We're not particularly partial to chains, but when the chain is as good as Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen (8161 Honeygo Blvd.,  931-7966), we'll even put up with The Avenue at White Marsh to enjoy it. And enjoy it we do, even if we have to wait, because we can suck back some cerveza or a margarita or that frozen drink that swirls sangria and margarita together, and crunch on free chips and salsa. Once we gain a table, we're likely to opt for one of the combos, greed being a large part of our nature. The place is huge and cavernous, but seating is spacious; maybe that's why, even on a busy night, we don't find it noisy. And we like that.
If they can't replicate an old-timey Main Street, they're certainly not going to re-create New Orleans in White Marsh. But at Bayou Blues Café (8133-A Honeygo Blvd.,  931-2583) they come surprisingly close. Savor great music in the tradition of the Crescent City (mostly blues, some jazz, starting nightly at 9; call for a schedule) and enjoy some damn fine Cajun cooking. We're talking spicy, as in jambalaya, blackened fish or steak, shrimp étoufée, and gumbo. The desserts are, in the tradition of the Bayou's city of inspiration, sinful.
Since there's a crab joint about every two miles on your average Maryland highway, driving all way to Aberdeen for a dozen males may seem a bit perverse. But Gabler's (2200 Perryman Road, Aberdeen,  272-0626) isn't just any crab joint. Located on the woodsy banks of the Bush River, this 61-year-old family-owned business is low on frills but high on atmosphere and eats, with a menu focusing almost exclusively on the crustacean of honor (reliably meaty and well-spiced steamed, tasty in the cakes and soups). The best reason for the long drive, though, is the chance to pick backfin while lit by the sun- dappled river as the breeze ruffles your hair. Just make sure you call ahead to reserve your crabs, otherwise you might find disappointment at the end of your drive.