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Here are 6 of the Baltimore area’s hottest spots to eat

Chef/owner Bryan Voltaggio plates a dish at Volt located at 228 N. Market Street in Frederick.
Chef/owner Bryan Voltaggio plates a dish at Volt located at 228 N. Market Street in Frederick.(Kenneth K. Lam)

Whether you’re craving a $10 sandwich or spending big bucks for 15 courses, check out one [or all] of the following eateries. They are some of the best [IMHO] and the most buzzed about in the greater Baltimore region.

Volt

If you really want to be wowed by your meal, there’s perhaps no better place in Maryland to go than to Bryan Voltaggio’s Volt on Frederick’s Market Street. The chef, who will make his third appearance on TV’s “Top Chef” this year, seems to live by the motto “Go big or go home.” Other restaurants do three-course tasting menus; Voltaggio’s at Volt’s “chef’s counter” runs 15 courses. Other restaurants offer panna cotta for dessert; Voltaggio offers panna cotta inside a white chocolate “egg,” atop a dark chocolate “nest” that’s been piped into ice water and garnished with real flowers. Crack it open and a guava citrus yolk drizzles out. If you don’t leave impressed, check your pulse.

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228 N. Market St., Frederick. 301-698-8658. voltrestaurant.com

NiHao

Peter Chang, the restaurateur behind Q by Peter Chang as well as Mama Chang in Virginia, has inspired cult-like devotion among fans in the Mid-Atlantic region. So perhaps it’s understandable that there’s lots of buzz about his Baltimore restaurant for more than a year now — and it hasn’t even opened yet. Set to arrive this year in Canton, NiHao, which comes from “Hi” in Mandarin, will feature an approachable menu of dishes like tofu skin salad and dry fried chicken wings, with input from pastry chef Pichet Ong, a family friend of the Changs. As the kids say, it’s gonna be fire.

2322 Boston St., Canton. facebook.com/NiHaoBmore/

Roasted chicken is made with marinated feta cheese and warm bean salad a'la Grecque at Le Comptoir du Vin, a French bistro and wine bar on Maryland Avenue.
Roasted chicken is made with marinated feta cheese and warm bean salad a'la Grecque at Le Comptoir du Vin, a French bistro and wine bar on Maryland Avenue.(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Le Comptoir du Vin

After this Station North bistro from Rosemary Liss and chef Will Mester was named to Bon Appetit’s “Hot Ten" list, Esquire Magazine [accurately] labelled it “the sexiest third date spot in America.” The menu is tiny, as is the restaurant, but in the end it has everything you need. We devoured the freshly baked sourdough bread and the chicken, a reminder that sometimes the test of a great chef is what he can do with this poultry dish. But good luck getting a table — reservations fill up faster than Hamilton tickets sell out.

1729 Maryland Ave., Station North. 443-297-7384. comptoirbaltimore.com.




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Masarap Baltimore

Chef Rey Eugenio’s Filipino food truck has been serving some fantastic lumpia spring rolls, fried peanuts and other delicious treats at various locations around the city including Pigtown’s Suspended Brewery and Fadensonnen. We can’t wait to visit his brick and mortar restaurant, set to open this year at the renovated Whitehall Market. It will join a drool-worthy roster of eateries and coffee shops including Ceremony Coffee, Crust by Mack and True Chesapeake Oyster Co., one of the “hidden gems” in our list.

Seats at the enormous stainless-and-chestnut bar offer the best view of the restaurant's open kitchen and of the glass pinxto bar. Start with cocktails and a few pinxto — small snacks that might include skewered sausage and cheese or peppers with anchovies.
Seats at the enormous stainless-and-chestnut bar offer the best view of the restaurant's open kitchen and of the glass pinxto bar. Start with cocktails and a few pinxto — small snacks that might include skewered sausage and cheese or peppers with anchovies. (Chiaki Kawajiri, For The Baltimore Sun)

La Cuchara

In its fifth year, La Cuchara is still one of the city’s hottest tickets, transporting diners from Woodberry’s Meadow Mill straight into Spain’s Basque country. Come for discounted pintxos during happy hour, which runs from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. and then from 9 p.m. until close on weeknights. Better yet, stay for an entree, like chef Ben Lefenfeld’s rockfish with preserved lemon and Brussels sprouts, an exciting and flavorful combo we enjoyed during a recent visit. For dessert, their cinnamon churros with chocolate dipping sauce are legendary.

3600 Clipper Mill Road, Woodberry. 443-708-3838. lacucharabaltimore.com

Maximón

The Latin American concept —named after a Mayan deity — is the latest offering from Atlas Restaurant Group. Interior designer Patrick Sutton has tastefully filled the eatery with both subtle and bold nods to Latin America. Lush plants and trees are paired with painted tropical landscapes. The exterior of the restaurant features a Spanish-style courtyard with fountains and outside bar. The grand bar is stocked with what appears to be an endless amount of spirits—perfect for creating well-balanced and visually pleasing drinks. The familiar and new takes on Latin American cuisine, include eight types of tacos from the sliced Wagyu to the grilled shrimp and jumbo crab. Entrees include: braised short rib with roasted potatoes and chimichurri; and Colorado Lamb Chops, with crispy potatoes.

200 International Drive, Harbor East. 410-927-3020. maximonrestaurant.com

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