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Trip Report Eating Our Way Through Annapolis

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We recently returned from a few days in Annapolis. Let me warn you that this was more of a gastronomic tour than a sight-seeing tour!

Baltimore hotel - Intercontinental Harbor Court

First, we stopped for a night in Baltimore. I used Priceline and bid for a hotel in the Inner Harbor area. I got the Intercontinental Harbor Court for $77 per night (the website rate was $279-389). We had two rooms and they were able to give us connecting rooms. Although directly next to each other, one room had a $30 surcharge for a harbor view (which we requested) and the other did not. We were able to view the harbor by looking over the building in front of us. The rooms and bathrooms were very nice. We ordered a wake-up call that never came and they were very apologetic about it, asking how they could help, could they send up a bellman, order a taxi, etc.

Baltimore restaurants – Chicken Rico and Faidley’s

While in Baltimore, I checked Zagat’s for restaurants with good food but not great décor. I was looking for what are affectionately termed ‘dives’. We had dinner at Chicken Rico, delicious Peruvian roasted chicken with rice and beans and plantains. Yum! The next day, we had lunch at Faidley’s Seafood. They are located in the Lexington Marketplace, which is fascinating marketplace with tons of food stalls/restaurants. The area outside the marketplace, where we parked the car, was a bit on the questionable side and I probably wouldn’t hang out there after dark. At Faidley’s, we ordered crabcakes and some sides. Let me tell you, I have had some experience with crabcakes, and these were some of the very best! My sides of coleslaw and macaroni salad were good, although too heavy on the mayonnaise for my taste. My husband’s side of cucumber salad was heavenly. Too bad he had to share it with me. Their macaroni and cheese and french fries were very good.

Annapolis hotel – Loew’s Annapolis

Using Priceline, we got this hotel for $59 per night (the website rate was $140). This hotel is not near the water, so there is no waterfront view. We asked for a quiet room, so were given one away from the atrium, which is reportedly noisy during weddings and other affairs. The room was very nice. The people were very friendly and the place had a nice vibe. It was very quiet while we were there, so it might be different during a busy time.

Annapolis hotel – Marriott Annapolis Waterfront

Using Priceline, we got this hotel for $81 for one night (the website rate was $369). Upon check-in, they had us booked in a King-bed room. We asked to be moved to a two-bedded room and they cheerfully found one room for us. It was a very large room and had a beautiful view of the harbor. We were only there one night, but it was such a nice spot that I wanted to sit in the sun, in the armchair by the window, gaze out at the harbor and curl up with a good book. The bathroom was okay but nothing exciting. This hotel felt busier and more impersonal than the Loew’s, but still very nice. We ordered some snacks from room service. They had to come back a second time to bring the water I’d requested. Then, a third time to bring ketchup for the french fries. Also, all calls for service from the in-room phone go to a central service number, so it’s impossible to know if you’re calling the front desk or room service or housekeeping. When I called to let them know I was leaving the room service table outside our room, they seemed confused. Plus, more often than not, the phone went unanswered and I’d try back again later.

Annapolis restaurants

We were completely surprised by the variety and quality of the restaurants here. True, it is the state capitol and the Naval Academy is here. And they probably have a lot of weekend visitors from DC and Baltimore. But, Annapolis seems to have a higher proportion of quality restaurants than its small size would suggest.

Jalapenos – Mexican Tapas. Lovely restaurant, located in a strip mall. When we walked in, we immediately noticed the beauty of the interior design. It is very reminiscent of Mexico and a tranquil, relaxing environment. We ordered the very large bowl of hand-mashed guacamole. It was heavenly. Worth the trip, just for the guacamole. Then, we had a selection of tapas (I’m doing this from memory, so I won’t get this exactly right) – portabello mushroom in a balsamic reduction with gorgonzola and pine nuts, lamp chops, ceviche, Spanish tortilla (my favorite – a potato and egg pie), garlic shrimp (their specialty) and sautéed vegetables (my least favorite). Everything was excellent and I can highly recommend this restaurant. Very friendly people also.

Paul’s Homewood Café – Greek Food. Cute little place located down the street from the Loew’s hotel. We loved the décor and were surprised by the modern loft-like atmosphere, including open duct work. We went for lunch and had the best and most friendly service ever. We had Greek salads, pasticcio for me and lamb kebab for hubby. Simple food, really good. I was indecisive when ordering and asked the waitress to recommend between moussaka and pasticcio. She laughed and said one is like her right and the other is like her left hand, and how could she choose between them? She said she was in a noodle mood today, so I ordered the pasticcio.

Cantler’s – Hard Crabs. We took a drive out to nowhere and eventually found Cantler’s. It’s not far from town, but the route snakes through residential neighborhoods until suddenly you’re at the waterfront. We’d heard that this is the best place in the world, and also that it’s a tourist trap. We found it to be a nice spot overlooking the river, with paper-covered tables ready for cracking hard crabs. The crabs, seemingly cooked and then covered with Old Bay seasoning, rather than cooked in Old Bay, were delicious. You can order as few as 1 crab at a time. We started with a half-dozen, added one and then added two more. The hush puppies were delicious. The corn was very good, as were the coleslaw and potato salad. We sat at a communal table facing the river and spent 2 ½ hours enjoying ourselves. The waitress was cheerful and promptly brought extra items. She kept showing up with free soda refills and asking if we wanted anything else. We arrived at 5 pm on a weekday and the outside seating area was ½ full and the indoor area had just a few customers. By the time we left at 7:30 pm, the outside area was full, the indoor area was full, there were people waiting in line and about a dozen cars were waiting to pull into the parking lot. A few boys were outside directing traffic. If you go here, I’d recommend avoiding all busy times, especially Saturday nights!

Hell’s Point – Seafood. A new restaurant, overlooking the waterfront. The food was very good, although perhaps we liked some other places better. Fried calamari and fried clams were delicious appetizers. We loved the sauce served with the calamari. We requested bread and got a basket with Irish soda bread, some sort of yeasty bread and absolutely delicious cornbread. Maine lobster roll was excellent, filled with lots of lobster meat. A crab cake sandwich was okay, but somewhat disappointing given the predominance of crab dishes in the area. A very interesting watermelon salad was served nearby and I would love to have tried that. The menu was varied and had lots of interesting choices. They’ve only been open a couple of weeks, so we were impressed. You could tell they were new, with everyone trying very hard to please. I would definitely come again.

Osteria 177 – Italian Food. We try very hard to avoid Italian food while on vacation (except in Italy, of course), since we have an over-abundance of Italian restaurants near our home in NJ. But, we walked past this place and the menu looked too good to pass up. The caprese salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, peppers) was delicious. Hubby’s flat chicken cutlet with arugula on top was very good. But, the absolute best dish I had on this entire trip was their ‘sacchetti di pasta di porcini’. These were little purses of fresh egg pasta (similar to wontons in shape) filled with ricotta cheese, pears and a touch of gorgonzola cheese, served in a porcini mushroom and cream sauce. My mouth is watering, thinking of that dish! The restaurant is beautifully decorated and we felt quite underdressed at lunchtime, although everyone was similarly attired in shorts. We enjoyed the continuous opera music.

Annapolis Ice Cream - This delicious ice cream made us forgive the small wait. The sign in the window says it has been voted Annapolis’ best ice cream for 5 years in a row. We believe it.

Oh yeah, we did take a tour of the Naval Academy, walk around the waterfront and the State House too.

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