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Here are the winners in Howard Magazine’s 2020 Best Restaurants Contest

Best Restaurants of Howard County 2020: Grilled Octopus, "Xtapodi," at Xenia Greek Kouzina.
Best Restaurants of Howard County 2020: Grilled Octopus, "Xtapodi," at Xenia Greek Kouzina. (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

The List of all Winners

Ambience: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

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Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

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Xenia Greek Kouzina

Ananda

Lori and Jim Caprara are the owners of Decadent Bakery in the Maple Lawn shopping center in Fulton. One of their specialties is this cannoli cake.
Lori and Jim Caprara are the owners of Decadent Bakery in the Maple Lawn shopping center in Fulton. One of their specialties is this cannoli cake. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Bakery: Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Decadent took top honors. Even though it opened just three days before the pandemic shuttered things in March, the Maple Lawn bakery has made a name for itself with its assortment of cakes. For instance, its wedding cake is a throwback to a classic style — almond-flavored cake with almond butter cream. Decadent also serves cannoli cake, birthday sprinkle cake and strawberry shortcake, which are all customer favorites. Chose from up to 13 types of cakes offered during the week and 16 on the weekend.

11710 E. Market Place, Fulton. 301-957-2530. decadentcafeanddesserts.com

Honorable mentions:

Kupcakes & Co., have daily offerings of cupcakes, cakes and bake goods at their bakery at 6010 Meadowridge Center Drive in Elkridge.
Kupcakes & Co., have daily offerings of cupcakes, cakes and bake goods at their bakery at 6010 Meadowridge Center Drive in Elkridge. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Kupcakes & Co.

Kupcakes & Co. earned an honorable mention in our readers poll. It’s no surprise — the Elkridge bakery has close to 30 flavors of cupcakes, as varied as salted caramel with a sprinkling of sea salt and refreshing key lime.

Their custom cakes are also definitely worth a taste and a look. The Instagram-worthy cakes can include mermaids, beach themes and other inspired ideas.

6010 Meadowridge Center Drive, Suite H, Elkridge. 443-552-3033. kupcakesco.com

Columbia, MD’s neighborhood bakery Touche Touchet features cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, cupcakes and their delicious fruit tart.
Columbia, MD’s neighborhood bakery Touche Touchet features cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, cupcakes and their delicious fruit tart. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Touche Touchet Bakery and Cafe

Even though the bakery is known for its New Orleans-inspired offerings, the bakery actually sells more sausage, egg and cheddar croissants than any other item. It’s been the top seller since opening 14 years ago. A real star is the fruit tart with pastry cream, fresh fruits, and apricot glaze.

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10400 Shaker Drive, Columbia. 410-997-9338. touchetouchetbakery.com

Display of bake goods at Roggenart bakery bistro and cafe which serves Brioche, croissants, Danishes, strudels, breads and coffee in Columbia, Maryland.
Display of bake goods at Roggenart bakery bistro and cafe which serves Brioche, croissants, Danishes, strudels, breads and coffee in Columbia, Maryland. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Roggenart

The European-themed bakery has been in Columbia for two years. Think of it as a “fusion bakery”; the baked goods are made in the Austrian tradition with French and Italian flair. That means plenty of scrumptious pastries, rich quiches and hearty grain breads on the menu.

6476 Dobbin Center Way, Columbia. 443-583-7854. roggenart.com

Barbecue: Mission BBQ

Honorable mentions:

Kloby’s Smokehouse

The Canopy

Bare Bones Grill and Bar (Tie)

Walker’s Tap & Table (Tie)

Bar food: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

Walker’s Tap & Table

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Looney’s Pub

Bartender: Christina Held, Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Damien Dickerson, Nottingham’s Tavern

Katie Houston, The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Tia Oselmo, Cured | 18th & 21st

Steve Wecker, at Iron Bridge Wine Co. restaurant in Columbia, which he opened n 2003.
Steve Wecker, at Iron Bridge Wine Co. restaurant in Columbia, which he opened n 2003. (Amy Davis)

Best overall: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

“Cheers with wine” is how co-owner Rob Wecker refers to the popular wine bar and small-plates restaurant that he and his brother, Steve, opened more than 15 years ago.

Much as at the Boston bar in the 1980s TV show, prices are aimed to draw guests in multiple nights a week instead of waiting for a special occasion.

During the pandemic, to-go wines have been half off, with additional discounts available on the restaurant’s monthly bargain wines.

