Hampden coffee shop perks up serious brews.
Jay Caragay takes the notion of coffee geekdom to an entirely new level. The daily menu at his Hampden shop, Spro Coffee (851 W. 36th St., 410-243-1262), lists five to eight varieties of beans, each brewed to order with one of seven methods—including the AeroPress, an immersion technique, and the Vac Pot, a two-chamber contraption that looks like it belongs in a science lab.
Johnny Rad’s pizzeria skates into Fells Point.
It’s no surprise that Rich Pugh, co-owner of Johnny Rad’s (2108 Eastern Ave., 443-759-6464), used to manage a skate shop. The pizzeria/tavern on the upper edge of Fells Point has skateboards on its walls, skate videos on TV, wheels acting as doorknobs, and a steady soundtrack of punk blaring from the speakers. But take a quick look at the menu, and you realize it’s all about the pizza. The restaurant offers 12 specialty pizzas, along with make-your-own options with toppings like bell peppers, prosciutto, and vegetarian meats.
Stake your claim on reds to go with steak.
In food and wine pairing circles, it’s a truism that Cabernet Sauvignon goes with steaks. And indeed, it is a good match. But it is by no means the only match, and any steakhouse worth its dry rub will offer a range of reds.
When McCabe’s suddenly closed in 2009, it looked like another longtime Baltimore tavern had given up the ghost. But, surprise, the Hampden neighborhood bar/restaurant came back to life in April with new owners, one of whom is the chef.
Partners Dan McIntosh and Patrick Ito, who heads the kitchen, haven’t changed the interior much. The dining room off the bar area looks scrubbed for company but essentially has the characteristic brick walls, dark wood, and forest-green color scheme of years past. Paper napkins attest to its pub setting.
A Muslim restaurateur makes his name in the bagel business.
Drive north from the Beltway into Liberty Road’s abyss of chain stores, and just after the Carroll County line, in the nondescript Oklahoma Center strip mall, a sign begs for a double take: Habib’s Kabob and Bagel Cafe.
Can peace in the Middle East be far off?
The all-American frank gets gourmet treatment all over town.
The days of eating a puny hot dog with just a squirt of mustard seem to have disappeared, replaced by fat, fancy frankfurters with all manner of condiments and garnishes. Chili Man Weiners in Towson got things started a couple of years ago, but, recently, dog places have been popping up all over Baltimore: Stuggy’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs & Sausages in Fells Point, The Haute Dog Carte on Falls Road, and The Wild Dog mobile wagon in Hunt Valley.
Chef Ned Atwater is on a roll with his successful bread, soup, and salad shops.
When Ned Atwater was growing up in the close-knit community of Catonsville, one of his favorite pastimes was going to Gilbert’s to buy oatmeal cookies, three for a nickel.
These days, the old-fashioned general store is long gone, but Atwater can now walk to his own place, Atwater’s Naturally Leavened Bread, from his nearby home.
More local chefs are whipping up sweet and savory ice creams in their restaurants.
Aja Cage, the pastry chef at Salt, remembers her “aha” moment with ice cream. Her boss at the time, at an upscale Pittsburgh restaurant, asked her to check on some cilantro ice cream. “I thought, ‘Wow. You can make ice cream with cilantro?’ And it was a dessert.”
7 West Bistro Grille
The genealogy is fairly simple—from a longtime Sunny Surplus store with camouflage gear and tents to an empty space to the short-lived, we-barely-knew-ye Blue Grotto restaurant to the current 7 West Bistro Grille. On recent visits, the new place was humming with diners.
Making a case for boxed wine.
Summer fun is in full swing! Boating, picnics, pool parties—all great activities, but none of them ideal places for glass bottles of wine. Fortunately, the producers of good wine have set aside their bias against alternative packaging.At the forefront of this movement are folks interested in organic farming who recognize the inefficiency of glass. Glass is heavy, after all, and requires lots of fuel to move it around, so its carbon footprint is formidable.
Ellicott City cafe pairs vino and small plates.
Ellicott City’s historic Main Street gets better with each new offbeat store and fun place to eat. Pure Wine Cafe (8210 Main St., 410-480-5037), which opened just over a year ago, adds non-stuffy sophistication to the mix. The cozy space has a brick wall on one side, stone on the other, and a stamped ceiling overhead. Patrons perch at the bar, sipping wine by the glass, or snag small tables and cobble together light meals, choosing wine from dozens of bottles, all between $20 and $135.
This Waverly standby relies on morning basics.
Pete’s Grille in Waverly (3130 Greenmount Ave., 410-467-7698) does breakfast, not brunch; so don’t go there looking for mimosas, goat cheese and spinach quiche, or crêpes. What you will find are good old-fashioned breakfast classics—coffee, eggs, pancakes, waffles, sausage, bacon, and hash browns—prepared simply and deliciously. We tucked into a stack of fluffy, chocolate-chip pancakes ($5.75) and a blueberry short stack ($5.75) during a recent visit. Both were loaded with our filling of choice and so absorbent we needed to reapply syrup and butter several times throughout our meal.
We've found 23 great spots to satisfy your cravings.
NOTE: This is our 2010 Best Crab Houses feature. Our 2012 Best Crab House feature is here.
A Little Italy restaurant turns an upstairs dining room into a popular cabaret.
It's a Sunday night up on the second floor at Germano's Trattoria, a Little Italy stalwart strung along the neighborhood's main drag. The pumpkin-colored walls are hung with vintage Art Nouveau posters, but all eyes are upon vocalist Sophie Louise Roland, a statuesque blonde in a diaphanous maroon dress.
The evening's entertainment, she says, is all about "sensuality." Patrons now have all the more reason to look up from their plates of braised beef shanks and red beet ravioli. "No one is going to die tonight," she adds with a grin.
Insiders share diner bloopers
Ted Bauer, owner, The Oregon Grille"Years ago, we had a guy come in, and it was a special occasion. He said he wanted a bottle of Champagne at the table, and he got there early to make sure things went smoothly. He said that he wanted to open the bottle of Champagne himself, and while he was waiting for his lady friend to arrive, he kept spinning the bottle in the wine cooler. When she came, as soon as he took the cage off the bottle, the cork went north, and the bottle went south.