Local seafood is the centerpiece at 10 hot waterfront spots!
“An Orange Crush and Miller High Life, please!” Those are usually the first words out of my mouth when we arrive at a dock bar on the Chesapeake Bay. The Crush, which should be heralded as Maryland’s official state drink, eases me into a getaway state of mind. The ice-cold bottle of Miller tells my husband he’s living the good life on the water.
After a celebratory clink of glasses, we start eyeing up the tables around us. The waiter handed us menus, but years of hanging around Chesapeake eateries has taught us to watch what the locals eat to get the best pick of the day. They just seem to know when crabs get plumb and sweet, when rockfish and bluefish are running, and what local watermen delivered to the kitchen that morning.
Starting with a dozen just-shucked Bay oysters is always a treat, thanks to aquafarmers who can harvest them year-round. When a platter of steamed crabs and shrimp are presented at our table, we raise another glass to the delectable bounty of the Bay and dig in. This summer, if you’d like to enjoy a similar seafood feast while gazing out across the Chesapeake waters, cruise over to these new or recently revamped waterfront dock and dines.
At Maryland’s southernmost point where the Chesapeake Bay greets the Potomac River awaits a getaway destination only two hours from Washington and Baltimore. On the former grounds of a 1940s fishing camp called Scheible’s is now Pier 450, a luxury hotel, restaurant, bar, retail boutique and beach. When you work up an appetite from kayaking or biking around the gorgeous waterfront, step into POV Restaurant for gourmet meals made from locally grown ingredients. Menu highlights include dishes from rockfish and Bay scallop ceviche to crab cakes and rack of lamb.
Where to Dock: Point Lookout Marina
Located on a steamboat pier where passengers, livestock and freight were dropped off from the late 1800s to the 1930s, Stan & Joe’s opened in 2018. This seaside dock bar is a boater’s dream with 26 transient slips for vessels up to 45 feet. Add a dog- friendly deck, live music on weekends and a relaxed vibe on the West River, and you’ll want to tie up here as often as possible. The seafood-heavy menu features fish tacos, crab cakes, local oysters, prime rib, chicken alfredo and burgers.
Where to Dock: Stan & Joe’s Riverside Marina
Grab a front row seat on the waterfront deck or second floor rooftop to watch the big boats cruise in and out of Ego Alley on Annapolis’s Town Dock. You can choose from six types of crushes or 20+ cold brews at this bustling restaurant that opened in 2022. The menu pays tribute to classic Maryland seafood — crab cakes, fried oysters, steamed clams and peel-and-eat shrimp — yet doesn’t overlook other local staples such as Eastern Shore fried chicken and thick steaks. Bands strumming tunes add to the festive atmosphere.
Where to Dock: Annapolis Town Dock
Established in 2022 at Fairview Marina on the shore of Rock Creek, this new eatery caters to boaters and their four-legged crew. It’s named after two beloved family pups and has a casual atmosphere that toasts sunsets over the water. The menu focuses on classic Chesapeake fare spiced up a notch with Caribbean and Latin flavors. Shrimp and mango ceviche is a refreshing summer favorite, while meat lovers sink their teeth into smoked brisket or braised pork tacos. Be sure to save room for a spiced brownie or island bread pudding.
Where to Dock: Fairview Marina
For an ultimate urban dock-and-dine experience, come to Raw & Refined. At this waterfront destination in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood, you can watch boats chug around the harbor and into the marina, cool down at the swimming pool, and grab a bite to eat. While a DJ spins songs, take a seat on the large outdoor deck and peruse the eclectic menu. Starters range from fried calamari and roasted oysters to honey jerk shrimp and spiced hummus. Main plates include burgers, crab cakes and lobster rolls. Major renovations in spring 2023 added upgraded docks and a new dock bar.
Where to Dock: Oasis Marinas at Lighthouse Point
Maryland’s summer tradition of picking steamed crabs with family and friends is alive and well at McFaul’s. The essentials are all here: wooden picnic tables covered with brown paper, a busy marina, an expansive outdoor deck and the briny aroma of Old Bay drifting in the breeze. Opened in 2022 along Sue Creek, this classic seafood house showcases a raw bar with an impressive array of oysters from around the Bay and offers seafood specialties such as cream of crab soup, steamed mussels and a crab margherita pizza with fresh pesto.
Where to Dock: McFaul’s Marina
From Libbey’s upper deck, you gain the seagull’s view of boats sailing into the marina or cars racing east and west across the Bay Bridge. Down below, you can chillax on the patio or in a grassy area on Adirondack chairs to see the sun set over the Bay’s waters. Wherever you land, traditional Eastern Shore cuisine will fill your plate. From crab dip and fried green tomatoes to lump crab cakes, rockfish Reuben and fried chicken, this iconic eatery welcomes guests with the best of the Bay.
Where to Dock: Bay Bridge Marina
When you visit Blu Miles, take a little time to stroll around its charming hometown. Victorian homes hug the shores of the Miles River, the main street hums with quaint shops and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum unveils the region’s nautical heritage. Blu Miles is housed in one of the area’s oldest oyster-shucking buildings, and from the outdoor patio, you watch watermen cruise by as they have for centuries. The menu echoes this sense of history with timeless dishes ranging from fried oysters and soft-shell crabs to chicken Chesapeake and shrimp po’ boys.
Colonial Beach, VA
A building that originally was the ice plant for the town of Colonial Beach is now a new brewery with casual dining. Sip on a beer or wine while choosing appetizers such as beer cheese with spicy mustard, crab cake sliders or fried pickles. Popular entrees: lobster rolls, burgers, jerk chicken flatbreads and an array of sausages including beer-braised bratwurst in a pretzel roll topped with sauerkraut. Dogs are welcome on the patio overlooking a marina that accommodates boats up to 30 feet. Live music and year-round activities generate a lively atmosphere.
Where to Dock: Ice House Marina
Tucked away from the huge Navy ships and urban bustle of downtown Norfolk lies a quieter boaters’ haven at Stony’s Dockside. Flanked by several marinas along Little Creek near the mouth of the Bay, this family-run restaurant brings the craftmanship and wood-working skills of nautical vessels into the décor of its dining area. Chefs integrate the nautical flare into scrumptious dishes out of local crab, oysters, flounder, clams, scallops, shrimp and mussels. Sunday brunch pulls it all together with buttermilk pancakes and seafood omelets that make an afternoon nap on the boat irresistible.
Where to Dock: Stony’s Dockside Marina