8 Reasons to Drive to Frederick

By Rina Rapuano  |  April 20, 2015

Frederick, MD, is pretty much the perfect day trip from DC — it's only an hour or so up I-270, it's got an abundance of charm, quirk and history, and it boasts an ever-growing food scene that begs for exploration. Aside from a few notable newcomer restaurants, there's a vegan donut shop in the pipeline and a new bakery called Cakes to Die For that might be just as notorious for its 21-year-old owner as it is for its delicious treats. Here are eight of our favorite places to eat while taking in all that town has to offer:

  • Ayse Meze Lounge

    This den of Greek, Turkish and and Lebanese small plates offers up elegant versions of traditional dishes — and even puts some Maryland spins on them, as with the Maryland pide topped with blue crab, Old Bay aïoli and cheddar. 

    Insider Tip: The restaurant is closed Mondays, and live music can be enjoyed here many evenings a week.

    6 N. East St.; 240-651-5155

  • Brewer’s Alley

    Upscale pub grub is the name of the game here, with such casual options as burgers and pizzas sharing menu space with dishes like short ribs over jalapeño grits and roasted jumbo-lump crab cakes. Locals love the house brews, so definitely order something on tap.

    Insider Tip: The kid-friendly offerings and the well-regarded house-brewed beers make this a natural spot for families.

    124 N. Market St.; 301-631-0089

  • Firestone's Culinary Tavern

    The look and feel is all tavern, but the dishes are much less humble than they read — like the hand-cut pastrami sandwich that is no ordinary sandwich. If you can, save room for dessert.

    Insider Tip: This two-story building on the main drag has a gorgeous view of Market Street from its expansive windows.

    105 N. Market St.; 301-663-0330

  • Pistarro’s

    This Italian spot started slinging Neapolitan-style pizzas about a year ago and has been regularly packed with customers ever since. The wood-fired oven hails from Naples, the mozzarella is made in-house, the wines and tomatoes come from Italy and the draft beers are locally sourced from Monocacy Brewing Co.

    Insider Tip: If you're an active service member, teacher, police officer or firefighter, you'll receive 10% off the check.

    221 N. East St.; 301-378-9536

  • Tasting Room

    This corner restaurant that anchors the historic Downtown area reopened in late February following a major overhaul that brought new flooring, wallpaper and a new bar that includes a wine-tap system that increased its by-the-glass program. Try the crab "cojones" (aka balls), the rack of lamb or the lunchtime burger.

    Insider Tip: As of mid-March, the restaurant is now open Sundays from 3-8 PM. 

    101 N. Market St.; 240-379-7772

  • The Wine Kitchen

    This offshoot of the Leesburg, VA, wine bar with the same name is every bit as enticing as the original with its fun wine flights and thoughtfully crafted small plates and entrees. In addition to more than 40 wines by the glass, the restaurant also offers whiskey flights. 

    Insider Tip: Happy hour brings half-priced food and daily drink specials to the bar and lounge area during select times Tuesday through Sunday.

    50 Carroll Creek Way, #160; 301-663-6968

  • Vini Culture Wine Bar & Cafe

    This wine bar allows oenophiles to load a card with money and dispense their own tastes half glasses or full glasses of wines hooked up to the Enomatic drink-preserver. Wine-bar bites like flatbreads, charcuterie, sandwiches and cheeses are available for those who work up an appetite.

    Insider Tip: Like what you taste? You can also purchase wines to-go at a 25% discount.

    20 N. Market St.; 301-695-2816

  • Volt

    This fine-dining room set in a gorgeous 1890s mansion was chef-owner Bryan Voltaggio's first restaurant, which he decided to open in his hometown back in 2008 following nearly a decade working for big-time chef Charlie Palmer. Carefully composed dishes here are a playground of color and texture, showing the masterful hand of an artist at work.

    Insider Tip: Brunch is a local favorite, winning raves for its baked goods and Southern-inspired twists like the country ham congee with red-eye gravy.

    228 N. Market St.; 301-696-8658