Mediterranean cuisine and Baltimore might not seem to go hand in hand, but some of Baltimore’s chefs are taking hummus and spanakopita to new, delicious levels. From Mount Washington to Fells Point, restaurateurs and their teams offer patrons classic and contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. Some stick solely to traditional dishes while others take greater creative license, but the best in Baltimore do it up right every time.
Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen
745 E. Fort Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen opened its doors in late 2008 and has been busily serving Riverside for the past four years. Patrons enter into an unassuming corner rowhouse and are greeted by a small group of tables and, most likely, the owner Farid Salloum. He takes orders and welcomes regulars with hugs. Salloum named his restaurant after the Arabic name for father, and his family’s recipes make up much of the menu. While many of the offerings have remained static over the years, Baba’s offers specials each week, including delicious varieties of hummus. In fact, Salloum and his staff are so proud of the hummus that Baba’s sells “Friends don’t let friends buy store-bought hummus” T-shirts ($19). Standouts on the menu include the salad trio, a mix of the Greek, couscous and garden quinoa salads ($9.50); the pita pizzas ($7); and the falafel pita pocket, served on a bed of rice or in a pita ($6), all prepared in the open-air kitchen. While there is a bar for seating, don’t forgot that Baba’s is BYOB. Harborview Liquors at the corner of Jackson Street and Fort Avenue is a few shorts blocks and will cover your needs.
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Kali’s Court Restaurant
1606 Thames St.
Baltimore, Md. 21231
Kali’s Court Restaurant is tucked into a courtyard along Thames Street in Historic Fells Point, directly across from the waterfront. Kali’s opens into a bar usually packed with young professionals enjoying happy hour and those patiently waiting to be seated for dinner. (Even those who have reservations often find themselves grabbing a drink before a table is ready.) If it’s a nice evening, request an outdoor table in the courtyard. Inside seating is just as ideal; Kali’s Court’s dining area is warm and romantic. Visitors rave about the variety of seafood, including roasted skate wing ($30), grilled sea scallops on an applewood bacon-tomato risotto ($34), and the jumbo lump crab cakes ($34). The bouillabaisse of cold-water lobster, shrimp, mussels and seasonal fish, braised in a saffron-tomato broth, is a best seller ($36). Kali’s Restaurant Group has extended its empire to include Mezze, a tapas-focused restaurant next to Kali’s Court, Meli, where the focus is on herbs and desserts sweetened with honey, and Adela, a Spanish tapas restaurant beside the Admiral Fell Inn. Any of these options is a guaranteed win.
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814 S. Bond St.
Baltimore, Md. 21231
Walking into the Black Olive feels a little like stepping into history. Located along a cobblestone street in historic Fells Point, The Black Olive boasts an unassuming arched entrance that opens into old wood floors, exposed brick walls and white-linen tabletops encompassed by padded tan chairs. The Black Olive’s pièce de résistance is a large tank filled with ice to showcase fresh fish selections, imported from the Chesapeake to the Mediterranean. Diners may choose their fish from the tank and have it filleted tableside. The owners travel to vendors’ countries to ensure they’re serving the freshest fish. In addition to the extensive fish list, entrees include sea scallops ($30), the vegetarian special of the day ($28), and a nod to the owner’s heritage in a Greek village pie ($29). The Black Olive’s on-site sommelier, the owners’ son, expertly pairs wines with each course. The Black Olive recently expanded its offerings to include the rooftop Olive Room, the LEED Platinum Inn at the Black Olive, and The Agora, The Black Olive’s on-site marketplace.
500 Harborview Drive
Baltimore, Md. 21230
This harbor-front restaurant is more than a wedding reception venue. After spending most of the ‘90s on Federal Hill, owner Michael Tabrizi moved his open-kitchen concept closer to the harbor, just off of Key Highway. Over the years, it’s become the center of the Ritz Carlton and HarborView developments, offering outdoor seating, fine dining and, yes, a beautiful venue for a wedding. If the weather is cooperating, diners may sit at Tabrizi’s outdoor patio or bar and take in the views of the Domino Sugar sign and historic Fells Point. Indoor diners may still enjoy the views through Tabrizi’s wall of windows. Vegetarians delight in the quintet platter for two with hummus, baba ghanouj, falafel, tabbouleh and grilled stuffed grape leaves ($19). For a heartier course, try the kufta kebob of grilled, minced lamb and beef with onions and parsley, served with a cucumber and garlic yogurt dip ($22). It’s served with a fresh garden salad, steamed basmati rice, pine nuts and mint. The little ones can get in on the Mediterranean eats with a kid’s meal of chicken tempura with fries ($10). Tabrizi’s can’t be seen from the street, so it’s easy to miss it if you’re just driving by. It’s worth meandering through the condo complexes to enjoy a little Mediterranean fare and take in the harbor views.
The Desert Cafe
1605 Sulgrave Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21209
The Desert Cafe’s motto is “Mediterranean done right!,” so it’s pretty certain you’re getting authentic Mediterranean eats. If it’s a Saturday night, diners are treated to live belly dancing as well. With the most expensive dishes coming in at $13.95, The Desert Cafe is certainly one of the more affordable Mediterranean options in Baltimore. Starting with the curried pea soup ($3.95) and a hummus appetizer ($5.95), plus the spanikopita ($9.95) as the entree will only set diners back about $20 before taxes and gratuity. Note that The Desert Cafe is BYOB, so be sure to stop by Mount Washington’s Wine Works (1340 E. Smith Ave.). The Desert Cafe has also created its own line of hummus, The Wild Pea. The more than 200 flavors include mimosa, peanut butter and jelly, and Baltimore’s beloved Old Bay. The hummus is for sale at The Desert Cafe and at markets and cafes around Baltimore.