Live, Love, Frederick

Frederick is a city that has great suburban, urban, and rural lifestyles nesting in the valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. Local merchants line the streets with their one-of-a-kind shops and original cuisine, all to piece together a petite urban atmosphere with a “Go Local vibe.” Go for a run, bring a Frisbee and some sunglasses and head to Baker Park, the 35-acre recreational park complete with playgrounds, benches, plenty of grass to play in, and a band shell for local entertainment. Take in the history of homes dating back to the 18th and 19th century, or visit Harry Grove Stadium to support the Frederick Keys, the city’s minor league baseball team.

The second largest city in Maryland, the Frederick-Rockville-Bethesda area topped the list of Housing Markets to Watch by trulia.com and is lauded as #6 of the 10 best downtowns in America according to livability.com. The Web site highlights the downtown as a “magnet for East Coast artists” as well as the town’s historic architecture and pooch-friendly accommodations. More than 2,500 historic properties have been renovated for modern use in Frederick while preserving Colonial-era architectural elements. According to livability.com, Frederick has a population of 67,086 and the city’s unemployment rate is at 5.8 percent, below the national and state average. The median age of residents is 34 and the median household income is $68,081. One of the main reasons for Frederick’s growth, according to the website, is a designation Maryland gave Frederick in 2003; called the Arts & Entertainment District, it allowed artists to sell their work tax free and has made Frederick a hot bed for artists and crafts people.

Long a destination for its Civil War heritage, Frederick has seen most of the changes in its 50-block historic district. At least 13 restaurants and artisanal culinary spots have opened in the last two years, according to the Downtown Frederick Partnership, which tracks business openings.

The turnaround began in 2008, when Bryan Voltaggio opened Volt, Mr. Voltaggio and Volt rose to fame after his 2009 appearance on “Top Chef,” and he is currently competing in “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo. He has opened two more casual spots in the last two years. The latest is Family Meal (880 North East Street, 301-378-2895; voltfamilymeal.com), a bustling restaurant in what was an abandoned car dealership. “I wanted to create an affordable place where my kids and I would both be happy eating,” he said. Familiar dishes like burgers and steaks are the highlights.

The Wine Kitchen (50 Carroll Creek Way, Suite 160; 301-663-6968; thewinekitchen.com) arrived on the scene early last year. The restaurant showcases locally sourced seasonal American dishes like an eggplant steak with bulgur wheat salad and barbecued Chesapeake oysters with a bacon jam. It has more than 30 wines available by the glass. “The point of coming here is to have really great food and wine in a fun atmosphere without any fanciness,” said Jason Miller, an owner.

Frederick’s homegrown gastronomic culture has snared the attention of nonlocals, said Kyle Rees, a spokesman for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “The boutique food shops and restaurants there are certainly attracting D.C. residents more and more,” he said.

Two of the newest food destinations are owned by Phil Bowers, whose family has lived in the area for six generations.

“I saw potential in the city because it’s walkable and has Civil War history, so there’s already an attraction which I wanted to build on,” he said.

Mr. Bowers’s Ayse Meze Lounge (6 North East Street, 240-651-5155; aysemeze.com) offers small plates of Middle Eastern food in a light-filled space. His  Monocacy Brewing Company (1781 North Market Street, 240-457-4232; monocacybrewing.com) is a microbrewery where visitors can take a tour that ends with a tasting of the five beers on tap.

Stores with a singular focus also have become attractions.

Zoë’s Chocolate(121A North Market Street, 301-694-5882; zoeschocolate.com) sells handmade pralines and bars. The owner, Zoë Tsoukatos, has created flavors like dark chocolate baklava.

Nearby isLebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium (214 North Market Street, 301-228-3996; loveoliveoilvinegar.com), which sells 50 kinds of vinegars and olive oils from around the world. The owner, Maggie Lebherz, who comes from one of Frederick’s oldest families, said she fell in love with olive oil while studying as a college senior in Salamanca, Spain. “When I got back home, I couldn’t find the good oils that I’d had abroad so I decided to source them myself,” she said.

Other fine shops include: Alicia L – the fashion destination in the Frederick area, En Masse – a European Flower Market, Pure Home – A full service interior design studio and furniture store, Silk and Burlap – specializing in vintage home and modern apparel, Tiara Day – a vintage lifestyle boutique.

Dublin Roasters Coffee (1780 North Market Street, 240-575-9929;dublinroasterscoffee.com) is run by Serina Roy, a former Frederick police officer. Her store has 80 varieties. Ms. Roy looks for raw coffee beans from small farms in countries like Vietnam, Brazil and Honduras. The rear of the converted motorcycle warehouse is the roasting facility, which is open to visitors. The front is a cafe adorned with brightly colored art from the countries from which she imports her beans.

  • “Top 10 Best Downtowns 2014.” America’s Best Places To Live, Visit, Work, Travel and Explore. N.p., 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.
  • Vora, Shivani. “A Food Scene With Local Roots Sprouts in Maryland.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Aug. 2013.