The lone Baltimore restaurant on the list is here for a bunch of reasons. These are the big ones: No space in Washington is as charming as this firewood-stacked former mill, and no chef is as fixated on uncovering the culinary histories and honoring the traditions of the Chesapeake region as Spike Gjerde. Many restaurants have latched onto the farm-to-table movement, but Gjerde is a model for it. His kitchen handmakes everything it can, including things you can’t show off in pretty jars, like cornmeal. The menu leans hard on nostalgic kitchen-table fare (chicken and biscuits, turkey pot pie) but it often does so with a wink—the “adolescent greens” salad is served with “keys to the car, broken curfew,” and an Irish coffee arrives with a glassy brûléed-sugar top.
Don’t miss: Deviled eggs with chipped ham; crab dip with sherry; clams and grits; oyster po’ boy; crabcakes; chicken-and-goat-sausage enchiladas; “C.M.P.” sundae, with marshmallow, fudge, and peanuts.