We've found 23 great spots to satisfy your cravings.
Sometimes, you just have to get down and dirty. And when it comes to our beloved steamed crabs, we wouldn't have it any other way. For months, we've been picking and clawing our way through local crabhouses searching for the best. The blues, in many cases, came from other waters, but it didn't really matter. As we found out, it's really the steaming and seasoning that makes the hard shells winners. We were also paying attention to ambiance, side dishes, and service. Now, it's time for you to get crackin' and check out our choices, in alphabetical order!
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.
Diners get special treatment at chef's tables—for a price.
These days, with more diners yearning for proximity to the chef, the table closest to the heat and clatter is hands-down the best in the house. But a chef's table can range from an actual seating in the kitchen—allowing diners to spy on the meal in production—to a spot somewhat removed from the fray in a private dining room or wine cellar. Most offer a tasting menu of hand-selected specialties, frequently paired with wines, and personal interaction with the chef. Here are several we discovered.
Local author highlights state farmers and watermen.
Harford County resident Lucie Snodgrass is so passionate about supporting our state's farmers and watermen that she's written a book about them with recipes. Dishing up Maryland ($19.95, Storey Publishing), which has a March 24 release date, features essays on almost three dozen Marylanders who are behind our local food—like Kate and David Dallam of Broom's Bloom Dairy in Bel Air; Jack and Becky Gurley of Calvert's Gift Farm in Sparks; and Jimmy and Michele Hayden, who dredge for oysters in Dorchester County.
Perk up St. Patrick's Day with specialty coffee.
No one is really sure about the origins of Irish coffee. Some say a County Limerick bartender poured whiskey into coffee to warm up some American visitors in the '40s. Then, somehow, the drink migrated to a San Francisco bar with a travel writer in the early '50s. Regardless, the specialty brew is on just about everyone's menu these days, including many Baltimore taverns. We asked Mick O'Shea's Irish Pub (328 N. Charles St., 410-539-7504) to share its popular version ($5).
These days, radio personality Steve Rouse makes a pitch for fresh produce grown on his farm.
Back in the heyday of his top-rated WQSR radio show, Rouse and Co., Steve Rouse once rode his mower from Hunt Valley to the show's studios in Towson, cutting grass along the way, for one of his more memorable bits. "Allegedly, I drove my lawnmower from my house in Fallston to the station," says the 59-year-old Rouse, "but I fully admit now that I started in Hunt Valley, where the sidewalk began."
Find out how we rank our old—and new—favorites in 2010.
Yup, we did it again—ranked what we consider the area's 50 best restaurants. The surprise this year is how many newcomers made the list and how many of last year's contenders (like The Brass Elephant) closed due to the economic downturn.
We always start the reviewing process with everyone on an equal playing field—sort of like the start of baseball and football season. The past rankings are history. Then, our reviewers make their way around town, devouring pounds of beef, seafood, pasta, and desserts, even when waistlines scream for mercy.
Don't forget the wine on Valentine's Day. Here are our choices.
It's February, and those of you in relationships are going to be under pressure to come up with a romantic plan on Valentine's Day. Many will opt for fine dining, while others will choose a cozy meal at home. Either way, you'll end up at someone's house. Here are three delicious ways to toast your paramour.
What's going on at Taverna Corvino?
When we heard that executive chef Christopher Paternotte left Taverna Corvino (1117 S. Charles St., 410-727-1212) in Federal Hill, we wondered how it would affect the restaurant, which opened less than a year ago. As far as the food, the menu is similar to the one offered under Paternotte.
Baltimore's 25 Best Bars
Baltimore is known for the illustrious corner bar—the comfy dive down the block where the Natty Boh is always cold and everybody knows your name. But the city's nightlife scene has boomed in recent years, resulting in upscale lounges, energetic music venues, trendy wine bars, and down-home bistros. We decided to cover all that ground and give you the region's 25 best bars, from Hunt Valley to Annapolis and everywhere in between.
Getting out of bed in the morning just got easier with our 35 top breakfast and brunch picks.
For those of us who greet most days with cold cereal and cheap coffee, a relaxing morning meal at a cozy restaurant is just our cup of tea. And as we looked around the region, we realized there were an amazing number of choices for breakfast or brunch. Soon enough, we were on a mission to find the best places to savor fresh-brewed java, fluffy omelets, and thick pancakes.
A local sausage maker provides brats and sauerkraut to Oktoberfests.
Once again, Binkert’s Meat Products (8805 Philadelphia Rd., 410-687-5959, binkerts.com) is gearing up for a season of Oktoberfests. The company—founded in 1964 by German immigrant Egon Binkert, a master butcher who had an American dream to open his own place—expects to deliver bratwursts, sauerkraut, red cabbage, and mustard to more than 50 October celebrations throughout the area, says second-generation owner Sonya Weber.
The kudos don't lie. Maryland winemaking is finally on the map.
It's a crisp Sunday afternoon, and the view beyond the barn at Boordy Vineyards is bright with autumn colors. Rob Deford, the winery's owner, cranks the handle of a vintage crusher and white grapes emerge, their skins broken and stems removed. He jokes about what it would be like to make the winery's annual 90,000 gallons of wine with this antiquated equipment. But, of course, he doesn't have to—behind him loom almost three dozen stainless steel tanks, the largest with a capacity of 12,000 gallons.
Cocktails are for the mornings, too.
From mimosas to Bellinis, cocktails are to brunch what comics are to Sunday mornings at home—a tradition. But besides classic libations, many restaurants are putting their own twists on early-day drinks. Woodberry Kitchen, for instance, packs a lot of creativity into The Full Monty—its version of a Bloody Mary. Ingredients include candied bacon, a whole smoked shrimp, and a scallion garnish. To add a local kick, the glass is rimmed in Old Bay and served alongside a four-ounce shot of Natty Boh.