Food & Drink

On Deck

Cacao Lane is the ideal bar for summer sips.

Walking down Main Street in Ellicott City is a bit like being in a time portal—one that transports you back to an era when people traveled by train, mills ruled the economy, and department stores like Caplan’s were king.

A visit to Cacao Lane (8066 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-461-1378)—the building was fashioned from locally quarried stone and brick back in 1840, and has been in continuous use as a cabstand, general store, pool hall, and, now, restaurant and bar—is no exception.

The best time to visit is during the summer when the rooftop deck is in full swing. Imagine a grown-up, no-frills tree house. Replete with plastic chairs, wooden bar stools, and black umbrellas, the multitiered deck is nestled in trees with a view of the town’s still-operating flour mill in the distance.

Cacao Lane’s deck has a small dedicated bar area with its own menu, but all drinks are available if you don’t mind carrying them outside yourself. Here, the staff churns out summertime drinks like orange crushes and pours local beer from Evolution, Union, and Heavy Seas. On our visit, the sun was out and we were in a tropical mood, so we opted for a tart and refreshing pineapple mimosa brought from the bar downstairs. Signature outside offerings include the Deck Punch with coconut rum, and peach and watermelon purée, and a Sunburn with vodka, orange, cranberry, and pineapple juices.

To make sure we descended the deck’s steps safely, we decided to soak up the alcohol by noshing on bar snacks, including plump mussels and shrimp steamed in Natty Boh, crab dip made with Monterey Jack cheese and Old Bay, and light and lean pulled pork tacos with pickled radishes.

Take it from us: Spending a lazy afternoon on Cacao Lane’s deck, sipping drinks as the trees sway overhead, makes all the hustle and bustle of Main Street feel like a world away—no matter what era you’re in.