Baltimore City Paper

Abbey Burger Bistro, Bluegrass Tavern, Mother's Federal Hill Grille, and more

Abbey Burger Bistro

1041 Marshall St., (443) 453-9698,

$$, L, D, 10 p.m.

A bar devoted to gourmet burgers, not French fare. And we’re grateful, because who wouldn’t savor local Roseda beef topped with a drippy fried egg or build-it-yourself options that include turkey and homemade veggie burgers?

Afters Café

1001 S. Charles St., (410) 244-0909,é/204707886236884


Doesn’t it still seem like there’s a shortage of dessert-centric places in Baltimore? This stylish, newish spot helps in the good fight with a selection of coffee, pastries, and sold-by-weight frozen yogurt with toppings for that something sweet after.

Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen

745 E. Fort Ave., (410) 727-7482,

$, BYOB, Out, L, D

This small storefront charms with its pretty interior, gracious service, and inexpensive yet quality food from all parts of the Mediterranean, including spicy hummus, creamy and smoky baba ghanouj, kafta burgers, dolmas, and baklava.

Blue Agave Restaurante and Tequileria

1032 Light St., (410) 576-3938,

$$$, L, D, R, 10 p.m.

Not your everyday Mexican restaurant. Mole is a specialty here, highlighting a menu that ranges from expected staples to fine-dining entrées.

Bluegrass Tavern

1500 S. Hanover St., (410) 244-5101,

$$$, L, D, Br, R, V, Out

This local/seasonal spot impresses with rustic charm and a creative menu. The menu changes frequently, but don’t miss the well-crafted charcuterie plate. An affordable, diverse wine list too.

Cowboys and Rednecks

1117 S. Charles St., (410) 223-2269,

$$, L, D, P

The old Taverna Corvino space gets a remake as a fancy shitkicker bar that’s relatively relaxed about the corny accoutrements and high on the bar space and curb appeal (e.g. a roll-up front for warm weather). If you’re not just drinking, the menu offers steaks and other hearty cowboy/redneck-ish fare.

Mad River Bar and Grille

1110 S. Charles St., (410) 727-2333,

$, L, D, 10p.m.

A sporty/outdoorsy-themed bar and restaurant housed in a former bank, serving estimable pub grub and good beer specials.

Magerk’s Pub And Grill

1061 S. Charles St., (410) 576-9230,

$, L, D, Out

The menu at this Federal Hill spot is mostly typical bar fare but MaGerk’s takes its cheese steaks quite seriously, complete with special Philadelphia cheese-steak rolls and the traditional Cheez Whiz.


1105 S. Charles St., (410) 752-8561,

$$, L, D

This tiny Japanese staple is best known for its superior sushi, but its traditional dishes are not to be overlooked. Delicious donburis, udon soups, ramens, teriyakis, and tempuras populate the menu.

Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar

902 S. Charles St., (410) 234-0235,

$$, B, L, D, Out, 10 p.m.

Once a typical neighborhood coffee spot (muffins, frowsy couches, etc.), Metropolitan has reinvented itself as a full-on restaurant with an affordable, not-unambitious menu spanning breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Mr. Rain’s Fun House

American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, (443) 524-7379,

$$$, L, D, Br, R, Out

A fine fit for AVAM, Mr. Rain’s Fun House is a kick with its funky, carnivalesque décor and inventive menu full of influences from Asia and Eastern Europe. Spiciness prevails here. Order pork and kimchi-style cabbage if it’s on the menu.

Mother’s Federal Hill Grille

1113 S. Charles St., (410) 244-8686,

$$, b, L, D, dv, P, Out, 10 p.m.

This sprawling bar and restaurant features an equally sprawling menu, from boardwalk fries to chipotle ahi tuna and Kobe beef sliders alongside a full complement of salads, sandwiches, etc.

No Way Jose Café

38 E. Cross St., (410) 752-2837

$, L, D, br

Not too many surprises at this Mexican mainstay, and that’s good. The portions are agreeably gargantuan, and the simplest dishes come off best. Great hard tacos.

Porters of Federal Hill

1032 Riverside Ave., (410) 332-7345,

$$, D, Br

House-made bread and a slightly quirky menu elevate Porters above your normal corner pub. Mediterranean-inflected dishes such as Italian-style mussels and bouillabaisse risotto are definite must-haves. Spicier dishes are spicy indeed.

Regi’s American Bistro

1002 Light St., (410) 539-7344,

$$, L, D, Br, Out

This enduring and cozy spot has a lot to offer—patient service, a gracious atmosphere, and especially the eclectic house specials, including terrific calamari, potato-encrusted beef, Black Angus burgers, and, most of all, panko-encrusted crab cakes.

The Reserve

1542 Light St., (410) 605-0955,

$$, D, Br, R, out

The Reserve may look like a bar, but it eats like a restaurant: blackened salmon with a sweet citrus marmalade, lobster-and-strawberry-filled crépes, bison burgers.

Ropewalk Tavern

1209 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1298,

$$, L, D

This party spot offers a lively drinking scene and standard pub grub (burgers, salads, sandwiches) with a few unexpected twists (e.g. crab cake egg rolls).

The Rowhouse Grille

1400 Light St., (443) 438-7289,

$$, D

A new, elegantly renovated restaurant space with a small, focused menu of elegantly tweaked American classics. Lunch served on Saturday.

Republic Noodle

1121 Light St., (443) 263-4435,

$$, L, D, Br, Dv

A newish pan-Asian spot with a sustainable/organic bent and, uh, a thing for noodles.

Ryleigh’s Oyster

36 E. Cross St., (410) 539-2093,

$$, L, D, R

Just about perfect modern pub food. There are oysters, of course, but also expert and inventive seafood bites, such as a triumphant scallop trio and jumbo shrimp wrapped in crispy wonton skins.

Sobo Café

6 W. Cross St., (410) 752-1518

$$, L, D

Under new management, this neighborhood staple has regrouped and put forth an approachable menu of comfort-food stuff with welcome twists (a BLT on a biscuit, Korean-style fried chicken). Encouraging.

Social Pub and Pie

25 E. Cross St., (410) 234-0376,

$$, L, D

Pizza, beer, and televisions are the main draws here, but the thin-crust pizza is coal-fired and spans traditional (Margherita) and not (Buffalo chicken). Nothing is too gourmet, but service is friendly and the daily specials make this an affordable night out.

Szechuan Restaurant

1125 S. Charles St., (410) 752-8409

$, L, D

A straightforward neighborhood Chinese place. The prices are still low and the preparations are safe, but the dining rooms are just the kind of cozy setting you’d want for winter comfort feeding.

Stalking Horse

26 E. Cross St., (410) 244-6722,

$, L, D, Out

A lively bar scene offering pub grub with a special emphasis on ingredient-packed thin-crust pizzas, quesadillas, and twice-baked potatoes.

Thai Arroy

1019 Light St., (410) 385-8587,

$$, L, D, Out

Drunken noodles have the right balance of savory and sweet. Fried fish in curry sauce manages to retain its crispness. Salads are citrusy bright and fresh. And service is gracious, even when this storefront is packed, as it often is.

Thai Yum

1006 Light St., (410) 528-2146,

$$, L, D, br, Out

Chicken satay and Thai yum are strong starters, and the menu encompasses curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes, as well as slightly more daring specialty entrées such as green avocado curry fish.