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“Terrific crab cakes and great atmosphere”
Review of Trolley Stop

Trolley Stop
Ranked #19 of 170 Restaurants in Ellicott City
Certificate of Excellence
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed December 26, 2012

Treat yourself to a visit to the Trolley Stop, one of the best restaurants in the historic district of old Ellicott City, Maryland. Strictly speaking, I suppose the restaurant is technically in Oella, the Baltimore County town that is right across the river from Howard County and Ellicott City's historic downtown; but considering that when you step out the door, you are looking right at downtown Ellicott City, with the oldest railroad depot in America and the church where Babe Ruth got married, I'm not disposed to quibble about what town or county the restaurant is located in.

The important thing is that this is a fun and atmospheric restaurant with great food. The building goes back to the 19th century, and its name stems from the fact that the old #9 Trolley Line from Baltimore stopped at that building (the line is now a gorgeous and scenic walking trail, an ideal place to take a walk and work up an appetite before lunch or dinner). The brick work on the inside is the real thing -- nothing put-up or gentrified here. The walls are covered with photos and graphics that illustrate the history of the region, with particular emphasis on the Oella area (see, I *told* you it's really in Oella) and the many times when the Patapsco River has flooded the region, such as Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. Visit this restaurant, and you'll not only enjoy a great meal but also learn a lot about the history of the Patapsco River Valley.

The service is friendly, cheerful, down-to-earth, and unpretentious, and the food is marvelous. I had the lump crab cake sandwich -- big gorgeous lumps of crabmeat on the inside, well seasoned, with a nice remoulade sauce on the side. The french fries are crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside -- perfect. The cream of crab soup was on special that day, and it was rich and flavorful. I also got to try the shrimp melt, and it too was spicy and delicious.

The restaurant draws a fun and friendly cast of characters, and there's always something interesting going on. For example, the background music that's playing from the bar, right by the keno screen (an inevitability at many Maryland restaurants), is usually classic rock; but one day when we were there, the music kept getting switched to Bad Company. A song by Pink Floyd, or AC/DC, or Grand Funk Railroad, or Bachman-Turner Overdrive, would start playing; but then there'd be a brief interruption, and it was back to "Rock and Roll Fantasy" or "Feel Like Makin' Love." Maybe a customer who's a big Bad Company fan kept making music requests; I don't know. I mention this only because, if you're the stuffy type who defines a restaurant experience in terms of austerity and sterility, the Trolley Stop is probably not for you. But if you're a real person who enjoys good food in a fun and informal setting, and if you appreciate the wonderfully quirky spirit that is so much a part of the life of Greater Baltimore (still my favorite part of the United States), stop at the Trolley Stop. You will not be disappointed.

    • Value
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Thank GettysburgPaul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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97 - 101 of 112 reviews

Reviewed September 3, 2012

This is a great restaurant in historic Ellicott City. I feel it has the best value for the money if you are looking for something cheap and good tasting.

The menu has all of the usual fare (burgers and house sandwiches) and daily special. My two favorites are the burgers and the Trolley #9. Plenty of fries, free refills, cosy atmosphere, nothing ever feels rushed, and the food always comes out out.

Sometimes service can be slow. It seems that sometimes there aren't enough waitresses to handle momentary increases in customers but it's not something that it very bothersome.

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1  Thank RimantasG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 21, 2012

I go there semi-regularly, whenever we have visitors in town.
I really like the atmosphere and the history of the site.

1  Thank Carl S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2012

We stopped here for breakfast while visiting Ellicott City, and the food was good and plentiful, but service was very basic. We had to ask several times for more water and coffee, and we couldn't get anyone to come to our table to give us our bill. At the time, we chalked it up to the fact that they were televising the Colorado shooting pretrial on TV, and everyone was understandably distracted.

The food was decent, and it is a beautiful building, so we decided to go back a few days later. This time we brought my parents, so it was a party of 6 that showed up. When we got in, the waitress was clearly not happy that we were there, and was very put out that she had such a "large party" (her words) to serve. She made a big fuss about having to put 2 tables together, and then slammed the menus down, saying (again, a direct quote) "I'm not touching this!" At this point, I got the kids and my parents out of there. My husband stayed behind to have a few words with the manager, and all he got out of them was a "sorry" from the manager, but not the waitress.

I've never experienced such a rude waitress and such a non-existent attempt by management to rectify the situation. It was NOT busy in there, it was 12 noon, and she thought that a party of 6 was too large?!? Aren't restaurants in business to make money by serving food to people?!? Rest assured, we won't be going back, and we will be spreading the word to our relatives and friends in the area.

We ended up going to Nora's Cafe, where the ambience is not as nice, but where the waitstaff was so friendly it made up for the horrible experience we had at the Trolley Stop.

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1  Thank ReginaKat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 19, 2012

This place looks nice on the inside - lots of golden wood everywhere - but the service is horrible! I'm not sure how a place stays in business with service like what we encountered. Waitresses were walking all around us as we repeatedly, over about a 10 minute time frame, tried to flag, call, wave, etc for attention. They were not doing anything - rolling silverware, and certainly had to have heard us and ignored us. The bartender was in the front bar and we were sitting in the back so we could talk. She rarely even looked at us.
I can only image this place lives off of its regulars, to whom they must be giving their attention. this was our first time and I will not go back - too many wonderful bars/restaurants in ellicott city!

2  Thank k8infl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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