Baltimore Mag’s 2014 Best Restaurants

Every year, Baltimore Magazine chooses it’s favorite 50 restaurants.  It’s a little annoying because most of the time it seems like the same restaurants every year. My favorite part is when they interview a few chefs who also get to include their favorites; they tend to get a little more adventurous.  I had a few opinions about at least half of them and am sharing my two cents for free. Baltimore Magazine does Gold, Silver, and Bronze rankings, and because I don’t have the budget they do, I chose to split the nominees and chef favorites into “Been There, Ate That; Not Yet; and Probably Not Going There”. If you want to see their’s, pick yourself up a copy of the mag.  Don’t worry, I’ll keep this updated as I keep trying out new places.

Been There:

  • Alchemy – this place is cozy and a little tucked away on the “Avenue” in Hampden, but I love them because they have an Erlenmeyer flask and periodic table elements on the door.  The service is slow, but they make a perfectly poached egg’s Benedict and their Peruvian chicken is out of this world and beats just about any of their crab dishes.
  • Atwater’s – I love to hit Belvedere Square for a slow paced morning cup of joe… the market has lots of choices, but Atwater’s makes great breakfast.  And for lunch, inventive soups, sammies and salads.  A favorite of mine for their zillion outdoor tables for the sunny warm weather…
  • b bistro – this place is charming and in the heart of Bolton Hill.  I went for brunch over the winter; my eggs benny was slightly disappointing.  But, I do think they deserve a second chance, although I am going to wait for it to warm up so I can sit outside.
  • B&O American Brasserie – I bet you have passed this hot spot a thousand times as it is tucked in the marble walled Hotel Monaco… the food and cocktails, especially flat breads in the bar are delectable.  I usually call ahead to see if they have the brussels or the donuts on the menu, which should never be missed.
  • Birroteca – great beer, wine, cheese, and charcuterie selection.  As for the menu, I have yet to be disappointed, well except maybe for the flavorless veggie pizza… Whatever you do, do NOT skip the brussels or the calamari.  Their calamari isn’t fried, but it still the best I have had…
  • The Black Olive – I have only been here once, but I can’t wait to have an opportunity to another trip make this Greek oasis.  They have a select group of full fish, which they will roast and the filet table side and serve with a house made butter sauce… Come on – tasty food and a show?
  • Blue Hill Tavern – I love love love the crab cake; it is my favorite in the city.  They make their own flavored vodkas and tend to have 10+ bottles of wine under $25.  Oh, and the pumpkin donuts in the fall are heavenly. I dare you to count the places where I mention donuts, can you tell I am a fan of fried dough?
  • The Brewer’s Art – Brewer’s is most famous for their beers as they are one of the larger breweries in the city.  What’s great about this spot is the Jekyll and Hyde approach – the upstairs dining room is much more formal and well-lit with entrees like steak frites.  The basement bar is a little darker, much louder, and caters to the bar food.  It doesn’t matter where you sit, as long as you get the fries – mmm… salty, crunchy, thin style, garlic fries.
  • City Cafe – the food here is respectable for lunch, brunch or dinner; I just find them about $3 overpriced; They class it up a little for dinner and I’ve never been disappointed.  Still, they are not very memorable, as I have no idea what I’ve enjoyed on any of my many trips.  I must say, after a recent trip – on Monday’s they have a $16 steakhouse dinner – well worth it.
  • Clementine – they make a basil lime elixir that is worth the trip – just enough sweet, just enough sour, just enough tang.  Otherwise, everything is pleasant with a slight Cajun style, but nothing was standout for brunch or dinner…  The most impressive things are probably the wall of antique style mirrors.  Somehow they show up differently at food expos – because they were the first to change my mind into thinking that liver was worth eating…
  • Corner BYOB – everything & anything, twice… maybe three times.  I really cannot get enough of the corner – mushrooms, salmon, short ribs, beets, crepes, donuts… You really can’t beat them on a Monday – they have a $25 3 course prefix… and the BYO isn’t a lie – you can bring anything you like.  You will want rezzis cause they are small, but you can get their menu at either of the bars, if you forget.  They are cash preferred, but their cc charge is less than most atm’s.
  • Fleet Street Kitchen – I have been twice – and can only really afford it on a restaurant week budget.  Both times, the modern menu was both seasonal and quite tasty… Trust the chef, even if you don’t think you’ll like all the ingredients… If you wanna get a taste for whether it’s of you – check out Ten Ten – another of the Bagby’s – same idea, but a better price point.
  • The Food Market – this place is trendy and modern, and quite loud because of the open concept.  I find the menu kind of hard to navigate because some of the small plates are large and some of the larger plates are kinda small.  Overall, I like it – and many of my friends might disagree, but, I would rather go for dinner than brunch… Check our a fellow blogger’s full review.
  • Fork and Wrench – I have only been a few times for brunch – apple fritter beignet things are crazy good – with little chunks of apples inside.  And as far as meals go…  the pancakes are pretty good, I skip the egg sammie or quiche…
  • Hamilton Tavern – This is my favorite burger; best burger hands down – brioche bun, local grass-fed beef, shredded lettuce – A-Ma-Zing… Oh, and they usually have a salted caramel cupcake, if you haven’t had enough bacon on your burger you can add a little to dessert.
  • Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks – pizza’s are excellent, actually it’s their house made red sauces – get anything with those…
