Baltimore, the City that Brunches
Morning Edition Café · Weber's on Boston · Loco Hombre · Regi's American Bistro · Louie's Bookstore Café · Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon · Hull Street Blues · Grand Palace
At the Morning Edition Café (153 N. Patterson Park Ave.,  732-5133), you will get what is perennially and justly considered to be among Baltimore's most delicious brunches. Just be prepared to wait. If you don't have a reservation, you will wait for a table. Even if you do have a reservation, you will wait at your table, sucking down multiple drinks as the kitchen and wait staff struggle to keep up with demand. And, finally, you will be rewarded--with mouth-watering nut- and/or fruit-festooned pancakes and French toast, spectacularly eclectic omelets, or rich variations on the eggs 'n' Hollandaise thing. Frustrating but fabulous.
Weber's on Boston (845 S. Montford Ave.,  276-0800) used to be Le Bistro Midi, which used to be . . . Weber's on Boston. So confusing. Through all the turmoil, though, Weber's (or whatever) has put on a nice Sunday spread: eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, thick waffles, and more, served up buffet-style. None of it's spectacular but all of it's hearty and filling, and the Bloody Marys are first-rate.
Roland Park's Loco Hombre (413 W. Cold Spring Lane,  889-2233) does several Tex-Mex-style things nicely, but there's nothing it does better than brunch. Start with a hot drink and a basket of sweet breads that could make a meal in itself, then move on to the fabulous huevos rancheros (with plenty of tangy green salsa and maybe an order of chicken sausage), or maybe the monumental egg-and-cheese strata, or the excellent banana-stuffed French toast. Groan and depart.
Regi's American Bistro (1002 Light St.,  539-7344) is a veteran Federal Hill brunchmaker that understands what French toast is all about. Some places sling ponderous slabs of goop-soaked bread that's the texture of a kitchen sponge saturated in crude oil. Regi's goes the extra Gallic mile, making their French toast, appropriately enough, from sliced croissants (light and fluffy and infused ever so delicately with cinnamon). The bar whips up a decent, horseradishy Bloody Mary as well.
Rating as a golden oldie in the city's café echelon, Louie's Bookstore Café (518 N. Charles St.,  962-1224) offers an ambitious brunch selection (though we rarely stray beyond the yummy buckwheat pancakes). Live chamber music adds an extra dose of elegance to the experience. Oh, and Louie's terminally arty and aloof wait staff--once a running joke among the town's cafégoers--has sharpened of late. Don't expect slick, smiling efficiency or anything, but chances are someone will be within earshot when you need a coffee refill or an extra napkin.
For a less refined but more relaxed brunch option in the same neck of the woods, the Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon (909 N. Charles St.,  685-7427), does a tasty and unpretentious little brunch in entertaining surroundings (there's a full-sized sarcophagus mounted to the ceiling, for those better-off-dead Sunday mornings) for a reasonable price.
A comfortable neighborhood restaurant a stone's throw from Fort McHenry, Hull Street Blues (1222 Hull St.,  727-7476) offers one of Baltimore's best brunches. A generous buffet serves terrific versions of breakfast standards while more fragile items, such as French toast with fruit compote, are cooked to order and whisked to your table as part of the all-you-can-eat brunch. Don't miss the powerful Bloody Marys, which will have you seeing Hull Street's cozy, nautically inspired dining room in double vision.
Brooklyn Park in an unexpected location for terrific dim sum, but there it is at Grand Palace (5721 Ritchie Highway,  636-8333). Cantonese for "heart's delight," dim sum is an exotic brunch alternative. On weekdays customers can order tidbits such as peppered squid or steamed shrimp buns from a special dim sum menu, but the weekends are when Grand Palace rolls out traditional dim sum serving trolleys. Waiters glide around the dining room, pushing cartloads of such goodies as lotus seed paste buns and five-spice beef stew. This is the real thing, baby, and the best part is that no matter how many goodies you cop from the cart, the bill is always reasonable.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201