We are thrilled to welcome Rissa Miller, Senior Editor of Vegan Journal magazine, as our guest to take us on a journey through five exceptional cities in Maryland renowned for vegan food and sightseeing. Rissa, with her 30 years of experience as a vegan and passion for activism, is the perfect guide to share her insights on Baltimore, Annapolis, Ocean City, Ellicott City, and Frederick. These cities offer a diverse range of experiences, from the lively streets of Baltimore to the scenic coastal and mountainous regions of the state.
During our discussion, Rissa will share her background and how she came to Baltimore. We will delve into the unique features of each of the five cities, exploring their top points of interest, best vegan eats, and businesses to support. Join us as we discover the exciting world of veganism in Maryland!
In this episode, we discuss:
- Rissa’s background and how she came to Baltimore.
- Her 30 years of experience as a vegan and a passion for activism
- Five exceptional Maryland cities renowned for vegan food and sightseeing
- A diverse range of experiences these cities offer, from lively streets to scenic coastal and mountainous regions.
- The best vegan eats, top points of interest, and businesses to support.
Learn more about what we talk about
- Baltimore Museum of Art – A restaurant inside Gertrude’s with vegan options marked – or more casual and a short walk is One World Cafe
- American Visionary Arts Museum – Walking distance, Tiny Brick Oven with housemate vegan sausages and cheese, or Gangster Vegan Organics raw.
- Walters Art Gallery and nearby is Land of Kush vegan soul food.
- Reginald F Lewis Museum – African American history and culture – Nearby is Ekiben, Liquid Earth, or Johnny Rad.
- Maryland Science Center (and IMAX) – Double zero or Liora, both Matthew Kinney, walking distance.
- Poe Museum and Poe’s Grave. (no places to eat nearby that I know about)
- Professional Sports – Orioles Baseball and Ravens Football and Blast Soccer
- Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month – March.
- Vegan Eats – all vegan spots in the city (the list could go on…)
- My Mamas Vegan – all vegan
- Red Emma’s Cafe and Bookstore
- Harmony Bakery – GF and vegan bakery
- NuVegan Cafe
- Dodah’s Kitchen
- Refocused Vegan
- Wild Heart Bistro
- Greenhouse Cafe
- Ocean City, Maryland
- Attractions –
- old fashioned 3-mile boardwalk with arcade and old-fashioned games like skeeball; rent a bicycle to see it all, Trimpers Rides and Amusements – vintage carousel.
- Jolly Roger’s Water Park Splash Mountain – slides, water coasters, and pool/lagoons.
- Beachy stuff like – boat rides, parasailing, the beach itself, kite flying; paddle boarding
- lots of golf in the area.
- Vegan Eats
- Thrasher’s French Fries are traditionally served with vinegar.
- Mother’s Cantina
- Real Raw Organics.
- Attractions –
- Ellicott City. Maryland
- Historic Downtown – 251-year-old town
- B & O Museum, the oldest passenger rail station in the US!
- Ghost Walks every weekend, April-November.
- Trolley Trail (hiking/nature)
- Vegan Eats
- Little Market Cafe – vegan menu with breakfast and lunch.
- Unusual Company – fresh vegan gelato and sorbets in a cone or pints.
- Umi Sushi Cafe – marked vegan options on the in-cafe menu.
- Syriana Gallery and Cafe – vegan options marked.
- Annapolis, Maryland
- CityDock is a downtown historic district with shops and cafes.
- Chesapeake Children’s Museum; interactive hands-on learning.
- St. John’s College Observatory and Planetarium – open to the public for evening events.
- Home of the Us Naval Academy.
- Vegan Eats
- 49 West Coffeehouse – coffeehouse and wine bar.
- Preserve– focus on fermented foods.
- Metropolitan Kitchen – fine dining, reservations required – can do vegan, call ahead.
- Tsunami Asian Fusion.
- Bread and Butter Kitchen – breakfast and lunch spot.
- 49 West Coffeehouse – coffeehouse and wine bar.
- Frederick, Maryland
- Carroll Creek Riverwalk – a totally rebuilt downtown area with more than 200 small businesses!
