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Eat Feature

J is for Java

Needful Things · The Hidden Bean · City Café · Donna's · Empire Café · Xando · The Daily Grind

Sam Holden

Eat Special Issue 1999

Alphabet Soup We know where we like to go for a good burger--and we'll bet you do too. Or a good omelet. Or a good...

A is for Appetizers The Helmand · Café Madrid · Henninger's Tavern · Café Zen · Grand Palace · Morgan Millard · Al Pacino Café · Sarah's Café · Iola Café

B is for Breakfast Jimmy's · Blue Moon Café · Golden West Café · Morning Edition Café · Helen's Garden Café · Hull Street Blues Café · Loco Hombre · Weber's on Boston · Suburban House

C is for Carry-out DiPasquale's · Cosmos · Rotisseria · Chow Mein Charlie's · Chokchai · Thairish · Caribbean Kitchen · Viccino's · Michaelangelo's · The Roost

D is for Dessert Vaccaro's · Cheesecake Factory · Adrian's Book Café · Moxley's · Louie's Bookstore Café · Coney Island

E is for Expensive Charleston · The Black Olive · Milton Inn · Polo Grill · Chart House · Oregon Grille

F is for Frugal Pete's Grill · Trolley Stop · Fazzini's Italian Kitchen · jr. · Rallo's · Mamie's Café · Caribbean Food Carry Out · Silk Road Café · Frisco Burritos · Winterling's · Valley View Inn · Fresh

G is for Guilty Pleasures Anne's Dari-Creme · Howard's Delly · Maria D's · Johnny Rockets · Thrasher's · Steak Out Express · New System Bakery · Krispy Kreme

H is for Happy Hour The Brewer's Art · Mick O'Shea's · Brass Elephant · Speakeasy Saloon · Calvert House · Nick's Inner Harbor Seafood Co.

I is for Incendiary Sushi Café · Ko Hyang · Joung Kak · Thai Landing · Sisson's · Café Tattoo · Austin Grill

J is for Java Needful Things · The Hidden Bean · City Café · Donna's · Empire Café · Xando · The Daily Grind

K is for Kids Friendly Farm · Hacienda Mexican Restaurant · Fuddruckers · Overlea Diner · Funk's Democratic Coffee House and Bistro · Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon

L is for Lunch Women's Industrial Exchange · Sascha's Daily · Mughal Garden · Akbar · Bombay Grill · Nate's and Leon's · Snyder's Cafe and Deli

M is for Meat Prime Rib · Shula's Steakhouse · Ruth's Chris Steak House · Alonso's · The Crease · Bill Bateman's · Lenny's · Attman's · Boomerang Pub

N is for New School Joy America Café · Spike and Charlie's · Sotta Sopra · La Tavola · Opa! · Viccino Bistro · Café Pangea

O is for Old School Haussner's · Tio Pepe's · Ikaros · Acropolis · Bo Brooks · Forest Diner · Angelina's · Kawasaki · Thai Restaurant · Perring Place Restaurant · Sanders Corner · Sabatino's · Matthew's Pizzaria 

P is for Pub Grub Peter's Inn · Simon's Pub · Duda's · Sobo Café · Koco's Pub · Kisling's · McCabe's · Dougherty's Pub · Charles Village Pub

Q is for Quirks Holy Frijoles · Ye Olde Malt Shoppe/Earl's Beauty Inn · Tamber's Nifty Fifties Dining · Captain James Landing

R is for Romantic Corks · Pierpoint · Banjara · Ambassador Dining Room · Tersiguel's

S is for Seafood Gunning's Crab House · Gunning's Seafood Restaurant · Faidley's Seafood · Legal Sea Foods · John Steven Ltd. · Anne Arundel Seafood · G&M Restaurant · Mo's Fisherman's Exchange · Bill's Terrace Inn · Bay Caf

T is for Tourists Waterfront · Hollywood Diner · Café Hon · Obrycki's · Bertha's · Lista's · McCormick and Schmick's · Wharf Rat · Gallery Sandwich Shoppe · Hard Rock Café · Planet Hollywood · ESPN Zone

U is for United Nations Restaurant · Silk Road · Braznell's Caribbean Kitchen · Orchard Market and Café · Ze Mean Bean Café · Saigon · House of Kabob · Desert Café · Restaurante San Luis · Little Havana · Café

V is for Vegetarian Golden Temple · Liquid Earth · One World Café · Wild Mushroom · Puffins · Sin Carne · Village Market

W is for Worth the Drive Captain Billy's · Captain John's · Cantler's Riverside Inn · Gabler's · Baugher's Family Restaurant · Rudy's 2900 · Olney Ale House

X is for XXL New No Da Ji · The Yellow Bowl · Micah's Cafeteria · Cactus Willie's

Y is for Yeast Baltimore Brewing Company · Big Sky Bread Co. · Stone Mill Bakery · Ellicott Mills Brewing Company · Capitol City Brewing Co.

