Summer or winter, the Ambassador is one of Baltimore's most romantic dining spots. During cold months you can snuggle up in front of the fireplace cupped in one of Ambassador's giant, cushiony chairs; in the summer, the outdoor terrace, complete with fountain, offers some of the city's sweetest al fresco dining. Best of all, the elegantly spiced and smoothly served Indian food is consistently among Baltimore's best. The menu goes a step beyond most Indian restaurants, offering sumptuous banquet dishes like lobster khas (a whole, meaty tail in a slinky roasted fennel sauce) and Goa fish (whole fish cooked in tamarind and garlic).
Carma's Café is a small but cozy hideout that offers warm drinks, paninis, and a showcase of scrumptious baked goods. A mug of spicy Mayan cocoa topped with a swirl of whipped cream is an agreeable companion to a Pink Dalmatian cookie--or perhaps, a whole bag of them--with white chocolate chips and cranberries. And a cup of the creamy tomato-basil soup combined with the portabello panini--a sandwich of soft mushrooms and roasted red peppers topped with a slice of provolone--makes for a filling winter meal.
Bar food heaven. XXL garbage nachos done up with chili, canned jalapeños, and that so-nasty, so-good oozy nacho cheese? Check. Fish and chips so greasy they could almost make the table translucent? Check. Potato skins deep-fried just 'cause? Check. And the already heart-diseased can find a range of relatively benign club sandwiches. And even settle it all down the next morning with weekend brunch, a limited cheap-as-hell menu of the standards, including bizarre crepe-thin omelets apparently cooked on the world's largest flattop grill, and $3 bloody marys and mimosas.
Like its name suggests, Chocolatea offers sweet liquid bliss in the form of warm strawberry Nutella, pumpkin spice, and peppermint candy lattes, as well as white, green, herbal, and oolong teas--perfect for those slushy Baltimore winter days. The menu is a mix of occidental breakfast (bagels, Belgian waffles) and oriental lunch (udon noodles, miso soup), and while the soggy dumplings in the sampler have obviously just shrugged off their freezer burn, don't hesitate to try one of the wraps. After a soul-warming drink, grab a few boxes of Pocky or packets of fruit gummies for the road home.
The Zodiac restaurant shuttered a couple of years ago, to the disappointment of many a Charles Theatre moviegoer and hipster drinker, or anyone that enjoyed reasonably priced, creative food in an interesting part of town. Fortunately, the kitchen reopened, with basically the same menu, only served in Club Charles. And from top to bottom, it's slammin'. A $10 bowl of mussels is plenty for two, the chili is real-deal, the nachos are bar-food heaven, and even a simple burger never fails to please. And the vegan crab cake is so good, we wonder what the Club Charles could do with a real one.
Donna's gets taken for granted, but what you get at the ubiquitous chain of neighborhood cafés is consistency--in everything. A veggie burger with sun-dried tomato mayo pleases; a brunch rotolo (read: burrito) gets fancied up with mozzarella, provolone, and roasted red peppers; the falafel is, for serious, some of the better we've had in Baltimore. A stand-by, nothing more, nothing less.
Located in the Baltimore Museum of Art, Gertrude's casual elegance and food are worth a trip even if you aren't an art lover. Cleanse your palate with a sweet and crisp berry good salad, followed by a build-your-own entrée of seared scallops covered with a light lemon beurre blanc sauce and some buttery garlic mashed potatoes on the side. Inventive takes on mainstays and a pleasant décor make Gertrude's fitting for a romantic dinner or simply a relaxing evening out.
It's all about the wings. Save for a pretty mean plate of nachos, much of the menu at the iBar, a nondescript joint on a nondescript street in Charles North, doesn't blow us away. But the wings, man--perfect. Go straight for the "suicide" guys--you won't thank us in the morning--or the garlic-dosed "chef's special," all perfect glowing orange nubs with flavor well-deep. Hit it on Wednesday when most wings are half-price.
The only thing square about Joe Squared Pizza is, in fact, the pizza. Just a 10-minute walk from the train station, Joe Squared's signature square pizza is baked in a coal-fired grill and comes in a slew of adventurous and bizarre combinations--say, Irish pizza with corned beef on it. Nightly music events and art shows from up-and-coming regional artists make Joe Squared a hub of creativity and an oasis for starving art lovers, both literally and figuratively.
An indispensable dine-in/carry-out spot located in the heart of lower Charles Village. Since opening in 2008, M&J's has become not only a welcome alternative to boilerplate carry-out fare when feeling lazy--why settle for pizza or subs when divine orders of barbecue ribs or made-to-order fried chicken can be had for about the same price?--but a dependable, soothing stop when soul food is the only thing that's going to restore the equilibrium after a particularly rough day or week. Nothing restores our sanity like M&J's scrumptious meatloaf with homemade mashed potatoes and heavenly collard greens.
Nak Won stands out from other midtown Korean joints not for its decor (Spartan luncheonette) or atmosphere, but for its efficient yet chill servers and impeccably fresh food. The kitchen turns out excellent fare--all the hot pots rock, and the pa-jun seafood pancake is a crispy, savory wonder--but the main reason to visit Nak Won is to cook your own dinner on the tabletop grills. Servers bring trays of raw meat and seafood, fileting, descaling, and deboning it for you at the table, leaving you to fuss-free and flavorful grilling, wrapping (in clever little kimchi pancakes), and chowing. Wash it all down with some cheongju (high-octane rice wine).
Beyond being a fine Korean restaurant in its own right, Nam Kang is practically a public service--the place stays open until 4 a.m. every day, and a spicy bowl of jam pong beats greasy diner chow for post-last-call inebriated dining. Or you can start the inebriation here, with a bottle of knock-your-socks-off soju and a round of banchan--treats like kimchi, pickled vegetables, and other tasty bites served in small bowls as a complimentary appetizer. Ignore the Japanese and Chinese items on the menu and go right for the bi bim bap or tuk man doo kuk.
One World Café offers a variety of meatless and soy-filled entrées, from the eggplant gyro--fresh-roasted eggplant, red peppers, spinach, and feta cheese on lightly toasted bread--to the black bean quesadilla, which is served with all its fixings of onions, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream. Despite being a vegetarian mainstay, One World also has meat-centric offerings. Though the food is satisfying, the servers seem to be allergic to condiment and bill requests.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201