Long a staple of French cuisine, rabbit has found a place on local menus as an alternative protein that tastes a lot like chicken. (We swear.)
Try it at: Cunningham’s, where sultry smoked-rabbit rillettes are included with the house-made charcuterie plate.
Southerners have transformed grated cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimiento peppers into a beloved spread. Devotees swear by using cheddar cheese in their recipes.
Try it at: Oliver Speck’s Eats & Drinks, where it’s slathered generously on The 16-Legged Burger (a combination of bison, lamb, beef, and pork that is topped with a fried egg).
This lean, delicious meat—high in zinc, niacin, and iron—inspires many manifestations, from sausage to steak. Gunpowder Bison & Trading Company in Monkton is a local purveyor for many area restaurants.
Try it at: Waterstone Bar & Grille, which turns out a half-pound ground-bison patty graced with a grilled tomato and tzatziki, a Greek yogurt sauce.
The root vegetable is known for its naturally sweet taste, excellent source of vitamins, and ability to ward off seemingly every ailment from high blood pressure to liver disease.
Try it at: The Chesapeake, where they make Beets Five Ways—roasted, pickled, puréed, raw, and a micro-green rendition with feta cheese and pistachios.
Interest in the high-protein, gluten-free grain shows no sign of slowing. Last year, the United Nations even proclaimed 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa.”
Try it at: Great Sage in Clarksville, where the roasted-mushroom-quinoa salad is truly transformative.
This earthy ingredient (infused with the aroma of white or black truffles) has been drizzled on everything from pizza to popcorn as a bold and flavorful finisher.
Try it at: Kooper’s Tavern, where addictive truffle fries are doused with black-truffle oil and mixed with parsley, garlic, and Parmesan.
Pickled vegetables (from carrots to cabbage to cauliflower) are, oh, so au courant these days. You’ll find fermented foods appearing as starters, snacks, and sides.
Try it at: Of Love & Regret, where an appetizer features varied house-made pickled offerings, from zucchini in sesame oil to pickled celery with Old Bay.