1001 S. Charles St., (410) 244-0909
This sweet spot serves frozen yogurt, pastries, and Illy coffee and espresso drinks, and it’s open until midnight on the weekends for a post-dinner date and jittery fix.
The Abbey Burger Bistro
1041 Marshall St., (443) 453-9698,
$$, L, D, Out, 10 p.m., DV
The slightly Harry Potter-esque atmosphere doesn’t detract from this thoroughly American eatery, which offers a build-your-own burger checklist. Highlights: fried plantains, kangaroo, pretzel rolls, Wisconsin manchego, white truffle oil, and herb yogurt.
Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen
745 E. Fort Ave., (410) 727-7482,
$, L, D, BYOB, OUT
The charming mint-green corner café is helmed by a CFO—chief falafel officer—who dishes up some of the best falafel in the city at a more-than-reasonable price. Look for the zucchini fries.
Banditos Tacos & Tequila Bar
1118 S. Charles St., (443) 835-1517,
$$, D, BR, DV
Its specialties are right there in its name: tacos and tequila. But if, for whatever reason, those don’t appeal to you, Banditos also offers wings, burgers, and sandwiches, along with your standard drunk-eating snacks, such as nachos, bacon mac and cheese, and chicken tenders.
Blue Agave Restaurante y Tequileria
1032 Light St., (410) 576-3938,
$$, L, D, Out, 10 p.m., R, DV
The most refined of Fed Hill’s Mexican offerings—but lest you get the wrong impression, there’s plenty of energy in the exposed-brick dining room. If you polish off a 2-foot burrito in one half-hour go, you eat for free and get your name on the wall and a free T-shirt.
Blue Moon Too
1024 Light St., (410) 522-3940,
$, B, L, BR
Blue Moon Cafe opened this second location last year, so you can feast on French toast, specialty pancakes, and omelets without fighting your way to Fells Point.
Bookmakers Cocktail Club
31 E. Cross St., (443) 438-4039,
$$$, D, R, 10 p.m.
Bookmakers is far more upscale than most of its neighbors. Go for its impressive list of handcrafted cocktails, stay for the upscale American cuisine—think fried frog legs rather than Buffalo wings.
1035 S. Charles St., (410) 837-9888,
$$, L, D, DV
Order sushi a la carte or trust the chef’s choice of sushi with its sushi bar entrees. For those not into raw fish, Brothers Sushi also offers noodles, fried rice, and teriyaki entrees, as well as bento boxes for both lunch and dinner.
1117 S. Charles St., (410) 223-2269,
$$, L, D, BR, Out
Formerly known as Cowboys and Rednecks Pub, this laid-back Fed Hill hangout offers the standard selection of bar food.
El Pollo Real
1101 Light St., (443) 759-4193,
$$, L, D, DV
Fast-casual Peruvian rotisserie chicken with some Peruvian specialties. But if quesadillas or subs are more your style, don’t worry, it offers those, too.
1026 S. Charles St., (443) 759-7302,
$, L, D, 10 p.m., DV
Cheese steaks, chicken steaks, and hoagies. Open until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, in case you need some meat and carbs to soak up the alcohol in your stomach.
1035 Light St., (443) 388-9692,
$, L, D, Out, DV
One of the healthier dining options in the neighborhood with greens available in salad form or liquid form via one of the café’s smoothies or juices.
Grilled Cheese & Co.
1036 Light St., (410) 244-6333,
$, L, D, DV
All the variations on the classic comfort-food sandwich you could hope for. Other locations in Catonsville, Sykesville, and Gambrills.
1125 S. Charles St., (410) 685-7675,
$$, L, D, OUT
A rare, in-the-city-limits Carolina-style barbecue hub. They pile the meat—be it pulled pork, pit beef, or pit ham—high on the sesame seed-covered bun. Park in the West Street Garage—the first hour is free.
1741 Light St., (443) 501-4000,
$$, D, DV, 10 p.m.
A solid selection of salads, sandwiches (try the three little pigs), pizza, and the titular “slyce”—a pizza rolled up almost like a calzone. Lunch Thursday-Sunday. Additional locations in Mount Vernon, Canton, and Columbia in Howard County.
The Local Fry
21 E. Cross St., (410) 244-1283,
$$, D, BYOB, 10 p.m., DV
House-made fries here are elevated from a side dish to the centerpiece: French fries are loaded with plenty of toppings to make a full meal. If deep-fried spuds aren’t your style, there are salads, banh mi sandwiches, and Buffalo wings, too. Open for lunch on weekends.
Mad River Bar and Grille
1110 S. Charles St., (410) 727-2333,
$$, L, D, BR, 10 p.m.
Light on ambiance but heavy on the youngest, loudest residents of Fed Hill, this nighttime hot spot, in a converted bank, offers pub food aplenty.
MaGerk’s Pub And Grill
1061 S. Charles St., (410) 576-9230,
$, L, D, Out, DV
Try the immense roast beef club, which delivers that painfully full feeling for your buck, at this Cross Street staple.
