Cheesecake Factory · Vaccaro's · Café Hon · Riverside Roastery and Espresso
True to its name, the Cheesecake Factory (Pratt Street Pavilion, Harborplace,  234-3990) offers 34 different flavors of cheesecake, from Kahlua almond fudge to coffee Heath Bar crunch to just plain old unadorned cheesecake. There is often a wait for a table in the Baltimore branch of this popular chain, but once seated, diners can choose from much more than cheesecake; the extensive menu offers pasta, burgers, salads, sandwiches, seafood, and steaks, all served in truly huge portions.
Vaccaro's (222 Albemarle St.,  685-4905) is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. As you enter this Little Italy pastry shop you're confronted with glass display cases of oversized Napoleons and chocolate eclairs, traditional Italian cookies, pignoli and cannoli cakes, and more beautiful and luscious reasons to cheat on your diet. Everything tastes as good as it looks.
Fortunately, the pie at Hampden's Café Hon (1002 W. 36th St.,  243-1230) also tastes as good as it looks--and it looks mighty good. The Hon itself is looking mighty prosperous. Since moving to its bigger location a couple of years back it's been chock-full of Hampden newcomers and its menu has expanded greatly. But it's the humble pie--especially the sumptuous fruit-filled ones, with crusts that flake into submission at the touch of a tine--that has best survived the transition. It's a little bit of dependable down-home sweetness.
You've spent all day tromping through old Ellicott City in search of that perfect antique end table. You're tired. Your feet hurt. Give yourself a treat. Riverside Roastery and Espresso (8059 Main St., Ellicott City,  465-0233) has a slim menu of sandwiches and salads, but what you want here is something rich from the pastry case and a deep mug of their excellent java, or maybe a sweet, frothy Torino shake. You didn't really need that end table anyway.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201