TasteCamp 2017 was scheduled to begin, so we had some free time to explore the city of Frederick. The downtown area is filled with a myriad of shops and restaurants, as well as some interesting architecture and museums, such as the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. There are parts of Frederick with many chain shops and restaurants but the downtown is more unique, small businesses.
Cafe Nola, kind of a hip cafe with an outside patio. It is well known for its breakfast offerings, some with a southern flair. The breakfast entrees generally range from $10-$18, including items such as French Toast, Croissant Sandwich, and Corned Beef Hash. They have a fully stocked bar so you can enjoy a cocktail such as a Bloody Mary Heat ($8), which is made with a house-infused habanero garlic vodka.
I opted for the Shrimp & Grits ($15), which is made with cheddar grits, Andouille sausage and bacon. The grits were creamy and cheesy and there plenty of plump shrimp, spicy sausage and crisp bacon pieces. A hearty dish, excellent comfort food.
My only issue with the restaurant was that the service was a bit lackluster, especially after we received our food. Our server didn't return until we were nearly down with our meal, failing to refill our beverages. The restaurant wasn't significantly busy and there didn't appear to be any reason for the lack of proper service. It could be outside the norm. The food though is definitely very good and I would recommend you check it out if you are ever in Frederick.
Isabella's Taverna & Tapas Bar. It is a casual spot with a large bar (and has a Happy Hour tapas buffet for those at the bar). They have a full bar though the wine list wasn't too compelling to me, as they had only a small amount of Spanish wines, as well as plenty of other wines from numerous wine regions across the world. Though small, there were some good choices in Spanish wines but in the end, we opted for red Sangria, which was fruity and tasty, though not overly sweet.
The food menu was more interesting, and accompanied by a page of daily specials, with some traditional Spanish dishes as well as some of their own takes on tapas. On the menu, you'll find Soups & Salads (like Gazpacho), Cheeses (like Queso de Cabrales), Seafood (from Fried Calamari to Pan-Steamed Black Mussels), Meats (from Iberico de Bellota to House-Made Chorizo), Vegetables (from Papas Bravas to Brussel Sprouts), six different types of Paella, and a few Entrees (like Grilled Sirloin). Prices are reasonable, with a number of dishes costing $10 and less.
Service was excellent and I was very pleased with all of the dishes we ate. There was plenty of other items on the menu I would have liked to try too. I just wish the wine list was larger, with more Spanish options. Overall, Isabella's earns my recommendation.