Over in western Maryland, the charming city of Hagerstown has a rich history, and an exciting and eclectic dining scene too. Foodies will find everything from authentic Bavarian fare that harks back to the city’s German founder to contemporary American cuisine. We list the top ten restaurants to try.
Schmankerl Stube offers guests a truly authentic Bavarian dining experience. In fact, everything about the restaurant evokes Germany, from its cuisine and dirndl-clad wait staff to its cozy, homey interior decorated with Bavarian memorabilia. Dine on traditional dishes of pork shank with rahmsauce, sauerkraut, bread dumplings and apple-flavored red cabbage, or Bavarian bratwurst with spätzle, followed by desserts like apple strudel and Black Forest cake. Select a beverage or two from Schmankerl Stube’s range of German wines and imported draft beers to complete your authentic meal.
Since setting up shop in downtown Hagerstown two years ago, Thai Zap has quickly established itself as one of the town’s best loved restaurants for its mix of authentic traditional and modern Thai dishes. There’s plenty of familiar dishes like chicken satay and pad Thai, and fans of fiery food will love the spicy seafood choo chee curry with shrimp, scallop, squid and salmon, as well as Thai Zap’s signature noodles with eggs, napa cabbage, bell peppers, scallions and celery in homemade sukiyaki sauce. And what better way to cool your taste buds after that spicy food than with a Thai snow cone? Choose from exotic flavors like lychee, rambutan and jackfruit.
Mouthwatering barbecue meets live music and craft beers at Hempen Hill BBQ, a popular, laid-back restaurant opened in 2005 by husband and wife duo Kathy and Jay Reeder. Plenty of barbecue classics feature on Hempen Hill’s menu: from Texas beef brisket and baby back ribs to pulled pork and slow-smoked chicken; but there are burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads to choose from as well. Curiously, for a barbecue joint, Hempen Hill also has great vegetarian options and non-meat eaters can choose from dishes such as vegan ‘chicken’ tenders, roasted veggie burger, or smoked tofu with rice noodles and spicy Thai peanut sauce.
Headed by executive chef E. Jay Zuspan, 28 South is a contemporary American restaurant serving creative plates crafted from locally sourced ingredients in a stylish, historic building in the heart of downtown Hagerstown. Begin with tempting appetizers such as blue crab wontons and pan-fried chicken livers with demi-glace, caramelized onions and bacon, followed by entrées that include agave-glazed sea scallops and boar bolognese. Artisan pizzas and burgers are served too, alongside craft beers and a concise, but impressive wine list.
House of Kobe has been serving its signature, authentic Japanese cuisine in Hagerstown for over 30 years, but a long-standing reputation is not the only thing the popular restaurant boasts, as guest have three dining options to choose from. Turn to the dinner menu for classic appetizers and entrées like beef tataki and chicken katsu; check out its sushi menu for a wide range of rolls, nigiri and sashimi; or for an extra-special evening, opt for a hibachi dinner and have House of Kobe’s talented chefs cook your food right in front of you on one of the restaurant’s hibachi grills.
Rik’s Café focuses on eclectic, contemporary American cuisine dished up in a casual, California-inspired space in a slightly off-the-beaten-track strip mall. Chef Arik’s creativity and locally sourced produce combine to make tempting plates such as ground lamb burger with roasted red peppers, spinach and goat cheese on ciabatta and honey-smoked salmon cakes with cusabi sauce, jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables, while the café’s ever-evolving wine list and selection of craft beers make the perfect accompaniment.
It’s one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ places, but diners who take the time to discover Dolce Pizza are rarely disappointed. The restaurant may well be known for its delicious pizzas, but it also has one of the most varied menus in town. Guests won’t want to miss out on other popular Italian dishes like pasta, subs and stromboli. A number of Eastern European dishes also feature on the menu, from stuffed cabbage to tochitura Moldoveneasca (pork, liver and sausage in tomato sauce served with polenta and egg). Better yet, free homemade doughnuts are served at every table after meals.
Undoubtedly one of Hagerstown’s best loved restaurants, Schula’s Grill & Crab House is a laid-back restaurant and a seafood lover’s paradise with dishes that include freshly shucked and steamed clams, fish tacos and deep-fried oysters. More carnivore-friendly fare includes a juicy, half-pound cheeseburger or prime rib steak and cheese sandwich. Don’t leave without trying Schula’s award-winning colossal crab cake, made with 100 percent jumbo lump crab meat.
For authentic Indian cuisine in Hagerstown, look no further than Mango Grill. Inspired by Goan and Maghlai cuisine, the restaurant’s extensive menu features dishes like fiery chicken vindaloo, nargisi keemamutter (minced lamb cooked with green peas, onion, tomato and fresh Indian herbs and spices) or tandoori shrimp. There are also plenty of options for vegetarians: from paneer tikka masala to the mildly spicy, vegan-friendly vegetable jalfrezi. Mango Grill also serves a small number of Thai dishes, drunken noodles and green Thai chicken curry included, and offers a daily lunch buffet.