Destinations: Lu & Joe’s, Mt. Airy, Maryland

Lu & Joe’s, Mt. Airy, Maryland

| November/December 2006

  • Destinations
    Like many old lounges, Lou & Joe's has a split personality.
    Photo by Jean Aker

  • Destinations

The Skinny - Lu & Joe's, Mt. Airy, Maryland
Where: Three miles south of I-70 on Ridge Road (Route 27).
Why: Good food and an old-fashioned biker bar reputation, with easy access from major and minor roads.
Best Kept Secret: The crab fluff, a tempura-style crab cake, is a must have.
Scenic Routes: Route 144 is a delightful road with a little of everything, and when the wind is right you know you’re in the country!
Avoid: The District of Columbia to the south and the Beltway (I-495).
More Info: 

Nestled between cow pastures and country homes stands a beacon to bikers from all over the mid-Atlantic region. It is a classic biker bar — easy to get in, easy to get out, and close to a major Interstate and a twisty rural country road. Welcome to Lu & Joe’s.

Like many old lounges, Lu & Joe’s has a split personality. One side is the “no smoking” family restaurant and the other is the bar. The restaurant is resplendent with booths rimming the edges and tables everywhere else. The bar is an oval affair with a half dozen tables scattered around the entrance.

Thursday nights are the traditional “Thirsty Thursday,” when the locals ride in to get a jump on the approaching weekend. During riding season, the front of the building is often barely visible thanks to the number of motorcycles parked from one end of the parking lot to the other. Other than Thursdays, the weekends are when most of the bikes appear.

The origin of Lu & Joe’s is mostly lost to the ages. Legend has it that it was opened before World War II. The earliest known history comes from a retired Korean War vet. The place was then called Ma Wickers, and it was just a small building surrounded by woods and pastures. The menu consisted of sardines and crackers.

Over the years, the name changed several more times and the building changed as well. At different times it was known as the Rusty Nail, Mountain View Inn, and finally Lu & Joe’s. Every change in name was accompanied by a renovation or an increase in size; over the years the restaurant and carryout store were added. The bar area was renovated a few years ago, and the gravel parking lot was paved.

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