Howard County has a lot to brag about with cities included in America’s Best Places to Live lists and having Maryland’s top-ranked school system. What you may not realize is that Howard County also has a growing culinary scene, centered around Columbia’s Lake Kittamaqundi and reaching out across the rest of this beautiful county.
The top ten restaurants in Howard County in no particular order are:
1. The Iron Bridge Wine Co.
On the outskirts of Columbia, you’ll find a quaint building that may not look like much on the outside, but on the inside is a restaurant that has been praised by USA Today and The Wine Enthusiast. It’s even a regular on Baltimore Magazine’s list of the Top 50 Restaurants.
Iron Bridge Wine Co. is renowned for its casual atmosphere and philosophy that wine is the drink of the common man. You'll find an excellent wine menu and delicious "New American" cafe food.
2. The White Oak Tavern
Whether ordering a classic burger or something more exotic like wild boar and duck pot pie, the chefs at the White Oak Tavern utilize meats and produce from more than a dozen local sources for a genuine regional culinary experience.
This is pub food with a difference, and be sure to pair your meal with one of the approximately 40 craft beers on tap.
3. Clyde’s of Columbia
The best crab cakes in Howard County can be found at Clyde’s of Columbia. And you can enjoy Maryland’s best-known dish and many other American favorites from burgers to ribs to chili while enjoying views of beautiful Lake Kittamaqundi.
4. Sushi Sono
Also located on Lake Kittamaqundi is Sushi Sono, which was named Best Asian Restaurant in Howard County by the Baltimore Sun in 2015. It also made the Washingtonian’s list of 100 Best Restaurants.
The food is considered "high-end", including beautifully presented sushi, as well as a range of salads and soups.
You can find Sushi Sono off Highway 29 just east of The Mall In Columbia.
5. Stanford Grill
A popular spot for celebrating a milestone or entertaining out-of-town clients, Stanford Grill is a fine-dining destination to impress. Adding to the classy ambiance is the open-air kitchen where the chefs prepare their take on American fare for all to see and eagerly await.
Stanford Grill is located west of the intersection between Rouse Parkway and Snowden River Parkway. Visit for a relaxed formal atmosphere accompanied by live jazz.
7. Victoria Gastro Pub
Sophisticated, yet unpretentious, describes both the atmosphere and culinary twists on classic pub fare at this Howard County hotspot. Enjoy a bucket of duck fat fries while sampling local beers from house brewery Manor Hill Brewing as well as other brews from around the country.
Stop by Victoria Gastro Pub in Kendall Ridge, approximately 20 minutes southwest of downtown Baltimore, for a Euro-style atmosphere, and don’t forget to join the Beer Club or the Cork Club for wine enthusiasts.
8. Royal Taj
Royal Taj is a Howard County’s Best of Dining award winner, and with one visit, it’s easy to see why. It’s both elegant and comfortable, much like the Indian food they lovingly serve. Head there for lunch to sample all the different offerings on the buffet, then return for a casual dinner and order what you liked the most.
Royal Taj includes both a lunch buffet and an à la carte dinner menu, as well as a full bar.
9. Tino’s Italian Bistro
Winner of Best New Restaurant in Howard County for 2012, Tino’s has kept up its reputation for classic Italian dishes served in a comfortable family environment.
Owned by an Italian from New York City bringing fifth-generation recipes to Howard County, Tino’s Italian Bistro hopes to be around to serve your fifth generation and beyond.
Tino's includes both a bar and patio for a relaxed dining experience.
10. Petit Louis Bistro
Bringing delicate, classical Parisian gastronomy to Howard County is Petit Louis Bistro. From succulent steak fries to duck confit to escargot de Bourgogne, this bistro will have you and your taste buds whisked away to Paris with your first bite. Is that Lake Kittamaqundior, or the Seine?
11. Blowfish Poke
Located in Clarksville near Heritage Heights Park, this restaurant serves a range of seafood dishes with shrimp, crab, and salmon.
Enjoy the quiet small-town setting, healthy food, and happy hour specials including a range of specialty house drinks. So make some time to visit Blowfish Poke if you live anywhere between Baltimore or Washington DC - it's well worth it!