the business, even as a partner, it’s a tough job to keep everybody happy. Golfers expect the best, and citizens complain that millions of dollars could be better spent on their dearest projects. In the six years Calvert County has been in the odd partnership with the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, the Lusby course has cost Calvert coming up on $2 million.
That, you say, was 2007’s worst use of public funds.
Baltimore Gas and Electric
It was that rate hike, which you’ve just read all about in Michelle Steel’s Nov. 29 story Energy Wise (http://www.bayweekly.com/old-site/year07/issuexv48/features48.html).
And maybe the bad haircuts to trees unlucky enough to grow under power lines.
Probably, too, the recurrent power outages. Yes, we know it’s too expensive to bury power lines.
Likely, as well, the arrogance of the near-monopoly we can’t do without.
Complicated by OPEC, war and power economics. And the so-far inevitable polluting by-products of generating electricity.
Yes, it’s a complex picture. But when you ask the guy who pays the bill, the answer is simple: BGE is 2008’s Public Enemy Number One.
Life on the Bay
Best Bay Getaways
Solomons Island & St. Michaels
When readers want to get away from it all, they head over the Bay Bridge to St. Michaels or down south to Solomons Island, both voted winners of this year’s Best Bay Getaway.
Just 35 minutes from Annapolis, St. Michaels lures readers for its good Eastern Shore-style restaurants and a street-full of quaint shopping boutiques. Life slows down just a bit as visitors tour the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum or get out on the water. Not too far away is Blackwater Wildlife Refuge.
“St. Michaels is a lot more fun; we went to this great ice cream store and pizzeria, then wandered around the docks there,” says reader Bryan Hall of Annapolis, who visited St. Michaels for the first time this year.
It’s easy to see why readers voted Solomons for best southern getaway, with a menu of well-known restaurants serving up the Bay’s bounty well-loved galleries, unique shops and more. Calvert Marine Museum, Chesapeake Biological Lab and Annmarie Garden make it a small town with plenty to do, including award-winning fishing (See Best Fishing Hole).
Best Bay Beach
Sandy Point State Park
We don’t have as much choice as we deserve in accessible Bay beaches, with just two in Anne Arundel and five in Calvert. Your favorite, you told us, is the largest, Sandy Point State Park. The 786-acre park not only gives beach-lovers their fix of sand and waves but also brings you to the Bay for swimming, fishing, crabbing, boating and windsurfing or any water pleasure you can dream up.
If the bacteria counts are down, visitors can even take a dip even in the middle of winter for the Maryland State Police’s Polar Plunge in January.
You’ll pay $5 to enter on the weekends $4 on weekdays but it’s worth the price if you bring a picnic and spend a few hours overlooking the wide-open Bay.
Best Place for People Watching
Annapolis City Dock
Again this year, you told us you see it all at City Dock: dogs with sunglasses, weathered captains, tourists decked in Hawaiian shirts, midshipmen tailored in their clean pressed whites, hard-core punk rock teens and lean yoga ladies. Grab an ice cream or a gelato and enjoy the show.
Best Fishing Hole
Readers say Bay Country’s best fishing is around Solomons. To find out why Solomons brings in the best fish, we cast a line to Dennis Doyle, Bay Weekly’s fishing columnist.
First, Doyle says, Solomons is home to good boat launching sites, with businesses that cater to fishermen. Near Solomons, anglers can also reach two of the largest rivers on the Western Shore: the Patuxent and the Potomac. Not only boat fishing is good. “For shorebound anglers,” Doyle says, “fishing piers on both of these river mouths consistently produce excellent catches throughout the year.”
Second, Solomons sizzles with well-known hot spots, including Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Cove Point, Chalk Point, Drum Point, the Cedar Point rips and Point Lookout. “These fishing holes attract more and larger fish, especially rockfish, throughout the season than anywhere else in the Bay within reasonable driving range in the metropolitan areas,” Doyle says.
Third, southern Bay waters run clearer and cleaner than in the mid-Bay, near the Bay Bridge. Over the last 20 years, says Doyle, prime fishing areas have diminished in the mid-Bay and increased in the lower Bay primarily because of water quality, especially in the warmer season.
That’s one clue to the fourth reason: availability of fish. The Bay’s seasonal species migrate from the ocean up the Bay. That means fish first show up in Solomons’ waters, remaining there the longest. So anglers have a better chance of catching the earliest croaker, sea trout, bluefish, red drum, black drum, flounder, Spanish mackerel and the occasional cobia. You’ve also a better chance of reeling in a large rockfish or white perch here than up north.
Thus, say Bay Weekly readers and columnist Doyle, Solomons has better fishing for anglers willing to make the trip.
Best Picnic Spot and Best Place to Let Kids Run Wild
Quiet Waters Park
For the second year in a row, well-manicured Quiet Waters Park, in Annapolis, earned readers’ votes for two coveted park awards: Best Picnic Spot and Best Place to Let Kids Run Wild.
Rolling hills, six miles of trails, open fields, woods and waterfront make this 340-acre park between the South River and Harness Creek a natural for city-dwellers. Find a picnic table or spread a blanket on the grass, and you’ve plenty of room to find uncrowded sun or shade for lawn lounging. You’ll pay $5 to enter, but you get as many hours as you want of exploration and you help support the park for the next time you want to visit. Come summer, free outdoor concerts at the amphitheatre offer musical entertainment while you picnic.
Kids expend energy on a large, multi-level, soft-surfaced children’s playground plus a large wooden ship sculpture; or run free through fields of grass. Little ones also get an introduction to nature on the trails, with abundant birds and wildlife to spot.
Best Bay Museum
Calvert Marine Museum
Again this year, Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons is your choice for the Best Bay Museum. And why not? This museum not only boasts exhibits full of Bay life and history; it also has two otters, a touch tank of skates and rays and jaws of a giant Megalodon shark skeleton. Explore Drum Point Lighthouse, browse old Bay boats or take a cruise on the Wm. B. Tennison.
Add to these all the special event days and weekends, free first Fridays, concerts with rock ‘n’ roll greats and weekly activities for kids, and Calvert Marine Museum offers a boat-load of reasons to visit.
The key to success, says director C. Douglas Alves Jr., is a stellar staff and the museum’s variety: There’s something for everyone from young kids to old sea salts in the stories of Chesapeake Bay.
“We do it well and we do it with humor and interest,” Alves says. “We are always looking for new ways to share our knowledge.”
Best Art Gallery
Readers tell us that Carmen’s Gallery in Solomons is the best place to seek out art and the artistic. Nestled in historic Solomons, Carmen’s Gallery offers select original works by artists and artisans near and far. Beyond art for walls, readers shop there for finely crafted pottery and jewelry, inspirations for interior design and more.
In her 25th year of business, owner Carmen Nance Sanders says the key to keeping customers coming back is her staff.
“We have a wonderful staff; their personalities and the warmth we show make people come back, customers like and trust us,” says Sanders. “We make it the best we can, going the extra mile in everything we do.” Keeping artful seasonal displays fresh and current ensures that you never walk into the same gallery twice.
The gallery started out and continues as a framing shop, which “we do a little better and with a little more quality than anyone else,” Carmen says.
Today’s hottest artist in the gallery is Prince Frederick digital artist Stephen Harlan, whose bold Chesapeake scenes created with computer software look like fine art meets Second Life.
“Stephen Harlan’s doing really well for us,” says Sanders, who notes another favorite is Jo Barry from England, who brings her highly detailed, hazy pastoral etchings and watercolors stateside only at Carmen’s.
Best Local Musician
Country singer and southern Maryland native John Luskey makes women swoon with his good looks and charm, but his upbeat style and rockin’ vocals make him everybody’s favorite. Bay Weekly readers, too, couldn’t resist his country charm.
His band with bassist Jack Bannister and drummer Dwayne Taylor opened for Gretchen Wilson this October at Calvert’s Waterside Music series and in August performed at Nissan Pavilion with Kenny Chesney. Earlier this year, Luskey won third place in the Billboard Magazine Songwriting Contest for his song “King of the World.”
Between frequent trips to Nashville, our rising Chesapeake star still makes local appearances, including a New Year’s Eve gig at Vera’s White Sands Restaurant.
Best Charity Fundraiser
Rod ’n’ Reel’s Celebration of Life Gala
Readers know come August, it’s time to feast. Hundreds flock to Rod ‘n’ Reel Chesapeake Beach Resort to indulge in all-you-can-eat lobster, oysters, clams, roasts, sushi, gourmet sides, elegant vegetable dishes, mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, all laid out with elaborately designed centerpieces and decorations.
You’ve told us how you like to take in the Bay breezes by the water before you head back to the banquet for round two as the live band plays on. Then, you head upstairs to a wonderland of sweets, including white and dark chocolate fountains, pies, cakes, chocolates and tempting pastries plus dessert liquors to wash it all down.
As good as the celebration is, the cause is even better.
This year’s 26th gala raised over $450,000 for the Calvert County unit of the American Cancer Society, from sponsors and 1,703 revelers who paid $125 each for the feast. Since the first gala, the one-night bash has contributed over $3 million to fighting cancer through research and to relieving its sting through services in Calvert County.
Making it a success every year, Rod ’n’ Reel owner Gerald Donovan credits the volunteers, sponsors and tickets buyers, as well as the honorary chairs. “Everyone of them have brought something new to the table, and part of that is the success,” says Donovan.
“The real success is that all of us want to put an end to this dreaded disease by finding the cure,” Donovan says. “All of us love to do it and make an all-out effort to do it better each year. You get back what you put into it.”
Good and Services
Best Bay Friendly Business
Thank you. From our first issue 15 years ago to our 733th issue today, we’ve been a newspaper with a purpose: Showing you Chesapeake Country at its best in stories and in our advertising; explaining how we can live well and wisely in environmental harmony; writing stories you want to read. Your vote means we’re doing just that.
Best New Bay-Area Business and Best Coffee House
Zü Coffee knows it’s a jungle out there as they work tirelessly to provide a caffeinated sanctuary for runners in the rat race. Perking up Bay Ridge Road in Annapolis this year, Zü Coffee draws in the un-caffeinated masses with a sleek, modern coffee bar and comfy leather chairs arranged around a fireplace.
