I made last-minute adjustments to the ranking of this list as I was writing up the captions for this photo gallery. My gut guided me. I'd consult my memories, the online menus, and the reviews I wrote about them (often the review that Elizabeth Large wrote).
When I found myself thinking, "I want to go there
," 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.
Here are Baltimore's 50 best restaurants. We'll be releasing them 10 at a time, Monday through Friday. Enjoy and make your reservations soon!--
has been Baltimore's best second-date restaurant since 1989. Anyone not moved by Jayne and Kenny Vieth's quirkily romantic Upper Fells Point restaurant is soul-deficient; that's the kind of thing you'd want to know before things get too serious.
28. The Dogwood
-- Now in full bloom, the innovative, community-focused Hampden restaurant is here to stay. The laudable
a front-of-mind destination for power dates and romantic business meetings.
25. Black Olive
-- The Spiladis family's Fells Point restaurant, a revelation for the freshness of its fish and produce when it opened in 1997, has seen its act repeated all over town. The opening of a long-awaited hotel property behind the restaurant should help return the
is a fascinating case. No restaurant elicits such strong opinions or feelings. Tony Foreman took over the kitchen in the summer of 2010, and the menu changed formats. This season will reveal whether Baltimoreans still have a place for it in their hearts.
-- Few American museums are as well served as is the
--The current menu at this Mount Vernon rowhouse combines greatest hits like Utz-crusted cod and steak frites with new adventures in dining like a pumpkin polenta entrée and a Korean hot pot. Dinner at the bar always works.
, Winston Blick and Christine Dadant's Vermont-cozy Hamilton restaurant opened hot, made itself indispensable, got itself a liquor license, and doubled its size before you could say house-made Duroc breakfast sausage.
-- The highest ranking new restaurant on the list is Jorbie Clark and chef Patrick Morrow's South Baltimore lovable, approachable version of the local/seasonal/animal parts restaurant. Major assets at
include the house-proud staff Chris Coker's wine list, outdoor seating and an upstairs bar.
-- It is serious pleasure to sit with a glass of wine at this ravishing bar, working your way through brilliant cheeses, exquisitely handled charcuterie, and Julian Marcucci's earnest cooking. That this pleasure never fully materializes at
-- It helps to know how to use this Fells Point luxury model. It's to be used for seduction, for sealing deals, for disinheriting a nephew. The mistake people make is squandering its power and beauty on randomness, like driving a Jaguar to the supermarket. Recent changes at
feels like the right spot for Christopher Spann's hardworking, forward-looking Locust Point restaurant. With the promotion of Christopher Becker to executive chef, the recently renovated Locust Point Industrial Area restaurant feels poised for a major breakthrough.
10. Salt Tavern
-- When it opened back in 2006, Jason Ambrose's Upper Fells Point restaurant led the pack of chef-driven, neighborhood-based, menu-rotating, Philadelphia-style restaurants. A stint in
-- Is there a happier chef-patron relationship than the one between Ted Stelzenmuller and the gang who shows up at his Canton restaurant week after week, expecting something fearless and big-hearted to fly out of
, the Mount Vernon steakhouse remains constitutionally incapable of a misstep or a false move, and the relaxed dress code hasn't detracted a bit from the glamour of it all. When you leave, you feel like you've been someplace.