Annapolis for the hungry tourist

The Baltimore Sun

Annapolis tourists exploring the museums and historic sites are bound to get hungry. Fortunately, Annapolis is home to dozens of great lunch spots, from casual delis in the heart of town to elegant dining establishments along the water's edge.

For history-lovers who have spent the morning exploring centuries-old mansions such as the William Paca House & Gardens (186 Prince George St., 410-990-4538) or visiting museums such as the Banneker-Douglass Museum (84 Franklin St., 410-514-7618), a meal at the Sly Fox Pub (7 Church Circle, 443-482-9000) means there's no need to return to the 21st century.

This restaurant is in Reynolds Tavern, built in 1737 and still standing as one of the oldest buildings in Annapolis. The pub menu, served for both lunch and dinner, includes old-time comfort food such as shepherd's pie and fish and chips, as well as more modern fare, such as Thai salmon. The building is also home to the Reynolds Tea Room (410-295-9555), with its menu of quiches, sandwiches and salads, as well as an afternoon tea menu.

The Treaty of Paris Restaurant, (Maryland Inn, 16 Church Circle, 410-263-2641) dates to the Colonial era and is named for the pact that ended the American Revolution, which was signed in Paris but ratified in the State House in Annapolis in 1784. The restaurant, located in the historic inn, offers lunchtime salads and sandwiches with names like the Treaty Melt (English muffins topped with crab cakes, cheddar and tomato) and the Thomas Hyde salad (a green salad with vinaigrette).

Visiting the State House? The oldest continuously operating state capitol in the nation is a popular spot for tourists, as well as those on government business. You can stay in a political mood with a visit to Chick and Ruth's Delly (165 Main St., 410-269-6737), an old-fashioned deli serving milkshakes and sandwiches, best known for the sandwiches named for local politicians. Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch has a shrimp salad sandwich named for him, while the "Gov. Martin O'Malley" is made with roast beef.

Inside the restaurant, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited every morning, at 8:30 on weekdays and 9:30 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Another popular choice for those in town on state government business is Harry Browne's (66 State Circle, 410-263-4332). You never know whom you'll see there as you dine on Caesar salad, roast beef sandwiches, seafood stew and other power entrees.

Annapolis is famed for its waterfront, particularly along "Ego Alley," so named, some say, because the owners of expensive boats can show them off there. Check out the Alex Haley sculpture in the City Dock area, showing the author reading to schoolchildren at the site where his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, arrived aboard a slave ship.

Plenty of restaurants let visitors enjoy the splendid water view while eating lunch. Middleton Tavern (2 Market Space, 410-263-3323), serves an appropriately seafood-intensive lunch from its 18th-century building every day except Sunday, when brunch is on the menu. Start with oysters Rockefeller, clams casino or steamed clams, then move on to an entree of crab cake and rockfish. Burgers, steaks and chicken sandwiches provide choices for those who don't want fish.

Buddy's Crabs and Ribs, (100 Main St., 410-626-1100) provides that quintessential lunchtime Annapolis experience of pounding crabs while looking out over City Dock or Main Street. The restaurant serves a summer lunch buffet of seafood gumbo, shrimp, salad, pastas, desserts and more, as well as a regular lunch menu of - you guessed it - ribs and crabs.

Annapolis is widely considered the sailing capital of the nation. Sailors can pull right up to Cantler's Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Road, 410-757-1311), a landmark since Jimmy Cantler opened it in 1974. The restaurant, known for its crabs, offers free docking for boaters, as well as outdoor dining on the water's edge when the weather is good. Diners can choose from a full menu that includes scallops, oysters, fish sandwiches, hamburgers and cheese steaks.

Visiting the Annapolis Maritime Museum? This museum (723 Second St., Eastport, 410-295-0104), which operates out of a restored barge house in the Eastport neighborhood, preserves and commemorates the area's rich maritime history through exhibits and events.

Eastport, an easy walk over the Spa Creek Bridge from the historic downtown area, is home to many lunch spots, including the Boatyard Bar and Grill (Severn Avenue and Fourth Street, 410-216-6206). Fried oysters, burgers and soft-shell crab sandwiches are part of the attraction here. This restaurant is a favorite haunt of sailors and is a great spot for watching Wednesday-night sailing races in the summer.

For an elegant lunchtime respite, consider the Wild Orchard Cafe (909 Bay Ridge Ave., 410-268-8009), which serves a seasonally changing menu of creative meals with a Maryland touch, such as a crab fondue served with fruit.

And finally, if you're heading over the Bay Bridge, perhaps for some beach time in Ocean City, consider stopping on the way for a barbecue lunch at Red Hot and Blue (200 Old Mill Bottom Road, 410-626-7427). This restaurant has a fun atmosphere and serves pulled-pork sandwiches, barbecued ribs, blackened catfish and much more, with sides such as potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans.

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