“I think it’s a great addition to the neighborhood they have good people and great coffee,” says Mary & Blanche! co-owner Melissa Fennelly of Annapolis. Zü owner Doug Henderson credits service-style with their first year success: “My employees, they’re the best,” he says.
You tell us the Bay’s best new business also brews the best coffee in town. The secret to java joy lies in owner Doug Henderson’s commitment to freshness. “Fresh roasted beans are the absolute freshest coffee you can get,” says Henderson.
Said Annapolitan voter Jessica Clark: “They’re really affordable, good coffee. And Doug is a great guy.”
With his brew and store getting high marks this year, Henderson hopes to bring a java jolt to other Bay areas, saying, “I hope to expand to more locations.” Until then, patrons looking for their daily java jolt can pull up to the coffeehouse’s new drive thru for commuter coffee to start or end the day.
Zü Coffee, 934 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis: 5:30am-8pm M-Sa; 7am-7pm Su: 410-990-0731.
Best Antique Store
When it comes to buying old stuff, readers say they like to shop Antiques Brocante in North Beach.
“People like the color coordination. There’s an aqua and yellow area, a blue and white area,” says owner Will Conard, who organizes his store by hue. Most popular items are those for home and garden, he says. Popular also are his prices, he tells us. “There’s not a lot of opportunities to buy French and English items at a reasonable price,” he says.
Conard spends weekdays in Washington, D.C. where he founded a study abroad company (his full-time job) and weekends in North Beach, where he owns a house and runs Antiques Brocante (brocante is French for second-hand trade). Conard opened the store two years ago after years of collecting old items, a hobby that began out of financial necessity and became a passion.
When he began his business, “I started going abroad more frequently and spending time in antique markets.” he says, “After two garages, a huge attic and basement full of things, I decided to open an antique shop.”
Antiques Brocante, 9106 Chesapeake Ave., North Beach: SaSu 10am-5pm: 410-286-8808.
Best Gift Shop
Mary & Blanche!
Delicate floral crafts and magical mementos won accolades from South County readers, while quirk and kitsch struck gold in Annapolis. The wild and wacky wares of Mary & Blanche! a store punctuated with purple walls crammed with a constantly shifting inventory brings John Waters’ sensibility to traditional Annapolis.
“We search high and low for hard to find, off-the-wall and irreverent items,” says co-owner Marian Rainford, who answers to Blanche during store hours. You’ll find a constantly shifting stock, where pink flamingos can replace martini glasses or befeathered heart sculptures within a week.
Mary & Blanche!, 78 Maryland Ave., Annapolis: 10am-6pm MTuWFSaSu; 10am-8pm Th: 410-280-8891.
Best Place for Fresh Produce and Best Place for Fresh Meat, Anne Arundel
Whole Foods Market
A large market designed to look like a hip local grocery store, Whole Foods Market was the organic choice for Best Fresh Produce. Local produce mingles with hard-to-find fruits and vegetable in a spacious, well-lit area, dedicated to the foundation of the food pyramid. Trays sit next to fresh piles of produce, offering shoppers a chance to sample the simple, scrumptious flavors of chemical-free fruits and vegetables.
“It looks fresh, there’s a variety of nice and green foods and they’re always restocking,” says Marica Marino of Annapolis.
Featuring an array of meat from organic chickens to hard-to-find buffalo, Whole Foods stocks meat free of chemicals and full of flavor, for a second Best of the Bay.
Whole Foods Market, Harbour Center, Annapolis: 8am-10pm M-Sa; 8am-9pm Su: 410-573-1800.
Best Place for Fresh Meat, Calvert
Nick’s of Calvert County
Nestled in Market Square Shopping Center, this small grocery has the feel of a specialty store. Nick’s of Calvert County is known for personal service and high quality, especially in its meat. “Our meats are cut daily,” says Carol Richardson, personnel manager of Nick’s.
“Their meats are so fresh,” says Greenstreet Gardens owner Stacy Greenstreet, “it’s almost like the old local butchers’ shops.”
Nick’s of Calvert County: 930 Costley Way, Prince Frederick: 10am-7pm MTuW; 10am-8pm ThFr; 9am-8pm Sa; 9am-5pm Su: 410-414-7105.
Best Place for Fresh Seafood
Annapolis Seafood Market
Reeling in the prize for Best Fresh Seafood is a Bay-area institution, Annapolis Seafood. Fresh catches and prompt service have entered Annapolis Seafood’s branches into the national market, where they give new meaning to flying fish. “We’ll ship to Hawaii overnight,” says Annapolis branch employee Gene Echevarria, “We shoot for the highest quality in customer service.”
Local customers bypass shipping for the pleasure of in-store service. “We get our seafood there all the time. They beat anybody,” says Beth Rogers of Shady Side. “They’re great about cooking food or giving you fresh.”
If you aren’t sure what savory seafood to bring home, find a manager. “Mike, the manager at the Edgewater branch, always helps and gives me friendly recommendations,” says Tim Laur of Edgewater.
Annapolis Seafood • 9am-8pm M-Su
1300 Forest Dr., Annapolis: 410-269-5380.
3105 Rt. 2, Edgewater: 410-956-2023.
552-L Rt. 2, in Park Plaza, Severna Park: 410-544-4900.
