I’m one of those people who takes pictures of their food, insists upon making you try a bite of whatever I’ve ordered, and will eventually convince you that you need a solid strategy to properly indulge in your city’s Restaurant Week.
And while my friends and family tolerate my eccentricities solely because they’re good sports, they do occasionally reap the benefits of keeping a foodie around. I can usually tell them where to go and what to order, and it doesn’t even matter if you’re gluten-free, or vegetarian, or practically broke. . . I’ve probably already Instagrammed it.
I’m also a life-long Carroll County resident, and so for this post I wanted to combine two of my favorite things: good food and good ole’ CC. In the interest of “shopping small,” I’ve avoided any chain restaurants or cafés. I’m positive I’ve overlooked some things, so please be sure to share your favorites! This isn’t a comprehensive guide, just a few highlights. . .
- JeannieBird’s – Come for the coffee, stay for the community. In addition to curing your java jones, JeannieBird’s boasts some awesome baked goods, breakfast specials, and other snacks. But the best part is that if you stop in on a Saturday morning, you’ll instantly be transported to a Gilmore Girls Luke’s Dinner feel, where everyone knows everyone and can’t resist lingering to catch up on the local news.
- Johannson’s – I’m typically not a huge fan of buffets, but Johannson’s Sunday brunch buffet is so good that I’m willing to break one of my cardinal brunch rules. Spend $23 and settle in for bottomless booze, made-to-order omelettes, a seafood station, and more. It’s a steal – and it’s going to require reservations.
- Fratelli’s – Proceed with caution. . . once you eat Fratelli’s crab cakes, you can never eat crab cakes anywhere else. Some will argue they’re too spicy, or have too much filler. I would argue that there’s no such thing as too much lump crab, which is the only overdose you’re in danger of here.
- Cinco de Mayo – I love Mexican food. I’ve tried nearly every place in Carroll County and the surrounding areas, and this is one of my favorites. Their margaritas will send you straight into a siesta if you’re not careful; the guac is fresh; the tacos are fabulous; and the El Favorito is perfect if you’re like me and just want all the seafood, all the time. UPDATE: You should also check out LunaZul, my latest CC-area Mexican favorite! Read the full review here.
- French Twist – I’ve never met a crepe I didn’t like. French Twist also offers gluten-free crepes, because it’s pretty much the closest thing to heaven on earth.
- The Antrim 1844 – This is super fancy, super expensive, and super worth it. I’ve been a couple times and the food is only outweighed by the ambiance. Honestly, don’t even worry about what you order. . . you’ll be too caught up in exploring the historic house and grounds during the cocktail hour to contemplate the menu.
- Beijing Palace – Order the Sushi Burrito. There are four kinds. I haven’t tried them all yet, but I’ve accepted the challenge.
- Thai Classic – Thai food in Carroll County? Trust me. Try their takeout.
- J&P Pizza – Maybe it’s because it’s in my hood, maybe it’s because we’re regulars, maybe it’s because they have an off-the-menu gluten-free pizza, but this is my “Friday night no one feels like cooking” go-to.
- Snickerdoodles – I’ve eaten a lot of carbs in my twenty-some years, and so it is with complete confidence that I can say I SWEAR BY Snicks’ baked goods. I’ve gotten my entire office addicted to their cakes, I’ve never had a bad pastry there, and they even make special-order gluten-free items for those of you who avoid gluten. But the icing on top of their out-of-this-world cake is that they genuinely care about their employees and their customers. I’ve seen them stand up to unnecessarily rude customers as readily as I’ve witnessed them work overtime to remedy a tiny mistake.
- The Cow – This custard place was a Reisterstown staple for years, and now a second location opened in Carroll County. We’re #blessed.
- Hoffman’s – People from Carroll County can wax poetically about Hoffman’s ice cream. It’s actually a requirement if you want to get your diploma from a CCPS high school. My personal favorites include the coconut, chocolate peanut butter, and of course the coffee milkshakes. (FYI, there’s a second location open in Hampstead now).
- Artisan Wine Co. – This place has one of the best al fresco dining spots around, and while I’d be a fan solely for that, they also clean up with their small plates and wine flights.
- O’Lordan’s Irish Pub – I’m sucker for anything even remotely Anglophone, and O’Lordan’s instantly transports me to its namesake land. Enjoy the building (it’s historic), the interior (dark wood, Celtic details, and some Irish humor), and the crab dip or Guiness stew (all delicious).
- Gypsy’s Tea Room – Feeling fancy? Drink like a queen at Gypsy’s. Besides, everyone knows the only thing better than scones is mini scones.
Bonus in Baltimore County: I’m cheating a bit, but it’s solely because my life is pretty much a quest to find the world’s perfect latte, and I finally think I have. Check out the newly opened John Brown General Store (the remodel is gorgeous!) and order a latte. Then name your next child John Brown.
Happy dining, friends! P.S. My gym is Four Seasons Sports Complex, in case you were wondering. 😂
*All images my own except for main image, via Pexels