It’s safe to say 2015 wasn’t Baltimore’s finest year. But in 2016, glimmers of optimism and hope began to emerge as the city — tested by adversity — grew stronger and more unified. We’ve still got a long way to go, but in this feature, you’ll see signs of an inspired, determined, and energized Baltimore, in all aspects of life. There’s so much to celebrate here—in arts, culture, dining, and more—and so many reasons to believe that our best is yet to come.



Photography By:
David Colwell, Cory Donovan, Mitro Hood, Jennifer Hughes, Mike Morgan, Christopher Myers, Sean Scheidt, and Justin Tsucalas.

Arts & Culture

By Gabriella Souza, Amy Mulvihill, and Lydia Woolever

Collective Balti Gurls

These women are bold, exciting, and courageous. The 11-member collective is made up of DJs, filmmakers, painters, photographers, graphic designers, and performance artists who want to cultivate creative places for women of color, and shed light on the importance of inclusion in the art world. They’ve burst onto the arts scene with vigor, sponsoring a film series and hosting EDGE CONTROL, a seasonal music show that highlights female performers of color. We can’t wait to see what else they have in store.

Creative Album Matmos

It’s not every day that musicians make an album with sounds that come entirely from a household appliance. But Martin “M.C.” Schmidt

and Drew Daniel of local electronic duo Matmos are not your average artists. They’re more mad scientists, always experimenting with ordinary objects (balloons, cigarettes, playing cards) to create one-of-a-kind sound experiences. Their most recent album, Ultimate Care II, employs their very own washing machine, transforming its basic functions into little symphonies both familiar and avant-garde. There’s a method to their madness: Somehow, along the way, they make you discover how truly beautiful those simple rhythms—wash, rinse, repeat—are.

Creative Space Impact Hub

The benefits, both economic and creative, of shared workspaces are well-documented, and Baltimore has many successful test cases. But our current favorite is Impact Hub, an 8,600-square-foot coworking space on the ground floor of the renovated Centre Theatre in Station North. We love that the founders worked with local organizations and designers to outfit the space, using reclaimed diner booths from Second Chance and custom tables and desks from Highlandtown furniture maker Crump and Kwash. It demonstrates that Impact Hub is committed to its stated mission of “growing [a] community of innovators and entrepreneurs dedicated to driving positive change in Baltimore and beyond.” 10 E. North Ave., 443-821-7482,

Dance Series Baltimore Theatre Project

In April, the Baltimore Theatre Project did much to further the city’s burgeoning dance scene by showcasing a varied list of talented performers. And with works ranging from Deep Vision Dance Company’s Matter, Energy, Human, which explored quantum physics, to The Burrow (Der Bau), a piece based on a Franz Kafka novel and performed nude, the selection demonstrated the dancers' capability to take on a multitude of subjects in an enlightening, ambitious manner. Workshops by Baker Artist Award finalist Naoko Maeshiba that month were also highlights. 45 W. Preston St., 410-539-3091,

Day Trip Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway

Before she graces your $20 bill, discover why Harriet Tubman is an American (s)hero. Though the former slave and Underground Railroad “conductor” was born on the Eastern Shore close to 200 years ago, many traces of her remain. Thirty-five of them have been bundled into the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway that winds through Dorchester and Caroline counties. Sites include a Tubman museum in downtown Cambridge, the country store where she sustained a life-threatening head injury, and, starting March 2017, the 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center in Church Creek. 410-228-0401,

Exhibit Only When It’s Dark Enough Can You See the Stars

This spring, New York artist Abigail DeVille swept into town with her exhibit, thanks to Baltimore’s nomadic art museum The Contemporary, and it challenged our feelings about history while opening our eyes to the treasure that is the Peale Museum (the first building in the country to be built as a museum). The accompanying Sunday salons—during which a host of artists shared their talents—allowed us to explore the emotions the exhibit stirred. We can only hope that The Contemporary, and the Peale, will continue to showcase incredible, powerful art.

Festival Sowebo Arts and Music Festival

When you walk through the streets of Hollins Market during the SoWeBo fest, held every Memorial Day weekend, you can’t help but feel the energy. There’s the buzz of anticipation for summer, the peerless people watching, and the heady smells and sounds of the event, but it’s more than that—there’s the excitement of a tried-and-true community that’s weathered deindustrialization and suburban flight and is still here, dammit, and it's ready to celebrate. Five stages welcome diverse performances, dozens of local art vendors lure you with their impressive wares, plus there’s all the summery goodness of snowballs and funnel cakes. It’s the perfect time to let loose, throw your cares to the wind, and dance in the street. 443-416-7719,

Hidden Tourist Attraction Star Toys Museum

You won’t find The Star Toys Museum listed in many guidebooks or on many websites, but if you take a trip out to founder Thomas Atkinson’s house in Linthicum (tours are by appointment only), you will be rewarded with a collection of Star Wars memorabilia to rival a Toys”R”Us in the 1980s. Since watching the first film in 1977, Atkins has accumulated more than 12,000 items related to the series, ranging from trading cards to an R2-D2 cake pan. See you there, we shall.

Incubator Motor House

It has its history as a car dealership to thank for its soaring ceilings and stunning windows, but the energy inside is purely the product of its latest incarnation as an artists’ hub. Motor House (now you know where the name comes from) is home to cultural groups, performing and visual artists, activists, and more. And its performance space, which puts a special emphasis on jazz and dance, has made it a perfect addition to the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. 120 W. North Ave., 410-637-8300.


These three winners defied our category parameters with their awesomeness, so we decided to use Venn diagrams (we know you remember them from math class) to help you understand why they’re so unique.

Instagram The BMORE Creatives // @thebmorecreatives

Highlighting the creatives, makers, and ass kickers who make Charm City the wonderful place it is. Catch pics of beautiful Baltimore scenery, delicious eats, locally made goods, and enriching art. Make sure to follow for a good dose of inspiration every day.