“The stylists pay attention to what they’re doing. They aren’t just cutting hair; they take time to style you,” says Stephanie Leger of Annapolis. “When they’re done, it’s like a work of art.”
Bubbles of Westfield’s manager, Darlene Anne Smith, believes that consistency is the key to a good cut. “We’ve been here a long time and we’re consistent,” she says. Convenience is also a key factor in their victory: Walk-ins are welcome for a quick snip and style.
Annapolis Harbour Center: 9am-9pm M-F; 9am-7pm Sa; 10am-6pm Su: 410-571-0585.
Westfield Mall: 10am-9:30pm M-Sa; 11am-6pm Su: 410-573-1280.
Best Toy Store: Anne Arundel
BeBeep A Toy Store
Bringing fun, creativity and practical lessons to children, BeBeep drives away with the best toy store award.
“They have such an unusual selection of toys that are off the beaten path,” says Annapolitan Adrian Preston. As well as a fun selection of toys, parents can select a pre-packaged afternoon of fun or bring the kids in for a workshop.
BeBeep: 10am-9pm M-F; 10am-6pm Sa; 11am-5pm Su
Festival at Riva, off Riva Rd., Annapolis: 410-224-4066.
Park Plaza, off Rt. 2, Severna Park: 410-544-1844.
Best Toy Store: Calvert
Jack in the Box Toys
“We’re a specialty toy retailer,” says co-owner Karen Chamberlain, “We have all the toys you’d find at a Target, but we also carry classic wooden toys and traditional games.” Buy for little ones or bring back childhood memories by perusing shelves that hold treasured toys from years past, such as hand-tooled chess sets, and popular plush toys.
Jack in the Box Toys, 127 Mitchells Chance Rd., Edgewater: 10am-8pm M-Sa; 10am-5pm Su: 410-956-0044.
Best Public Restroom
“When you have kids that are particular, it’s great,” says Stacy Greenstreet of Nordstrom’s immaculate facilities. Combining a commitment to cleanliness with a surprisingly lush changing area that resembles a hotel lobby complete with paintings and plants Nordstrom offers shoppers the chance to answer the call of nature in style and sterility.
Worst Public Restroom
City Dock Café
Readers bestowed this dubious distinction to City Dock Café. In the interest of maintaining our reputation for reporting the good news of the Bay-area, the paper offers you the following advice: practice bladder control until you finish your coffee and muffin. Then drive to Nordstrom.
Best Golf Course
Twin Shields Golf Club
The rolling green terrain and picturesque setting may lure you to tee off at Twin Shields Golf Course, but there are more reasons that readers named the Dunkirk fairways their favorite.
Twin Shields gets its name from identical twins Ray and Roy Shields, who acquired 300 acres of tobacco farmland in Calvert County to design and build the course in 1968. In May, the 18-hole par-70 championship golf course celebrates its 39th anniversary.
To prepare for the game, take a lesson from Head Golf Pro John Dodson and gear up at the Pro Shop; after 18 holes, refresh yourself at the snack bar or relax on the patio overlooking the 18th hole.
“It’s the personal almost family atmosphere here,” says Dodson, who’s spent 34 years as pro golfer at Twin Shields. His fellow staffers try to get to know their players by first and last names. “A lot of people walk through the door and say it’s like being home.”
More than the friendly atmosphere, readers appreciate the golf pace. Here, a round of golf averages four hours on weekends; a much faster paced game than the normal five or five-and-a-half hour rounds played at comparable courses.
“People can tee off at 7am and be back in the parking lot by 11am,” Dodson says, so you still have the afternoon to spend with family or run Saturday errands. Speeding up the game are golfers who practice ready golf “when it’s your turn to play, you’re prepared,” Dodson says.
“The owners keeps it in great shape,” says reader Robert Lutz of Grasonville, who plays twice a week at the Dunkirk course.
Twin Shields Golf Club, 2425 Roarty Rd., Dunkirk: 301-855-8228
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar shucks its normal title to accept Bay Weekly’s Best Bar prize. “Technically, we’re a classic American saloon, no frills, no TV, no blender,” says general manager Jim Fishback. The bar pours beer and ale in their many permutations, even stocking up on their own brand of beer: Aviator Lager.
In saloon style, bartenders personalize customer service. “Half our staff has been here for at least 10 years,” says Fishback.
“I like the bartenders. They remember your drinks,” says Beth Rogers of Shady Side.
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar, City Dock, 8 Market Space, Annapolis: 11:30-1am M-Sa; 10-1am Su: 410-263-5700.
Best Dock Bar ~ Tie
Pusser’s Caribbean Grille
Get a taste of the tropics in the middle of downtown at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille. “We are Annapolis’ only true waterfront restaurant,” says press chief Vicki Clary. “You can come by car or by boat and dine by the water or relax at the dock bar.”
In keeping with their Caribbean inspiration, boats anchor at their scenic pier where landlubbers and sailors alike can enjoy breathtaking water views.
“We go there in the summer. The food is good, the price is right and the rum punch is killer,” says Melissa Fennelly.
With winter nipping at Annapolitan heels, Pusser’s offers a tropical trip for the price of a drink and continues to boast some of the best water views in Annapolis.
Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, 80 Compromise St., Annapolis: 11am-5pm MTuW; 11am-10pm Th; 11am-11pm FSa: 410-626-0004.