- SkyStage – Outdoor Theater (seasonally)
- Museum of Civil War Medicine.
- Outdoors Activities, especially bicycling, and hiking.
- Also – I just remembered this gem in Frederick, MD – a vegan-owned indie bookshop – Curious Iguana.
- A vegan-owned toy store with no toys that use batteries! – Dancing Bear Unplugged Toys
- Vegan Eats
- Hippy Chick Hummus – a vegan lunch spot!
- Orchard Restaurant – whole food focus, well-marked vegan options.
- Motherland Kitchen Afro-Caribbean food
- Cafe Nola – breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar food/late night.
- Hippy Chick Hummus – a vegan lunch spot!
Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode
- Travel Hacking 101 – The Basics | David Goudreau | Ep 101
- Two Huge Vegan Budget Travel Tips | Lucy Elkin | Ep 102
- How to Meaningfully Elevate Your Travels | Claire Burt | Ep 103
- Things to do in and around NYC Throughout the Year | Verena Erhart | Ep 94
- Five Best US Cities for Vegan Foodies | Maggie Ortileb | Ep 86
- The Vegan Stay: The NEW Platform Connecting Vegans and Sanctuaries | Faik Bouhrik | Ep 82
Connect with Rissa
Brighde: Hello, Rissa. Thank you so much for joining me on The World Vegan Travel Podcast.
Rissa: Thank you so much for having me. It’s my pleasure.
Brighde: So we are gonna be talking about a very interesting part of the world today on the podcast. What are some interesting cities in the US state of Maryland? But before we get into that, I would love it Rissa if you wouldn’t mind telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the vegan space.
Rissa: Absolutely. So I have been vegan for 28 years and I have done just about everything in the vegan space as an activist that you can imagine almost. I am currently the senior editor of Vegan Journal Magazine. It is based in Baltimore, Maryland, and it does have an international reach. It is over 40 years old and about a year ago we rebranded as Vegan Journal after being vegetarian Journal for all of those years.
Brighde: Really and why did the magazine or you decide to make the switch to make it a completely vegan magazine, or call it the Vegan Journal?
Rissa: Well, it had already been a completely vegan magazine for many decades, but it is owned by a nonprofit and there was some concern about accessibility and whether or not people were ready to accept the word vegan over vegetarian. And it was decided that the world was ready. So we jumped right in and became Vegan Journal.
Brighde: Amazing. Fantastic. Have you lived in the state of Maryland for a long time?
Rissa: A good amount of time. Yeah. Probably over two decades. I did grow up in the mid-Atlantic region, and I’ve lived in other states as well, but I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Maryland.
Brighde: What brought you to Maryland 20 years ago?
Rissa: A job.
Rissa: Yeah. I was an editor at the Baltimore Sun newspaper back when newspapers were a big deal. I worked there for about five years. Then I went into other lines of work before I took the job at the magazine I’m at now.
Brighde: Hmm. All right, well let’s get into it then. Before we talk about our five cities, would you mind for our international listeners who might not be familiar with the East Coast of the United States because the geography is a little bit interesting in that part of the world? There are lots of little small states and a lot of kinds of interesting borders and things like that. Could you locate Maryland on a map forest and explain a little bit about, where it is, what it’s next to, and maybe a little bit about the climate and geography?
Rissa: Sure. So, if you were looking at a map of the East Coast of the United States, Maryland is between Pennsylvania and Virginia. It does border Washington DC, the United States Capital, and nestled into the side of Maryland on the coast is the itty bitty tiny state of Delaware. So Maryland does touch the Atlantic Ocean, but it also goes over into the Appalachian Mountain range. So we are fortunate though it is a small state to have a variety of geographical features. You can lounge on a beach or literally climb mountains and it’s all within the same state. Our climate is pretty moderate. We do see some snow in winter and we do get a fair amount of summer humidity. My favorite times here are spring and fall. It’s just absolutely gorgeous. It’s breezy. It’s the perfect time to visit Maryland.
Brighde: I’m guessing at the time of recording this podcast maybe it’s about to be spring. Does that mean you have beautiful cherry blossoms?
