Year In Review: The Beat’s top 10 new restaurants of 2017

The BBQ / Photo by Brandon Soderberg

1. The BBQ (2602 Greenmount Ave., [443] 468-2131): I had been hearing about The BBQ for weeks before I made my way over to Greenmount Avenue to try it for myself. The place features a steady soundtrack of gritty blues, and offers smokey, meaty mains like pulled pork, pit beef, chicken, and ribs. Then there are the sides, which can make or break a place like this: mac and cheese, collard greens, sweet and savory baked beans, and more—they’re all great. Maurice Bradford, who owns and runs the place along with his son, welcomed me, and offered me a free sample of his homemade peach cobbler. He also said he was looking to expand his section of Greenmount to make it feel more like a community spot with outside seating and live music. I can’t wait to see what he does next. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)

2. Ida B’s Table (235 Holliday St., [410] 844-0444, idabstable.com): The “modern soul food” tribute to Ida B. Wells opened this fall on the ground floor of The Real News Network (full disclosure, a Beat affiliate) with husband-and-wife team Chef David Thomas and Tonya Thomas at the helm, bringing done-up Southern staples (frog legs, fried chicken) and unexpected fusion (fry bread tacos, kimchi reuben sandwiches) to downtown. Serving up breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner made from locally-sourced ingredients, plus a fully-stocked bar with craft cocktails, Ida B’s extensive menus boast mostly hits and actually something for just about everyone, and the ample space and warm service make for the kind of true Southern hospitality Baltimore needs. (Maura Callahan)

3. Blacksauce Kitchen (401 W. 29th St., blacksaucekitchen.com): Open only on Thursdays with a changing menu announced day-of, this Waverly Farmers Market legend went brick and mortar this year, giving a bit more access to its specifically mindful and inexplicably delicious take on barbecue and soul food. The effect is something that still feels special but accessible and never exclusive. And it’s all about the little things: its neo-soul and post-Rawkus Record hip-hop soundtrack blasting while you wait; the affable service (if you go more than once they will almost surely remember your name and thank you for returning); and even the look of the place, with a variety cookbooks displayed on shelves and photos on the the walls, including one of the Sterling’s Crab and Oyster House that used to occupy the space—a small acknowledgement of past that matters a lot amid a moment of rapid development and rewriting. (Brandon Soderberg)

4. New America (429 N. Eutaw St., (443) 388-8576, facebook.com/NewAM)A project of artists and cooks and artist-cooks, the January opening of New America in the Charles Fish & Sons building helped combat the city’s dearth of good diners with dishes that find strength in simplicity—including some of the best brunch food we’ve had a while. The space has become as much of a venue as it is a restaurant, regularly hosting film screenings, poetry readings, drawing nights, and more. As the diner’s name suggests, the food and atmosphere feel distinctly American, though less in the Wonderbread-and-apple-pie kind of way than a continually expanding and adapting series of intersections. (MC)

5. Rye Street Tavern (225 E. Cromwell St., ryestreettavern.com): Rye Street Tavern is a seafood lover’s dream. Go with the wood-grilled Maryland rockfish, a plate of shrimp, creamy stone-ground grits, and smoked tomato beneath a sweet, tender cut of rockfish with a crispy grilled skin; or the lightly breaded, fried popcorn softshell clams served with fragrant jalapeno peppers and a tartar sauce drizzle. And with a different Maryland crab appetizer for each day of the week, a waterfront view, and the main dining area’s open-kitchen concept so you can check out the chefs hard at work, Rye Street Tavern does seafood and just plain American food only with five-star service. (Arli Lima)