Skipper’s Pier Restaurant & Crabhouse
It’s easy to see why Bay Weekly readers chose Mimi’s Dock Bar at Skipper’s Pier Restaurant & Crabhouse as the Best Dock Bar on the Bay: If you were any closer to water you’d be in it. Mimi’s Dock Bar protrudes like a hitchhiker’s thumb into Tracy’s Creek just beyond that popular waterway’s entrance to Herring Bay and the whole Chesapeake. Not that there’s anything wrong with Skippers inside bar; readers said they liked it too. But with a location like this, who’d go inside? On even the hottest nights, you and the giant replica parrot are well placed for Bay breezes. The Jimmy Buffet partying spirit is alive and well here, often until long into the night.
Perhaps easier to get to by water than by land, Mimi’s Dock Bar is an attraction by north, south and east. Landlubbers come in from the west, through Deale.
“The way they’ve rebuilt it is really nice,” says reader Beth Rogers of Shady Side, who loves the new fireplace, the relaxed ambiance and window-enclosed dining area. “The food is good and the prices are good.”
Skipper’s Pier, 6158 Drum Point Rd., Deale: Tu-F 4pm-9:30pm; Sa 11:30am-9:30pm; Su 10am-8:30pm: 410-867-7110.
Favorite Place to Pick up Bay Weekly 2007
Double T Diner
You say Bay Weekly is a great side-dish, voting the Double T Diner the best place to pick up your weekly dose of Bay news. Open 24 hours a day, Double T is your anytime source for Bay Weekly. Our drivers and staffers stop both Anne Arundel County locations several times a week just to keep the racks full.
Double T Diners open 24/7:
12 Defense St. (corner of Rts. 2 and 450), Annapolis: 410-571-9070.
1 Mountain Rd., Pasadena: 410-766-9669.
Food & Drink
Most Scenic Dining and Most Romantic Restaurant
Your choice for most romantic restaurant is also the most scenic spot to eat. Bay Weekly voters chose Chart House as the perfect place to gaze into a loved ones’ eyes or look over the gleaming waters of Annapolis. Chart House juts out over Spa Creek affording diners views of City Dock, the Naval Academy and the Republic of Eastport.
“We have unparalleled views of downtown Annapolis,” says General Manager Rodney Seeberger.
Romance and views aren’t all, says reader Beth Rogers: “The Chart House is our favorite, favorite restaurant. You get what you pay for, the food is great.”
Chart House, 300 Second St., Annapolis: 4:30-10pm M-Th; 4:30-11pm FSa; 11am-3pm & 3:30-10pm Su: 410-268-7166.
Best Splurge Restaurant and Best Steakhouse
Readers with full wallets and the taste for fine red meat splurge on a sizzling steak at Lewnes’ Steakhouse. Nestled in Eastport, the landmark local restaurant resembles a corner pub, complete with green and gold signs welcoming you into the sturdy turn-of-the-century style building. Fine selections of spirits and a varied menu featuring Greek sides and salads also put this steakhouse a cut above as Best Steakhouse.
“I like the intimacy,” says reader Macia Marino of Annapolis. “The small bar reminds me of the old Washington restaurants like the Ritz Carlton.”
“I think it’s a nice steakhouse with a casual feel,” adds Tony Vance of Millersville.
Though dining is expensive, the value equals the cost “Lewnes’ is definitely well-priced for the food you get,” says Beth Rogers.
Lewnes’ Steakhouse, 401 Fourth St., Annapolis: 5-10pm M-Th; 5-10:30pm FSa; 4-10pm Su: 410-263-1617.
Best Pizza and Best Restaurant for a Cheap Date
Not every meal needs crystal candlesticks and polished silver. For good food at better prices, you chose Rocco’s Pizzeria as the Best Restaurant for a Cheap Date. New York-style pizza and subs dominate the simple menu. For under $20, hungry diners get a top-quality pizza and appetizer.
Rocco’s traditional New York-style pie and wide variety of toppings also rolled through the best pizza category.
“I’ve been eating Rocco’s pizza forever,” says Jessica Clark of Hillsmere. “I grew up on their cheese pizza.”
“I think it’s the best, most authentic New York-style pizza in Maryland,” adds loyal customer Tony Vance.
Concludes General Manager Joe Gargano: “Longevity, loyal customers, fresh ingredients and a 40-year-old recipe is the secret.”
Rocco’s delivery is limited, so you may need to dine in or pick up your order.
Rocco’s Pizzeria, 954 Bay Ridge Rd., Annapolis: 410-263-9444.
Best Bakery: Anne Arundel
Great Harvest Bread Company
Great Harvest Bread Company wins your vote for fresh whole grains and creative loaves.
“It’s like walking into your grandmother’s kitchen,” says reader Melissa Fennelly. “It’s filled with friendly people and great comfort food.”
Bread aficionados pick up a monthly schedule and know when to stop by for their favorite breads.
Great Harvest Bread Co., 208 Ridgely Ave., Annapolis: 7am-6pm Tu-Fr; 7am-5pm Sa: 410-268-4662.
