The 2021 Dining Guide
By Meg Walburn Viviano, CBM Editorial Director
“We’re still here!” It was the battle cry of the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots two years ago, shouted by then 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady and quickly picked up by fans as a team chant.
Emerging from one full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, “We’re still here!” might as well be the chant of the local restaurant industry. The owners, employees, waitstaff, and bartenders were among the quickest to be hit by social distancing limits, and since then they’ve seen a roller coaster of state and county-imposed rules: takeout only, outdoor only, and capacity limits of all sizes at various times.
Every inventive tactic these businesses came up with to keep the lights on was like a rallying cry of “We’re still here!” Outdoor tents. Individual seating pods. Cocktails to go. High-end, multi-course holiday takeout meals. Contactless, QR-code menus. Again and again, restaurants have reinvented themselves.
Their perseverance has given people a little bit of normalcy in this topsy-turvy year. Even under a stay-at-home order, we still got to enjoy meals from our favorite food spots—we just brought them home in a bag. Later, some of us embraced dining al fresco (bring on the patio heaters!). With virtually no travel happening, dining at an outdoor table one evening with my husband felt like a real treat—I immediately got that vacation feeling when my oysters and cocktail arrived.
This week we bring you CBM Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide, and while there are still differences from the pre-pandemic dining scene (hello, masks), capacity limits in Chesapeake Country have been lifted for the first time in a year. As more Marylanders are being vaccinated every day, and coronavirus cases continue to slow, things are looking much better for those who like to dine out—and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
In the Bay Weekly Dining Guide you’ll see how restaurants are looking ahead to expanded dining opportunities and warmer weather. In Anne Arundel County, the popular Annapolis Restaurant Week is back this month, and Calvert County has specials going on, too. We hope this guide will inspire you with ideas for a meal out, and help answer your questions about what to expect with the return of less-restricted dining (plenty of safety precautions are still being taken, of course).
The unique challenges of the past year have tried the patience, tested the faith, and strained the bank accounts of a lot of people in Chesapeake Country—with restaurant families at the front of the line. However, like Tom Brady—who is now 43, and still winning Super Bowls with no plans to retire—the dining industry can proudly shout, “We’re still here!”