Abbey Burger Bistro
$$, L, D, 10 p.m.
A bar devoted to gourmet burgers, not French fare. And we’re grateful, because who wouldn’t savor local Roseda beef topped with a drippy fried egg or build-it-yourself options that include turkey and homemade veggie burgers?
Doesn’t it still seem like there’s a shortage of dessert-centric places in Baltimore? This stylish, newish spot helps in the good fight with a selection of coffee, pastries, and sold-by-weight frozen yogurt with toppings for that something sweet after.
Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen
745 E. Fort Ave., (410) 727-7482, babaskitchen.net
$, BYOB, Out, L, D
This small storefront charms with its pretty interior, gracious service, and inexpensive yet quality food from all parts of the Mediterranean, including spicy hummus, creamy and smoky baba ghanouj, kafta burgers, dolmas, and baklava.
Blue Agave Restaurante and Tequileria
$$$, 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.
$$$, L, D, Br, R, V, Out
This local/seasonal spot impresses with rustic charm and a creative menu. The menu changes frequently, but don’t miss the well-crafted charcuterie plate. An affordable, diverse wine list too.
Cowboys and Rednecks
$$, 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
$, 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, magerks.com
$, 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, matsuri.us
$$, L, D
This tiny Japanese staple is best known for its superior sushi, but its traditional dishes are not to be overlooked. Delicious donburis, udon soups, ramens, teriyakis, and tempuras populate the menu.
Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar
902 S. Charles St., (410) 234-0235, metrobalto.com
$$, 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
Mr. Rain’s Fun House
American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, (443) 524-7379, mrrainsfunhouse.com
$$$, L, D, Br, R, Out
A fine fit for AVAM, Mr. Rain’s Fun House is a kick with its funky, carnivalesque décor and inventive menu full of influences from Asia and Eastern Europe. Spiciness prevails here. Order pork and kimchi-style cabbage if it’s on the menu.
Mother’s Federal Hill Grille
1113 S. Charles St., (410) 244-8686, mothersgrille.com
$$, 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
$$, D, Br
House-made bread and a slightly quirky menu elevate Porters above your normal corner pub. Mediterranean-inflected dishes such as Italian-style mussels and bouillabaisse risotto are definite must-haves. Spicier dishes are spicy indeed.
Regi’s American Bistro
$$, 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.
$$, D, Br, R, out
The Reserve may look like a bar, but it eats like a restaurant: blackened salmon with a sweet citrus marmalade, lobster-and-strawberry-filled crépes, bison burgers.
1209 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1298, ropewalktavern.com
$$, 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
A new, elegantly renovated restaurant space with a small, focused menu of elegantly tweaked American classics. Lunch served on Saturday.
$$, L, D, Br, Dv
A newish pan-Asian spot with a sustainable/organic bent and, uh, a thing for noodles.
36 E. Cross St., (410) 539-2093, ryleighs.com
$$, 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.
6 W. Cross St., (410) 752-1518
$$, L, D
Under new management, this neighborhood staple has regrouped and put forth an approachable menu of comfort-food stuff with welcome twists (a BLT on a biscuit, Korean-style fried chicken). Encouraging.
Social Pub and Pie
$$, 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.
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.
$, 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.
1019 Light St., (410) 385-8587, thaiarroy.com
$$, L, D, Out
Drunken noodles have the right balance of savory and sweet. Fried fish in curry sauce manages to retain its crispness. Salads are citrusy bright and fresh. And service is gracious, even when this storefront is packed, as it often is.
1006 Light St., (410) 528-2146, thaiyum.com
$$, 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.