I feel confident that The Main Ingredient would be the #1 recommended Annapolis restaurant on TripAdvisor if it was located in the tourist district. But the fact that it requires a drive from the historic district makes it even better, in my opinion. It's great to eat at a truly neighborhood restaurant, where locals fill all the tables. My husband and I drove here from our B&B in the historic district (after selecting the restaurant based on online reviews) for dinner one night, and we were glad we made a reservation, as the cafe was bustling with locals of all ages --- seniors, families with kids, and couples. It was a great vibe, and allowed us to see another side of the beautiful city of Annapolis.
The food was outstanding. Everything was freshly prepared and made with quality ingredients. The menu had so many delicious-sounding options, I wish we could have eaten here more than once, just so I could try some of the other menu items! I am not at all a seafood-lover, so it was refreshing to find a Maryland restaurant that wasn't primarily seafood-based, as most restaurants we've tried are heavy on the seafood, and tend to only offer a couple of token "land items". But The Main Ingredient has a huge, diverse menu, and I had a hard time deciding what to order.
I opted for the veggie burger with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. I have tried many veggie burgers in many restaurants throughout the USA and Europe, and I am not kidding --- the veggie burger at The Main Ingredient was one of the best I've ever had anywhere. The burger itself was delicious --- crispy on the outside, bits of real veggies inside, and well-seasoned. One of the best things about it was the pretzel bun it came on. I'm not always a fan of pretzel rolls, as they are sometimes dry and tough, but this one was absolutely delicious. It was fresh-baked, super soft, moist, and so tasty I could have eaten it plain. I ordered the veggie burger with caramelized onions, which were also fantastic. Along with the honey mustard on the side, it was pretty much a perfect entree ---- every element of it was outstanding! The mashed potatoes were good, too. Not the best ever, but still tasty and moist. I might try the sweet potato fries if I ever get to eat at The Main Ingredient again. Or the pasta salad. Or the fruit cup.... Like the entree, choosing a side was hard, because there were so many good options!
My husband tried the sesame chicken fingers, which he enjoyed. He mostly raved about the dipping sauce that accompanied them. I tried a bit of the dipping sauce, and I have to admit, it was tasty! He also had a slice of the chocolate banana cake, which was enormous!!! He thought it was good, but not great. He wished he'd tried the peanut butter cake instead. (Clearly, we will need to make a return trip to Maryland just to eat at The Main Ingredient again!).
Our waitress was outstanding --- super friendly, very accommodating, even gave us some tips for catching some more local culture while we were in the area.
I can't say enough about The Main Ingredient. The food was outstanding --- the freshness and quality of the ingredients really showed through --- and the service and atmosphere were spot-on. I highly recommend this lively neighborhood cafe. I only wish we had something comparable in my town!
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