Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food Experiences: Best of Howard County 2011

Laurel Tavern Donuts
Most of my favorite food doesn't reduce to my list of the best restaurants in Howard County -- even after I supplemented with a second list of food finds at special groceries.

So, like in 2009,  I'm taking Elizabeth Large's inspiration for a list of "great experiences" to create a separate list of ways that you can enjoy great food in Howard County. I arbitrary replaced half the items the 2010 list (and almost everything from the 2009 list).  Please add comments with your favorite Howard County food experiences -- places to shop, places to eat, etc.

  • Dim sum at Red Pearl or Asian Court Both joints do weekday dim sum from a menu, but take a group for weekend brunch when you can pick from a card and sample both the standards like shumai or steamed buns along with exotic items like chicken feet and savory cakes.
  • Go try Korean food.  Howard County's unique cuisine is the Korean options along Rte 40.  You can get everything from barbecue to soup to tofu.  You could read an overview post.  Or just start at Shin Chon Garden and order dolset bi bim bop and a table where you can grill some bulgogi.  Try the little dishes they bring -- along with the miso soup and the steamed egg.
  • Sample craft beers and spicy burritos at Frisco Tap House in Columbia.  If I drank more, I would spend more time at the bar sampling the best beers and eating the Southwest cuisine.  They moved to a new location and added even more beer.
  • Pick strawberries at Gorman Farms.  It's an easy drive from anywhere from Fulton to Ellicott City.  It's a short walk to the field.  Great to take kids.
  • Hot soup on a cold night.  The tofu stews at Lighthouse Tofu BBQ make for a terrific, casual weeknight dinner.
  • Take someone for a donut at Laurel Tavern Donuts They're soft and puffy right out of the oil, and even the cake donuts are light.  The U.S. 1 spot will make some memories for you.
  • Buy authentic Mexican ingredients at Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia.  Start with shepherd's tacos from Steve Raichlen's cookbook or anything from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday.  Lily's has all the spices, the canned peppers, even fresh cactus.  And Lily's makes fresh corn tortillas.
  • Sample beer and a burger at Victoria Gastropub in Columbia. Five half-pours and the best burger in Howard County. Even better if you can enjoy the "parking lot cafe" and eat watching your car.
  • Red Pearl
  • Shop for kitchenware in the Hanoori Home Mart.  The Asian kitchen store near the H Mart sells decorate items like tea cups and chop sticks, along with knives, steamers, bento boxes, and rolling pins that you won't see a Williams Sonoma.  You can buy all the supplies that you'd need for Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings recipes.

What would you add?

(Update: Read the comments for some great ideas.  I should have remembered Tea on the Tiber.  Mrs. HowChow went once with RDAdoc, and they had a great time.  I don't know why I never posted.  Probably because they didn't take a photo!)

This week, I'm posting a series of "best of" posts starting with best restaurants and best food experiences. Then some posts about finds at stores -- the best grab and go items and the best ingredients for cooks. You can click for all the "best of posts" going back.

If you're looking for more, check out two prior series of posts -- a "tour of Howard County" describing restaurants and markets in specific areas or my guide to what I've learned about Howard County from "best Chinese" and "best takeout" to "best BBQ" and "best burgers."


hoco connect said...

You mentioned Victoria Gastropub for beer but forgot to mention they have a world class burger and fries. Missing from you list was a place for pizza. Any recommendations?

Kerry Birney said...

You missed Fulton/Maple Lawn/North Laurel/Whatever you want to call it!
Facci is fabulous for Neopolitan pizza and half-price appetizers during happy hour. Kloby's smokehouse has excellent bbq. I believe you've reviewed a few others there that I haven't tried yet too!

Marcia said...

Once while I was picking strawberries at Larriland, the Larriland employee was jokingly warning parents he was going to weigh little kids before and after picking to see how much they ate.

Seriously, Larriland is easy to get to, they have wonderful produce, and it's a great family environment.

Stephanie said...

Victoria's beer list puts Frisco Grill's to shame, and Frisco Grill's food is nigh on terrible...

One place we find ourselves going a lot is Old Ellicott City. The atmosphere is both quaint and very nice. We went to Tersiguel's for the first time the other night, and as for overall dining experience, I would have to say it's the best we've had so far. The food in itself was good, but the service and atmosphere of the restaurant was really where they shone.

Also, I am dying for my mother or boyfriend's mother to come visit, because I'd really like to take one of the to Tea on the Tiber. I understand if it's not something you're interested in HowChow, but if Mrs. HowChow has been I'd love to read a guest posting about it ;-).

HowChow said...

Thanks for all the suggestions these are great.

@Kerry -- You're absolutely right. So right that I have saved that idea for a future post. I need to go back one more time and try something. I have an overly clever idea!

HowChow said...

@HocoConnect -- My pizza places are Facci and Coal Fire Pizza. They're both good. Other people love the Trattoria restaurants in the Columbia village centers.

Morty Abzug said...

@Stephanie: ever tried the chorizo burrito at Frisco? IMHO, if you try nothing else at Frisco, try that. It's wonderful. Don't try anything else; just order the chorizo burrito. It's superlative.

My wife tried the tea place with some friends some time back. She quite liked it.