The Hot Plate: More Than Just a Drinking Town With a Sailing Problem’

Posted May 20, 2009 at 4:09pm

From the oldest Statehouse still in continuous use to the U.S. Naval Academy, the waterside town of Annapolis is acutely aware of its history. This pride in the past extends from historic sites to one quirky restaurant known to locals simply as Chick and Ruth’s (165 Main St.).

[IMGCAP(1)]At this diner-like haunt, staff and customers rise every day at the restaurant’s opening to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. If you’ve got little kids in tow or anyone with a love of the eccentric, swing by this deli, place your right hand on your heart and join in the recitation of the pledge.

While fun, this daily event isn’t the only reason to visit Chick and Ruth’s. The narrow restaurant features sandwiches named for various Maryland politicians. For $7.75, patrons can munch on the U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Reuben. The sandwich was chosen by the Senator to bear his name and features grilled corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.

Perhaps the best part of this kooky restaurant is the milkshakes. Made to order, these thick shakes cost $4.25 and can barely fit through a straw. On a recent visit we tried the cherry vanilla milkshake and were happily surprised to find chunks of cherry swimming in the ice cream.

Beyond Chick and Ruth’s, Annapolis offers some fantastic and some less-than-fantastic dining options. When we asked for recommendations, the first thing most people said was, “Don’t go to Buddy’s!— While the location of the seafood haven may be convenient — it’s located on Main Street and draws in hordes of tourists — there are many more interesting dining options in the state’s capital.

Harry Browne’s (66 State Circle), located across from the Statehouse, is one such restaurant. We recently dropped by for lunch and indulged in an appetizer, entree and glass of wine each and our bill was less than $62. The food was delicious, to boot.

Priced at $9, the Limoncello mussel appetizer was large enough to be an entree, and the steak salad — one of the most expensive entrees at $13 — featured several strips of perfectly cooked meat. The service was attentive and friendly, and our waitress was quick to recommend sightseeing ideas.

One of the most refreshing things about a visit to Annapolis — aside from the bay breeze — is the cost. While meals in D.C. can break the bank, it’s easy to have an upscale dining experience in Annapolis without laying down the Benjamins.

Annapolis is known as “a drinking town with a sailing problem,— so it’s only fitting to throw back a few spirits while visiting the historic hamlet.

Visitors can combine their love of booze and seafood at Middleton Tavern (2 Market Space), where oyster shooters with vodka cost a mere $3.50. The drink consists of an oyster placed at the bottom of a shot glass and covered with cocktail juice and pepper vodka. This shot is chased with a shot of Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you elect to shoot the oyster without the vodka and just chase it with beer, the price drops to a mere $1.50. If oysters aren’t your thing, Middleton’s also offers shrimp shooters, but beware: They don’t go down quite as easily.