Legacy Carla Hayden

Since 1993, Carla Hayden has been at the helm of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system, ably guiding it through the digital revolution, numerous building and renovation campaigns, and the constant financial pressures that come with running a public institution in a cash-strapped city. So when news broke in February that she had been nominated by President Obama to become the next Librarian of Congress, we were filled with a mixture of pride and loss. Still, Hayden is leaving us with the best possible gift: As of this spring—and for the first time in a decade—all branches of the Pratt are open.

’Nuff Said!

hip bumping Catʼs Eye Pub

1730 Thames St.

Literary Powerhouse Laura Lippman

In May, mystery writer Laura Lippman told Baltimore, “I struggle with the idea that I’m a fast writer because somehow that seems to discredit me. It’s like, ‘Well, how good could [my books] be—look how fast she wrote [them].’” Well, we’re here to tell you that the 21 novels and dozens of short stories she has published since her literary debut in 1997 are very, very good indeed. Whether she’s dissecting family relationships, the socioeconomics of suburban Baltimore, police department procedure, or all of the above, she always delivers tales full of suspense and sophistication. And yes, lucky for us, she delivers them quickly.

Mesmerizing Performance Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Boom Bap Society

We knew we were in for a unique performance when the soundboards rolled out onto the Meyerhoff stage on March 24. What followed was a groundbreaking, mind-blowing, and exhilarating version of Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, with beat wizards the Baltimore Boom Bap Society mixing the symphony musicians’ music as a background for bars of rap. It was like nothing we’d ever heard (we’ve been thinking about that remixed trumpet arpeggio for months), and at the end, a cheering crowd leapt to its feet. Can’t ask for a better response than that.

Music Videos TT the Artist

Even with our two left feet, we'd give anything to be in one of TT The Artist’s music videos. The Bmore Club artist has a swagger that’s contagious, and her short flicks—popping with neon, punchy beats, and even a guest appearance by Bond St. District’s loveable Unkle Lulu—make it impossible not to dance along. Plain and simple, the MICA grad is a party starter, and regardless of your dancing abilities, one watch of “Gimme Yo Love” or “Fly Girl” will have your head bobbing, your hips shaking, and your feet off the floor.

– YouTube video still

Party for a Cause Rye Rocks

This annual fundraiser is a perfect melding of venue and theme. It taps into the history of The Walters Art Museum—co-founders William and Henry Walters made their fortune selling rye whiskey—and uses that history as a platform to promote both the museum and Maryland’s signature spirit, which is enjoying a renaissance. Master mixologists from the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild create inventive rye-based cocktails, hearty artisan eats are served, and everyone comes away with an appreciation of just how integral rye is to Maryland culture.

Party You Didn’t Know You Were MissingBaltimore Square Dance

Baltimore is a dancing town. In Station North, you get your Bmore Club on at The Crown. In SoWeBo, you shake your groove thing at Lithuanian Hall. And, whether you know your fiddles from your banjos, you can—yes—square dance at the Ideal Arts Space in Hampden. Originally founded at Mobtown Ballroom, the Baltimore Square Dance is now in its third year, with Brad Kolodner of Charm City Junction bringing local and regional old-time string music to Baltimoreans, young and old. In a world of EDM, strobe lights, and twerking, it’s a much needed relief to enjoy a few hours of old-fashioned fun and easy-to-learn dance steps for those with even the flattest of feet.

Poet Lia Purpura

In It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful, her latest collection published this year, Purpura impressively delivers poignant insight into our existence without pomp and circumstance. Her verses are little gems with short stanzas and an absence of flowery language, but that doesn’t make them any less profound. Instead, Purpura—writer in residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review—proves how meaningful simplicity can be.

Rebirth The Baltimore Jewelry Center

When the Maryland Institute College of Art discontinued its Jewelry Center in 2014, a core group of the center’s teachers and students formed the Baltimore Jewelry Center, a new nonprofit with the goal of continuing classes and offering exhibit and retail space, lectures, studio/equipment rentals, and more. Now, fully moved into its new 3,500-square-foot studio in the Centre Theatre in Station North, the BJC is fulfilling its promise. Since opening last September, it has hosted six exhibitions and numerous classes and events. More importantly, it is cultivating the next generation of Betty Cookes and Joyce Scotts. 10 E. North Ave., 410-243-0479,

Relevant Programming Baltimore Museum of Industry

This South Baltimore gem had a heck of a lineup this past year—a reopened exhibit on linotype, a show on the extraordinary work of Charm City’s sign painters, and an exhibition that explored the connection between the protests that followed Freddie Gray’s death and the loss of manufacturing jobs are a few. But most remarkable were the lectures, films, and discussions that accompanied these exhibits, giving Baltimoreans a way to connect the themes relevant to their own lives. 1415 Key Hwy., 410-727-4808,

Rising Community Voice Tariq Touré

“Love will free us. Art will light the path.” Those are the words that guide Muslim poet and essayist Tariq Touré, a West Baltimore native turned revolutionary voice in the Black Lives Matter movement. Growing up, Touré used poetry as a way to digest his surroundings, and today, the 28-year-old uses it as a means to make sense of topics like race, politics, and inner-city culture. He now serves as vice president of the Male Enterprise Network (MEN), an organization that works to build relationships between young minority entrepreneurs and professionals. But he’s becoming best known for his growing role as a local activist, appearing before City Hall, in a local lecture series, and on the pages of City Paper. His debut compilation of poems and essays, Black Seeds, is out now, a feat founded in powerful rhythm and an honest, unapologetic voice.

’Nuff Said!

Comic Book Author Ta-Nehisi Coates

From a National Book Award
to Black Panther

Surprise Beach House

It was a little frustrating when, less than two months after we interviewed Beach House and reviewed their first new album in three years, they surprised everyone (including us) and dropped another. But we couldn’t be mad: Thank Your Lucky Stars is a lovely record, arguably better than the one that came right before it. It’s nostalgic. It’s luminous. It shimmers. It feels like reading your teenage diary, or walking a suburban street at dusk on a balmy summer night. And even after nine months on our stereo, we still give it five stars, with “All Your Yeahs” in particular on repeat.