■ Where to have your book club meet
800 Key Highway, (410) 752-1000,
$$$, L, D, BR
A good book club location needs to meet a few criteria. It needs to have enough space for large-ish parties. It needs good drinks and good food, preferably the sort of food that you can snack on as a group. And it needs to be the sort of spot that will let you linger as your conversation carries on and inevitably wanders off the topic of books. Encantada, a vegetable-focused restaurant located on the third floor of the American Visionary Art Museum, handily checks off all those boxes. The airy, brightly decorated space offers small vegetable-based plates—turnips masquerading as deviled eggs, for instance—that are ideal for passing around the table, as well as meat-based entrees for those craving something more substantial. The cocktails are fun and inventive, and for anyone in your group abstaining from alcohol, there are also juices and smoothies packed full of fruits and veggies. And Encantada’s tucked-away location usually means that the place is far from packed, so there should be no pressure for you to vacate your table if the literary analysis gets intense. (Anna Walsh)
1105 S. Charles St., (410) 752-8561,
$$, L, D, Out, DV
Order the bento box to sample this Japanese restaurant’s house salad, miso soup, and sushi offerings.
Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar
902 S. Charles St., (410) 234-0235,
$$, B, L, D, BR, Out
Few places as nice as this dark-stained wooden bar serve hot breakfasts every weekday; off that menu, try the Mexican omelet with the chorizo. Order appetizers later in the day, particularly the fried goat cheese.
Mi & Yu Noodle Bar
1016 S. Charles St., (443) 388-9295,
$$, L, D, DV
Unpretentious space with only a couple of noodle bowls on the menu. But while the options are limited, they’re seriously hearty, with different noodles and the option of adding extra protein available.
Mother’s Federal Hill Grille
1113 S. Charles St., (410) 244-8686,
$$, L, D, BR, P, Out, 10 p.m., DV
Wedge past the clusters of rowdy twentysomethings to order from the menu of bar food: potent Buffalo shrimp, Adam’s Beef Sirloin Cheesesteak, and a filet-and-shrimp Caesar salad.
No Way Jose Café
38 E. Cross St., (410) 752-2837,
$$, L, D, BR, 10 p.m., DV
Down-to-earth and festive, No Way Jose serves up authentic Mexican fare—street corn with queso fresco on game days, churros and chocolate, and chicken taquitos. Open for lunch Thursday through Sunday.
Nobles Bar and Grill
1024 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1355,
$, BR, D
Though one might be more in the mood for a liquid diet when in Nobles, the kitchen whips up some delicious, greasy grub to sop up booze.
Porters of Federal Hill
1032 Riverside Ave., (410) 332-7345,
$$, D, BR
It’s classic Baltimore corner bars like this where you’ll find the real neighborhood drinking (not always easy to find in Fed Hill). But don’t sleep on the food. The ham-and-Old-Bay-loaded Chesapeake fries are basic but better than serviceable.
Regi’s American Bistro
1002 Light St., (410) 539-7344,
$$, L, D, BR, Out, R, DV
Order a great rendition of bacon-brie-and-Parmesan tots at this longstanding Federal Hill haunt. Or go with something more substantial, such as the Eastern Shore pasta with crab, shrimp, corn, and tomatoes.
1209 S. Charles St., (410) 727-1298,
$$, D, 10 p.m.
A cavernous nighttime hot spot that attracts a young crowd with its daily bargains. The solid Gipper hamburger answers the question, “Where’s the beef?” If you’re not feeling Reaganesque, try the wings. Open for lunch Friday through Sunday.
The Rowhouse Grille
1400 Light St., (443) 438-7289,
$$, D, BR, R
A prime example of the Baltimore rowhouse: Exposed brick and hardwood floors complement the New American menu. A good-sized selection of mussels preparations, served with addictive fries, makes the shellfish an obvious choice.
36 E. Cross St., (410) 539-2093,
$$, L, D, BR
Once home to Baltimore’s first brewpub, Ryleigh’s has long since transformed into a vaunted warm-weather hangout for the beautiful people of Federal Hill. Oysters are a guaranteed win, but try out the other seafood options too. Other locations in Hunt Valley and Mount Vernon.
6 W. Cross St., (410) 752-1518,
$$, L, D, BR, Out, R
A brightly colored eatery that samples the best dishes from every corner of the globe. Rosemary hummus, Korean chicken fried steak, chicken liver mousse, and mushroom stuffed chard.
Social Pub & Pie
25 E. Cross St., (410) 234-0376,
$, D, Out
The only coal-fired pizza on Cross Street, this watering hole gets jam-packed for football games. Slices are thin, sauce is house-made, and 8-inch pies are just $6 during the week.
26 E. Cross St., (410) 244-6722,
$$, D, Out
Reliably tasty deep-fried foods, such as meaty garlic-Parmesan Buffalo wings, are served up here, along with myriad loaded waffle fries. Easy on the wallet, if not on the waistline. Lunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.
500 Harborview Drive, (410) 727-3663,
$$, D, P, Out, R
A ritzy, seasonally operating waterfront venue popular for weddings, Tabrizi’s is known for its elegant Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food that covers the geographical spread.
1019 Light St., (410) 385-8587,
$$, L, D, Out, BYOB, DV
Select your spice level at this Federal Hill staple. Tom kha soup, ordered spicy, packs just the right amount of heat.
1006 Light St., (410) 528-2146,
$$, L, D, BR, Out
Slightly fancier than Thai Arroy, Thai Yum offers street seating when in season, as well as some less traditional entrees such as maple-marinated duck breast in peanut sauce, and asparagus shrimp.