A night at Ouzo Beach is like hanging out on a billionaire’s yacht. The seafood is divine, the harbor is in view, and you may find yourself wondering how you wound up there.
The Atlas Restaurant Group opened the bar this summer as an outdoor offshoot of high-end Greek restaurant Ouzo Bay. Both are helmed by chefs Matthew Oetting and Scott Elseroad. The Beach features many of the same menu items as the Bay with a few casual additions like lamb sliders and grilled souvlaki, shareable summer snacks that will appeal to a younger happy hour crowd. Sophisticated diners will appreciate the excellent, minimally adorned seafood offerings, all-white decor and, of course, that view.
It may be worth mentioning a family connection. John Paterakis, grandfather of Alex Smith, who owns Atlas, is responsible for much of Harbor East’s development, and before his death, was a regular at Ouzo Bay. In the heart of the upscale harbor development, Ouzo Beach may be the ideal outpost to reflect on Paterakis’s legacy in Baltimore, one now continued by Smith.
First impressions: The bar was slammed during a happy hour visit. A live DJ — Ouzo Beach has one each night — played music loud enough to create a cool, South Beach vibe, but not so loud to alienate the many Baby Boomers in the crowd. While waiting for a stool to open at the packed bar, we ordered drinks — a refreshing cucumber tonic water for me and a somewhat watery mojito ($12) for my dining companion — and apps. A canopy provided shade in the 90-degree heat, and the outdoor bar miraculously managed to stay relatively cool.
Must-tries: Maine lobster ceviche ($22) crunched with freshness and was beautifully presented in a glass bowl resembling a seashell. It’s served with crispy plantain chips to absorb the delicious citrus emulsion beneath it. The wonderful watermelon salad ($14), also on the menu at Ouzo Bay, is drizzled with truffled vinaigrette that adds more complexity to the fruit than was previously thought possible. We made short work of the lamb meatball sliders ($12) — the perfect cushion for an after-work cocktail.
Special touches: Drinks at Ouzo Beach capture the fun, millennial vibe of the place. There’s the Motion of the Ocean ($36), which serves four and combines rum and coconut water with coconut sea foam, and the Cocktail Fight ($20), which pits two bartenders against one another. The customer judges which is the best. I did not partake. But it sounded like fun. (Ouzo Beach also serves brunch on weekends, and was featured in our recent “Bougiest Brunches” roundup.)
Pro-tip: The two restaurants share a kitchen and restroom, a slightly awkward arrangement that requires bussers to push carts loaded with bins of dishes across the crosswalk from the Beach to the Bay. Use your bathroom break to scan the seafood offerings inside the restaurant and consider an order of West African salt prawns.
Bottom line: On their website and on various Instagram posts, Ouzo Beach and other restaurants by Atlas Group tout their brand with hashtag #CityNeedsIt. Does Baltimore really need Ouzo Beach? That depends on how you define “need.” But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy your visit.
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1000 Lancaster St., 443-708-5818, ouzobeach.com. Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-midnight Sundays, 4 p.m.-midnight Mondays-Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursdays-Fridays.