Best Bakery: Calvert; Best Dessert
Sweet Sue’s Bakeshop and Coffee Bar
The scent of freshly baked cakes and breads waft over the shores of North Beach, luring patrons to Sweet Sue’s, Calvert County’s best-of-the-Bay Bakery and Best Dessert. You can take home your jumbo muffins, fresh salads, wraps and percolating coffee, or you can enjoy such homemade goods while tucked into a garden-style table, complete with trellises and sweeping landscape murals.
Don’t forget the cakes: Bakers sculpt cake and frosting into each customer’s vision, from a giant Cheeseburger to a dozen long-stemmed icing roses.
“We have the best customers and a staff committed to service and creativity,” says owner Sue Dzurec.
Sweet Sue’s Bakeshop and Coffee Bar, corner of Bay Ave. and 7th St., North Beach: 8am-5pm Tu-Su: 410-286-8041.
Best Deli ~ Tie
Using only fresh meats and cheeses, Giolitti’s stacks classic Italian subs and made-to-order sandwich rolls, earning it the title of Bay’s Best Deli.
“We greatly appreciate the people who walk through that door,” says owner Mary Giolitti. “We know they have a choice.” Giolitti’s has cultivated a large following over 17 years. In addition to fresh meats and Italian specialties, Giolitti’s serves a vegetarian eggplant sandwich popular with carnivores and herbivores.
Giolitti Delicatessen, 2068 Somerville Rd., Annapolis: 10am-6pm M-F; 10am-5pm Sa; 11am-4pm Su: 410-266-8600.
Carl’s Café & Catering
Taking a slice of the praise for Best Deli is Carl’s Café, a New York-style deli that focuses on fresh meats and custom orders. The beef is roasted in the café’s oven, corned beef boiled in the kitchen and every meal is prepared to order at this meticulous deli.
“I prepare all of my food on premises,” says owner Carl Charapp, “We try to make everything special here. Nothing is pre-made.” Stop in for a custom sandwich to go or pull up a stool and soak in the old-style deli atmosphere.
Carl’s Café, 1908 Forest Dr. West, Annapolis: 7am-3pm M-F; 8am-2pm Sa: 443-482-2828.
Two locations in A.A. County help Carlson’s fry the competition for this delicious dough treat. Bakers at Carlson’s Donuts & Thai Kitchen get up early to create fried treats fresh each morning. The tiny West Street building sits on a lot that fills with cars as commuters stop by for a confectionary boost.
Carlson’s Donuts & Thai Kitchen 1022 West St., Annapolis: Doughnuts 5:30am-2pm M-Sa; 5:30am-noon Su; Thai 5-9pm M-Sa: 410-263-2454
Carlson’s Donuts and Thai Kitchen, 118 Mayo Rd., Edgewater: Doughnuts 6am-noon Tu-Su; Thai 11am-2pm & 5-9pm Th-Su: 410-956-0952.
Best Sunday Brunch: Anne Arundel
Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs
Early risers on Sunday greet the day with a smorgasbord of culinary treats at Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs’ brunch. Anne Arundel County’s Best Brunch winner lays out food ranging from fruit platters to fruits of the sea. “We’ve got a wide array of food from an omelet bar to smoked salmon,” says chef Scott Cook.
Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs, 100 Main St., 2nd Floor, Annapolis: Brunch 8:30am-1:30pm Su: 410-626-1100.
Best Sunday Brunch: Calvert
Rod ’n’ Reel
Rod ’n’ Reel’s Sunday brunch overwhelms you. You’ll never fit it all in your stomach, but for 25 years, brunch-lovers have tried. You’ll never fit it all on one plate, either, so plan on a long stay.
Rod ’n’ Reel serves up fond memories as well as bountiful food. “I’ve been going there since I was a child,” says reader Marcia Marino, “I’ve always liked their brunch. I suppose it’s also the memories of my mother.”
Rod ’n’ Reel Restaurant, off Rt. 261, Chesapeake Beach: Brunch 8am-1pm: 866-312-5596.
Best Italian Restaurant: Anne Arundel
Maria’s Sicilian Ristorante
For readers in Anne Arundel County, Maria’s Sicilian Ristorante & Café cooks the best Italian food. Maria the restaurant’s namesake plates meals that come directly from her family cookbook. “Maria is a Sicilian,” says banquet director Bob Becchia. “All of the sauce recipes are authentic.”
“I’ve always had great meals there, but I like the atmosphere best. I find Maria quite intriguing, she’s so old-world,” says Marcia Marino of Annapolis.
Maria’s Sicilian Ristorante, 12 Market Space, Annapolis: 11am-11pm M-Su: 410-268-2112.
Best Italian Restaurant: Calvert
Mamma Lucia’s Italian Restaurant
Calvert County offers two chances to step into Southern Italy for what you say is the Bay’s best Italian food.
“We make true Italian food,” says co-owner Maria Lubrano. “We only use fresh ingredients.” The restaurant likens itself to an Italian villa, with a large open dining area and polished columns setting the tone. Wall hangings featuring idyllic scenes from the Italian coast allow diners to plan a trip to the Mediterranean while sampling the region’s cuisine.
