A Satisfying Meal In a Friendly Setting

I eat and drink too much. I know the scoop on pubs. Tourists constantly stop me and ask for advice on where to go. I always tell them that most of the restaurants downtown are pretty decent, but if they want a guaranteed good meal, just go to Riordan's Saloon.

Located in the heart of downtown across from the Market House, Riordan's has been a lively neighborhood saloon for 25 years. For 12 of those years, I have eaten there a few times a month and haven't had a bad meal or poor service yet. I usually go to Riordan's for a light bite on a weeknight. My girlfriends and I often split appetizers and have soup or salad. The spicy hot crab dip, cheddar bacon potato skins, Buffalo wings and chicken tenders are consistently good. They also serve oysters on the half shell, shrimp, clam strips and calamari for seafood lovers. The daily special appetizer is almost always the best selection: lobster claws, chicken rolls or quesadillas.

Riordan's soups are terrific. I enjoy the regular menu items, such as clam chowder and onion soup, but I would also highly recommend the soup du jour, especially their bisque. Know that a Riordan's bowl of bisque is a meal in itself. I like the chicken Caesar salad or a fresh house salad with one of their homemade dressings. I recently had the raspberry walnut dressing, and I wish I had the recipe.

If I go to Riordan's with a hungry guy, the meal usually consists of the man-sized portions you'll find on the list of house favorites or of over-stuffed sandwiches. I am partial to the Santa Fe chicken sandwich, a chicken breast topped with hickory barbeque sauce and jack cheese, or the Crisfield chicken sandwich, topped with crab dip and pepper jack cheese. Riordan's real bleu burger, Southwestern burger and Philly-style burger, are all very good. Rumor has it that the French dip sandwich is the best in Annapolis. The menu also includes a pork BBQ, tuna and shrimp melts, crab cakes and an excellent grilled salmon BLT.

Riordan's features dinner entrees such as broiled salmon, fried oysters, sea scallops, grilled tuna, ribs and steaks. My neighbor claims the prime rib is exceptional. The penne pastas such as the shrimp, alfredo or scallop are tasty, but once you have tried the chicken diablo, you'll be hooked. The daily special entrees are worth a try, but it will be hard to pass up the chicken diablo once you have a taste for it.

Riordan's is packed during most seasons on weekends so you may have to wait for a table, especially during peak meal times and Sunday brunch, which is worth the wait if you are an omelet or eggs Benedict lover. The dining room upstairs is open on busy weekends, and the view and mellow atmosphere are quite pleasant. It also opens up some space in the festive and sometimes loud downstairs bar area.

Try Riordan's---I think you'll like it.


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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