|Hiramasa with ponzu at Sushi Sono|
This is the sixth year that I have tried to collect recommendations about local food into a week of posts. I don't know what you love, but I know that you can find wonderful food out here in the suburbs. And more is coming. Cindy Wolf, Whole Foods, and the folks behind the Ambassador all want a piece of Howard County, and that must be good.
This is my "Best Of" list. These are places where I'd tell you to start if you want something delicious. In 2012, I literally wrote "where to go" advice for someone just moving to Howard County. This week of posts is more of an annual writing exercise where I think about stuff I have found and try to spark a little conversation with other eaters.
I don't know if your best restaurants are on my list. That's why you can write comments! Tell me the three places that you would recommend to someone who just started eating in Howard County.
This is an update from my annual posts than have run since 2008. You check out all the "best restaurant" posts. Later this week, I'll follow up with the a list of great food experiences and some thoughts on Howard County food in 2013. In the next few weeks, I'll also run a shopping guide aimed at the holidays.
A Few Of My (Current) Favorite Things:
I love great food, and great items appear at some places that I haven't checked out repeatedly. For example, the corn tamales at Huajicori are one of only a few dishes that I have eaten there. I arbitrarily forced myself not to repeat anything from my 2009 list, my 2010 list, my 2011 list, or my 2012 list.
|Lamb shank and delicious beans|
- Lamb shank at RG's BBQ Cafe in Laurel.
- Gyro at Nora's Kabob in Ellicott City.
- Nepalese momos and the chicken thali at Curry & Kabob in Columbia.
- "Yellow Angel" roll at Sushi Tendou in Fulton.
- Ceviche at Xitomate in Columbia (and coming to Turf Valley)
- Lemon rice at Curry Leaf in Laurel.
- Corn tamale at Huajicori in Catonsville.
- Pork chops at Cuba de Ayer in Columbia.
- Pan-fried noodles at Noodles Corner in Columbia.
- Flan at Bonaparte Bread in Savage.
Seriously, check out the four old lists. Those are 40 more cool dishes to try -- many of them favorites that we eat again and again. I could go any night for pit beef at Pioneer Pit Beef, fried chicken at Bon Chon or housemade noodles and black bean sauce at Tian Chinese Cuisine.
My Top Restaurants in Howard County:
My Top Restaurants in Howard County:
- Bon Fresco in Columbia for sandwiches -- and for takeout bread. Start with the London Broil. Work the menu, feeling free to mix and match the breads, meats and toppings that they make in-house.
Pumpkin at Maiwand Kabob
- Grace Garden in Odenton for authentic Chinese (almost in the county). A family-run place with a kitchen run by a real artist. Fish noodles are spectacular. Anything off the "Chinese" menu has been terrific.
- Maiwand Kabob in Columbia for Afghan. Anyone should love this place. Grilled meats, vegetable appetizers, great gyros. Any of the locations have accessible delicious food, and the new one off Rte 175 has flashy decor as well.
- Mango Grove in Columbia for southern Indian like dosas. Northern Indian curries plus the Southern Indian dosas and the Chinese-Indian dishes that make this menu unique. Great for anyone, but perfect if you want to mix meat eaters with vegetarians.
- Pure Wine Cafe in Ellicott City for small plates and a patio overlooking Main Street. It's a kitchen that wants to be big. A seasonal menu that offers a window into the food and wine that they think work best.
- R&R Taqueria in Elkridge for delicious Mexican inside a gas station
- Royal Taj in Columbia for nothern Indian and a terrific buffet. In a county with a half dozen good Indian kitchens, Royal Taj has become a favorite because the Northern Indian dishes are perfect -- and the service and white-tablecloth ambiance make it a special night out.
- Shin Chon Garden in Ellicott City for Korean. Our place for Korean barbecue and the rice dish called bi bim bap. Absolutely where I would send someone to try Korean food.
- Sushi Sono in Columbia for sushi. Probably my pick if I could only eat at one restaurant. The rolls are imaginative and thoughtful, and the specials -- like small whole snapper -- can be magical. But don't overlook the simple pieces, which remind me why I love the flavor and fresh feel of sushi.
Okay. That isn't even ten. But there are a bunch of places where we haven't eaten recently so I don't know how to place good spots like Facci in Laurel and Turf Valley for pizza and house-made pasta, Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia for small places, and Victoria Gastropub in Columbia especially for burgers. And if you just want a professional list, remember that we reverse-engineered Richard Gorelick's 2011 Howard County favorites as well.
Five Places On My List To Try:
My favorite part of HowChow is that it is my excuse to try new places. These are joints on my list to try for the first time or to try again so that I could post:
- Mount Airy Inn in Mt. Airy
- Rumor Mill in Ellicott City for small plate
- Sonoma's in Columbia for smoked meats
- Trattoria E Pizzeria de Enrico in Columbia for gnocchi with aurora sauce
- The "New Foreman-Wolf" Restaurant coming to Columbia for whatever they want to serve us.
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. You can click for all the "best of posts" going back.
If you're looking for more, there are several long series. First, check out the two weeks of 2012 posts with recommendations for people new to Howard County. Then, look at two prior series of posts -- a "tour of Howard County" describing restaurants and markets in specific areas or my 2009 guide to what I've learned about Howard County from "best Chinese" and "best takeout" to "best BBQ" and "best burgers."