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Eat Feature

Mediterranean

Posted 3/4/2009

Black Olive

814 S. Bond St., (410) 276-7141, theblackolive.com, $$-$$$

Fells Point Greek restaurant Black Olive is serious about fish. So serious that dining there includes a tour of the seafood case with your server explaining each item with the kind of detailed flavor analysis usually reserved for wine. We love the stuffed baby calamari and the grilled octopus salad to start, both so wonderfully tender you'll rue the rubbery iterations you've had elsewhere. Then it's right on to a whole prepared fish--whichever one our waiter looks most rapturous when describing. They've never steered us wrong.

Hilltop Carry-Out

600 E. Fort Ave., (410) 752-1971, hilltopcarryout.com, $

What separates this otherwise unremarkable south Baltimore pizza and sub shop are it's late-night hours, and the gargantuan and delicious gyro that is served here. The thing is massive to the point of impeding the eating process, always steaming hot and oozing with tzatziki and gyro meat grease, which is good for dripping onto the attendant hot and crisp fries. The perfect recharge, or preventative measure, if you're out drinking in Federal Hill or Locust Point.

Kali's Court Restaurant

1606 Thames St., (410) 276-4700, kaliscourt.com, $$-$$$

It seems you can't venture south of Fleet Street these days without running into a veal reduction here or a tomato coulis there, which is one of the many reasons its worth revisiting Kali's Court. Elegant dining with an ambitious menu has been the hallmark of this Thames Street spot since Harbor East was mostly bus parking, and the kitchen continues to turn out fine seafood with a Mediterranean accent and more.

Kali's Mezze

1606 Thames St., (410) 563-7600, kalismezze.com, $$

This Mediterranean small plates restaurant is part of the Kali's Court restaurant mini-empire and, like all the restaurants in this group, shows an attention to detail that is impressive. From the lovely upstairs dining room to the broad menu, everything here feels carefully thought out to create a blissful dining experience. As for what to eat, we love the goat-cheese-stuffed red peppers, the beef moussaka, and the heavenly tarama dip, but the small plate format encourages trying new dishes on every visit.

Miss Irene's

1738 Thames St., (410) 558-0033, missirenesbaltimore.com, $$$

The old Miss Irene's was a run-down dive filled with artists, tradesmen, waitresses, drunks, and people who rode their motorcycles too fast. A night there promised good conversation, a cold (and occasionally frozen) beer, and maybe a thrown punch. It was a wonderful place, but the bar was bought, remodeled, and reopened under the same name. Miss Irene's now serves pricey entrees with an emphasis on seafood, slightly less pricey small plates, and more wine crosses the bar than Natty Boh. As nostalgic for the old place as we may be, the saffron risotto was excellent.

Never on Sunday

829 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7191, $

We're sure you're familiar with the subs, sandwiches, pizza, and other run-of-the-mill carry-out fare available at Never on Sunday. But it's the Greek specialties, such as the souvlaki, gyros, spinach pie, dolmathes, and taramosalata, that make it such an appealing place to stop for a bite to eat. The gyros are deliciously filling--and a total bargain at $5.95--and the Greek appetizer sampler, with eggplant salad, kafteri, taramosalata, and tzatziki with pita bread, is a tangy treat.

Samos Restaurant

600 Oldham St., (410) 675-5292, samosrestaurant.com, $

If there's a time when Samos isn't crowded, we haven't found it. And why shouldn't this Greektown eatery constantly be busy when the food is so tasty and prices so reasonable? There's no fancy atmosphere here just creamy taramosalata, perfectly grilled octopus, and messy juicy souvlaki pita sandwiches. Be prepared to wait.

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