Eat Special Issue
A GUIDE TO THE ICONS
$ = Inexpensive; “entrees” barely crack $10.
$$ = Entrees in the $10-$20 range, other than a few specials or the crab cakes.
$$$ Entrees $20 and up.
BYOB = The restaurant has no liquor license but allows you to bring your own booze. You may have heard of this.
P = On-site parking, i.e. a dedicated lot or garage.
T = Valet parking (for most places, this is weekends-only).
Out = Outdoor dining in season. Note: It could be a lovely deck, but it may be just a couple of tables on the sidewalk.
10pm = Serves food after 10 p.m. Many local restaurants will serve until 11 p.m. on weekends, but spots bearing this icon go further somehow.
B = Breakfast.
L = Lunch.
D = Dinner.
Br = Brunch on weekends.
Vg = Specializes in vegetarian/vegan friendliness. Almost all restaurants these days offer vegetarian options, and when asked by someone compiling a dining guide, many restaurants say that they can accommodate vegans on request, but this icon indicates vegetarian/vegan friendliness as a primary mission.
Rsv = Reservations are suggested, particularly for weekend dining.
Del = Delivery to a limited area, though many restaurants that don’t do phone-order delivery use web-based services such as carryout.com.
Published: March 2, 2011
1041 Marshall St., (443) 453-9698, abbeyburgerbistro.com
$$ 10pm L D
A bar devoted to gourmet burgers, not French fare. And we’re grateful, because who wouldn’t savor local Roseda beef topped with a drippy fried egg or build-it-yourself options that include turkey and homemade veggie burgers.
745 E. Fort Ave., (410) 727-7482
$ BYOB Out L D
This small storefront charms with its pretty interior, gracious service, and inexpensive, yet quality food from all parts of the Mediterranean, including spicy hummus, creamy and smoky baba ganouj, kefta burgers, dolmas, and baklava.
1032 Light St., (410) 576-3938, blueagaverestaurant.com
$$$ 10pm L D Rsv
Not your everyday Mexican restaurant. Mole is a specialty here, highlighting a menu that ranges from expected staples to fine-dining entrees.
1026 S. Charles St., (410) 752-3810, corksrestaurant.com
$$$ 10pm L D Br Rsv
Corks renovated and revamped in 2009 with a cooler contemporary space and a larger, more affordable menu. Some new dishes are playful, like the merguez corn dog made with lamb sausage and served with popcorn, but all are high-quality takes on homey faves.
1500 S. Hanover St., (410) 244-5101, bluegrasstavern.com
$$$P Vg Out 10pm L D Br Rsv
Federal Hill’s newest entry into the local/seasonal restaurant scene impresses with rustic charm and a creative menu. The menu changes frequently, but don’t miss the well-crafted charcuterie plate. An affordable, diverse wine list too.
1110 S. Charles St., (410) 727-2333, madriverbaltimore.com
$$ 10pm L D Br
A sporty/outdoorsy-themed bar and restaurant housed in a former bank, serving estimable pub grub and good beer specials.
1061 S. Charles St., (410) 576-9230, magerks.com
$$ Out L D
The menu at this Federal Hill spot is mostly typical bar fare but MaGerk’s takes its cheesesteaks quite seriously, complete with special Philadelphia cheesesteak rolls and the traditional Cheez Whiz.
1105 S. Charles St., (410) 752-8561, matsuri.us
$$ Out 10pm L D
This tiny Japanese staple is best known for its superior sushi, but its traditional dishes are not to be overlooked. Delicious donburis, udon soups, ramens, teriyakis, and tempuras populate the menu.
902 S. Charles St., (410) 234-0235, metrobalto.com
$$ Out 10pm B L D Br
This small hangout is chic yet warm with a mostly American menu that is consistently interesting and tasty. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus, ya know, good coffee.
American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, (443) 524-7379, mrrainsfunhouse.com
$$$ Out L D Br Rsv
A fine fit for AVAM, Mr. Rain’s Fun House is a kick with its funky, carnivalesque décor and inventive menu full of influences from Asia and Eastern Europe. Spiciness prevails here. Order pork and kimchi-style cabbage if it’s on the menu.
1113 S. Charles St., (410) 244-8686, mothersgrille.com
$$ P Out 10pm L Br D
This sprawling bar and restaurant features an equally sprawling menu, from boardwalk fries to chipotle ahi tuna and Kobe beef sliders alongside a full compliment of salads, sandwiches, etc.
38 E. Cross St., (410) 752-2837
$ 10pm L D
Not too many surprises at this Mexican mainstay, and that’s good. The portions are agreeably gargantuan, and the simplest dishes come off best. Great hard tacos.
1032 Riverside Ave., (410) 332-7345, portersfederalhill.com
$$ D Br
House-made bread and a slightly quirky menu elevate Porter’s above your normal corner pub. Mediterranean-inflected dishes such as zucchini fritters or lamb kabobs are definite must-haves. Spicier dishes, such as Thai mussels, are spicy indeed.
1002 Light St. (410) 539-7344, regisamericanbistro.com
$$ Out L D Br
This enduring and cozy spot has a lot to offer—patient service, a gracious atmosphere, and especially the eclectic house specials, including terrific calamari, potato-encrusted beef, Black Angus steaks, and, most of all, panko-encrusted crab cakes.
1542 Light St., (410) 605-0955, thereservebaltimore.com
$$ D Br Rsv
The Reserve may look like a bar, but it eats like a restaurant: quail on a bed of couscous, pistachio-encrusted lamb chops, bison burgers.
1209 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1298, ropewalktavern.com
$$ L D
This party spot offers a lively drinking scene and standard pub grub (burgers, salads, sandwiches) with a few unexpected twists (e.g. lobster tacos).
1400 Light St., (443) 438-7289, therowhousegrille.com
A new, elegantly renovated restaurant space with a small, focused menu of elegantly tweaked American classics. Lunch served on Saturday.
36 E. Cross St., (410) 539-2093, ryleighs.com
$$$ L D Br Rsv
Just about perfect modern pub food. There are oysters, of course, but also expert and inventive seafood bites, such as a triumphant scallop trio and jumbo shrimp wrapped in crispy wonton skins.
6-8 W. Cross St., (410) 752-1518
$$ L D
The menu changes constantly, depending on available ingredients and the chef’s whims, and the inventions are mostly good ones. Prices are low, and soups never disappoint.
1125 S. Charles St., (410) 752-8409
$ L D
A straightforward neighborhood Chinese place. The prices are still low and the preparations are safe, but the dining rooms are just the kind of cozy setting you’d want for winter comfort feeding.
26 E. Cross St., (410) 244-6722, stalkinghorsefederalhill.com
$ Out 10pm L D
A lively bar scene offering pub grub with a special emphasis on ingredient-packed thin-crust pizzas, quesadillas, and twice-baked potatoes.
1117 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1212, tavernacorvino.com
$$ Vg Out L D Br Rsv
Souped-up Italian small plates come to Federal Hill. Think beef Bolognese with house-made spaghetti and local Roseda beef or grilled calamari enlivened with golden raisins and olives.
1019 Light St., (410) 385-8587, thaiarroy.com
$$ Out L D
Drunken noodles have the right balance of savory and sweet. Fried fish in curry sauce manages to retain its crispness. Salads are citrusy bright and fresh. And service is gracious, even when this storefront is packed.
1006 Light St., (410) 528-2146, thaiyum.com
$$ Out L D
Ten-O-Six is now Thai Yum, marking a change to a strictly Thai menu. Chicken satay and Thai yum are strong starters, and the menu encompasses curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes, as well as slightly more daring specialty entrees such as green avocado curry fish.