The historic city of Annapolis, state capitol of Maryland, dates back to the 17th century. It’s ideally placed for great seafood at the mouth of the Severn River on Chesapeake Bay. Here is our guide to 10 of the best places for seafood.
Cafe, Restaurant, American, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$
One of the smartest places to eat in Annapolis, Harry Browne’s, can be found just across from the Maryland State House in the center of the city. It’s renowned as a place for good food where you can often spot political movers and shakers. Harry Browne’s has been serving up food for more than 35 years now. You can dine in the lounge, cafe, or dining room and choose from seafood dishes such as Cape Cod mussels, crab cakes, diver scallops, Gulf shrimp, Pacific sea bass or salmon served with potato croquette and tartar sauce.
O’Leary’s Seafood Restaurant
Restaurant, Jamaican, American, Seafood, Fusion, $$
In the Eastport district famed for its restaurants, O’Leary’s on Third Street close to the southern shore of the Severn River has been open for business since 1983. Known
as a top spot for seafood, starters on offer include jumbo crab meat, mussels from Prince Edward Island, grilled oysters served with parmesan, asiago or romano cheese, and scallops served en croute. For entrees, you can pick and choose from tempting dishes like Catalonian seafood stew, grilled swordfish, crispy rockfish, or the classic O’Leary crab cakes broiled with a mustard lime sauce.
Boatyard Bar and Grill
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, American, Beer, $$
A stone’s throw away from O’Leary’s in Eastport is the Boatyard Bar and Grill. Set up in 2001 the Boatyard offers a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Here you can sample top-notch cuisine which has won plaudits from publications like the Washingtonian Magazine, Coastal Living, and Sailing World. The food has also been on a feature on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise show. You’ll find pictures of local sailors and fishermen on the walls that celebrate the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay region. On the menu at the Boatyard are things like gumbo, scallops with seaweed salad, Long Island oysters, steamed shrimp cooked in Copperhead Ale, and classic fish and chips.
Wild Country Seafood
An Eastport culinary institution, Wild Country Seafood sits on the shore of the Severn River right by the Annapolis Maritime Museum. It’s owned and run by Pat Mahoney who started fishing the nearby waters at 14 and owns the last two working boats that operate from Eastport. Crabs, oysters, lobsters, shrimp and mussels come fresh from the Bay to the plate at Wild Country Seafood. You can order up seafood sandwiches with fries or platters of shrimp and crab. There are also dishes like rockfish fillet, battered sea scallops, or a basket of fish and chips or a combo of chicken and shrimp.
Pub, Restaurant, British, American, Pub Grub, $
Surrounded by galleries and museums on Main Street in the historic heart of Annapolis is Reynold’s Tavern. Originally built by William Reynolds on land bought in 1747, the Tavern claims to be the oldest in Annapolis and one of the oldest in the United States. The elegant Georgian building has bee
n comprehensively restored to its former glory and now houses a cellar pub, tea rooms and two dining rooms. On the menu are seafood classics including shrimp and grits with a tomato and bacon jam and scallops with risotto made with foraged mushrooms. There are also sautéed mussels, cod and chips, or pan-seared rockfish.
Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls
On Main Street in the center of Annapolis, Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls brings a taste of New England to Annapolis. All the lobster is caught by the fishing sleet of Portland in Maine and shipped fresh to be served up. Mason’s has had excellent write-ups in Southern Living, Washingtonian Magazine, and Chesapeake Inspired. On the menu are things like lobster bisque, clam chowder and crab salad, and the New England rolls that have given Mason’s their reputation. You can get rolls stuffed full of lobster with mayo, salad and BLT or melted butter, or crab or shrimp with celery and lemon mayo.
The Federal House
Bar, Market, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Soup, $
Just a quick walk away from Mason’s and Reynold’s Tavern is The Federal House, another hugely historic site that serves up quality seafood. Founded in 1830, The Federal House has an extensive seafood menu – you can start with crab tart made with basil pesto, or the Federal House crab dip with cheese, salsa and spices. Then hit the Raw Bar for oysters served on the half-shell, shrimp wrapped in bacon and basted in rum barbecue sauce, or some mussels marinières. Try out the entrées including fish and chips made with haddock that’s been dipped in Brooklyn Lager and then battered, or some nut-encrusted halibut.
Cantler’s Riverside Inn
Away from the center of Annapolis on the water’s edge at Mill Creek is Cantler’s Riverside Inn. It’s got a reputation for serving some of the best seafood in the country. In fact, Cantler’s was featured as one of the top 10 seafood shacks in the whole United States in a run-down by the magazine Men’s Journal. The owner Jimmy Cantler started out as a waterman working out on Chesapeake Bay before setting up the Riverside Inn in 1974. The quality of the crabs is famous locally. The crabs are brought in live every day ready to be cooked and served up. Otherwise, you can get soups, crab cakes, sandwiches, oysters and jumbo shrimp to suit your tastes.
Carrol’s Creek Café
Cafe, Restaurant, Charcuterie, Seafood, Steakhouse, American, Fusion, Contemporary, $$
One of the top-rated seafood spot in Annapolis, Carrol’s Creek Café has been serving up quality food since 1983 on the southern shore of Spa Creek, or Carrol’s Creek as it was once. Run by the Jacobs family, the cafe offers a menu that includes sea scallops, barbecue shrimp and oysters with horseradish. Also on offer are seafood charcuterie or lobster and black truffle pot pie made with brandy cream sauce, and grilled salmon.
McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar
Bar, Market, Restaurant, Pub Grub, American, Beer, $
A central Annapolis landmark that’s been dishing up seafood for decades is McGarvey’s. This place was established back in 1975 on Market Space close to Annapolis Dock and the US Naval Academy. The customer feedback is excellent. The Saloon and Oyster Bar has taken awards from What’s Up Magazine in their Best of Annapolis section. There’s live music every Friday night and you can choose from the standard or the seafood specials menus. Dishes on offer include calamari, crab balls, clams served with smoked bacon and garlic butter, and oysters harvested in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland waters.
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