1. Charleston, 1000 Lancaster St., 410-332-7373. Award-winning Charleston continues to rack up the accolades. “Does it really deserve this praise?” we sometimes ask. Yup, it does. You can count on chef/co-owner Cindy Wolf to turn out a beautiful prix-fixe meal, with wine pairings, if you’d like.
2. The Prime Rib, 1101 N. Calvert St., 410-539-1804. For all its elegant formality, The Prime Rib is a rollicking place amid its starchy white tablecloths and black-clad waiters. There’s a festive air in the dining rooms, perhaps because guests are feasting on Flintstone-size cuts of meat, fish, and side dishes—and can’t quite believe their good fortune.
3. Woodberry Kitchen, 2010 Clipper Park Rd., #126, 410-464-8000. Five years in, Woodberry Kitchen is still the hottest reservation in town. The farm-to-table concept may be old news by now, but chef/co-owner Spike Gjerde’s exacting and innovative way with local products continues to excite and delight, and the warm allure of Woodberry’s haute-rustic atmosphere still dazzles.
4. Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano, 306 S. High St., 410-727-0700. Entering Aldo’s is like walking into a palace. You are instantly surrounded by breathtaking opulence, softly lit warmth, and a host of attendants ready to make your visit memorable. The dining experience is fit for a king or queen, too.
5. The Oregon Grille, 1201 Shawan Rd., Hunt Valley, 410-771-0505. The Oregon Grille’s quietly upscale décor constitutes a gleaming tribute to horse country, with its displays of burnished saddlery and its rich trove of horsey Maryland memorabilia. The luxe, clubby feel (jacket required in the dining room in the evening, guys) extends to a menu that’s heavy on traditional fare prepared with unfussy ease.