Mamma Lucia’s Italian Restaurant
862 Costley Way, Prince Frederick: 11am-10pm M-Th; 11am-11pm FSa, 11am-9pm Su: 443-486-4701.
10136 Rt. 4, Dunkirk: 11am-10pm M-Th; 11am-11pm FSa, 11am-9pm Su: 301-812-1240.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Anne Arundel
The sunny streets of Tijuana beckon to diners at Mexican Café, which you call Anne Arundel County’s best Mexican restaurant. Famous for large margaritas and its colorful décor, the cafe draws you in with the promise of more than salt and a lime.
“Some of our dishes are hard to come by,” says owner Pamela Gladfelter. “And our food is made from scratch.” The menu features nearly 200 Mexican dishes, including stuffed jalapenos and their signature drunken crab, imbibed with a creamed garlic and tequila salsa. During warmer months, sit outside on the deck and toast Tijuana with homemade sangria and tamales.
Mexican Café, 975 Bay Ridge Rd., Eastport: 11am-9:30pm Su-Th; 11am-10:30pm F-Sa: 410-626-1520.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Calvert
Readers in Calvert County chose Mexico Restaurant as the best south-of-the-border food in southern Maryland.
“We serve food from the Guadalajara region,” says manager Sergio Murillo. “All of our food is made fresh.”
Serving flavorful favorites such as burritos, fajitas and tacos, Mexico also plates dishes featuring more sophisticated elements such as authentic mole sauces and sweet sopapillas. “Our most popular dish is the Grand Special,” says Murillo of the restaurants’ sampling dish that takes diners on a tour of Mexican cuisine with a homemade taco, burrito chalupa and enchilada.
Mexico Restaurant, 2520 Rt. 2, Huntingtown: 11am-10pm M-Th; 11am-11pm F; noon-10pm SaSu: 410-414-9037.
Best Asian Restaurant and Best Vegetarian or Vegan Food
Fusing traditional Thai cuisine with modern minimalist design, Lemongrass serves the Asian food you like best. Wooden tables along the sunny yellow walls with cloth overhangs give the impression that your food is being served in a beachside tent in Phuket, not an Asian restaurant off West Street.
“It’s funky and different,” says Stacy Greenstreet, “and has some of the best Asian food I’ve ever had.” The menu holds a spicy mix of Thai favorites with a variety of Pad Thai for every palate and Asian staples, such as spring rolls, delivered quickly by a friendly, young staff.
Lemongrass won vegetarian eaters over with a wide range of meals both meat free and flavor full. A full menu page lists the spicy and mild preparations of tofu, vegetables and rice noodles for the discerning herbivore.
Lemongrass, 167 West St., Annapolis: 11am-4pm & 5-10pm M-Th; 11am-4pm & 5-11pm FSa; 4-10pm Su: 410-280-0086.
Lemongrass Too, 2625 Housley Rd., Annapolis: 11am-10pm M-Th; 11am-11pm FSa; 4-10pm Su: 410-224-THAI.
Best Crab House and Best Soft-Shells
Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn
Cantler’s Riverside Inn is a landmark for crab cracking Marylanders, and this year’s best crab house. “It’s an institution,” says general manager Dan Donnelly, “We’re one of the last authentic crab houses.”
Cantler’s steamed up the competition again, winning best soft-shell crabs. Catching the state crustacean just after it sheds a protective shell, Cantler’s offers a tasty take on a Maryland favorite with pan-fried soft-shell crabs.
Atmosphere is reminiscent of a family crab feast. Greeters pull from a ream of brown paper at the end of every picnic table as they seat you, and the makeshift tablecloth catches flying shards of crab shell, absorbs sloshed drops of crab soup and holds piles of Old Bay sloughed from the fingers of diners.
“It’s kind of a drive, but in the summer you can sit on the dock and eat. It’s very home-y,” says reader Jessica Clark.
Located on the waters of Mill Creek, Cantler’s serves crabs by land or sea.
For a taste of Cantler’s at home, visit their website www.cantlers.com for two recipes for succulent soft-shells.
Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn, 458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis: 11am-11pm Su-Th; 11am-midnight F-Sa: 410-757-1311.
Best Crab Cake: Anne Arundel
When it comes to crab cakes, size definitely matters. Voted the best crab cake in Anne Arundel County, Edgewater Restaurant broils hearty crab cakes with jumbo lump crabs.
“They’re awesome,” says Stacy Greenstreet. “They have huge chunks of crab meat and no shells in their crab cakes.” The inexpensive crab cakes are one of the best-kept secrets in Edgewater, where the family friendly restaurant packs in local diners.
“It’s still a very comfortable neighborhood restaurant,” says Tim Laur. “I can go there and always depend on a generous, excellent crab cake.”
Edgewater Restaurant, 148 Mayo Rd., Edgewater: 4-9:30pm WTh; 11:30am-10pm F; noon-10pm Sa; noon-9pm Su: 410-956-3202.
Best Crab Cake: Calvert
Stoney’s Seafood House
Started by Louis ‘Phil’ Stone, Stoney’s Seafood Houses serves huge crab cakes in three locations.
“We’ve been around for about 17 years now,” says Stoney’s Prince Frederick owner Don Gordon. “Our success is due to quality crab meat and the fact that we keep our staff for years. They know what they’re doing.”
Stoney’s is also shipping to crustacean connoisseurs throughout the country. “We get a lot of people that have moved over the years,” says Gordon, “And they miss our crab cakes.”