Theater Company Baltimore Annex Theater

What’s exceptional about this eight-year-old theater company is its range. This season, Flatland—a fascinating, transportive work based on an 1884 novel that dives into other dimensions—was followed by the original play Minotaur, which explored survival and was performed in pitch black, with the only light coming from flashlights or candles the actors carried. Along with excellent performances, the immersive quality of these productions was what bound this season. 219 N. Park Ave., 443-228-6745,

– Courtesy of Kathy Guo

Theatrical Production Fences

Everyman Theatre’s revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play couldn’t have been more timely, as it deals with social issues we still face. But it was the cexquisite performances that made it the most memorable play of the year. And, the sold-out show was the highest-grossing production in Everyman’s 25 years.

– Courtesy of Everyman Theatre

Twitter Post Typography // @posttypography

The cutting-edge graphic design firm behind plenty of your favorite logos and posters (think Maryland Morning and the Maryland Film Festival) posts quippy, timely tweets featuring its work, design news, and the fun lettering and signs that decorate our city.

’Nuff Said!

Reason to be thankful for David Simon HBO’s Show Me a Hero

(aka six hours with Oscar Isaac
—and his mustache)

Urban Oasis Cylburn Arboretum

This place doesn’t get enough love. Not that this is always a bad thing. Even though the 207-acre, tree-lined park deserves to be flooded with walkers, photographers, and birders, we’re always secretly glad it’s not. The roominess gives us space to indulge in our own Secret Garden-esque fantasies as we navigate its wooded trails, meadow paths, and formal gardens. We’d say, “See you there,” but we kind of hope we don’t. 4915 Greenspring Ave., 410-367-2217,

Venue Merriweather Post Pavilion

For its size, it’s amazing how intimate this amphitheater feels. Nestled in the cocoon of foliage that Symphony Woods Park provides, Merriweather transports you from the traffic of the nearby highway, regardless of whether you’re sitting in the grandstand or stretched out on the lawn. Recent renovations have only made it easier to enjoy shows by the likes of Tame Impala and Alabama Shakes, and the makeover also brings the promise of attracting bigger national acts. 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, 410-715-5550,

Food & Drink

By Jane Marion & Jess Mayhugh

Addiction Queso Fundido

We’re not using hyperbole when we say that you haven’t fully lived until you’ve experienced Clavel’s Queso Fundido, aka a cast-iron skillet brimming with bubbling Chihuahua cheese, spicy chorizo crumbles, a side of guac-y goodness, and hands-down the best tortilla chips we’ve had North of the Border. Once it arrives, it will go quickly, but no need to spill tears at the table. With fork in hand, tease up the cheese that’s stuck to the skillet, tug gently, then smile as the entire layer lifts. Puts the “fun” in fundido. 225 W. 23rd St., 443-900-8983

Baked Goods Dovecote Café

A few months back, when a barrage of baked-good Instagram images beckoned, we hit the road to taste test at Dovecote in Reservoir Hill. One forkful of owner Gilda Pew’s peach upside-down cake is all it took to rock our world, though the pecan pie and lemon-ginger muffins rate, too. We’re equally sweet on Dovecote’s inspiring outreach work in the community, from giving newbies a place to cook to showcasing the work of local artists. 2501 Madison Ave., 443-961-8677

Barbecue Smoke

From the minute you pull into the parking lot, you smell the fragrance of slow-smoked meat that fills the air. At this Cockeysville storefront, where there’s Smoke there’s chef-owner Josh White’s peerless pulled pork with Carolina vinegar sauce, as well as dry-rubbed chicken, house-made fried baloney, and playful snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates. Open since 2015, Smoke brings local barbecue to a whole new level. 574 Cranbrook Road, Cockeysville, 410-891-8515

Bartender Amie Ward at Aggio

Baltimore Bartenders' Guild member Amie Ward, who previously slung drinks at Bad Decisions and Wit & Wisdom, has made a home for herself at Aggio. Ward’s cocktail menu is as fun as it is sophisticated, with drinks like Miss Piggy’s Night Out with Pikesville Rye, Nardini Amaro, and peppercorn-saison beer syrup. Plus, Ward educates customers about the bitter Italian liqueur amaro through classes and flights. As if that’s not enough, she took top honors at this year’s Rye’s Up cocktail competition. 614 Water St., 410-528-0200

– Christopher Myers

Bar Food Lobo

What we love about Lobo’s menu is how simple it is, made of snacks, soups/salads, sandwiches, charcuterie, and a raw bar. (Trust us—after a couple of vinegar old-fashioneds, you’ll want to keep the decision-making as easy as possible.) We recommend a plate of all pickled things, the unlikely but delicious cheeseburger tartare, the smoked pork-loin sandwich that could be straight out of an Italian market, or a half-dozen local oysters served with horseradish and champagne-melon mignonette. Probably the best part is that chef David Munyon’s tiny, makeshift kitchen is open every night until 11 p.m. 1900 Aliceanna St., 410-327-0303

Bar Program Bookmakers

Ever since Bookmakers Cocktail Club opened in 2014, it has been the go-to spot for a sophisticated cocktail in Federal Hill. Its ever changing drinks menu focuses on small-batch liquors and house-made ingredients, and Bookmakers is the only bar around to offer Chartreuse on tap. A standout cocktail is the cozy What Is and What Should Never Be with cognac, rum, cinnamon, peach liqueur, and lemon. Added bonus? This year, the owners opened Boiler Room a few doors down for more casual, but just as curated, drinking options. One shot of Pikesville with a Natty Boh, please! 31 E. Cross St., 443-438-4039

Beer Bar Das Bier Haus

It’s hard to translate the rip-roaring feel of a German beer hall without coming off as overly gimmicky. But Das Bier Haus, which opened in early January, has done just that. The former Langermann’s space has been beautifully transformed with communal seating, exposed brick and stone, and, of course, an extensive list of German and Belgian beers. We thoroughly enjoyed our half-liter of Konig Ludwig Weiss, a hefeweizen from Upper Bavaria, Germany, for an incredibly reasonable $6. To soak it up, the bar has a full menu, but be sure to get a sausage from local Binkert’s Meat Products with toppings like lemon-caper sauce and braised red cabbage. Before long, you’ll feel more like you’re in Munich than Maryland. 1542 Light St., 443-708-8854

Breakfast Modern Cook Shop

This town has plenty of greasy-spoon diners and bottomless-mimosa brunch spots to go around. But when you’re looking for a real boost to start your day, look no further than Modern Cook Shop. Sit at one of the wooden tables surrounded by locally made goods and face the open kitchen as you peruse a menu of health-nut-approved favorites like acai bowls, oat brûlée with brandied peaches, or goat’s milk vanilla pudding. For something a bit more substantial, try the migas (imagine scrambled huevos rancheros with chorizo, avocado, pico, and tortilla strips). Also opt for a potent iced Café Americano over your usual coffee. 901 S. Wolfe St., 443-627-8032

’Nuff Said!

