Tom and I have long had a connection with Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, and especially St. Michaels. This charming coastal town is just a short drive from our former home in Washington DC and is the perfect romantic getaway.
We had our engagement photos taken in St. Michaels and also spent a wonderfully romantic Valentine’s Day there. My friend Lauren also lives there part-time, which makes it an even more appealing destination for us personally. So we were super pumped when we snagged an 11-day TrustedHousesitters assignment in St. Michaels over the Christmas holidays. Finally, we had time to explore every nook and cranny of this charming coastal town.
Even more exciting – since we had free accommodations, we had a little extra cash to fully indulge in the local food scene. This turned out to be quite a blessing, because it was truly frigid most of the time we were there. Luckily there are plenty of warm and welcoming restaurants in town and we checked out nearly every one of them.
St. Michaels Dining Guide: What To Eat & Drink in This Charming Bayside Town
Although St. Michaels is small, it packs a big culinary punch. Most of its restaurants are located downtown along Talbot Street, a quaint strip boasting shops, eateries and historic inns. We honestly didn’t have a bad meal the whole time we were there. If you have a hard time deciding where to go, just blindfold yourself and walk into the first place you run into feeling confident that you’re going to eat well.
Coffee & Breakfast
Mornings in St. Michaels are slow-paced, quiet and peaceful. Although it was cold most of the time we were there, we’d bundle up to walk the dogs and wander downtown for coffee and a bite. For a caffeine fix, there are two main options: Blue Heron Coffee and Blue Crab Coffee.
Blue Heron is a micro-roaster that brews their coffee. With a maximum batch size of seven pounds, what you’re getting is the freshest of the fresh local joe. They also have a small selection of pastries, breakfast sandwiches and quiche for a quick grab-and-go breakfast. Blue Crab is a full-service cafe offering espresso drinks, drip coffee and a full menu for lunch and dinner. If you find yourself there later in the day, they also serve beer and wine! If you’re looking for a more natural energy jolt, check out Agave Arts & Juicing.
On the weekends, a more leisurely brunch is definitely a must. Traditional brunches are somewhat hard to come by in St. Michaels, but the few options available are stellar.
Bistro St. Michaels
Bistro St. Michaels is an elegant restaurant downtown serving upscale American cuisine in a cozy setting. Their weekend brunch covers all the bases, from fresh-baked pastry to French toast to the Maryland classic Crab Cake Benedict. We indulged in a piping hot blueberry muffin to start, the decadent shirred eggs and the loaded Waterman’s Wife Breakfast. Everything was delicious, and the service was incredible.
T at the General Store
For another great brunch option, take a short drive to nearby T at the General Store for a completely unique dining experience. T serves tea-inspired cuisine using as many local purveyors as possible. The renovated old general store building is at once quirky and sophisticated, much like the food.
Tom went savory and sweet with a lighter take on French onion soup, and a gorgeous plate of blueberry pancakes. I enjoyed the “tea house” benedicts with a delicious roasted garlic cream kale.
We cooked a lot of our lunches at home, but there were a few occasions where we ventured out for a mid-day break.
Fresh seafood is king in St. Michaels and Awful Arthur’s is one of the best places to find it. They also have a heated, dog-friendly patio which was perfect for keeping the pooches happy. We dined there twice for lunch with the dogs, who became quite famous among the incredibly friendly servers.
Must orders? The cheesiest, creamiest shrimp and grits; the decadent lobster bisque; the gigantic fish and chips and, for a nice change of pace, the towering reuben sandwich. They also have a great DIY bloody Mary bar with ALL OF THE FIXINGS. You could seriously make a meal of it.
There are a slew of options for your evening meal. Most of the places mentioned above serve dinner, but be sure to check their hours of operation as most places are not open for dinner every night of the week. Steak lovers, be sure to check out Theo’s (insider tip: go at happy hour for chicken wings and martinis). Keep reading for two more standout dinner options.
Tom’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, and we were thrilled to discover that local gem Limoncello was open for dinner to celebrate. We enjoyed a beautiful burrata salad, a hearty wild boar ragu pasta and a fluffy ricotta cheesecake.
On a return visit with our friend Lauren, we took advantage of their half price wine special (available Mondays and Tuesdays) at the bar. We shared a polenta con funghi misti that had a deliciously creamy gorgonzola sauce and a pizzette (flatbread pizza) topped with mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula. We loved that Limoncello could provide both a splurge-worthy birthday meal and a budget-friendly night at the bar.
Perhaps one of the best meals of the entire trip was our dinner at Talbot 208. Tom’s parents drove out to visit for a few days, and after having a happy hour drink at the bar at Talbot 208 we decided to stick around for a full meal. All four of us went with for the customizable pre-fixe dinner option and it proved to be the right way to go. Here were a few of the many highlights.
The grilled Korean caesar salad had an unexpectedly perfect gochujang-spiced caesar dressing that had a nice balance of heat and creaminess.
The stuffed shrimp had almost a full crab cake amount of stuffing for each shrimp. Go big with crab or go home when in Maryland.
The seared sea scallops were generously seasoned and well cooked, surrounding a butternut squash risotto with chiffonade of rapini on top of a balsamic reduction.
The duo of duck was composed of miso glazed duck breast, sliced and fanned around fried rice accompanied by slow-roasted-to-perfection duck confit. A blood orange butter brought the whole dish to another level; we did not leave a drop of that butter on the plate. This dish was just another reason why I have fallen in love with duck that is cooked and prepared properly. It just has such a rich and savory flavor that other proteins can’t match.
Again, service at Talbot 208 was top notch. We were so well taken care of at nearly every place we dined in St. Michaels, which only adds to the appeal of this little foodie enclave.
What Did We Miss?
Obviously, visiting St. Michaels in the winter is a completely different experience than going in the peak season of summer. Several restaurants were closed until Spring. There are many waterfront eateries well worth a visit in warm weather (Foxy’s is one of our favorites), but we typically find that the food is secondary to the views. For this reason, we mostly stuck to the places downtown. The small-town charm and high-quality food and service more than makes up for the lack of coastal views.
Have you visited St. Michaels? If so, where is your favorite place to eat?
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