6. 16 On The Park (800 N. Wolfe St., pyramidrestaurantgroup.com/collection/16-on-the-park): This rooftop restaurant atop the new Residence Inn Hotel in the Johns Hopkins Medical area offers a sweeping view of the city and a focus on seafood. That it is a standout along with Rye Street Tavern, which also opened this year and works within the same good-food-gone-a-bit fancy theme, makes it even more impressive. In part, this is due to 16 On The Park’s versatility—in particular, its sleek outdoor patio and raw bar (Raw Bar On The 16)—and its exceptional entrees: seared chicken served with fresh vegetables and pan jus, and roasted fingerling potatoes served alongside a prime wagyu flat iron steak are forever fighting it out for best plate. Even the crab cake—served with a garlic aioli—is a whip smart spin on a typical dish. (Arli Lima)

7. Miss Carter’s Kitchen (218 N. Liberty St., [443] 630-8255, instagram.com/misscarters_kitchenllc): You’ll know you’re near Miss Carter’s Kitchen, a particularly delicious soul food spot, before you even arrive because of all the energy emanating around it, especially at night when the Liberty Street establishment feels alive with people and food and fun. This is your expected soul-food-and-such-in-styrofoam-containers done with a more personal, family-run touch. On man, the sides—the potato and seafood salads, the seasoned french fries—and a particularly good and sweet half-and-half are standouts. You’ll find the wait for your food a delight as you chat it up with whoever else is in line or perhaps, probably, Miss Carter herself. (Brandon Soderberg)

8. The GruB Factory (1210 N. Charles St., [443] 602-7018, facebook.com/thatgrublife): It takes someone bold to even introduce another vegan place into Baltimore—the monolithic Land of Kush looms—and while there should not be this “there can only be one” logic, it remains, in part because Kush is so good and in part because non-vegans are often picky. So welcome to Baltimore, GruB Factory, and thanks for the seitan, made in the kitchen and unmatched. The relatively small menu is a bonus—they know what they do well—and makes it easier for the vegan skeptic, who won’t be one anymore once they try the french toast platter and taste its almond milk batter with agave honey mixed in. (Brandon Soderberg)

9. Minnow (2 E. Wells St., Suite 116, [443] 759-6537, minnowbaltimore.com: Minnow opened in South Baltimore in May, just a block away from another local gem, Hersh’s. The two now form one of the best culinary one-two punches in Baltimore. Minnow is owned by Ben and Jake Lefenfeld, who also own La Cuchara, and while it’s had some menu changes since opening, it is now one of the more creative and whimsical destinations in Baltimore. Chef Drew Lesoveck is slinging some inventive dishes on the seafood-forward menu but that L.D.F. dry aged burger, with its squid ink bun and umami sauce, is a stand-out and a standard for all other burgers in Charm City. Other highlights include the whole “Bait” section on the menu: shareable bites served in quaint sardine tins. If you’re looking for a cocktail, try the Smoke & Fire and Love Potion #8. If you want something with a lofty name that lives up to its billing, give the F* That’s Delicious (bourbon, amaro, cava) a try. (Leandro Lagera)

10. Showroom at Motor House (120 W. North Ave., [410] 862-0930, motorhousebaltimore.com/showroom-cafe-bar): Showroom is Andre Mazelin’s newest creative venture melding food, drink, and art. It’s the anchor café and event space for Motor House (formerly Load Of Fun). Aptly named, Showroom is housed on the showroom floor of a former car dealership that used to reside in the building. The spot includes a spacious bar and a back room with plenty of cozy nooks along with a fully equipped stage for live entertainment. At the helm of the kitchen is Daniel Horowitz, founder and executive chef of The Pantry, a local catering company. They’re slinging food from breakfast to lunch most days and have a killer happy hour from Tuesday to Friday (all night on Thursday). The menu is an eclectic mix of international flavors and the bolsitas, which are essentially bags of goodness with a range of flavors from Mexican to Tex-Mex to Mediterranean, represent what Horowitz is trying to accomplish. As for the cocktails, and there are many, but don’t pass up the No. 9, especially since the menu describes it as a “tiki variation of a sazerac.” (Leandro Lagera)

 

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