Doughnuts (sweet) B. Doughnut

3528 Chestnut Ave.

Cheap Eat Farm to face Falafel at The Farmers’ Markets

We’ve had our share of falafel renditions from restaurants around town, but by far our favorite is the Farm to Face Falafel stand at the 32nd Street (and Baltimore) farmers’ markets. In addition to crispy chickpea rounds and a tasty house-made tahini, the pita is packed with inventive, organic ingredients such as beets, strawberries, apples, arugula, and fresh herbs. We’d gladly pay anything for this delight, but for less than $10 (fluctuating with your fillings), it's pure pleasure. 400 E. 32nd St., 410-917-1496

Cocktail Purple Rain

If there is a Godfather of Cocktails, that title would go to B&O American Brasserie’s Brendan Dorr, who has been crafting drinks and winning awards since way before it was cool. Just to prove he’s still got it, he and fellow B&O bartender Jenghis Pettit created our favorite cocktail of the year: the Purple Rain. And before you assume they hopped on the tribute bandwagon, this drink was actually conceived two weeks before Prince’s passing. The cocktail—a mix of lavender-infused cachaça (Brazil’s answer to rum), lemon, house-made honey-apple shrub, and a spritz of crème de violette—is like Prince himself: a beautiful, sly, and acidic mixture that can’t be categorized. 2 N. Charles St., 443-692-6172

It Takes Two

Properly pairing food and drinks can bring out the best qualities in each. But forget the old adage that red wine is for meat, white wine is for seafood. Below, we break the mold and open up the world of pairing possibilities.

Comeback Kid Bottega

When this wisp of a Station North BYOB spot announced it was temporarily shuttering in the summer of 2015, we waited patiently for its return. Then, as the months wore on, we started shopping for new nesting spots to feed with friends. But just as we were ready to accept that with love comes loss, owner Adrien Aeschliman was back in business, and Bottega—with its small, ephemeral chalkboard menu and glorious plates of Italian countryside-inflected cuisine—somehow seemed deeper, wiser, and even better than ever. 1729 Maryland Ave., 443-708-5709

Cooking School Schola

So you want to learn the art of making sushi or master Lebanese cuisine because, let’s face it, takeout gets tedious when snacking out of Styrofoam every night. Former Johns Hopkins molecular biologist-turned-chef Jerry Pellegrino and former Admiral Fell Inn executive chef Amy von Lange can help you channel your inner Julia Child at Schola, whether you’re just learning how to boil water or you have made your debut on Top Chef. 1005 N. Charles St., 443-714-7516

’Nuff Said!

focaccia Joe Benny’s Focacceria

313 S. High St.

Date Night Clark Burger and the Senator Theatre

Dinner and a movie is a classic date-night trope, but there’s something about this Canadian burger joint and the newly revamped Senator Theatre that makes it feel hip again. Maybe it’s because Clark Burger has led us Americans to fall in love with poutine, or maybe it's the creative and boozy milkshakes (try The Dude Abides) or that the Senator is constantly churning out fun events like the Stoop Storytelling series or screenings of Jaws. Whatever the case, we can’t seem to stay away. And the best part? If you and your date are running a bit late for the movie, Clark Burger will deliver to you right inside the theater lobby. Cue the roar of the MGM lion. 5904-6 York Road, 410-323-4424 (The Senator), 410-323-2356 (Clark Burger)

Doughnuts (Savory) Colette

While beignet is nothing more than a fancy French word for doughnut, with offerings as good as the deep-fried rounds of choux pastry and Gruyère spiked with chives, sprinkled with sea salt, and kissed with honey, we don’t really care what you call them. Their universal goodness speaks to us in any language. 1709 N. Charles St., 443-835-2945

Fancy Lunch Linwoods

It’s no secret that Linwoods is a suburban stalwart on Baltimore County’s white-tablecloth scene, but few know about this dining darling’s three-course midday meal. Yes, it’s a fancy feast at $26.16 (though half the price of what you might spend at dinner), but we’re not complaining. Choose from among a selection of apps (the Caesar salad gets an “A” for authenticity), entrees, and desserts. 25 Crossroads Dr., Owings Mills, 410-356-3030

Farm-to-Table Woodberry Kitchen

When McDonald’s runs a “farm-to-fork” campaign, you know the term has become meaningless in the marketplace. But whether the farm-to-table genre has been co-opted or not, at Woodberry Kitchen, James Beard Award-winning chef Spike Gjerde is our town’s founding farmer. While most chefs source from Sysco, Gjerde gets farmers to grow his grains, mustard seed, and even paprika peppers. Word of warning: Don’t dare ask a server for a twist in your cocktail, hon. How can you not know that Maryland’s growing zone (5b-8a for the gardeners out there) doesn’t support citrus? 2010 Clipper Park Road, 410-464-8000

’Nuff Said!

