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Dining Out: Paul's Homewood Café is one of Annapolis' enduring dining successes


In 1949, 919 West in Annapolis was considered the outskirts of town. A young Paul Nicholas, springing from the city's thriving Greek-American community, hoped his new business would attract folks heading into the Capital and growing neighborhoods around him. It was called, simply, Paul's Lunch.

Sixty-eight years later his children, Anna and Chris, preside over what surely is one of Annapolis' enduring dining successes – Paul's Homewood Cafe.

The once-tiny lunchroom is now a spacious spot open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch that somehow retains a cozy feel. The décor is light and airy. The walls are a gallery of local artists' work. The serving team is unfailingly friendly and able and there always seems to be a member of the Nicholas family somewhere around. Some employees have been there for decades.

And the food? (Full disclosure here. I have visited Paul's dozens of times over the years.)

The menu is a combination of artfully prepared American and Greek-Mediterranean classics. Look for more than a dozen small-plate "mezes" (appetizers), some meal-sized salads, a tidy list of seafood, beef, lamb and chicken entrees and a special or two.

The kitchen, under the direction of Chef Charles Wagner, knows precisely why Paul's has been around so long: its customers come to relax over a meal they can count on to be good time after time.

Paul's appetizer list will speak to you with a sunny Greek accent. Yes, there are fresh Clams Casino, Oysters Rockefeller and a fine serving of Prince Edward Island mussels sautéed with garlic, shallots and wine. But the Spanakopita ($8), the airy bites of filo dough filled with spinach, feta and ricotta cheeses and dill and Dolmades ($7), grape leaves stuffed with seasoned ground beef and rice, are well worth the eating.

The night we were there, the special meze was haloumi ($8), that durable Greek cheese. Lightly grilled, it's neither runny nor gooey, but pleasantly chewy and served with a tangy balsamic reduction.

Raves went to the evening's soup special, a smooth carrot ginger blend ($5/cup) that succeeded on the carrot's natural sweetness and fresh ginger. Avgelemono, the lemony chicken soup with tiny orzo pasta is always on the menu.

Paul's even features a special "meze dinner" for diners who want to sample several offerings.

Branzino is a sea bass abundant in the Mediterranean and a favorite of Greeks. Paul's roasts the fish whole with olive oil, herbs and lemon. They will happily debone it for you making the sweet, mild meat easier to fork out. Along with rice and the excellent house Greek salad, it's an addictive meal ($29) as one of our entrees.

Craving beef, but not in the mood for filet mignon or Chef Wagner's rich Steak Diane, I opted for the flat iron steak and Greek potatoes ($15). The beef was a just right portion and marinated to ensure tenderness. I seldom enjoy marinated beef, but Paul's is subtly seasoned and along with the Greek potatoes and a well-dressed small Caesar salad. It was okay, but all the while I was eyeing that beautiful Branzino upon which my wife was feasting.

Lamb entrees get the special treatment famous in Greek cuisine. The slow-cooked shanks ($29) are braised in red wine and vegetables, while the kabobs - marinated chunks of leg meat and vegetables - are grilled and served over savory rice pilaf ($25).

Paul's wine list counts up more than 50 selections, including half bottles (rarely found in local restaurants) and wines from Greece and Maryland.

You can find yourself in a rut when it comes to desserts at Paul's. You may find one you like and order it again and again. All are made in their kitchen. I gravitate to the elegant key lime pie ($6) or the coconut crème pie whenever they're available. Lovers of baklava and other Greek sweets will end their meals with a smile.

We are blessed with a handful of local restaurants that have been around for decades … handed down through families as a symbol of their professional pride and the relationships they forge with generations of customers.

I'm told there are family members ready to follow Chris and Anna who share their passion for the business and the community.

Good for them. Good for us.


Paul's Homewood Café

WHERE: 919 West St., Annapolis

PHONE: 410-267-7891



•Monday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

•Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

•Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

•Sunday: 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m.

CHEF: Charles Wagner


PITAS AND SALADS: $10 to $16

ENTREES: $15 to $29

CREDIT CARDS: All Major Cards



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