10435 State Route 108, Columbia. 410-997-3456. Ironbridgewines.com

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Hudson Coastal

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Breakfast/brunch: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Eggspectation

First Watch

Burger: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Cured | 18th & 21st

SteelFire Kitchen and Bar

The White Oak Tavern

Chef: Adam Harper, Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Joel Young, Hudson Coastal

Brian Thornton, Cured | 18th & 21st

Chad Wells, Walker’s Tap & Table

Chinese: Hunan Manor

Honorable mentions:

Hunan Legend

East Moon Asian Bistro

P.F. Chang’s

Cocktail: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Hudson Coastal

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Coffee: Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Honorable mentions:

Little Market Café

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Mad City Coffee

Crab cake: Hudson Coastal

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Deli: Jason’s Deli

Honorable mentions:

Bonheur Patisserie & Deli

RegionAle

Charter Deli

Dessert: Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Fine dining: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Stanford Grill

Food truck: T & J Waffles

Honorable mentions:

Bennett’s Grill

Greek on the Street

Mike’s Gelato

Frozen treats: Scoop & Paddle Ice Cream Co.

Honorable mentions:

Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Cindy’s Soft Serve

The Meadows

Happy hour: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Facci Ristorante of Maple Lawn and Turf Valley

The White Oak Tavern

Healthful menu: CAVA

Honorable mentions:

Great Sage

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Cured | 18th & 21st (Tie)

Koshary by MISTEKA (Tie)

A glass of beer, at Jailbreak Brewing, which won for best beer.
A glass of beer, at Jailbreak Brewing, which won for best beer. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

House-brewed beer: Jailbreak Brewing Co.

Quarantine life have you wanting to break free? According to Jailbreak’s website, “our artfully crafted beer is meant to be an escape from whatever drama is present in your life.”

The Laurel brewery features more than a dozen items on tap. Choose from a Russian imperial stout called “Black Is Beautiful” or a “painkiller-inspired hard seltzer” called HardWater Tiki. To accompany such libations, the menu offers forward-thinking pub fare such as spiced flank steak, Mexican street corn, a number of tacos and flatbreads and a boozy ice cream sandwich.

9445 Washington Blvd. N., Laurel. 443-345-9699. jailbreakbrewing.com

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Manor Hill Brewing

Black Flag Brewing Co.

Indian: Ananda

Honorable mentions:

Royal Taj Restaurant

Namaste Foodie

Chutney Indian Restaurant

Italian: Facci Ristorante of Maple Lawn and Turf Valley

Honorable mentions:

Aida Bistro & Wine Bar

Tino’s Italian Bistro

Pasta Plus Restaurant

Japanese: Sushi King Japanese Restaurant

Honorable mentions:

Sushi Sono

UMI Sushi

Sushi Q

Korean: Honey Pig Restaurant

Honorable mentions:

BonChon Chicken

Shin Chon

Hot Pot Hero Ellicott City

Late-night dining: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Victoria Gastro Pub

Honey Pig Restaurant (Tie)

Xenia Greek Kouzina (Tie)

Live entertainment: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

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Xenia Greek Kouzina

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The White Oak Tavern

La Palapa Grill & Cantina

Lunch menu: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Xenia Greek Kouzina

The White Oak Tavern

Mexican: El Azteca

Honorable mentions:

La Palapa Grill & Cantina

Uncle Julio’s Columbia

Ernesto’s Fine Mexican Food

Mile High Chicken and Waffles is drizzled with maple syrup on a bed of succotash.
Mile High Chicken and Waffles is drizzled with maple syrup on a bed of succotash. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun)

New for 2020: Delivery: Cured | 18th & 21st

Known for its fine dining and attention to detail, Cured | 18th and 21st showed that it could pivot to master the art of delivery by applying its high standards to its carryout efforts.

Owner Steve Wecker said that when indoor dining was banned amid the pandemic, his team made sure the quality of the food didn’t change. That meant paying attention to new details such as packaging and clearly labeling all delivery items. They also packed carefully so that everything stayed fresh and didn’t wilt or get soggy as it was being delivered.

It also didn’t hurt that they were able to deliver alcohol to those who were staying at home, but still thirsty.

