What designates a bistro? According to author Daniel Young who wrote “The Bistros, Bars and Brasseries of Paris” explains: “As true Parisians know; a bistro is a small, informal restaurant serving a few simple, hearty dishes.” The best bistros in Baltimore might not hit the Parisian definition but they are cozy neighborhood restaurants where one can enjoy delicious comfort food with a glass of wine, a craft beer or a well-mixed cocktail. Buying local whenever possible, seasonal products and great atmosphere seem to be the criteria for these picks.
b – A Bolton Hill Bistro
1501 Bolton St
Batlimore, Md. 21217
A chalkboard with the daily specials follows the true bistro tradition at b — A Bolton Hill Bistro. At b Bistro, the standard fare offerings are small plates, cheese plates, main courses, wines, craft beers and microbrews. It features French cuisine with local Maryland purveyors’ products like Roseda Farms Steak Frites. Whether eating pasta, ice cream, pastries or sausages, you can bet that the tastes will exude quality. Chris Clune, who is a wine expert along with possessor of numerous culinary credentials, has recently taken over the chef position at b, so expect some serious wine selections with new slants to the daily specials.
3123 Elliot St
Baltimore, Md. 21224
Jack’s Bistro is fun and whimsical at times, with great food and a beer list that goes on for a mile. Clever cocktail concoctions appear on the menu with, of course, wine options commonly seen in bistros. This Canton neighborhood bistro has become a dining destination. Chef/co-owner Ted Stelzenmuller states that Jack’s Bistro serves innovative American cuisine. See Stelzenmuller’s creative culinary whimsy show through with dishes like the Mac + Cheese + Chocolate or his 100% Ground Bacon BLT Burger. But don’t hold him to strictly American fare with his menu selections of Spanish Shrimp, Argentine Steak or Persian Sous Vide Duck Breast also sharing space on his regularly changing menu. In 2010, Jack’s Bistro walked away with the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Favorite Restaurant Award. Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday with late-night fare at the bar. Offering two happy hours a day as well, Jack’s Bistro is a win-win.
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Petit Louis Bistro
4800 Roland Ave
Baltimore, Md. 21210
Petite Louis Bistro is nestled in a cozy English tudor-style building in Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood. A Foreman/Wolf restaurant always denotes that service will be excellent, the atmosphere appropriate and the cuisine true to its origins. Petite Louis Bistro honors French classics with the likes of Escargot de Bourgogne, Pâté Maison and Ris de Veau as starters and entree options of Poulet à L’Estragon for two or a Sole Meuniére. Furthermore, what is French food without French wine? Petite Louis offers up over 100 labels from numerous regions of France. For those who want lunch, don’t miss the three-course prix fixe lunch menu offered for $22. Petit Louis is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. However, it is always busy so reservations are highly suggested.
1002 Light St
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Regi’s Bistro has been a mainstay in its Federal Hill neighborhood since 1978. Current owner Alan Morstein has made this American bistro into a made-from-scratch, farm-to-fork eatery. In the warmer months, the rooftop garden provides for the kitchen. Regi’s is all about local and being one with the food. Suckling Pig Carnitas, award-winning Maryland-style Crab Cakes or the Garbage Salad are available for both lunch and dinner. Like a good bistro, there is plenty to drink from wines by the glass to signature cocktails like the Patrone Cucumber Margarita. Brunch is served both Saturday and Sunday, and don’t fret if it’s chilly because the patio is heated.
1010 Fleet St
Baltimore, Md. 21202
Ten Ten, a recent addition to Baltimore’s bistro scene, sits nestled off of a courtyard in the reclaimed Bagby Furniture building on Fleet Street, just a few steps from Harbor East. Executive Chef Mark Davis’ menu is American with a nod to Southern cooking, offering dishes like Shrimp With Grits, Honey Brined Duroc Pork Chop and Crab and Pimento Cheese Crock. Enjoy a selection of chef’s cuisine during happy hour for an agreeable price. Beverage director Tim Riley, an honors graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, created an impressive list of beers and wines. Classic cocktail techniques, artisanal spirits and fresh, locally grown herbs are his tools in creating some of the city’s best libations. Ten Ten is committed to buying local whenever and wherever possible.
Dara Bunjon has a passion for food – its origins, preparation and consumption. Her culinary endeavors began as a regular cooking personality on early morning news in Baltimore, where she developed a fanbase. She also owns her own company and co-authored a cookbook. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.