Plating Fleet Street Kitchen

1012 Fleet St.

Fire in the Belly Phil Han

We’re honestly not quite sure when Phil Han sleeps. The owner of Dooby’s and Sugarvale is seemingly everywhere—on the job in his restaurants, then at a Saturday night banquet, only to be up the next morning at the JFX Farmers’ Market. Thanks to trusty barkeeps like beverage director Perez Klebahn, his cocktail bar Sugarvale is constantly hosting clever pop-ups, and Dooby’s is involved in every collaboration, community event, and festival on our calendars. Our favorite this past year was when he teamed up with Brusco for a “GreeKorean” mash-up. You had us at gyro steamed buns and lamb dumplings. 802 N. Charles St., 410-609-3162

Food Truck Well Crafted Pizza

This mobile wood-fire pizza outfit gets major style points for its tricked out 1949 Dodge truck. But style without substance would only go so far. Founded by four college buddies (now two married couples) Ryan and Liz Bower and Laura and Tom Wagner (below), Well Crafted Pizza is turning out the tastiest artisan pies in town. We’re partial to the margherita-style pizza with chorizo and spinach, and a crust that’s the best bar none. Have them cater your bridal shower (may we suggest a white pizza?) or find them at one of the many community events around town. 2945 Keswick Road, 410-929-4547

– Mike Morgan

Ice Cream Jupiter’s

Baltimore has been blessed with a number of great dairy depots (hello, The Charmery!), but here’s the scoop: When the temps top out, we cool down with the icy edibles at Jupiter’s. This Mount Washington hot spot—or should we say cold spot?—specializes in Taharka Bros. treats. And while there’s no such thing as bad ice cream in our book, we’re over-the-moon for Jupiter’s innovative flavors, including honey graham and Berger cookie. 1405 Forge Ave., 410-433-1673

Italian Sotto Sopra

While plenty of red-sauce joints have as much in common with Italy as the pizza from the frozen-food section of your market, that’s never the case at Mount Vernon’s Sotto Sopra. Here, thanks to Boot Country-born chef Riccardo Bosio, you’ll find exemplary modern Italian cuisine that draws on local ingredients. House-made spinach and ricotta ravioli? Pork ossobuco with wild mushroom risotto? An antipasti of fried polenta with smoked paprika aïoli? Yes. Just yes. 405 N. Charles St., 410-625-0534

Juice Gundalow Juice

Every now and again, we love a little liquid in our diet. Enter Gundalow Juice, the first small-batch wholesale cold-press juice company in Maryland. Composed entirely of fruits and vegetables, with no added sugars or preservatives, Gundalow’s juice (available in shops and fitness centers around town) makes it worth the squeeze. We’ll drink a Starboard Strawberry with pineapple, organic strawberries, and basil to that!

’Nuff Said!

Special Occasion Magdalena

205 E. Biddle St.

Kid-Friendly Restaurant Silver Queen Cafe

Eating out with the tykes can be tricky. Follow the fine-dining route because you want adult edibles and you’ll regret it the minute that junior sends the Waterford crystal crashing to the ground. But take the path of least resistance and head to a family-friendly spot, and you’ll find yourself wondering what exactly is in a chicken nugget. Hamilton’s Silver Queen Cafe strikes just the right balance with its menu of kid classics (pizza, fries) and more sophisticated fare. And when little Timmy has ants in his pants while waiting for you to polish off your BYOB Merlot, he can head to the play area brimming with books, games, puzzles, and plastic dinosaurs. 5429 Harford Road, 443-345-2020

Late-Night Spot Jong Kak

While some cities never sleep, Baltimore restaurants tend to stop serving by the time Stan Stovall anchors 11 News Tonight. But at Jong Kak, the Korean barbecue bash seems to heat up just as other spots are going dark for the day. Open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., bowls of bi bim bap (beef, veggies, and eggs over steamed rice) and spicy codfish hot pots, as well as platters of fried dumplings, seem like a waking dream as the light gets low. 18 W. 20th St., 410-837-5231

Local Spirit Shot Tower Gin

There’s a lot to admire about the Baltimore Whiskey Company's gin, released this past winter. First, they avoided the crowded whiskey category and went for a less trendy spirit, becoming the first Baltimore distiller of gin since the days of Prohibition. But most importantly, we appreciate how they strayed from the typical juniper, pine taste of London Dry gin and went more floral, sweet, and citrus. Find it mixed into cocktails at places all over town (Pen & Quill, Verde, and W.C. Harlan, to name a few). Or, if you’re brave enough, drink the 100-proof spirit on its own. 2800 Sisson St., 443-687-9099

Market (General) Eddie’s of Roland Park

Just when we thought that one of our favorite area markets couldn’t get any better, it did. The 72-year-old Eddie’s of Roland Park recently completed an almost yearlong multimillion-dollar re-haul that streamlines the shopping experience with a brand new modern storefront, an additional gourmet grab-and-go section, an expanded department of organic and natural foods, and a super-size soup and salad bar. But here’s the best part: Despite all the modernizing, Eddie’s maintains its old-fashioned charm with its always gracious and happy-to-see-you staff, including those who help you load your Lexus. (Sam Livingston, we’re talking to you.) 6213 N. Charles St., 410-377-8040

Market (Organic) MOM’s Organic Market

The Hampden health-nut set––and they are legion––was elated when the newest MOM’s Organic Market opened in the renovated Rotunda this April. When it comes to organic products, there is none better, with bulk buckwheat, morel mushrooms, safe-catch tuna, coconut shell “coal,” and even non-GMO cotton underwear all in ample supply. So pull your electric car into the reserved charging station, grab your Mom’s compostable tote, and enjoy one-stop eco-conscious shopping. 711 W. 40th St., 667-219-2500

Mexican Tortilleria Sinaloa

Just because you hang out a shingle, then serve rice, beans, and hot sauce, doesn’t make you the whole enchilada. But at Tortilleria Sinaloa, with a new airy location across the street from Little Italy, we love the air of authenticity—from the tamales to the tacos, it’s all mucho gusto. Here’s how you know it’s the real deal: The left hand of the menu is in English; the right side of the menu is in Spanish, plenty of which you’ll hear coming from the kitchen. Multiple locations, including 1716 Eastern Ave., 410-276-3741