10980 Grantchester Way #110, Columbia. 667-786-7111. cured1821.com

Honorable mentions:

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Tino’s Italian Bistro

Cava

Bar of Hudson Coastal Raw Bar and Grill. The restaurant was named Pandemic MVP in Howard Magazine's Best Restaurants Readers' Choice Poll 2020.
Bar of Hudson Coastal Raw Bar and Grill. The restaurant was named Pandemic MVP in Howard Magazine's Best Restaurants Readers' Choice Poll 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

New for 2020: Pandemic MVP: Hudson Coastal

How does one become the pandemic’s most valuable player?

Post more than 100 messages on social media offering encouraging words, a little humor and must-have information for your customers, help as many charitable organizations as you can, and provide food for the staff of area hospitals. The popular Fulton restaurant did this and more throughout the shutdown.

Brad Hudson owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, Tricia. The couple adopted a pay-it-forward approach. Each time they received donations, they used that money to pay for the meal of first responders who came to the restaurant.

11811 W Market Place, Fulton. 240-280-8640. hudsoncoastal.com

Honorable mentions:

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Cured 18th & 21st

Lib’s Grill (Tie)

Walker’s Tap & Table (Tie)

The dining area at Xenia Greek Kouzina.
The dining area at Xenia Greek Kouzina. (Karl Merton Ferron/The Baltimore Sun)

New restaurant: Xenia Greek Kouzina

Howard’s best new restaurant winner brought a big-city feel to Columbia with sleek decor, elevated service and a robust menu of fine Greek food and fresh seafood with a Mediterranean flair.

In its debut year, the restaurant was led by executive chef Konstantinos “Kostas” Kontogiannis, a winner of the Cochon555 competition in Washington, D.C., in 2017. While Kontogiannis recently left Xenia, don’t fret. Akis Anagnostou, the restaurant’s pastry chef and managing partner, has slipped into the executive chef role and promises to bring the same level of excellence that has made the fine-dining restaurant a favorite.

8850 Columbia 100 Parkway, Columbia. 410-740-2500. xeniagreekcouzina.com

Honorable mentions:

Decadent, a Coffee and Dessert Bar

Walker’s Tap & Table

Tasty Empanadas

Outdoor dining: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Facci Ristorante of Maple Lawn and Turf Valley

Pizza: Coal Fire Ellicott City

Honorable mentions:

Facci Ristorante of Maple Lawn and Turf Valley

Ledo Pizza Fulton

Walker’s Tap & Table

Place to take out-of-towners: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Xenia Greek Kouzina

The White Oak Tavern

Place to take the kids: Hudson Coastal

Honorable mentions:

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews

Main Event Columbia

Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille Elkridge

Seafood: Hudson Coastal

Honorable mentions:

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Cured | 18th & 21st (tie)

Xenia Greek Kouzina (tie)

Server: Boris Alexander, Xenia Greek Kouzina

Honorable mentions:

Amanda Curtis, The Iron Bridge Wine Co. (Tie)

TJ Kozakiewicz, The Iron Bridge Wine Co. (Tie)

Adam Burke, The White Oak Tavern

Sports bar: Looney’s Pub

Honorable mentions:

Mutiny Pirate Bar & Island Grille Elkridge

Frisco’s Tap House

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Steak: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Stanford Grill

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Sushi: Sushi King Japanese Restaurant

Honorable mentions:

Sushi Sono

UMI Sushi

Sushi Q Elkridge

Takeout: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

Lib’s Grill

Maiwand Kabob

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar

Value: Cured | 18th & 21st

Honorable mentions:

Xenia Greek Kouzina

The White Oak Tavern

El Azteca

Hearts of Palm Crabcake Platter with roasted French green beans on a bed of succotash, topped with lemon caper remoulade at Great Sage.
Hearts of Palm Crabcake Platter with roasted French green beans on a bed of succotash, topped with lemon caper remoulade at Great Sage. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Vegetarian options: Great Sage

General manager Angel Smith says it’s a combination of food, ambience and service that makes Great Sage readers’ favorite vegetarian restaurant in Howard County. The menu includes seasonal specials as well as staples such as cauliflower buffalo bites and gluten-free carrot cake.

After 16 years of serving Clarksville, the restaurant has many loyal customers who are considered family. Regulars continued to come weekly to support the restaurant during the pandemic, Smith said.

5809 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville. 443-535-9400. greatsage.com

Honorable mentions:

Koshary by Misteka

The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

The White Oak Tavern

View: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

The Turn House

Cured | 18th & 21st

Phoenix Upper Main

Wine list: The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Honorable mentions:

Cured | 18th & 21st

Xenia Greek Kouzina

Pure Wine Cafe

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