Z is for ZZZ Sip & Bite · Double T Diner · Valentino's · Star Light Diner · Bel-Loc Diner · Gampy's · Nam Kang

Posted 2/24/1999

We admit it. We have a problem. We want help, we really do--help roasted, help brewed, help in a mug with a shot of steamed milk, maybe. We're already 12 steps on the way to one of the following feeders of our coffee jones.

Caffeine junkies that we are, we can't imagine a more aptly named establishment in Baltimore than Needful Things (2921 O'Donnell St., [410] 675-0595). What's more needful than coffee? They've got you covered at this very attractive spot on Canton's square with a high-test house blend and assorted manifestations of the java-soaked muse, including (speaking of apt names) the Double Gutless Wonder (decaf and skim milk). The slim menu is heavy on the second most needful thing, breakfast, with plenty of bagel, egg, pancake, and french-toast options along with a handful of soups and sandwiches.

You'll find three roasts and no waiting at The Hidden Bean (1431 John St., [410] 225-9667). Besides your early-morning dose of java, this Bolton Hill shop also has a full complement of teas, soft drinks, and juices, as well as eight varieties of coffee you can take home and brew yourself. Once your caffeine needs are met, choose from various scones, bagels, and muffins for breakfast fare, or drop in at lunchtime for a full selection of sandwiches, cold pasta dishes, and desserts.

With a wide range of pricey dinner entrées served in its bi-level back dining room, a case full of pastries and rich desserts, and a busy breakfast and lunch trade, City Café (1001 Cathedral St., [410] 539-4252) is more than just a coffee bar. Located in the heart of Mount Vernon's gay-nightlife section, it doubles as a community center of sorts. But the humble coffee bean is its cornerstone, and every day, several tureens pour life-giving caffeine for the customers gathered in the café's spacious, sunny front room. Try a cup of Southern pecan with one of the addictive chocolate croissants.

Nothing, it seems, can stop the juggernaut that is Donna's (various locations)--not the inconsistent food (although we'll swear by anything with roasted vegetables); not the often, um, "relaxed" service; not the ubiquity that, in these parts, has earned that black-and-white sign comparisons to the Golden Arches. Must have something to do with the consistently outstanding java, which has never, ever let us down. As long as Baltimore thirsts for coffee, we suppose, there'll always be a Donna's. And another. And another. . . .

Before or after catching that flick at the Senator, cross the street to Empire Café (5857 York Road, [410] 435-1200), a coffeehouse in the making with an ever-growing menu, an array of gorgeous-looking desserts, and 31 coffees from assorted corners of the world. The eclectic menu features a little Chinese, a little vegetarian, a little Old Bay--it's a work in progress. This pretty little restaurant even has its own stage (you can get on the mailing list for news of readings, discussions, and the like).

Xando (3003 N. Charles St., [410] 889-7076) is not a coffee bar. If you look carefully, the sign outside this new Charles Village entry in the national chain reads coffee and bar. This means that in the morning you can get a "gigante" latte, and in the evening you can get a mocha martini or pint of beer. Xando is your one-source stop for vitamins C (caffeine) and A (alcohol). But it's also a good place to nibble on a salad or a wrap sandwich or any one of a host of decadent dessert items (including make-your-own s'mores!). And it's big enough that the staff doesn't seem to mind if you just linger over a brew and read the paper.

Your table wobbles, half your cappuccino slops over the top of the cup, and several friendly dogs are vying for the privilege of sniffing your crotch. Hey, it's all part of the The Daily Grind (1726 Thames St., [410] 558-0399) experience. Have a cuppa, wait for a Homicide sighting, and, toward dusk, treat yourself to as eclectic a crowd as you'll find anywhere. There's orange hair, green hair, handcuffs, leather, body piercing--lots of body piercing. Gnaw on a biscotti and watch as older couples out for a romantic waterfront stroll pause in the open doorway, drawn by the coffee aroma, then get a closer look and scurry away. Maybe the new Daily Grind, in perfectly proper Roland Park (501 W. Cold Spring Lane, [410] 235-8118), is more their cup of tea. Us, we'll stick a matchbook under the table leg, clutch our cup, and watch the parade.

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