Rissa: Not yet. We’re not quite there yet. Probably be a few weeks to a month more for Cherry Blossoms. I know they’re super famous in DC but we do have them here too. Right now we’re starting to see Crocus and Daffodil coming up. So that’s sort of where we are on the botany scale.
Brighde: Awesome. Alright, well let’s talk about some cities in Maryland. You’ve selected five that you want to share with our listeners today. Let’s talk about our first one, Baltimore. I will say that I dunno so much about this place except for The Wire. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the city and what makes it really interesting for visitors to come and check it out.
Rissa: All right, well, let’s clear the air first thing. Baltimore is famous for all the wrong reasons. Between homicide, which is another TV show, and The Wire. We have gotten a reputation here for being a very dangerous city. So yes, Baltimore has its spots that are dangerous as every other city and even medium-sized town have.
Baltimore also has fantastic neighborhoods, tons of small businesses owned by amazing entrepreneurs, and lots of beautiful historic architecture. All that is incredibly deserving of tourism and are ready to welcome people into this area. It is a great coastal city with a phenomenal history, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it and how vegan-friendly it is. I honestly believe that Baltimore should be considered a vegan destination.
Brighde: Really? That’s so interesting. And I’m really pleased that you’re busting some myths about places. I really love doing that on the podcast. So thank you so much for doing that. Before we go into the other reasons why Baltimore is so interesting. I’m not sure whether you are familiar with this Rissa, but I’ve just discovered this really amazing app called Geosafe that I just want to share with our listeners right now because it’s very, very interesting. Basically, this app is fantastic because you can go and search for a city, but you can also search for neighborhoods within a city as well and then it uses very good data. To show how safe it is in a number of categories. So for example, LGBTQ plus safety or physical safety or harassment for women, or all of these kinds of things all over the world.
So I think that could be an interesting tip for people that are going to a city where perhaps there might be areas that are less safe. Alright. So, why is Baltimore such a great city to visit?
Rissa: Because it’s so diverse. After the reputation of being crime-ridden, which is not fully deserved, I want to remind people that even though there were some factual parts of those shows, they were written by former newspaper reporters. They’re also fictional. But Baltimore is a fantastic diverse city. It has a history of being a more blue-collar town than a lot of other cities. Basically, it’s full of fantastic real people that have worked hard and really developed a unique persona for this city. It’s even reflected in the kinds of museums and tourism opportunities that are here in our downtown.
Brighde: Okay. Well, could you give some examples of the museums or the landmarks or things like that, that people can check out?
Rissa: So I’m a big museum buff. I do love going to a museum. So I’m gonna start with those. There is the American Visionary Arts Museum called AVAM by the locals. What’s so fascinating about AVAM is that every piece of art in it, was created by someone with no formal art education, right? It is an absolutely incredible place to spend an afternoon walking around, to truly see the vision of these creators who were never trained and simply found their own path into the art world.
Brighde: Okay. That’s really interesting. And which neighborhood is that located in?
Rissa: It’s just off of the harbor and it would probably be considered Fed Hill. Now if you are there and you wanna get a great vegan meal afterward, you could check out Tiny Brick Oven. It is not a Vegan pizzeria, but they do make their own housemate, vegan sausages and cheeses, or if you are looking for something a little more health conscious. There’s Gangster Vegan Organics. It’s in the cross street market in Fed Hill. That is a raw vegan restaurant.
Brighde: Hmm. Okay, great. Where else is interesting in Baltimore?
Rissa: We have a lot of great art museums. We do have the Baltimore Museum of Arts. It would rival any art museum in the world I’m sure. They do have to change exhibits and it’s mostly free. Anytime you want to go to the Baltimore Museum of Art, you can go for free to take in the culture and art there. They do have a fine dining restaurant on-site in their sculpture garden called Gertrudes. They have Baltimore’s famous zucchini crab cakes there. Now, if you know anything about Maryland, you know that it’s a big seafood state and crab cakes are kind of one of the hallmark foods of the region.