  • Jack’s Bistro – Jack’s is one of those tiny little places, where you can wait an hour with a group of four and sit right down at the bar as a two top; they are known for the mac and cheese with chocolate, but I recommend the Guinness Meat and Grits. Or, shoot, get both!
  • Liv2Eat – I have been for brunch a couple a times.  I like it here.  It’s bright a sunny with some high top tables.  Their benny is fine, but the brussels sprout salad is a winner – although, not particularly brunchy.  Skip the mimosa’s, unless you have a Groupon, they are definitely heavy on the OJ rather than the sparkling wine.
  • Maggie’s Farm – this place is adorable for a cute date night, very reasonable, and super good and often forgot about over in Laurelville; their burger is great, same for the scallops and the cocktails come in cute little mason jars.  Their Brussels sprouts aren’t local – but still quite tasty… This spot also has at least one amazing vegetarian option – rather than a salad or a combination of meat free sides.
  • Of Love and Regret – great owners & service!  There are three levels to this place offering plenty of room for large parties.  They have about 30-35 local/small craft brews on tap.  As for the food – pickles!!  Their pickles are astounding and you will be jealous of every other table if you don’t get the fried halloumi with apricot & honey.
  • Pabu – I have only been twice, quite unusual considering the amount of time I spend in Harbor East, and the FS particularly.  I was lucky enough to go for their soft opening – where we tried just about everything on the menu, including their specialty drinks.  I can’t believe they aren’t making the dumplings anymore because they were my favorite thing.  I also went for their finale dinner.  Check out my review.
  • Petit Louis Bistro – I went in Feb of 2014 for restaurant week.  It can be a little loud, but that has never been a problem for me.
  • Peter’s Inn – people love this place and it probably deserves all the love it gets.  I have only been once and I had a sweet and smooth summer salad with asparagus and poached egg.  I loved it, but the rest of my table found their meals inconsistent.  Some meals were fantastic, but some not so great… I mean – how do you screw up mashed potatoes – oh that’s right, making them very dry and full of black pepper?  I’m still game for a second chance, but they don’t do rezzis and it can be hard to get a table.
  • Salt – I’d get some apps, maybe a couple more apps, and then go straight for dessert… For a full review of my visit in April 2014 here
  • Shoo-Fly Diner – I’ve only been once and was overall impressed.  Ask about the menu, because they have a different take on some classics…
  • Sotta Sopra – Oh… My… Goodness… go now… jump in the car and rush over for their pumpkin pasta with the sausage cream sauce; a dish that is impossible for me to pronounce without offending all of Italy.  To die for! In fact, I would eat here every night, if my waist line could handle the calories…
  • Tapas Adela – let me tell you – I like tapas, but this place isn’t my first choice (keep reading)… it’s not even my fav in Fells… But, if you go, get the pan roasted garbanzo beans!  The short rib flat bread is a winner when it’s on the menu.  The croquetas are good too – but how can you mess up fried potato and manchego?
  • Tapas Teatro – this is by far one of my go to tapas places and the day to go here is Tuesday, a pitcher of sangria is $10, always order from the seasonally inspired specials like the pumpkin soup in the fall, hair co vert in the spring, etc..  Although, save room for a few staples like the calamari, kale salad or the creamy crab & spinach.  And the Teatro Sunday is extraordinary – especially with the honey gram ice cream.
  • Ten Ten – It’s the more affordable of the Bagby chain, but it can be quite pricey – food is flavorful and inspired by the seasons.  You won’t hear me say this often – but I’d skip the brussels – they are broiled, not roasted (it’s been about a year since I’ve tried them, so they might have improved)…  Check out their specials and go on the half price bottle of wine night – they have an excellent selection.
  • The Other Corner Charcuterie Bar – I have only been for a couple of drinks – usually because I am full after eating next door at the Corner.  You can get the full corner menu over here and a few of their own specialties.  It’s got a great speakeasy feel, like it’s hidden or you need a password to find it.  Nope – just look for the ginormous meat cleaver… To be fair, my cheese plate in the original post contains a cheese plate from this side of the this great hometown hotspot.
  • Victoria Gastro Pub – I’ve only been a handful of times (it is out in the burbs, which encite an a little itchy allergic reaction…) they have a very large beer selection and great duck fat fries; they also make a delightful burger with truffle cheese…
  • Waterfront Kitchen – pros – the view, seed to table, supports City School students; Cons – mediocre meals, apathetic service and Harbor East prices…
  • Waterstone Bar and Grille – in my opinion this place is only going down hill; The owner is a county school teacher – so a girl after my own heart.  I try to love it, but service is terrible and the food is often uninspired; their fresh pasta and white pizza are the best things on the menu.
  • Wit and Wisdom, A Tavern by Michael Mina – I love it at the bar for the ambiance, but the meatballs and brunch are pretty stellar.  The food is expensive and I am not always blown away by each dish, and you cannot beat the view of the water.
  • Wine Market Bistro – I have had a few mixed experiences here, food as always been palatable, but I usually leave a little unfulfilled as one or more course is not up to par, especially with the price.  They do have a  great selection of wines by the bottle and a fantastic cheese selection, oh and they fry their brussels with grapes… Yum!
  • WoodBerry Kitchen – for brunch, you gotta have the morning flatbread, and a french press, of course; if your heading for dinner, be sure to get what ever seasonal vegetable salad is on the menu; carrots, radish, etc – always amazing.  It is a bit pricey, so go for a special occasion or a splurge.

