For decades, Frederick, Maryland has been known for its historical past and beautiful setting at the foot of the Catoctin Mountains. Throngs of daytrippers from Washington DC, and Baltimore come for food, art, and shopping throughout the year. Food seems to be taking center stage recently and lucky visitors are given a wide choice of culinary treasures. During the last ten years, there has been a dining revolution taking place that arguably started with Volt. For high-end dining Volt, with its star chef Bryan Voltaggio, sets the mark for the best Frederick has to offer in fine dining.
Plan your culinary exploration starting with high end dining in a classy building
Whether you come for dinner or brunch, you get innovative cooking with top-notch ingredients, many locally sourced. If it’s a once in a lifetime dining memory you are looking for, try Volt’s table 21 where chefs prepare a 21 course tasting menu at the Garde Manger station in the kitchen. If you are dining a la carte or choosing the six course tasting menu, try the venison with carrots, turnips, and chanterelle mushrooms, it’s sure to please. Served with a drizzle of a rich amber sauce, it’s a good dish to save as the last before diving into dessert.
Dining with Isabella is a good alternative
For Spanish cuisine, it is hard to beat Isabella’s on Market Street. Quite popular for weekend brunch, they serve a mix of American breakfast foods and traditional Spanish tapas or entrees. Try the paella del dia, or mix and match several tapas to share at your table. Customer favorites are Albondigas (meatballs in gravy), sizzling shrimp with caramelized onion and roasted garlic, and papas bravas, (spicy potatoes with tomato glaze). Be sure and get reservations during good weather or weekends as they do get busy.
Belly up to the bar or join a brewery tour!
For brew pub food, Brewer’s Alley serves good comfort food in the old town hall and opera house on Market Street. Try the wood fired macaroni and cheese as either a side or entrée for their spin on this comfort food classic. If you are there for the bar scene try a beer and a sporting event in the sports bar section. Their bar menu is sure to please with the sweet potato fries or Maryland crab dip and a cold brew.
If you are visiting in the summer, bring your well-behaved dog to their patio where fido gets to enjoy a meal out. Frederick on the whole is a very dog-friendly town with many shops having dog water bowls outside on the sidewalk. Beer lovers will enjoy touring and tasting the Flying Dog Brewery ten minutes south of town. Frederick really scored big when this Colorado brewery decided to relocate to 4607 Wedgewood Blvd. Bring your thirst for adventure and check their website for tour and tasting times.
Retail therapy at a classy shopping district
After filling your belly, shopaholics can shop to your heart’s content in the classy shopping district! There are antique stores, art galleries, a historical candy shop, an artisan pasta shop, olive oil and vinegar emporium, home furnishings and more. These shops are sure to delight those who enjoy walking a historic downtown shopping area free from the glitz of modern day malls.
On the east side of downtown is Everedy Square and Shab Row, a collection of shops and restaurants in yet another historic part of town. Here you will find a tea emporium, a gourmet gift basket shop, Ayse Mediterranean restaurant, a cupcake bakery and other notable businesses. Parking is a breeze for either shopping location.
Uncover some frightening history
Frederick is home to the National Civil War Museum of Medicine. Here on 48 East Patrick Street is the Carty Building, the site of an undertaking business that was called to duty during and after the Battle of Gettysburg. Open year round except for major holidays, this is an important site for civil war buffs. Said to be the most haunted place in Frederick: are you brave enough to visit?
Bring the family to the park
If the weather is good, pack a picnic basket to enjoy at Baker Park, one of the best parks town parks in all of Maryland. This park begins just on the edge of downtown and follows the creek westward all the way to US 15, a distance of about a mile.
Enjoy the sound of the carillon as it rings throughout the park on a sunny day. Stroll the path along the Carroll Creek with kids, dogs or your honey in this peaceful urban sanctuary. On the Fourth of July, they have an excellent fireworks display that draws a big crowd, and it’s free! For the kids, there is a community swimming pool open in warm weather.
Continue your food adventure at Carroll Creek Linear Park
More restaurants can be found along Carroll Creek just a two minute walk from the intersection of Market and Patrick Streets. In spring, summer and fall, throngs of foodies can be found dining alfresco at one of several restaurants. Four unique bridges provide an artsy approach to getting across the creek’s slow moving water.
Check out a thriving arts scene
Evidence of Frederick’s devotion to the arts can be seen in the murals, and sculptures throughout the town. The three story Delaplaine Arts Center on Carroll Creek Linear Park is art central in Frederick. They have a special events space for weddings or private parties, and sell some of the local artist’s work in their gift shop. Check with them to see what is showing in their galleries during your visit.
Spice up your palate before you leave and end your day on a sweet note
Sumittra serves some of the best Thai food found anywhere in Maryland. Whether you get the papaya salad, the drunken noodles or the eggplant, it’s always quick, hot and delicious. If you like it extra hot, be sure and explain you can tolerate it or else they will serve you medium hot. It is such a tricky business serving extra hot spicy food as many who ask for it can’t handle it and the restaurant gets burned, no pun intended, when the guests send back food too hot to eat. For a good selection of homemade soups on a chilly day, try the Orchard. They usually have several soups to choose from as well as other homemade specialties like their collection of stir-fry dishes. The coconut cream pie at The Orchard Restaurant is a must for coconut lovers. This version features a creamy, pudding-like filling with ample coconut flavor on a decadent macaroon crust.
Essential information for your day trip at Frederick
For central downtown parking, there are two town operated multi-level lots: one by the library on Patrick Street and the other just east of Market Street on Church Street. Parking is free on most weekends in December, and not expensive the rest of the year. Some special events cost as much as 6 USD flat rate parking, but usually you will pay no more than 2-3 USD for your visit. Everedy Square/Shab Row parking is free at their lot just off of East Street behind the Shab Row Tea Emporium.
Whether you come for food, history, or shopping, Frederick delivers. The best time to visit is spring, summer or fall, so as to get the most of this pedestrian friendly town. Just be sure to bring your appetite!