Gertrudes has reinvented it with its zucchini crab cakes, and it is one of the most popular items on the menu, even among omnivores. If you’re at the B M A and you don’t want a fine dining experience, you can walk nearby to One World Cafe, which is a sort of a standby for people who eat plant-based in this area. They’ve been around a really long time. They’re open late at night. They serve breakfast in the mornings, and you will always find something to eat there.
Brighde: Fantastic. I’m just gonna remind listeners that we are gonna be talking about so many different places within all of these cities. You are definitely gonna be wanting to open up your Google Maps as you are listening to this episode and be marking and starring all of these places so that you will be able to check out these places and know where they are when you head to the state of Maryland. Fantastic. Anything else?
Rissa: I definitely want to mention two more places that I feel as if everybody is going to really enjoy. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is Baltimore’s newest museum and it details over 400 years of African American history and culture, including sports, and arts. It’s beautifully curated. It is definitely worth a visit. It does require tickets. It is in the Fells Point neighborhood and that’s a great place to get vegan food. Once you’re done at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, you can check out an Asian concept place called Ichiban, and I highly recommend their tofu bowl. There’s an all-vegetarian and vegan restaurant called Liquid Earth, and if you are a bar food type and you love pizza and cheesecakes, Johnny Rats is your place.
You will walk up there and be so happy. They have sandwiches and grinders. They make a really phenomenal vegan pizza as well. If you’re coming with your family, the Maryland Science Center is a fantastic option. They do have an IMAX theater. They have hands-on exhibits for children. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s a really fascinating place.
Their exhibits change all the time. You do need tickets to go in there but just right across the street from them is, a duo of Restaurants run by Matthew Kenny. One is called Double Zero, and if you have your Kids with You, that’s a pizza place and the other is sort of a fine dining concept called Liora. It’s very elegant. It’s a perfect place to whine and dine with your partner or your best friend or colleague. So, those are two options right near the Maryland Science Center in the Inner Harbor neighborhood.
Brighde: What is the population of Baltimore approximately like? Is it as big as Washington DC?
Rissa: No, it is smaller than DC. It is smaller than Philadelphia. I wish I had that data for you, but I don’t have that right off hand I can tell you that it feels more casual than DC or Philadelphia, even though it is the city in between the two.
Brighde: Interesting. It sounds to me like Baltimore would be a great place to spend maybe two or three days and hit a museum every single day. And it’s quite an old city as well, is that fair to say? So, architecturally speaking, it’s nice to kind of walk around and enjoy.
Rissa: Absolutely. It is a fantastic place just to walk around to look at the old architecture. A lot of the buildings have so much character, and personality, and since Baltimore goes back to before the Revolutionary War, there are a lot of really old spaces in the city, they’re breathtaking. Lots of famous people have been here. Edgar Allan Poe lived and died in Baltimore. He is buried here. That’s a thing that you can check out too if you love gothic or literature. The thing I would say is when you’re walking around Baltimore, like any other city, trust your instincts. If you feel like you’re walking into a part of town that just doesn’t feel good for you just don’t do it. Pay attention to your surroundings and pay attention to how the people around you are also walking and carrying themselves as well. It is a very diverse city and there are all kinds of people here from all over the world all the time. We have lots of big medical centers.
A lot of people end up in Baltimore because of the incredible medical centers. We have Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland. And that alone is one of the reasons people come. So if you find yourself, unfortunately here for that reason or if you’re just here for a medical conference, there’s all this other great stuff to experience while you’re in the city.
Brighde: What would you say would be a good amount of time to hit all of those things that you’ve mentioned?
Rissa: If you have a long weekend, that’s the perfect amount of time. Now, if you’re coming just for vegan food, you wanna come during Maryland Vegan Restaurant Month, which is in March each year. That is when all the restaurants participating, roll out their red carpet and put out their very best vegan stuff. If you are a sports enthusiast, we do have professional baseball, football, and soccer here. So during those seasons, if that’s your thing, that’s the time to come. There are probably close to a dozen, maybe more fully Vegan restaurants in the city now. Many of them are black-owned, and many of them are women or family-owned. I could talk for just a whole hour about the amazing all-vegan restaurants in Baltimore City itself.