New Bar Snake Hill

Highlandtown is hoppin’ these days. There’s the opening of restaurant Gnocco and distillery Old Line Spirits, but what started the resurgence in earnest was Snake Hill’s debut last fall. From the dudes who brought you Johnny Rad’s pizza shop comes another creatively decorated and well-executed concept. This time, though, it’s all about artisan sausage and craft beer. The menu is focused on gourmet sausages from local makers and leans toward the adventurous, with alligator andouille and rabbit rattlesnake. (There are also a number of vegan options.) Order whatever beer is on nitro and sit atop the bar made of more than 17,000 Scrabble tiles (find the dirty words among them). 418 S. Clinton St., 410-469-9003

New Chef Enrique Limardo

Remarkable is the word that best describes Enrique Limardo’s Latin-inspired and Venezuelan fare at Alma Cocina Latina. Limardo, who has spent time in some of the world’s best kitchens (Spain, France, Mexico, Barbados), puts a modern spin on arepas (crispy corn patties), empanadas, ceviche (is this what heaven tastes like?), stews, and fish that you won’t soon forget. Others agree. Years back, the chef won a National Gastronomy Academy award in his native Venezuela and he’s cooked for a list of luminaries including fashion designer Carolina Herrera and French president François Hollande. 2400 Boston St., 667-212-4273

New Restaurant La Cuchara

When La Cuchara opened last year, we weren’t really sure what to expect from Basque cuisine. But plenty of plates in, we’ve become quick studies on the region (straddling Spain and France)—and the restaurant helmed by former Petit Louis chef Ben Lefenfeld and his brother, Jake (who tends to the bar program). Our advice: Don’t hold back. Start with the one-bite pintxos, move on to some tapas for the table, then entrees cooked in the wood-fired asador (fish dishes are particularly noteworthy), and, finally, the churros and melted chocolate for dessert. And be sure to summon the always animated advanced sommelier Gregory Schwab to suggest the proper pairings. 3600 Clipper Mill Road, 443-708-3838

OC Hot Spot Backshore Brewing Co.

If you’re really looking to get out of the hubbub of the city and enjoy summer properly, make a b-line toward Backshore Brewing in Ocean City. Located right on the boardwalk at 10th Street, this brewpub is known for its amazing beers, which are served on mini-skateboards and have fun names like Ginger With the Good Hair and Oat My Gosh. But those are only scratching the surface. The ideal move is to post up inside the old VW bus and watch the surf roll in. While the menu has a ton of beach favorites to choose from, we recommend the moonshine margarita and Sriracha agave pizza to fully embrace the vacation vibes. 913 Atlantic Ave., Ocean City, 410-289-0008

Old Faithful The Prime Rib

Celebrating its golden anniversary last year, The Prime Rib endures, attracting locals and luminaries (Desmond Tutu and Zsa Zsa Gabor) for good reason. From the leopard-skin carpeting to the live piano on the baby Baldwin grand to the cocktails and tux-wearing waiters, this Mount Vernon steakhouse Shangri-la defines the word venerable. What would we change if we could? Not one thing. 1101 N. Calvert St., 410-539-1804

Outdoor Dining Cosima

Al fresco dining often seems like a good idea until you’re actually in the great outdoors—beset by flies that swarm, sun that burns your skin, and napkins that set sail. That is unless, of course, you happen to be eating on the bluestone patio at Cosima. Sitting on the banks of the Jones Falls amidst a garden of peas, chili peppers, basil, and sorrel, with the whoosh of the water as white noise and the geese frolicking on the banks below, everything is enhanced—from the house-made pastas to a salad of grilled baby octopus, potatoes, and peppers. 3000 Falls Road, 443-708-7352

Reason to Drive Up I-95 One Eleven Main

We’re the first to admit we tend to get stuck in a restaurant rut, even when we’ve tired of the familiar options. But when we learned that Bryan Boessel of Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia had made the move to the new One Eleven Main in Bel Air, it gave us just the encouragement we needed to switch things up. And boy, are we glad we did. Here, you’ll be rewarded by seasonal takes on comfort food (pan-roasted rockfish with corn bread, below, for instance) in a casual, elegant setting. 111 S. Main St., Bel Air, 443-900-8027

– Jennifer Hughes

Place to Impress Your NYC FriendsSalt

Picture this: Your food-snob friend is taking a trip from the Big Apple, and despite the never-ending list of great local spots, the pressure and the panic mount. And then you remember Salt. It’s a corner bar yes, but don’t be fooled by the homey charm of this mother-son-owned operation. Owner-chef Jason Ambrose is serving the very best example of regional New American fare in Charm City, and even the most discriminating palates will be wowed. The foie gras burger is legend, but we’ve been eating at this Butchers Hill boîte for years and have yet to find a dish we don’t like. In no time at all, your city-sophisticate friend will be shopping for real estate in the neighborhood. 2127 E. Pratt St., 410-276-5480

Restaurant Retail Atwater’s

Whenever we go to get ringed up at the Atwater’s register, we can’t help but be distracted by the variety of house-made retail goods stacked on the shelves. There’s scratch salad dressing (hello, green goddess), chocolate-cherry granola bars, and half a dozen or so jams in enticing flavors. (The orange marmalade is our very favorite spreadable in the morning.) Knowing that we have a little something to take home eases the sorrow of parting from this beloved spot. 529 E. Belvedere Ave., 410-323-2396

Sandwich Parts & Labor

Whether you stay and dine or get something from the deli midday to go, at Parts & Labor, the sum of the sandwiches is even greater than their parts. Run hot with the succulent pork rib and onion on a benne seed bun, or go cold with the Italian cold cut hoagie stacked high with ham, salami, lomo tenderloin, Nduja sausage, St. Malachi cheese, giardiniera relish, and herb vinaigrette. Of course, all the elements, from the locally grown grain in the bread to the just plucked produce and butchered-on-site proteins, are sourced with care and intent. 2600 N. Howard St., 443-873-8887

Seafood The Local Oyster

For those who think The Local Oyster is a one-trick pony, think again. Nick Schauman and his team not only serve up the tastiest True Chesapeake oysters in town, but there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Try a cup of Grandma’s Crab Soup, as well as plump mussels, chowders, lobster rolls, and clams, too. But the pièce de résistance is the shrimp salad sandwich: fat, peppery chunks of shrimp with onion, celery, and a thin mayo sauce, served on a buttery brioche with a side of Utz chips. We’re talking last meal kind of good. 520 Park Ave., 844-748-2537

