Affluent and expertly developed, Howard County is where history meets urban chic. Founded in 1851, Howard County spent its first century as an agricultural epicenter. The 1960s brought a rebrand of sorts as developers devised the masterfully planned community now known as Columbia. Western Howard County charms residents with rural beauty and tranquil rolling hills, while Ellicott City boasts historic architecture and suburban serenity. Columbia brings stylish sophistication to the mix, with vibrant arts and music scenes and excellent schools.
From academic pursuits and equestrian farms to stunning scenery and ample outdoor recreation, Howard County pampers residents with an endless array of activities. Conveniently located between Baltimore and DC, Howard County sets the stage for relaxed elegance and residential bliss. But of all the things to do
in Howard County, Maryland, the hands-down favorite for locals is exploring the area’s impeccable cuisine. Global flavors, chef-driven menus, and refined style define the bistros and cafes in this posh place, and Howard County has made quite a name for itself in the culinary world. Read on for the five best restaurants in Howard County, Maryland.
Located in the Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club, the Turn House offers elevated New American dishes. Executive Chef and owner Thomas Zippelli strikes the perfect balance between haute cuisine and delicious comfort food, making the Turn House a coveted spot for romantic dinners, family gatherings, and post-golf celebrations. The modern, airy dining room features four fireplaces and options for lunch, dinner, and the well-attended Sunday brunch. Patio and deck seating overlook the gorgeous green, creating a spectacular experience in the warmer months, while the elegant dining room welcomes guests to cozy up by the fire and settle in for a truly spectacular meal.
Seasonal fare is the hallmark of this farm-to-table menu. Chef Zippelli is passionate about sourcing the freshest local ingredients, and the rotating menu reflects his commitment to serving outstanding local flavors. A Columbia native, Chef Zippelli has cultivated close relationships with local farmers and ensures the Turn House menu supports responsible growing practices.
Lunch brings a tasty, casual selection of colorful salads and gourmet burgers, not to mention tantalizing shareable plates like crab and artichoke gratin and chilled shrimp cocktail. Dinner is a sumptuous affair – start with oysters on the half shell or the almond pesto burrata before moving on to the pan-seared Atlantic salmon or rich mushroom risotto. Sunday brunch is a scene-stealer, offering everything from innovative Benedicts and Baltimore bloody marys to shrimp with grits and classic mimosas.
Photo courtesy of Cured | 18th & 21st
You can’t mention one of these gems without the other – sister restaurants 18th & 21st
are standouts on Columbia’s bistro scene. These two separate restaurants share the same address and a flair for the dramatic, but the similarities end there.
Step back into the art deco glamor of the 1920s at 18th & 21st, a stylish modern-day supper club. Prohibition-era decor dazzles here, but fear not – while this fashionable spot acknowledges the 18th amendment and its ban on imbibing, it celebrates the 21st amendment repealing the law and bringing classic cocktails back into style. Indulge in vintage recipes with a twist, like the lavender bee’s knees, a champagne cocktail, or the absinthe frappe. Those who prefer classic tastes may enjoy something from the extensive bourbon and whiskey menu. The food menu is equally upscale, featuring decadent dishes like oysters Rockafeller, poached lobster, and tuna tartare.
When you’d rather stay firmly rooted in the 21st century, head to the table and tap lounge Cured. Bright and buzzy, Cured sets a laid-back tone perfect for a pre-concert bite or late-night drink. Start with crispy fried oysters or the chef’s charcuterie board before enjoying crab cakes with cherry pepper remoulade or the filet mignon. Cured also dazzles with a mouthwatering brunch menu of classics like blackened shrimp and grits, grilled steak and eggs, French toast, and berry pancakes.
Photo courtesy of The Iron Bridge Wine Company
The Iron Bridge Wine Company, affectionately known as The Bridge, is a whimsical, romantic bistro with stunning creations. The food here is an art form, with colorful, fresh dishes and gorgeous seasonal fare. The small-plate menu highlights the best each season offers, and the inspired cuisine features eclectic fusions like sweet potato croquettes drizzled with watermelon chimichurri. Sunday brunch is a lesson in decadence, with a full menu of Benedicts, inventive cocktails, quiche, and omelets du jour. Stop in for dinner, and you’ll enjoy seared scallops, steak frites, and squid ink tagliatelle with rock shrimp and calamari.
As the name suggests, this Columbia favorite also excels in the wine department. The curators at The Bridge prefer to source their grapes from small regional vineyards, and the results are spectacular. The Bridge also invites guests to stop in for wine by the bottle and showcases monthly specials and seasonal pairings.
Photo courtesy of Tersiguel's
Transport yourself to the French countryside at Tersiguel's. This romantic spot has long embraced the farm-to-table concept and offers a six-course Chef’s menu of seasonal delights. This family-owned treasure has pampered Ellicott City palates for over 30 years with fresh ingredients, expertly prepared dishes, and traditional French country cuisine. The menu rotates depending on the ingredients available, but the escargot is always exquisite, as is the incredible and decadent cheese plate.
Cozy leather booths, superb service, and an elevated menu of New American classics make The Stanford Grill a favorite stop for Columbia locals. The intimate supper club setting is ideal for everything from business meetings to quiet dinners. This elegant bistro features traditional fare like prime rib with mashed potatoes and spinach, along with martinis and creative cocktails made with top-shelf ingredients. Begin your fine dining experience with the spinach and artichoke dip, followed by the crab cake salad with champagne vinaigrette. The refined menu also includes hardwood-grilled Norwegian salmon, grilled rainbow trout, and the day's fresh catch.