If Campbell's didn't have the copyright on "Soup is good food," the motto should belong to Atwater's. Sure, it also sells home-style breads and tasty sandwiches at its multiple locations (and the cream puffs at the Belvedere Square bakery are to die for), but nothing beats the sheer variety and high quality of the soups: stews studded with chunks of meat; bisques laced with cream, a handful of tarragon, or a shake of curry; gazpacho full of confetti-diced peppers, onions, and tomatoes. We also appreciate the vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices that often show up on the menu.
While Baltimore's bagel scene still leaves something to be desired (that something is the flavored tofu cream cheeses that are available at every New York City bagel place), Greg's is a giant leap above average. It has a wide variety of delicious and inventive homemade bagels, sure, but the killer is its fish board. A long-ass chalkboard runs down a list of different smoked salmons--and sometimes other fish--with a description of their flavors. And Greg's keeps the cream cheese schmear light so it doesn't overwhelm that succulent fish.
Miss Shirley's is the kind of place where you drool just thinking about it. The decadent breakfasts are more expensive than your standard breakfast joint, but this place is far from standard. Think benne seed chicken 'n' waffles, crab and fried green tomato eggs Benedict, pumpkin-cheesecake-stuffed French toast, and raspberry white-chocolate-chip pancakes. We hear it serves lunch, too, but we've never gotten past the gigantic breakfast menu. On weekends, hit the Cold Spring location early or be prepared for a serious wait.
There are plenty of good places to eat in Belvedere Square Market, but Neopol stands out, because, well, we simply don't know of another place that serves smoked . . . everything. Its sandwiches--such as the organic, local, and cherrywood-smoked pork loin with goat cheese and tomato jam--and savory cheese pies are well worth a nosh, as are its various smoked meats. But the most underrated offering at Neopol has to be its brunch. The yummy omelets filled with their smoked goodies taste like fancy restaurant fare but in a casual pull-up-a-seat-at-the-counter setting.
What do college students, farmer's market goers, the residents of Waverly, families fresh out of early-morning sports practices, and Michael Phelps all have in common? They all eat at Pete's. An old-fashioned diner with a caboose-like feel, everything about Pete's has character, from the staff to the food. Counter seating gives diners a front-row seat for the flapjack- and patty-flipping as they await the first bite of breakfast. After this mouth-watering opener, Pete's delivers beautifully with an array of breakfast and lunch classics that have a habit of turning first-timers into regulars.
Petit Louis is so much like a French restaurant in, like, actual France that sometimes it's easy to forget it's a realistic Baltimore dining possibility. Although many anniversaries and other special events are celebrated in Petit Louis' elegant café setting, with expertly executed classic French fare to suit the occasion, the menu also offers relatively affordable items that make it an everyday dining option. A seat by the open fire and a hearty plate of tres authentic steak frites, along with a glass of wine from the well-chosen cellar and maybe some of that unctuous duck confit, is one of our favorite ways to spend a winter's night.
There aren't a whole lot of standouts in the Baltimore delivery-pizza world. Enter Sea Blue, a hole-in-the-wall just off Greenmount Avenue with a range of halal goods, but also dynamite fried chicken and the cheapest, best delivery pie on the north side of town: crispy crust, good sauce, and you can get one big enough to split for $5. The front case is also currently rocking some of the biggest junk crab cakes we've ever seen. We'll get around to those eventually.
Thai Restaurant in Waverly has consistently served up some of the city's best Thai dishes for a generation, and sitting down for a meal--in a restaurant with the same green walls, Thai tourist art, and rubber plants that set the stage almost 30 years ago--feels as though time has stopped. Service is personal and warm, and the entrées are always top notch. If you visit enough, they know how hot to make your curry and remember you ordered the slow-cooked masaman beef last time you visited.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201