Brighde: Yes, and I should add for listeners as well. Rissa was kind enough to put together a huge amount of names and lists and links of all of the places that we talk about. So make sure that you go and check out the show notes to check out the menus and see what kind of thing you might like to try out when you are in Baltimore. Alright, so the second city, Annapolis, where is that located in relation to Baltimore? And I’d love to know what’s so interesting about this city. Please.
Rissa: Sure. Annapolis is the capital of Maryland, and it is on the coast. It is one of the oldest cities here, even older than Baltimore. It would be where one of the areas where colonists first landed in the 15th century. I’d have to check my date on that. Believe it or not, I’m also a history tour guide and I should know that number off the top of my head. But I do believe it was in the 14 hundreds when people first landed on the eastern shore in the Annapolis area. The colony of Annapolis wasn’t called that back then, but it does date back to the very first European settlers who came. Now today, the thing to see there is city doc and it is a great historic spot.
There are hundreds of independent stores. It is right on the water and it is a gorgeous place to visit. Talk about great old architecture and personality. Most people fall in love with Annapolis. You’ll hear people walking around saying, I wish I could live here because it’s just so charming and you can just feel the roots of time when you’re in Annapolis. There is a fantastic children’s museum there, The Chesapeake Children’s Museum. So if you’re nerdy like me, you’ll wanna check out the St. John’s College Observatory and planetarium. Personally, I love looking at outer space. I think it’s just incredible. And they do have public events in the evenings, and of course, the US Naval Academy is there and they do open their grounds to the public to walk around and see their buildings. Again, for sports enthusiasts, this is where the Army-Navy game often happens. I’m sure that you already know about that. Now, when you get to Annapolis and you’re hungry, there are some good options.
49 West Coffee House is one of my favorite spots to go. It is both a coffee house and a wine bar, and it is open from morning to evening. They have a fantastic selection of hot drinks all day long to keep you moving and vegan snacks and tofu scrambles and stuff like that. If you are a little more high-end, you might wanna check out Metropolitan Kitchen. You do have to get a reservation. It’s fine dining, and you tell them you’re gonna be there for a vegan meal and they will set you up with something absolutely phenomenal. Usually the vegan twist on one of their vegetarian dishes. Now if you love fermented foods and sort of locally sourced things, Preserve is a restaurant that focuses on fermented foods, and they do have an easy-to-figure-out menu with their vegan options marked and their Vegan Chocolate Pot De Creme is so good. If you’re a chocolate eater, you should definitely go there and try it or maybe get three. There’s always this sort of traditional Asian fusion that you can find in most places. All the vegans in the area trust and love Tsunami, and they’ve never let me down when I’ve been in the Annapolis area, so I’ve got to share the word about them.
Finally, there’s a newer place called Bread and Butter Kitchen, where they have breakfast. If you are in Annapolis for business or pleasure or sports and you want a delicious vegan breakfast, head on over to your Bread and Butter Kitchen.
Brighde: Wow, there are so many recommendations there. I’m just trying to get my bearings a little bit. Is it possible to take the train from Baltimore to Annapolis?
Rissa: You have to travel by car.
Rissa: The one thing I’ll say about Maryland, is we are not the most public transit-friendly city, which is fascinating because Philly and DC and New York, and all the other big East Coast cities have fantastic public transportation. In Maryland, you pretty much need to rent a car and especially like some of these other locations they’re well outside of the city but I would say it’s your easiest way around and there are plenty of parking garages and they’re not free but they are worthwhile to just know that you have a spot to park and you don’t have to think about it the rest of the day, especially if you do any shopping and you wanna just toss your stuff back in the car.
Brighde: Fantastic. Alright. I would love to hear about Ocean City because the location and geography of this place are rather interesting. I will say that until our conversation, I’d never gone on to Google Maps and like explored the geography of Maryland, but it’s very, very interesting. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Ocean City?