– Christopher Myers

Sommelier Julie Dalton

Wine can be snobby, it can be complex, but sometimes we just want the cheapest glass of red. This was our opinion before we met Julie Dalton at Wit & Wisdom. The advanced-level, award-winning sommelier certainly knows her stuff. She can spout off facts about terroirs and tannins with the best of them. Our favorite thing about her ability to educate is that we can actually understand what she’s saying. She brings history and culture into the conversation so we’re not bogged down by vino vocabulary. Plus, she knows chef Zack Mills’s menu, so she can help you with proper pairings. 200 International Dr., 410-576-5800

Souvlaki Souvlaki

Given the name, it’s not surprising that this adorable souvlaki spot in the heart of Hampden really shines when it comes to all kinds of grilled meats. Owner Dimitrios Taramas insists on authenticity, importing feta, yogurt, olive oil, and other ingredients from his native country. It’s all Greek to us, but we’re particularly enamored with the bifteki wrap, a spicy beef patty stuffed into pita alongside kasseri cheese and French fries, and drizzled with an out-of-this-world, tangy tzatziki. 1103 W. 36th St., 410-243-0750

Takeout Window Golden West Cafe

When it comes to early and late-night offerings, we love that the takeout window at Golden West, open from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., turns Charm City into The City That Never Sleeps. Who says that you can’t have nachos with beer cheese for breakfast or lemon basil waffles for a late-night dessert? When the cravings come, this spirited spot is always there for us any time of day—or night. 1105 W. 36th St., 410-889-8891

Taproom Waverly Brewing Company

While tasting rooms are an afterthought for many breweries, the hometown head honchos at Waverly infused as much character as they could into their taproom. The skate-park-meets-ski-lodge vibe is enhanced by O's memorabilia, vinyl furniture, and touches of taxidermy. On a Saturday night, you’ll swear you’re in one of the city’s most popular bars instead of the place where they brew Golden Sombrero Blondes. Even the bathrooms, covered in old pinup ads, have plenty of personality. 1625-C Union Ave., 443-438-5765

– Christopher Myers

Thai My Thai

Unlike American interpretations of Chinese food, great traditional Thai can easily be found in the U.S. In Baltimore, look no further than My Thai for some of the most authentic fare around. Chef Pui Wales, who attended cooking school in her native Bangkok, turns out Thai classics—red curry with chicken, delicate dumplings—that are anything but standard. Dial up the heat, if you dare (“mai pet, please”), but anything can be ordered mild. 323 S. Central Ave., 410-327-0023

Transition to Brick-and-MortarEkiben

After we discovered Ekiben’s stupendous Taiwanese fried-chicken steamed buns at the Fells Point Farmers’ Market, Saturdays never seemed to come soon enough. So when owners (and UMBC grads) Nick Yesupriya, Steve Chu, and Ephrem Abebe decided to set up a small storefront—open six days a week and featuring new menu items—we were thrilled. (Who knew that crispy tofu with spicy peanut sauce and papaya slaw could impart such heavenly flavor?) Ekiben still represents at the farmers’ market, but we love the seeming permanence of this new place. 1622 Eastern Ave., 410-558-1914

Wi-Fi HangoutCeremony Coffee Roasters

From the white walls to the warm wood finishes and the heady smell of Nitro Cold Brew coffee, we love to park ourselves for hours on the galvanized-steel French stools at Ceremony Coffee Roasters and avail ourselves of the Wi-Fi. Add that Ceremony Coffee’s avocado toast is, literally, our pick for “toast of the town,” and there’s pretty much no reason to ever leave. 520 Park Ave., 443-835-1659

– Sean ScheIdt

Worth the HangoverTiki Tuesdays

Convincing us to go out on a Tuesday night is a tough sell. But start with a bunch of rum, add in a splash of juice, top with an umbrella, and now we’re talking. Tiki Tuesdays is the brainchild of Pen & Quill bar manager Naomi Kline, who every week features a menu of tropical drinks (like a Singapore Sling) and snacks (crab won tons, please). Watching Kline and her staff prep is half the fun—some tipples are topped with limes shaped like sharks. Pro tip: If you want to make it to work on Wednesday, be sure to tag-team the giant Scorpion Bowl. 1701 N. Charles St., 410-601-3588

Lifestyle & Home

By Lauren Bell and Ken Iglehart with Sydney Adamson, Matt Moore, Kaitlyn Pacheco, and Maya Pottiger

ActivewearUnder Armour

It’s crazy to think that Under Armour started out of Kevin Plank’s grandmother’s basement. But here we are, two decades later, and the Terp-turned-big-name CEO has transformed his sweat-absorbing T-shirts into an activewear empire. The multibillion-dollar company creates shirts, shorts, hoodies, underwear, sports bras, shoes, and more that serve as the standard uniform for both soccer moms and NFL players, and has endorsed everyone from Misty Copeland to Steph Curry. As its Baltimore headquarters finds a new home in Port Covington, the Harbor East flagship store continues to be a must-shop for locals and tourists alike. 700 S. President St., 410-528-5304

Auto GlassSmith Auto Glass and Upholstery

When a migrating pterodactyl crushes your windshield, head for one of this company’s outposts. They’re unrivaled for service and quick, competent glass replacement—not to mention, as customers have told us, they go out of their way to accommodate special situations and emergencies. In their 55-year history, they’ve also been the choice for dozens of movies shot here (think chase scenes and shootouts). 42 N. Caroline St. and four other locations, 410-342-2677

Auto RepairLeading Edge Auto Body

These guys are renowned for their auto-body skills, but the sign outside, in smaller letters, also says “and mechanical.” We’d already heard rave reviews from friends, but decided to put them to the test: More than once we towed in our beloved, but ancient, jalopy that needed, well, just about everything. The verdict: Jeff Siegel and his crew are lightning fast, total pros, courteous, and very reasonably priced. 5807 Falls Road, 410-433-6433

Barre ClassINLINE’s outdoor barre series

From the beginning of spring until the last days of summer, Patterson and West Shore parks play hosts to INLINE Fitness’s innovative outdoor barre classes. A welcome break from the usual stuffy gym setting, barre beginners and vets alike can challenge themselves with a creative and constantly changing routine crafted by INLINE’s highly qualified instructors. The best part? The cost. It’s—drum roll, please—free. 720 S. Montford Ave., 410-940-9601

’Nuff Said!