Stoney’s Seafood House
Oyster House Rd., Broomes Island: 410-586-1888. Closed for the season.
545 Rt. 2, Prince Frederick: 11am-9pm Su-Th; 11am-10pm FSa: 410-535-1888.
Stoney’s Kingfisher, Main St., Solomons: 11am-9pm Su-Th; 11am-10pm FSa: 410-394-0236.
Best Crab Dip and Best Oysters
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar
McGarvey’s Saloon has been shucking oysters since it began pouring drinks. Readers vote their half-shell happy hour as the best oysters in the Bay area. “We use all local oysters,” says manager Jim Fishback, “We work with regional watermen and suppliers.”
Prices on the succulent bivalves are shucked at Oyster Happy Hour.
You also give a best to McGarvey’s crab dip. Their deft blend of cheese, lump crabmeat and spices paired with a fresh baguette bested contenders from both counties to win the title. “It took us a long time to put crab dip on the menu,” says general manager Jim Fishback, “but we do a great job.”
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar, City Dock, 8 Market Space, Annapolis: 11:30-1am M-Sa; 10-1am Su: 410-263-5700.
Best Crab Soup
Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant
According to Carrol’s Creek, the secret to the best crab soup in the Bay is time.
“We slow cook everything. It takes hours to make,” says executive chef Brian Price. “You taste the time in the soup.” A touch of sherry drizzled into the cream-based soup finishes the dish.
You can sup in style, watching boats sail by Annapolis City Marina as you warm up with your favorite crab soup.
Carrol’s Creek, 410 Severn Ave., Annapolis: 11:30am-4pm & 5-10pm M-Su: 410-263-8102.
Adam’s The Place for Ribs
Serving over 200,000 pounds of ribs each year in its five locations, Adam’s Ribs has mastered the secret of barbecue. Barbecuing shrimp as well as beef and pork, Adam’s strives for quality that brought customers to the small family store when it opened in 1981.
“Adams is the only place I eat barbecue,” says reader Tim Laur. “There’s little fat or filler and I feel healthy eating it.”
169 Mayo Rd., Edgewater: 410-956-2995.
921C Chesapeake Ave., Eastport: 410-267-0064.
589 Rt. 648, Severna Park: 410-647-5757.
2200 Rt. 2, Prince Frederick: 410-586-0001.
Best Kids Menu and Best French Fries
Customization is key to the Cheeburger Cheeburger philosophy, and you say that principle carries over to their kids’ menu. Tiny burger lovers can top their patties with classic standbys such as lettuce and tomato or go wild with sautéed mushrooms and ranch dressing. The family-friendly establishment harkens in design to diners of the 1950s, complete with portraits of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. Play a quick game of Who’s That? with younger diners as you wait for your food.
You gave Cheeburger Cheeburger’s a second Best of the Best for showing a lot of skin on their fries. Leaving each spud unpeeled before it is sliced and fried in healthy peanut oil, Cheeburger Cheeburger serves crispy fries with a secret spice blend. For a change of pace, order a Fring basket: half fries, half hand-cut onion rings.
Cheeburger Cheeburger, 2329 B Forest Dr., Annapolis: 410-224-7297.
Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries
Describing your choice for Best Burger on the Bay is a difficult proposition because winner Five Guys makes each patty to order. You choose from a list of 15 free toppings ranging from jalapeno peppers to sautéed mushrooms.
“There’s no comparison to Five Guys,” says reader Tony Vance. “Their stuff is all fresh and everything is prepared in front of you.”
509 South Cherry Grove, Annapolis: 410-216-7971.
3851 Town Center Blvd., Bowie: 301-464-9633.
3059 Rt. 2, Edgewater: 410-956-8212.
4131 Mountain Rd., Pasadena: 410-255-0050.
Market Square, Rt. 2 & Stoakley Rd., Prince Frederick: 443-486-4200.
Bay Weekly readers flock to Cluck-U Chickens across two counties for the best Buffalo wings. Started by a Rutgers University student in 1985, Cluck-U takes a scientific approach to wings: sauce options include mild, atomic and thermo-nuclear. Customizing your wings with spicy sauces and perusing milder dishes such as chicken wraps has earned Cluck-U a loyal following from spice-wimps and thrill seekers alike.
1900 Forest Dr., Annapolis: 410-295-3300.
10812 Town Center Blvd., Dunkirk: 410-286-9660.
Best Place for Dessert and Best Ice Cream: Anne Arundel
Annapolis Ice Cream Company
When it comes to all things cold, penguins are the ultimate authority. That’s why as you enter the Annapolis Ice Cream Company, you’ll find two frigid feathered friends sitting in the window, enjoying the bay’s best ice cream. Past the penguins is an ice cream parlor that offers handmade gourmet frozen treats for birds and mammals alike.
“We make our ice cream fresh every week,” says owner Walter Giera, “We have 36 flavors at all times.” All 36 flavors contain organic ingredients, giving the sweet treats a wholesome edge over store brands.
“Try the Blackberry Cobler,” says reader Jessica Clark, “It’s my absolute favorite.”
Annapolis Ice Cream Company, 196 Main St., Annapolis: 11am-9:30pm Su-Th; 11am-10pm FSa: 443-482-3895.