Rissa: So Ocean City, Maryland is a kind of a resort town and it sits on the Peninsula. To get there from Baltimore, you would get in a car and drive through Annapolis, so you would be crossing over through Annapolis and over what we call the Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge is a gorgeous suspension bridge and on the other side is what we call the Eastern Shore. You head down the Eastern shore and you get to Ocean City. It is a large town. It is 100% a resort town. Though people of course do live there year round that you know are true beach and ocean lovers, most folks think of it as where they go for vacation. Now it is a very family-friendly location, so if you are traveling with children, this is a fantastic option.
They’re going to have so much fun and you’ll all be exhausted. I promise you, by the end of the day. So Ocean City does start the course with a beach. There’s a Beachside and a Bayside. The beach is really large. There’s plenty of room for sunbathing and flying kites. There’s all the fantastic stuff you can do on the water, like paddle boarding, and kayaking. If you are brave, you could try parasailing. All that good stuff is there as well. It is also known for its very old, very famous three-mile boardwalk. This is like what you saw in the movies in the fifties and sixties. It is a traditional wooden boardwalk. It is nostalgic, it is an amazing experience.
There are arcades with old-fashioned games like pinball and ski ball. You can walk along eating your popcorn, you can rent bicycles, and ride up and down to just take it all in because it’s honestly a lot. In the end, there is a vintage carousel. It is absolutely fantastic. There are, I believe, like 40 beautifully restored animals that are mostly mythical animals like unicorns. You can ride on the carousel and it is a wonderful experience for both adults and kids.
Brighde: Yeah, I looked at pictures of this place and it looks like a really, really awesome, cool place to hang out for a few days, really cool. Are there any fun vegan eats in that area?
Rissa: There are. It’s definitely coming along in its vegan friendliness. But, there’s a chain called Thrashers French Fries. The boardwalk fry is a tradition and they are just potatoes fried in peanut oil, just for those with allergies be aware, that salt is the only three ingredients that go into it. Now in Maryland, the tradition is to eat it with vinegar on. So if you’re brave, you can give it a try. I love it. Of course, I grew up with it, but it’s a surprisingly good combination because the vinegar cuts the grease off the fries and sort of balances out nicely. There’s a place called Mother’s Cantina. It’s a Tex-Mex restaurant, and they have a whole vegan menu. They have Vegan cheese, they have everything you could possibly want from a Mexican restaurant, and it’s originally known for great service and really good food. Then finally there’s a place called Real Raw Organics, I believe. If you are a healthier eater, you’re not so much into vegan cheese. This is your option. They’ve got the oatmeal bowls and healthier things like wraps with lots of veggies and stuff that will fuel you for your time at the beach and will keep you going whether you are going to the water park and going down slides or you’re playing golf, whatever it is that you like to do when you’re at the beach. There’s someone who can feed you and keep you going.
Brighde: I’m really happy to hear that there are some good vegan options. I will say this is very much a generalization, but very often in beach towns and beach resorts, it’s usually pretty slim pickings. So I’m really pleased about that and I’m very excited about the vinegar. I grew up in the UK, so fish and chips. I never even liked fish before I was vegan, but fish and chips are a big part of British culture, so I would usually have just chips with malt vinegar is what we would always have, or onion vinegar, which was also a really yummy thing. But it’s strange, I never put vinegar on my fries outside of the UK. I think fries are different. We call them chips.
Rissa: If you come to Maryland, you can, the Thrasher’s fries are a little thicker, so they might be more reminiscent of what you grew up with.
Brighde: Maybe. Alright. Ocean City. That looks very interesting. So Ellicott City, could you tell us about that? Because I believe that’s further west in this state.
Rissa: It is and if you fly into Maryland BWI is super close and it’s a fantastic place to go. Spend a day or two, right after you land. So Ellicott City is super close to my heart. It’s where I’m a historic tour guide and I love this little town. It is quirky, it is arty, and it is considered one of the most haunted places. So, if you are into ghosts or the Supernatural, or Cryptids, this is your spot. Now, the historic downtown is over 250 years old, and it is home to the oldest passenger rail station in the United States called the B & O, and it is free. It is a free museum. You can walk through it just like Edgar Allan Poe did.
