When I found myself thinking, "I want to go there now," that told me something. When I didn't get that feeling, it told me I had ranked a restaurant too highly. Nothing on the list slid obviously into position. This juggling was a barrel of monkeys compared to the decision of which restaurants to include on the list. I stand by what I've come up with. If you disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments field below.
50. Abacrombie Fine Foods and Accommodations -- The countdown begins with two question marks. First, why does Jerry Pellegrino's Mount Vernon restaurant, Abacrombie, with all of its potential, seem so quiet?
49. Crush -- Like the restaurants ranked just below it, Crush's future feels uncertain -- it could rise quickly up the list, or just as easily fall off.
48. Da Mimmo -- Da Mimmo stands as Mary Ann Cricchio's loving tribute to her late husband, "Mimmo," who introduced the idea of high-end dining to the family-friendly neighborhood.
47. Akbar -- A sentimental addition. Akbar may not be capable of surprise or change but there's something about that lower-level dining room that still works a spell.
46. Oceanaire -- The historic and very weird absence of stellar high-end seafood restaurants in Baltimore paved the way for an out-of-towner like Oceanaire, which succeeds with consistency.
45. Minato -- No sushi spot in Baltimore has an enthusiastic, citywide following. But, I'm including Mount Vernon's Minato because I like the balance it strikes between the traditional, costume-drama restaurant and the newer high-energy locations.
44. Zorba's -- A Greektown favorite, home of the magical charcoal-flame rotisserie. It's full name, Zorba's Bar and Grill, suggests the casual, neighborhood atmosphere.
43. Thai Arroy -- High scores on the cheerfulness index help Thai Arroy edge out the city's other Thai restaurants, including the sentimental favorite on Greenmount Avenue. Just across the street in Federal Hill, the freshly minted Thai Yum has the potential to vault ahead of them all.
42. Regi's -- With his enthusiasm for the city's local markets, Alan Morstein's has kept Regi's relevant. The Federal Hill chestnut remains unusually focused on accommodating its customers' whims and preferences.
41. Ikaros -- A friend who loves this Greektown restaurant writes, "After 43 years on Eastern Avenue, Ikaros is still serving up Greek hospitality that never falters."
40. Nam Kang -- Among the Charles North Korean restaurants, Nam Kang remains the essential destination for restorative and potent hot pots, casseroles and pancakes. It's still one of the city's classic late-night spots.
39. Lebanese Taverna -- Not every D.C. import is welcomed with open arms, but with Baltimore's historic scarcity of good Middle Eastern restaurants, the Lebanese Taverna was greeted with joy jumps.
38. Grano -- There are now two editions of Grano, Gino Troia's Hampden restaurant. The larger, newer one is evolving nicely. The pocket-size original makes the list with sheer warmth and a knockout Bolognese sauce.
37. Sotto Sopra -- After years of hosting vesting chefs, Sotto Sopra owner Riccardo Bosio took back the kitchen at his theatrically swank downtown Italian restaurant. His food is rich and very good.
36. Vino Rosina -- With a cassoulet and a "16-legged burger," the fall menu at this new Harbor East wine bar and restaurant shows Top Chef alumna Jesse Sandlin making big strides. This is one to keep an eye on.
35. Carlyle Club -- Reopened last year as a "coastal Indian" restaurant, Carlyle Club is Singh's posher, more intimate version of the nearby Ambassador.