I don’t remember exactly who told us about Frederick four years ago shortly after moving from Denver to Baltimore, but it had to do with a very good restaurant named Volt. We went and loved both the restaurant and the historic town center and have been going back to visit about every two months since then. Frederick is very foodie friendly with many good to excellent restaurants and food shops. Our favorite restaurants are Volt, Isabella’s, and Brewers Alley. Volt is a place for fine dining and since the chef, Brian Voltaggio, was on Top Chef’s season 6, it’s been hard to get in to this restaurant. He came close to winning, but his brother Michael took the top prize. You can try to get a reservation one month ahead if you want to get a table. They do however have brunch on Saturdays and Sundays that if you don’t have reservations you can get into the bar and lounge for a meal on a first come, first serve basis. I love the market fresh salads Brian conjures up. He sources many items from the farms nearby for freshness and quality. Everything we have ever ordered has been great. One of our favorite dishes is the Young Chicken with sunchokes and black trumpet mushrooms. The home made breads are great too, but be careful not to eat too much so you save room for the main dish.
Isabella’s is a Spanish themed tapas type restaurant that doesn’t crash your bank account to eat well. I have eaten at many tapas restaurants since moving to Maryland and put Isabella’s near the top just a hair behind Jaleo in DC. Isabel’s is open for breakfast Sat-Sunday 8am to 11 am, and lunch Mon-Saturday 11:30 to 3:30 with excellent express lunch options for those in a hurry. Dinner is Mon-Thursday 4pm to 10pm and Fri-Saturday 4 to 10 pm. Sunday dinner is 3 pm to 8pm. We always order ala carte and get the Papas Bravas a wonderful potato dish with a thick chili tomato sauce that has just the right amount of spice. We usually get the Paella of the day too. The Paella unlike most places that make it actually has enough saffron in it. Since saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world a lot of restaurants cheat by putting turmeric in the Paella with little or no saffron. Another one of our favorite tapas is the Artichoke and Crab with Saffron Butter. Wow is this a winner. Crab and artichokes go together great but when you add saffron butter it takes it to a whole new level of flavor explosion. The service is always good at Isabella’s and food usually comes out of the kitchen quite soon after ordering unless you order a Paella that is not the Paella of the day. That takes about 25 minutes to make one of these. I’d like to try the one with black rice someday soon.
Brewer’s Alley is a brew pub type restaurant we hit when we want good old American food that’s affordable and delicious. They always have several good specials to choose from and good soups too.
There are a couple of good candy/chocolate shops to check out if you go to Frederick. Candy Kitchen, 52 N Market St has been around for over 110 years satisfying sweet needs. This is a good choice for many but if you want really high end fun chocolates try Zoe’s, 121 N Market St has the type of special dark chocolate truffles I love. Try them all if you dare. I like the boozy ones and hazelnut too.
As for other foodie shops be sure and check out Lebherz Oil and Vinegar Emporium, 214 N Market St for an amazing selection of olive oils and vinegars. Most Americans have no idea that vinegar can taste so amazing. They have special little tasting cups so you can try before you buy. I love their Champagne Vinegar, and Red Wine Vinegar for my special salad dressings. I recently purchased their Lemon Vinegar, and Cinnamon Pear Vinegar to try in my kitchen soon. Lebherz is located just a couple doors down from Volt so you can try both on a weekend visit as they are open Saturday 11am to 9pm and 12 to 6pm on Sunday. They have many recipes on their website to help you whip up something good with your purchase. I get nothing for mentioning them, but be sure to tell them I sent you anyway.
Firestone’s Market on 109 N Market is a fun little food shop with jams, jellies, good breads, gift baskets, as well as soups and sandwiches too. They also carry some nice cheese, snacks and specialty foods worth checking out.
For a great long walk of 30 minutes or more try visiting the Carroll Creek Park downtown and walk it all the way to the end of Baker Park. It’s one of my favorite parks to walk in the whole US. The trail follows the creek through the park with beautiful trees and ponds for a peaceful interlude during your shopping and eating extravaganza.
There are many attractions near Frederick worth seeing.I haven’t been to the Flying Dog Brewery south of town yet but intend to do so on a future visit to Frederick. I have been 15 minutes north to Thurmont where I love to buy fruit from Pryor Orchards. Every June I go and pick the best blueberries money can buy and freeze some for the winter. Their peaches, apricots, and apples are very good too.
Catoctin Mountain Park is a fun place to visit whether by foot or car. We went on a nice hike with a ranger to the Catoctin Furnace area of the park and have driven up the mountain on the ridge line with great views of the area. Cunningham Falls is worth seeing as well as the visitors center, but note that the visitor center is closed Monday-Thursday except for some holidays.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Frederick is a must see historic town, and you find time to get there soon. I am still exploring Frederick and know there still must be some hidden gems waiting for me on a future visit. Don’t you think that half the fun is finding those hidden spots? Well get out there and explore then!