Maryland Eastern Shore is a great unsung hero of the East Coast of America. Far away from the hustle and bustle of Baltimore, Annapolis, and DC, the Eastern Shore is a haven from the rush. Access to world-class seafood has created a cuisine that is unique to the area and absolutely not to be missed. Many restaurants are housed in historic buildings or over ocean vistas that make dining an experience that cannot be beat.
Comparatively new to the St. Michaels restaurant scene Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar has been turning heads since it opened in 2008. And it’s no surprise, with both creative and traditional pizza toppings, a casual yet clean vibe, and one of the best outdoor patios in town, Ava’s has it all. Try the chef’s favorite pizza, with prosciutto, arugula and balsamic reduction, or design your own pizza with over two dozen options for toppings. And guests looking for something other than pizza will find excellent sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes.
Easton is a small and idyllic town, so some might be surprised to find a high-caliber fine-dining restaurant there. As the name suggests, Bartlett Pear Inn is both a restaurant and a boutique hotel, housed in a gorgeous antique brick estate home. The dining room is open and airy, with bright colors and a retention of many of the old charms of the home’s original design. The menu is seasonally driven, with ingredients that come from dirt to plate on the same day. If you’re willing to let go of a little control, go with one of the chef’s tasting three, five, or seven-course meals.
At its core, Bistro Poplar serves French cuisine that is perfectly executed with high-quality ingredients. But what takes its menu up a notch are surprising twists of Mediterranean and Asian influences, which both modernize and shake up French classics. Dishes like roasted lamb leg, duck confit, and pork tenderloin au poivre appear on the menu next to curried lentils and carrots, and a green curry with shrimp. It’s a combination that blends vibrant flavors together, offering a little something for every palate. Stop by Bistro Poplar on Sunday night when the restaurant turns into a tapas bar, bring some friends and enjoy small bites of creative chef creations.
St. Michaels is well known for great food, playing host to a number of eclectic and creative eateries. It’s hard to narrow down which are the best in the small town, but Bistro St. Michaels stands out. Located in walkable, downtown it’s easy to stop by for brunch before a day of shopping or for dinner after a day out on the water. The menu is classic American, with hearty main dishes like prime steak, lamb chops, and parmesan-crusted chicken. You can also get East Coast and Southern favorites like bacon collard greens, cheddar grits, and crab cakes. The chef even tends a greenhouse herb garden and uses his fresh harvests in various plates in the restaurant.
The Kent Narrows is a spot on the Eastern Shore that is often passed by as weekenders head to the beach towns on the coast. But a stop in at Bridges Restaurant while you’re passing through will be well worth your time. From a table inside, or out on the deck, you will enjoy views out over Wells Cove and Prospect Bay. The menu reflects its seaside locale, with options like seared rockfish with Old Bay mashed potatoes and lobster tail with crab imperial. If you are in the area on a Friday or Saturday night, visit Bridges to hear live jazz, blues, and contemporary music.
One of the more casual spots on our list, High Spot Gastropub is everything you want in a good pub: fun atmosphere, great brews on tap, and even better food to go with it. But don’t expect your average bar food at High Spot, as its menu changes seasonally. Sure, you can still start your meal with pretzels and cheese or beer-battered pickles, but from there, you can try a dressed up duck fat burger or a yellowfin tuna steak. For some ultimate comfort food, order one of the house-made pot pies. Regardless of your dinner order, be sure to wash it down with one of a number of craft beers that are selected from brewhouses across the country.
In a departure from so many restaurants serving traditional local cuisine, Scossa offers authentic Northern Italian fare in a setting that feels elegant and special. The chef is native to Northern Italy and is eager to share a bite of his bel paese with his guests. Scossa combines that wealth of knowledge to bring downtown Easton a touch class with the famous hospitality of Italy. Pastas are made in-house, and sauces are cooked for hours to give them deep and complex flavors. Start with the risotto of the day or gnocchi with veal ragu, and order a succulent chicken cacciatore for your second plate. Finish with a scoop of pistachio gelato or a slice of tiramisu.
As you drive out of town towards St. Michaels, head south through a deeply forested area and you’ll find T at the General Store in an unassuming old building, near a whitewashed church. At the heart of the menu is a vast tea selection that has grown to include tantalizing brunch and dinner options. Visit during the brunch hour for Tea House Benedict, farm fresh eggs with ham, creamy roasted garlic kale, and gruyere cheese. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with a grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce. It’s a little restaurant with huge character.