Many other famous people have walked through this train station. It is 13 miles from Baltimore. Just to add to its spooky factor, I suppose. It’s right at the intersection of two Rivers. So there’s lots of beautiful scenery as well. Every weekend, from April through November, you can take a ghost tour. There are eight of us, I think that will be happy to meet you and tell you the history of the town. It was founded by Quakers, so that means that women had rights there historically, and most of the small businesses in town are still women-owned. If you’re the outdoorsy type, we have a trolley trail. It is a fantastic spot to go for a hike and it’s just absolutely beautiful in the fall and spring.
Brighde: Is that where you live? Ellicott City.
Rissa: I live near there. I don’t live in Ellicott City.
Brighde: I see. Does it have any interesting vegan options there?
Rissa: Oh, definitely. If you’re looking for breakfast or lunch, I would recommend Little Market Cafe. They have a dedicated vegan menu as well. They’re not a fully vegan restaurant, but they are very committed to having great vegan food. They almost always have vegan cookies too, it’s easy to get full-eating vegan cookies. But they do also have vegan pizzas, sandwiches, wraps, and breakfast sandwiches. If you like sweets, obviously I do, The Unusual Company is a store with a gelato shop in the back. They are committed to having at least three vegan flavors at all times of gelato and sorbet. Everything is fresh. This is a great amount of pleasure to be had and just walking down the street with an old-fashioned ice cream cone. So I would definitely recommend checking them out. There is a Syrian restaurant, which is an unusual spot. They are a fantastic family. I know them personally. Their vegan options are marked, and if you’re a coffee drinker, you’ve gotta check it out. They have Syrian coffee, which is thick. It’s not like American coffee. It’s really thick and it is heated over a sand table when you get it. It’s a really fun experience. Then there’s also the UMI Sushi Cafe. They have a lot of surprising vegan options, and they’re all clearly marked on their menu.
Brighde: Wow, they all sound really interesting. I particularly like the sound of that coffee. I love Turkish coffee, so I’m guessing it’s a little bit similar to that. Like the coffee is ground extremely fine and it’s basically heated in a little pot. But the sand tray that you were referring to, sounds really interesting. Is that something that’s normally done in Syria?
Rissa: I don’t know. I’ve never been. I know that they do a lot of their food preparation in a very traditional way and use a lot of family recipes. The lentil soup is also very good. I believe it was his grandmother’s lentil soup.
Brighde: I love it. I really love these personal recommendations from my guests to these places because I often find when I’m going on social media or websites to look at places, I’m noticing more and more that the places that I tend to gravitate towards are the places that have the best social media presence or the best website. Of course, that’s good but other places that don’t have access to great marketing tools
Rissa: Right. I’m about to say who doesn’t have the budget to pay for that.
Brighde: Exactly. I don’t know, but I imagine that maybe this Syrian restaurant might be a little bit like that, or maybe they have the most amazing website of all time. I have no idea. But I just love hearing these recommendations from people from the area. I love it. All right, the last city that you’re going to talk about today is Frederick.
Rissa: Yeah, so Frederick is heading out towards the mountains, in the west, and it’s sort of the gateway into where the mountains begin. So if you’re an outdoorsy type of person and you love hiking, camping, and bicycling, this is your spot. This is where you’re gonna have a fantastic time. I will start in the city of Frederick and there is the Carroll Creek River Walk. This is a fairly new addition to the Frederick lineup. They renovated their downtown around the creek that runs through it, and it’s gorgeous. They have events along the river there. They have light shows. If you can time your visit to catch one of those, they’re absolutely phenomenal and really beautiful.
There is an outdoor theater there called Sky Stage. I believe a few decades ago, a building from the 17 hundreds caught fire and this theater came in. Stabilized the ruins and turned them into an outdoor theater. They do a lot of very inexpensive and free programs for the public. It’s worth it just to sit under the stars and watch a play or listen to music. It’s a really cool experience. They do have a museum of Civil War Medicine. It is a little dark. That’s back when doctors were still using leeches and ether on patients. It is a super fascinating thing though. It definitely gives you perspective to think about how lucky we are, that’s not part of medicine anymore.
