4 W. University Parkway, (443) 449-6200, alizeebaltimore.com
$$$, B, L, D, P, R
This American bistro styles itself as “one of Baltimore’s most fashionable restaurants,” delivering classics with a twist such as the Alizée french toast ($7) for breakfast, honey-grilled salmon ($17) for lunch, and a port wine demi-glazed filet mignon ($34) for dinner. Don’t forget about happy hour—$6 appetizers and drink specials.
Ambassador Dining Room
3811 Canterbury Road, (410) 366-1484, ambassadordining.com
$$$, L, D, 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.
3120 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 Pub
3107 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 chili 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.
2601 N. Howard St., (410) 235-5004, charmingtons.com
$, B, L, D
In addition to a long list of lattes, teas, and other beverages, this coffeehouse offers sandwiches, soups, and salads for all meals of the day. Of course there are the cafe staples like bagels and muffins too. And, after President Obama visited in early 2015, they renamed his order (roast beef and cheddar on white bread) the Commander in Beef.
3101 St. Paul St., (410) 889-3410, donnas.com/charlesvillage
$$, B, L, D, Br, Out
The black sign with white lettering bearing Donna’s name acts as a beacon to all the weary masses who want to hunker down with a tasty sandwich (we love her turkey) and a strong cup of coffee. There’s a location in Cross Keys too.
Georgia Soul Food
102 E. 25th St., (443) 708-1145, gocomaryland.com
$, L, D, DV
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and collard greens are the Holy Trinity of Southern soul food, and because Maryland is a few hundred miles or so from the deep South, we’re thankful that we can partake of these old recipes (that have been passed down for six generations) at Georgia Soul Food.
Gertrude’s at the BMA
Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, (410) 889-3399, gertrudesbaltimore.com
$$$, 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 explore the recently reopened American Wing.
105 W. 39th St., (443) 449-5555, lafamigliabaltimore.com
$$$, D, P, Out, R
If Italian restaurants were cars, this would be a classic Fiat straight out of “La Dolce Vita,” with a few American comforts added. Enjoy the extensive dinner menu or the more limited bar menu, which still boasts impressive items such as the zuppetta mista, loaded down with enough seafood to make Captain Ahab feel at home.
3105-B St. Paul St., (410) 235-1004, masalakitchen.us
$$, L, D, DV, BYOB
Crammed in the midst of a strip of chains near Hopkins’ Homewood campus is a cozy beacon of hope: Masala Kitchen. Masala’s pride is its discerning use of traditional spices and flavors in its Indian food—there’s no excess of oily flavors in the goat curry and tandoori chicken that are served in its dinner buffet.
3 E. 33rd St., (410) 366-4115, niwanarestaurant.com
$$, L, D
The Japanese and Korean fare here keeps Hopkins’ Homewood campus satisfied. Try the dolsot (stone pot) dishes.
One World Café
100 W. University Parkway, (410) 235-5777
$$, 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.
3130 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.
Sweet27 Bar and Restaurant
127 W. 27th St., (410) 464-7211, sweet27.com
$$, L, D, BR
This South Asian- and Caribbean-influenced American bistro has something for everyone: enchilada mole, vindaloo, Middle Eastern korma. The menu also satisfies those with gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free diets.
101 E. 25th St., (410) 777-5277, terracafebmore.com
$, B, L, D
Terra Café offers a tasty variety of paninis, omelets, wings, sandwiches, and more—try the Yard Bird ($8.50) if you want a bit of a kick, or choose from eight flavors of wings. In addition to a solid menu, Terra Café aims to create a community and offers its space for art events, live music, open mics, and discussions.
3316 Greenmount Ave., (410) 889-6003
$$, L, D, P
Something of a hidden gem with its modest, unassuming exterior. If this dissuades you, that’s a shame, because it offers some of the city’s best Thai food with intimate service.
Yum’s Asian Bistro
2501 N. Charles St., (410) 889-2828, yumsasianbistro.com
$$, L, D
Hands-down the prettiest 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.