As we approach the end of 2022, I’m closing out the Beltway Series and leaving no exit unvisited! I’ve burned a lot of gas (but unfortunately, not so many calories) and hope that you keep these lists handy on your travels around the counties.
In order of exit, here are my picks for the best bites around the southwest corridor of 695.
Honey Bee Diner (Exit 3)
7346 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie
One of my first childhood memories dining out was visiting the Honey Bee Diner with my mom. It has since relocated a few blocks north, but it’s brighter and better than ever, and gives you that ‘50s era diner feel that immediately puts you in a good mood. If you’re not afraid to eat alone, I recommend sitting at the counter to enjoy small talk with the servers and to witness the efficiency with which the busy chefs turn out incredible quantities of food. My order: western omelet with cheese, potatoes and onions, and white toast.
Ann’s Dari Creme (Exit 3)
7918 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie
Oh my-lanta! I couldn’t step foot onto Ritchie Highway without venturing a little further south to Ann’s Dari Creme. You may recognize it from the larger-than-life statue of a hot dog wearing pearls that’s perched out front, or simply by the fact it’s been a staple on Ritchie Highway for over 70 years. Either way, it’s hard not to admire the sheer amount of hot dogs that come out of this tiny roadside stand.
I decided to “go big or go home” with their deep-fried triple hot dog smothered with chili, onions and mustard, but you may want to start with just one or two if you’re a first-timer (unless you really want to impress everyone in the place). Plus, it’s always good to leave room for one of their shakes or sundaes.
G&M Restaurant & Lounge (Exit 8)
804 North Hammonds Ferry Road, Linthicum Heights
A restaurant that needs no introduction, although some might not know G&M actually opened as a “neighborhood pizza joint” in 1974. While you can’t find pizza anywhere on the menu now, you will find their iconic 8-ounce crab cakes, which are often compared to softballs due to their size. A lot of debate surrounds who has the best crab cake in town, but if you’re on a tour and comparing, this is a mandatory stop — even if only to pay respects to a local institution.
Royal Spice (Exit 8)
810 Nursery Road, Suite G, Linthicum Heights
As I opened the door to Royal Spice, I was immediately hit with the aromas of Indian and Nepalese cuisine and my mouth began to water. The menu is extensive, offering a variety of classic plates including tikka masala (your choice of protein), a whole tandoori chicken, tons of traditional curry options and enough naan options to keep your carb cravings in check. Fair warning: It’s located in a strip mall, and not in the fanciest of atmospheres. But don’t let that deter you, such locales are where I often find some of my best bites. And while I’m not a huge fan of buffets, I was even tempted by their all-you-can-eat special, but instead opted for carryout.
Elkridge Furnace Inn (Exit 9)
5745 Furnace Ave., Elkridge
When it comes to hospitality, the Elkridge Furnace Inn is one of the area’s most historic properties. A tavern operated at the site after it was surveyed in 1744, but was later torn down. And in the mid-19th century, a tavern and adjoining manor house opened on the property. The restaurant was given new life in the 1990s when the current owners, Dan and Donna Wecker, undertook its restoration. While the property is huge, the restaurant is warm and cozy, offering multiple rooms with fireplace views where you can sit and enjoy your meal. For cuisine, the menu is classic and super seasonal, with an unparalleled approach to farm-to-table dining using many ingredients grown in their expansive gardens on-site, including their own mushroom house.
Heavy Seas Beer (Exit 8/9)
4615 Hollins Ferry Road, Halethorpe
I am in no way condoning drinking and driving. Full stop. BUT, if you have a designated driver and happen to be around Exit 8 or 9, maybe you can convince them to stop off at Heavy Seas, a craft brewery best known for its flagship IPA Loose Cannon. While the brewery is currently undergoing renovations, you can still imbibe some of your favorite local brews while enjoying one of Baltimore’s most famous burgers from Kooper’s Chowhound Burger Wagon.
Our Recipes Cafe (Exit 11)
1332 Sulphur Spring Road, Arbutus
When putting together my list of new places to visit, I almost skipped Our Recipes Cafe, and that would have been my biggest restaurant mistake of 2022. Admittedly, I’m not a grits expert, but their crab shrimp and grits had me feeling a certain way. At that point, I couldn’t stop because I knew the ultimate food porn shot was The Brunchwich — eggs over easy on a Belgian waffle with a crab cake, bacon, avocado and Old Bay honey drizzle. And despite the fact I was stuffed, after hearing they had homemade desserts, I had to try the Kahlua bread pudding, which is a recipe from the grandmother of chef and owner Sandra Maye.
The Beaumont (Exit 13)
801 Frederick Road, Catonsville
A pleasant surprise on my journey through Catonsville, The Beaumont is a cozy and intimate steakhouse offering classic dishes in a casual atmosphere — 86 the stuffiness. The menu is approachable and safe, and at the same time offers mouthwatering dishes that you’ll have a hard time choosing between. Since the filet mignon is their specialty, and locally sourced from J.W. Treuth’s farm in Oella, I ordered it with two of my all-time favorite sides: rosemary truffle fries and mac ’n cheese. But if you’re not a fan of red meat, there are plenty of other options including salads, seafood and poultry.
Catonsville Gourmet (Exit 13)
829 Frederick Road, Catonsville
I will say this up front: The Smith Island Cake at Catonsville Gourmet was one of the best I’ve ever had — and trust me, I’ve had a lot. We opted for the pumpkin-flavored cake while dining in, but went back a few hours later and got two more slices of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup version to go.
But I didn’t just eat cake, not that there would be anything wrong with that. The restaurant prides itself on its seafood offerings and has one of the most extensive selections of fish, crab, scallop and shrimp dishes that I’ve seen on a local menu. If you enjoy seafood as much as I do, consider making this a destination drive.
Pro tip: There’s a sibling location, The Gourmet at Kenilworth, located off Exit 26.
El Guapo (Exit 13)
729A Frederick Road, Catonsville
You can’t help but feel happy when you walk into El Guapo, but you feel that even moreso when you walk out! The ceilings are adorned with colorful flags and the walls are covered with larger-than-life murals featuring Día de los Muertos party scenes, which makes sense given the fact they offer over 300 tequilas and mezcals. But what I enjoyed most was the creative selection of tacos, including everything from piña colada shrimp, Nashville hot chicken and crab cakes to chicken, carnitas and grilled fish. Did I mention that they also make their own hot sauces and pipe 1990s-2000s era singalong songs through the speakers all brunch long?
State Fare (Exit 13)
748 Frederick Road, Catonsville
I often get asked for bottomless brunch recommendations but hesitate responding because there aren’t many restaurants that combine unlimited mimosas and bloody marys with a solid food menu. Fortunately for you, there is State Fare. To start, the most perfectly shareable brunch dish — monkey bread — is featured on the menu. Combine that with strawberry cream cheese-stuffed French toast and their Twin Chicken Egg and Cheese Biscuit, and you have a solid base for a few hours of endless imbibing.
Chris Franzoni is a Baltimore native, resident, food fanatic, and “Eater-in-Chief” of @EatMoreBeMore, which he started seven years ago with two goals — eating his way through the city and shining a positive light on the Baltimore restaurant and hospitality scene.