Looking to experience the flavors of the world without the expense and jetlag of traveling? There are a number of authentic ethnic restaurants throughout Maryland that provide an international experience for a fraction of the cost of an overseas trip. From Western Europe to East Asia to the Caribbean, explore new cultures through these internationally-infused eateries.
Belgian waffles for breakfast
Get a taste of Western Europe with help from the Baltimore Waffle Company. Owner Craig Grabowski began making waffles nearly 10 years ago—his wife, who grew up in Belgium, struggled to find a satisfying Belgian waffle in the Baltimore region. Grabowski took matters into his own hands and opened up shop at the Sunday Catonsville Farmers Market in 2011, and as they say, the rest is history.
The company recently won the “Five Pitches in Five Blocks” contest by Inc. Magazine and the Ford Motor Co., taking home a brand new Ford Transit Connect Van with the company’s logo. Now with his new wheels, Grabowski is hitting farmers markets and events throughout the region, serving up Liege-style waffles made from scratch.
Koreatown in Ellicott City
With more than 166 Korean-inspired businesses within miles of each other, it’s not hard to see why “Korean Way” may become “Koreatown” in Howard County. The five-mile stretch on Route 40 was dedicated as Korean Way back in December 2016, with efforts to establish a Koreatown designation announced earlier this year. Korean-owned restaurants and bakeries flourish the area, showing off region’s growing ethnicity—with Korean residents representing 24 percent of the city’s population. From Honey Pig to Shilla Bakery, there are endless foods to try, and plenty of places to learn about Korean culture in Ellicott City.
Hallo, Schmankerl Stube
Nearly 30 years ago, Bavarian immigrant Charles Sekula realized what was missing from Hagerstown—an authentic German restaurant. Schmankerl Stube, also known as “The Stube,” is an authentic German destination for Western Maryland residents, and is going through its first restaurant renovation since it originally opened. Sekula also founded the area’s Augustoberfest, an annual festival that supports the community, as well as exchange students from Hagerstown’s sister city, Wesel, Germany.
Mouthwatering Middle Eastern meals
Looking to indulge in some authentic Persian/Iranian cuisine? Baltimore County’s Villagio Café says there’s no need to travel thousands of miles to enjoy a Middle Eastern meal… they have the perfect selection available, and it’s right on York Road. The company, which recently celebrated five years in business, was named one of the area’s “best hidden gems” by Baltimore Magazine in 2017. Snack on kebabs, taste the herbs and spices, and enjoy delicately marinated meats at this exotic BYOB restaurant.
Craving Cuban cuisine
Sabor de Cuba Restaurant, or “taste of Cuba,” is a fan favorite in downtown Frederick. The experience is unlike any other, as island flavors and aromas fill the East Patrick Street location. Sabor de Cuba’s chef looks to his family’s recipes for Cuban inspiration, and the artwork displayed throughout the restaurant (by an acclaimed Cuban artist) transports customers to a Cuban paradise.
Talbot County meets Italian tradition
Located in Easton, Scossa Restaurant and Lounge brings a unique dining experience to customers with its outdoor café and well-designed dining room. Owner and chef Giancarlo Tondin brings years of experience to Scossa—he was born in Europe, near the mountainous Alps of Northern Italy, and began his career in Venice. Since then, he has worked to expand several restaurants and has served as a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation. From start to finish, Scossa guests experience the culinary traditions of Northern Italy, including rich food and plenty of dairy products, due to the flat, cattle-raising land.
Do you shochu?
The American Shochu Company, founded by Taka and Lynn Amano, considers itself “the only small batch distillery in the United States specializing in craft shochu spirits.” While not widely known in the U.S., shochu is actually more popular than sake in Japan. The beverage, similar to a smooth white whiskey, is distilled in the company’s lab at the Frederick Innovation Technology Center. The shochu is made from organic barley and can be mixed with everything from fruit drinks to beer. The company’s products can be found in several stores and restaurants around the Capital Region, and can also be taste tested at its distillery in Frederick.