Eat Special Issue
Mount Vernon/Bolton Hill/Station North
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
ABACROMBIE FINE FOODS AND ACCOMMODATIONS
58 W. Biddle St., (410) 837-3630, abacrombie.net
$$$ D B Rsv
This basement spot has long held a culinary reputation that dwarfs its intimate size. It’s current menu of care-taken upscale comfort foods upholds it. Reservations are key during symphony season.
823 N. Charles St., (410) 539-0944, akbar-restaurant.com
$$ L D Br
They know what they’re doing at this intimate Indian restaurant: it’s quiet inside, elegant, almost, and the staff will make you feel like a regular even on your first trip. Keema naan to start (lamb-stuffed flatbread), then tandoori shrimp, and/or anything korma.
1218 N. Charles St., (443) 759-8531, alohasushimd.com
$$ L D
Everything about Aloha Sushi is just right. The quiet dining room is dressed simply, service is friendly and prompt, and the food is pleasantly affordable.
B, BOLTON HILL BISTRO
1501 Bolton St., (410) 383-8600, b-bistro.com
$$$ Out D Br Rsv
B is one of those neighborhood restaurants that feels like a well-kept secret even though it’s been around for years. The ever-changing array of homemade ravioli and seasonal fare impresses.
340 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7971, banthai.us
$$ L D
The mee krob, “sweet and crunchy noodles with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts,” is a brilliant bit of almost-certainly-bad-for-you goodness. The menu is extensive, from the mild pad woon sen to several pleasingly hot dishes like kratiam prik Thai.
1106 N. Charles St., (410) 547-6925
$$$ 10pm d
The bar menu has been streamlined, but the real action is the exquisite main dining rooms of this stupendous Mount Vernon townhouse. Don’t miss the steak frites (and the rosemary garlic fries) .
316 N. Charles St., (410) 528-1222
$$$ Vg L D
This handsome midtown Turkish restaurant scores its biggest points with luscious eggplant-based appetizers and with its pides—boat-shaped pizzas.
1001 Cathedral St., (410) 539-4252, citycafebaltimore.com
$$$ Out L D Br
Other Baltimore neighborhoods would be lucky to have such an adaptable neighborhood spot, from quick breakfast pastries and coffee on the go to good lunch staples to an increasingly ambitious dinner menu.
8 E. Preston St., (410) 244-1020
$$ Out 10pm D Br
Word doesn’t seem to have spread about the dining room at Dionysus. Entrées include tenderloin of beef, crab cakes, a chicken dish, two fish plates, and an eggplant manicotti. And appetizers are stellar.
DOUGHERTY’S IRISH PUB
223 W. Chase St. (410) 752-4059
$ 10pm L D
Your typical neighborhood bar, a bit dim though spacious. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the pub grub that fills out the menu here: burgers, fish and chips, and hot and cold deli sandwiches.
1100 Maryland Ave., (410) 385-0318, dukemrestaurant.com
$$ Out L D
Delicious, satisfying, and inexpensive Ethiopian cuisine in an setting marked by cramped conviviality and the lovely urban weirdness of exotic food in a corner-bar space.
15 W. Eager St., (410) 244-0405, edenslounge.com
$$ Vg Out 10pm D
A swank club attracting a steady, well-dressed crowd in the evening, Eden’s also offers a small-plates menu, with dishes that are promising and niftily presented.
4 E. Madison St., (410) 605-2020, 4eastmadisoninn.com
$$$ Out D Rsv
Located in the snug dining room of 4 East Madison Inn, Feast offers homey, sustainably sourced comfort food with a gourmet twist and sweet service. Desserts prompt a “just like Mom used to make” thumbs ups.
806 N. Charles St., (410) 752-0311, helmand.com
Baltimore’s beloved Afghan restaurant is also consistently one of the city’s best. Dishes such as aushak, kaddo bolani, and shornakhod are deliciously different.
818 N. Calvert St., (410) 528-0818, iggiespizza.com
$$ BYOB Out L D
The crust at this pizza restaurant is thin with a good balance of crunchy and chewy, but really it’s mostly a vehicle for the gourmet toppings.
JOE SQUARED PIZZA AND BAR
133 W. North Ave., (410) 545-0444, joesquared.com
$$ P Out 10pm L D Br
Joe Squared’s signature square pizza is baked in a coal-fired grill and comes in a slew of adventurous and bizarre combinations—say, Irish pizza with corned beef on it.
18 W. 20th St., (410) 837-5231
$$ 10pm L D
One of a few remaining full-scale restaurants in Baltimore’s Koreatown, this family-style, plain-spoken joint specializes in fiery barbecue, plus hot pots, noodle dishes, etc.
JOSS CAFÉ AND SUSHI BAR.
413 N. Charles St., (410) 244-6988, josscafe-sushibar.com
$$$ L D
Joss is just the kind of mod, hip sushi bar Baltimore has been lacking. Fish is fresher than fresh, and the selection goes beyond spicy tuna or California roll. If the wasabi shumai are any indication, cooked food here is no afterthought.
KUMARI RESTAURANT AND BAR
911 N. Charles St., (410) 547-1600
$$ Vg Out 10pm L D Br
Nepalese restaurant Kumari does most of its work in the tandoor, or creamily kormaed, very Indian style. The crispy breads are a real treat.
900 Cathedral St., (410) 962-8859, kyropizza.com
$$ BYOB L D
Different name, same reliable menu of Middle Eastern faves and pizzas with gourmet toppings (e.g. tandoori chicken). Anything that comes out of the wood-burning oven is worth eating.
322 N. Charles St., (410) 244-5556, lumbinirestaurant.com
$$ BYOB L D
The northern Indian food is just fine, but the Nepalese dishes, especially the chicken momo (big, fluffy dumplings) and the sukait, a cured lamb appetizer, are fascinating and delicious.
313 N. Charles St., (443) 220-0150, maisysbaltimore.com
$$ 10pm L D
Casual fare affordably priced is Maisy’s raison d’etre. All entrees, except the crab cakes, are under $20, including generously-sized pizzas from the restaurant’s wood-burning oven.
MARIE LOUISE BISTRO
904 N. Charles St., (410) 385-9946, marielouise-bistro.com
$$ Out L D Br
Reasonably priced and casual French-American food prepared with thought and care is the restaurant’s bailiwick, but the unassuming space adds a comfortable upstairs bar, a mini-pâtisserie, and a brunch menu.
328 N. Charles St., (410) 539-7504, mickosheas.com
$$ 10pm L D Br
This Irish standby adroitly accommodates pub grub with solid light fare and sandwiches. The fish and chips are terrific.
MIDTOWN YACHT CLUB
15 E. Centre St. (410) 837-1300
$ 10pm L D Br
More than decent Tex-Mex-accented pub fare, peanut shells on the floor, sports on the TV, good times always. The Sunday brunch buffet is a carnivore’s picnic.
1013 N. Charles St., (410) 332-0332, minatosushibar.com
$$ L D
The menu at this innocuously stylish sushi spot offers a dependable assortment of deliciousness. Start with an octopus and seaweed salad, then order an assortment of rolls and individual pieces. Friendly, efficient, and noninvasive service.
920 N. Charles St., (410) 547-0001, mughalgarden.com
$$ L D
The interior is so ’60s its almost fresh. Attention is paid to the Indian cuisine basics, and the lunch buffet offers a wide and consistent variety.
2126 Maryland Ave., (410) 685-6237
$$ 10pm L D
This homely basement-level eating den is still one of best late-late-night destinations in town. Banchan come out soon enough, and then bulgogi, seafood pancakes, octopus casseroles, and hot pots. The lunch specials rule.
ON THE HILL CAFÉ AND MARKET
1431 John St., (410) 225-9667, onthehillcafe.com
$ BYOB Out B L D
Inexpensive soups, sandwiches, burritos, and salads are the mainstays of the menu, but rounding it out are homemade quiches, savory and sweet tarts, meat pies, burgers, and a couple of vegetarian sandwiches.
OWL BAR AND GRILL
1 E. Chase St., (410) 347-0888, theowlbar.com
$$ P Vg L D Br
Once you get done explaining the significance of the owl statue above the bar, the food is pretty good. The menu ranges from enormous paninis to brick-oven pizzas to pan-seared ahi tuna.
THE PRIME RIB
1101 N. Calvert St., (410) 539-1804, theprimerib.com
$$$ P Vg D Rsv
One of the few survivors of old-school Baltimore fine dining, the Prime Rib possesses that rare confluence of supremely good service, genuinely swank environs, and, of course, utterly superlative cuisine.
930 N. Charles St., (410) 385-0520, 930redmaple.com
$ 10pm D
The bar/nightclub’s ever-changing menu of adventurous finger food doesn’t settle on one cuisine and nothing is entrée-sized, but it’s easy to split a variety of small plates among friends.
SASCHA’S 527 CAFÉ
527 N. Charles St., (410) 539-8880, saschas.com
$$ Out 10pm L D
Sascha’s is sexy, with the kind of understated lighting and soaring 16-foot-high ceilings. The menu offers a variety of clever small plates—bison sliders, mini fish tacos—substantial entrees, and even larger salads.
1200 N. Charles St., (410) 837-9999, sammystrattoria.com
$$$ Vg Out L D Rsv
Southern Italian dining with just enough upmarket panache. Pasta dishes are served in big portions, with fresh herbs and smart sauces. Garlicky broccoli rabe, pasta e fagiole soup, and a classically creamy house salad raise the pleasure index.
1723 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7732; 333 N. Charles St., (410) 727-5737; sofiscrepes.com
$ L D
Tiny Sofi’s serves a variety of dessert crêpes alongside a menu of heartier savory crêpes that are big enough for a smallish meal. Sofi’s is also open inside the Women’s Industrial Exchange, where seating is more bountiful.
405 N. Charles St., (410) 625-0534, sottosoprainc.com
$$$ Vg 10pm L D Rsv
Sotto Sopra offers an uptown take on Little Italy with homemade pastas and sauces without heavy-handedness. Gnocchi so light only a smear of sauce weighs it down, or ravioli stuffed with duck rather than ricotta.
1711 N. Charles St., (410) 332-0110, tapasteatro.com
$$ Out 10pm D
If Tapas Teatro’s popularity has waned, you’d never know it. This Charles Street favorite still buzzes with the drone of theatergoers lifting pitchers of sangria and nibbling pulpo y papas (octopus and potatoes), electric-green pea fritters, and albondigas.
1207 N. Charles St., (410) 727-1234
$$ L D
Spicy or mild, meaty or meatless, there are plenty of choices. Don’t neglect appetizers such as rice cakes with minced shrimp and chicken in peanut-coconut-cream sauce.
804 N. Charles St. 410-752-5857
$ l D
Thai food counter and takeout joint in Mount Vernon offers a range of dishes in meat and vegetarian categories at very reasonable prices.
TIO PEPE RESTAURANTE
10 E. Franklin St. (410) 539-4675
$$$ 10pm L D Rsv
After 40 years, dinner at Tio Pepe is still an event. Old-school luxury dining featuring lots of classic sauces and the kind of flawless formal service nearly extinct in contemporary restaurants.
TURP’S SPORTS BAR AND RESTAURANT
1317 N. Charles St., (410) 347-0349, turpsonline.com
$$ Vg Out 10pm L D Br
Sometimes you need a place with good food and the game on, and Turp’s and its expansive menu fit that bill in Mount Vernon.
1307 N. Charles St., (410) 468-0002, xsbaltimore.com
$$ Vg Out 10pm B L D
Salads, panini, omelets, gelati, and a menu of sushi and other Japanese standards served up in a soaring four-story space.
323 Park Ave., (410) 223-1881
$$ L D
The menu focuses more on reliable Chinese staples. Fried taro dumplings and beef tripe with ginger and scallions are standouts among the very reasonably priced dim sum.