The other thing I’ll say is in amongst the literally hundreds of small businesses, along the downtown area, there are two vegan-owned businesses I really wanna highlight. One is called The Curious Iguana. It is an indie bookstore. A lot of independent bookstores are struggling to fight against the big warehouse store. From that point, I would say go check it out. It’s vegan-owned. They support local authors. They have readings and book signings, and it is an absolutely delightful shop. I usually say I’m gonna buy one book and I end up with three in my bag. If you have kids in your family or in your life, there is a vegan-owned toy store that is called Dancing Bear and they specialize in unplugged toys. You will never find a toy there that operates on batteries or electricity. They are committed to toys that keep children engaged without power.
Brighde: I love that. That is so much fun. So I’m guessing this city is in more of a rural location, so perhaps there aren’t so many vegan options.
Rissa: There are actually quite a few, including one entirely vegan Cafe. My favorite place to eat when I’m in Frederick is Hippy Chick Hummus. It is a woman-owned fully vegan cafe and they do lunch every day. It’s really good. They have locally made Kombucha. They have fantastic tea, they always have multiple kinds of hummus and soup, sandwiches, and other things. I think my favorite thing I ever got there were the spicy cauliflower tacos. Really good. But that’s not it. In Frederick, there’s the Orchard restaurant. It is a Whole Foods restaurant, and they specialize in really wholesome, hardy meals. They do have fantastically marked vegan options on their menu, and you’ll never leave there hungry. It’s a generous portion of food. Motherland Kitchen is a newer restaurant in the vegan lineup in that area. It’s not all vegan, but they have an all-vegan menu available and it is Afro-Caribbean food. It is absolutely delightful. The other standby in Frederick is Cafe Nola. Cafe Nola has breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late nights, so like bar food at night. So you can literally get any meal of the day you need there. They have been vegan for a very long time. They’re gonna be able to fix you up for something great to eat.
Brighde: This sounds amazing. And what is there around this city in terms of like, activities you mentioned it’s good for outdoor stuff. Is there anything that’s very sort of accessible close by?
Rissa: Bicycling is the big thing in that area, and I would say if you are an avid cyclist, this is going to be a spot you’re going to love. I did share the link, there is a whole website that is made just for cyclists to find fantastic trails that are at their level as well as all the local bike shops in case, the worst should happen and you need service. But it is definitely incredibly friendly for bicyclists. It is incredibly friendly for hiking. The thing that’s really nice about the Frederick area is that you’re not properly all the way into the Appalachian Mountain range yet. So if you’re not like a level 10 hiker. You can still really enjoy the scenery. You can still really enjoy the walk without needing tons of expensive equipment to do a really complex or technical hike. It’s great for families. There are a lot of options for outdoorsy stuff right around there.
Brighde: Fantastic. So, Rissa, these are some amazing recommendations that you’ve given for us. Not only the cities themselves, but also the things that there are to do there, and some amazing vegan eats. I will tell you that Maryland has not really ever been on my radar as a place that I wanted to go to, other than I wanna go everywhere. But your talk today has really made me want to bump up the list of places to go. It just sounds like a really great state to dig into the history of the United States, and there’s so much diversity and so much amazing landscapes and nature.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be on The World Vegan Travel Podcast. Before we go, would you mind sharing with our listeners how they can connect with you, and how they can find you for some historical tours of this Ellicott City? All of those details would be so beneficial for our listeners.
Rissa: Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. So if you want to find me through my magazine work, it’s the Vegan Journal and you can subscribe at vrg.org we publish four issues a year. If you are looking for a history tour, it is at mdhistorytours.com and that is in Ellicott City. We do have history and ghost tours. So, whatever your flavor is, you can find that there. If you’re looking for me personally on Instagram, I am @Sassypantswriter. If you’re visiting the area, I’m happy to help.
Brighde: Fantastic. Rissa, thank you so much for taking the time to be on The World Vegan Travel Podcast.
Rissa: Thank you so much for having me. It was absolutely a pleasure to share a little bit with your followers and the world about the state that I love.