These are ones I haven’t been to yet and therefore they belong here:

  • Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano
  • The Ambassador Dining Room
  • Bottega – updated August 3, 2014.
  • Broadway Diner
  • The Capital Grille
  • Charleston
  • The Chesapeake
  • Chingale
  • French Kitchen at Lord Baltimore Hotel
  • The Helmand
  • Joung Kak
  • Kali’s Court
  • Kooper’s Tavern
  • Mr. Rain’s Fun House
  • Oliver Speck’s Eats and Drinks – updated May 18, 2014.
  • Pazo
  • Poncabird Pub
  • The Prime Rib
  • Stone Mill Bakery
  • Thames Street Oyster House – updated May 26, 2014.
  • Tio Pepe
  • Torilleria Sinaloa
  • Zorba’s Bar & Grill

Well maybe except for these, as I rarely leave the City…

  • Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue
  • Antrim 1844
  • Christopher Daniel
  • Cunningham’s
  • Fusion
  • Great Sage
  • Linwoods
  • Lewnes’ Steakhouse
  • The Manor Tavern
  • The Milton Inn
  • O’Leary’s Seafood Restaurant
  • The Oregon Grille
  • Ouzo Bay – yes, it is in the city, but I am personally on a boycott, so no…
  • Pairings Bistro
  • Pappas Restaurant
  • Pho Dat Thanh
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Tersiguel’s French Country Restaurant

The only priority for the order of the restaurants in these lists is the alphabet.

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3 thoughts on “Baltimore Mag’s 2014 Best Restaurants

  1. Looking for a Birthday dinner place with say 5-8 friends. B Bisto is actually one of my faves but I went there last year and been there several times. Woodbury Kitch, check, like it but been there. Ten Ten, done, but only for brunch. Cingnale, done, Charleston, done and too expensive for a big group. City Cafe done and unimpressed, you nailed it, too pricey for what it was. Petite Louis is a fave of mine but again done many times. Clementine, been for lunch, was good, Sotta Sopra, been a few times but waiting to go when I can see a friend sing there. Wit and Wisdom, check, great view but again perhaps not right for the group. Also been to several on the bottom list as I live in Annapolis. Gastro Pub has a great wine night too, Caymus half price! Please add to your list (and crazy, it made the DC top restaurants???) Vin 909, it will not disappoint a city girl. Go off hours. So where do you think…Blue Hill Tavern? Fork and Wrench? Birotecca? Sort of narrowed it to those but didnt want to miss something wonderful. Live2Eat was in the running and was the B&O. Thanks!

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    • So, I do love Blue Hill. They are great for groups as they have lots of smaller areas that will stay quiet. They do have a great burger, rabbit empanadas, and one of my favorite crab cakes.
      You can’t go wrong with Birotecca (they do family style & sharable plates like) and or B&O – love them. Both great for Birthday celebrations.
      Have you done Mezze in Fells? I am a huge fan of them for that size a group. I just went there most recently for my friends birthday. You can get so many great tastes without going overboard – get the mushrooms/haloumi cheese & lamb meatballs. But, I haven’t had anything I haven’t loved.
      If your interested in something a little more on the causal ambiance side – check out Of Love and Regret and or Ethel’s Creole Kitchen.

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