Open seven years, Jilly's has acquired a devoted following who like the restaurant's laid-back atmosphere and straightforward cuisine.
In Ellicott City's Enchanted Forest Shopping Center on U.S. 40, Jilly's was named after the renowned New York City nightclub that was a favorite hangout of Frank Sinatra's during the 1960s and 1970s.
Owner Will Reich opened the restaurant in 1992 when the shopping center made its debut. Last year, Reich bought the Forest Diner, the popular meeting point that is across the street.
The two eating places don't compete for the patronage or taste buds of local clientele, Reich says.
The Forest Diner is an old-fashioned roadside restaurant with a 40-year history. Jilly's has a different look and feel.
Once a restaurant that catered to families, Jilly's has been transformed into a sports bar with sports memorabilia decorating the wall and several televisions showing athletic events.
Pictures of sports legends such as Muhammad Ali, Rocky Marciano, Ted Williams and Willie Mays hang alongside mementos from the days of classic Baltimore Orioles and Colts teams.
"The pictures on the wall of Jilly's are far more familiar with the fathers of some of our customers," says Reich, who shows as many as 10 college and professional football games on Saturdays and Sundays during the season.
Jilly's has the feel of a neighborhood pub and a menu to match. There are daily soups such as Maryland crab, chicken and rice, and chili, and a hearty dose of big sandwiches: crab cake, grilled chicken, cheese steak subs and fried flounder.
Entrees at Jilly's include jumbo crab cake platters, baby-back ribs, grilled tuna steak, chicken pot pie and meatloaf.
Charbroiled steaks, pasta dishes and Southwestern foods such as nachos and quesadillas round out the menu.
Breakfast is served only on weekends.
Jilly's offers customers one nifty option that is not found every day: a Keno instant lottery screen.
"Keno offers people entertainment and a little bit of a diversion while they eat," Reich says. "No one gets wealthy, and no one goes broke, either. You can win a few dollars, and it's fun."
Where: 10030 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, 410-461-3093.
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Prices: Appetizers, $2.50 to $8.95; entrees, $6.95 to $18.95.
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover.