Alizée4 W. University Parkway, (443) 449-6200, alizeebaltimore.com$$$, B, L, D, Br, P
This American bistro describes its bar as trendy, but if you let that dissuade you, you’ll be missing out on the prix-fixe brunch ($22 with main courses like Maryland omelet with crabmeat or steak and eggs) or the happy-hour specials (Mondays are discounted steaks!).
Ambassador Dining Room3811 Canterbury Road, (410) 366-1484, ambassadordining.com$$$, L, D, P, Out
The Ambassador not only has some of the best Indian food in town—the chef’s specialties are always special, as advertised—but the elegant dining room, tucked into the first floor of a 1930s apartment building, is exquisite.
Carma’s Café3120 St. Paul St., (410) 243-5200, carmascafe.com$, B, L, D, Br, BYOB, Out
This Charles Village meeting place just might be the Picasso of the panini: When it’s available, try “the Brewhouse,” which comes with Guinness beer jam, Granny Smith apples, and brie on sourdough.
Charles Village Pub3107 St. Paul St., (410) 243-1611, charlesvillagepub.net$, L, D, Br, Out, 10 p.m.
You might not go to CVP (as the kids call it) specifically to eat. But once you start drinking and talking, you don’t really ever want to leave. Then the wings or heaping helpings of nachos or the house-made chilli starts to beckon, and soon you are so drunk, full, and satiated that you can hardly wipe the grease off your face. It’s OK, just order another beer.
Donna’s3101 St. Paul St., (410) 889-3410, donnas.com/charlesvillage$$, B, L, D, Br, Out
The black sign with white lettering bearing Donna’s name acts as a beacon to all the weary masses who want to hunker down with a tasty sandwich (we love her turkey) and a strong cup of coffee. Locations in Columbia and Cross Keys too.
Gertrude’s at the BMABaltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, (410) 889-3399, gertrudesbaltimore.com$$$, L, D, Br, P, Out, R
Chef John Shields’ high-quality cuisine is the perfect complement to the BMA’s stunning collection. Start with brunch looking out over the sculpture garden and then spend the rest of the day walking it off as you look at the Matisses and the Contemporary Wing and its late Warhols.
La Famiglia105 W. 39th St., (443) 449-5555, lafamigliabaltimore.com$$$, D, P, Out, R
If Italian restaurants were cars, this would be a classic Fiat straight out of La Dolce Vita, with a few American comforts added. Enjoy the extensive dinner menu or the more limited bar menu, which still boasts impressive items such as the zuppetta mista, loaded down with enough seafood to make Captain Ahab feel at home.
Niwana3 E. 33rd St., (410) 366-4115, niwanarestaurant.com$$, L, D
The Japanese and Korean fare here keeps Hopkins’ Homewood campus satisfied. Try the dolsot (stone pot) dishes.
One World Café100 W. University Parkway, (410) 235-5777$$, B, L, D, Br, Out, 10 p.m.
A haven for Baltimore’s vegetarian—and even vegan—community, One World doesn’t exclude the carnivore. It’s also a perfect meeting spot: Start with coffee; if it goes well, switch to drinks.
Pete’s Grille3130 Greenmount Ave., (410) 467-7698$, b, L
This classic lunch counter is just that: all counter, no booths. And during peak hours, you’ll likely be standing along the wall, waiting for a spot to open up. When it does, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best pancakes, omelets, and burgers in town.
Sweet 27 Bar and Restaurant127 W. 27th St., (410) 585-8121, meet27.com$$, D
This South Asian- and Caribbean-influenced American bistro has something for everyone: empanadas, vindaloo, chicken satay. A couple varieties of vegetarian burgers will please the picky eaters.
Thai Restaurant3316 Greenmount Ave., (410) 889-6003$$, L, D, P
Thai Restaurant is something of a hidden gem which most definitely does not cater to tourists. Which is a shame (for the tourists), because it offers some of the city’s best Thai food with intimate service.
Yum’s Asian Bistro2501 N. Charles St., (410) 889-2828, yumsasianbistro.com$$, L, D
Hands down the prettiest dining room in town where you can sit down to a plate of kung pao chicken. Yum’s covers the typical Chinese-American fare along with sushi and a few Thai dishes (the kitchen turns out a very respectable pad thai). Well-priced super meals come with soup, shrimp toast, and crab Rangoon.