Spa Spa at the Four Seasons

200 International Drive

Bath & BeautyIn Watermelon Sugar

After 18 years, In Watermelon Sugar is still our go-to spot for bath and beauty products. This Hampden boutique not only houses an extensive selection of gifts and home goods, but also has everything from body butters to lip balms, including products from popular brands like TokyoMilk and Pacifica. We recommend anything and everything from 80 Acres’ Verde collection, a set of olive-oil-based products that have become some of the store’s bestsellers. 3555 Chestnut Ave. #1, 410-662-9090

Bike RepairsBaltimore Bicycle Works

Particularly if you’re a newbie rider who needs advice, we recommend this pit stop in Station North. The staff is super helpful and never make you feel like an idiot for asking about basic stuff—and we like that it’s a worker-owned business. They’re also very tuned in to helping bike commuters. And no, they wouldn’t mind selling you a new (or used) cycle, either—they carry more than 20 trendy brands. 1813 Falls Road, 410-605-0705

Brow ThreadingSabita’s Eyebrow Threading

Having stray hairs ripped from your face and/or body is not typically a pleasant experience. That is, unless you visit Sabita at Spa Glyka in Fells Point. Warm and professional with a keen eye for shaping, Sabita takes her time with every client to ensure the best-looking brows for their face shape. With same-day appointments and affordable prices, you’ll walk out of the salon with a smile on your face and your brows on fleek—or whatever the kids are saying these days. 735 S. Ann St., 443-517-8109

Concierge ServiceB at Your Service Concierge Service

Whether you need someone to supervise contractors, help plan an event, or even run a simple errand, Beth Adams and her crew of trusted tradespeople have been giving busy metro-area homeowners their lives back for nine years. What sort of tradespeople? Everyone from an electrician, lawn guy, and roof expert to a personal chef, window cleaner, painter, and cabinetmaker. Worried about letting all of those strangers trample through your house? Beth’s the only one with the house key. 410-236-2097


If you are someone who enjoys the thrill of the fashion hunt, then Navette is the place for you. Opened in 2012 by sisters Chrissy and Farah Fitzgerald, Navette is stocked with secondhand pieces from all of your favorite designer brands, including Alexander Wang, Lilly Pulitzer, and Free People. You can also shop the sisters' in-house line of stylish silk silhouettes, which are perfect for any age or body type. 88 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, 410-280-1590

Do-goodersSharp Dressed Man

For the last five years, independent clothing collective Sharp Dressed Man has served the community by providing free, measure-to-fit, hand-selected suits for unemployed men preparing for job interviews. By December 2015, they had their first boutique downtown, until it was destroyed by fire just months after. But SDM was resilient—staying committed to the community, they soon opened their new location on Lexington Street. The store’s owner, Christopher Schafer, and vice president, Seth Schafer, believe we all have seven seconds to make a good first impression, and a volunteer team of stylists (equipped with donated suits and accessories) helps its grateful customers do just that. 223 W. Lexington St., 443-963-9337

’Nuff Said!

Designer Duds Ruth Shaw

68 Village Square

Furniture Showroom MiY Home

How do we know owners Michael Ryan Wright and Seth Barkman love all the stuff they sell at their Fells Point showroom, MiY (Mine is Yours)? Because they’ve furnished their own apartment—which happens to be right above the five-story shop—with goods from the store, including everything from the well-priced, well-built furniture to the sheets and candles. (Come to think of it, a more accurate name for the store would be: What’s Mine Could Be Yours!) Shop around the cozy showroom for yourself and revel in all the modern home goods, especially the minimalist lighting, midcentury-style seating, and patio sectionals for your rooftop deck. 1605 Eastern Ave., 410-881-0187

GatheringBaltimore Vintage Expo

On a warm June day, nostalgia aficionados flocked to Hampden to unite in their shared passion—vintage. And what a time it was, with 26 vendors from all over the region carting vintage goods and antiques into the appropriately art deco Ideal Arts Space. It wasn’t just lacy dresses and costume jewelry, although there was plenty of that to be found. You could pick up a tooled leather wallet, slip into a vintage swimsuit, lust after pocket watches, or try on a top hat for size. It was such a hit that organizers Milk and Ice Vintage are thinking of throwing another one soon. To that we say, “Yes, please."

Hair ColoristBaltimore Emily Boulin

One scroll through Emily Boulin’s Instagram account is enough to prove her worthy of the title best hair colorist in Baltimore. As a senior stylist at Lush 35 Salon in Catonsville, Boulin has made a name for herself by flawlessly executing ombres and highlights in on-trend colors like metallic gray and pastel pink. 35 Mellor Ave., Catonsville, 443-251-2982

– Courtesy Emily Boulin

Handmade GoodsFoxwood Co.

From stunningly carved cake stands to gorgeous geometric planters, small-batch woodworkers Amy and Casey Johnson constantly strive to create aesthetically pleasing and functional pieces for the home. Casey, who does the woodworking, carefully sketches, saws, sands, and stains each piece with care. Amy, the admin behind the artist, says everything they create is “driven by strong craftsmanship.” That certainly does not go unnoticed. Eager to try your hand at woodworking? The talented duo frequently host spoon-carving workshops across the city.

Home StagerInterior Home Decorators

Want your home to sell quickly at the asking price? Then it needs to look its best inside, and that’s where Chara Rontouli Bacher comes in. Whether the place is vacant or occupied, full of fine furniture or a decorating mishmash, she and her staff can transform it into a styled showplace that can bring a contract in days (sometimes hours), not months. 443-682-3231

Kiddie PartiesUltimate Play Zone

Planning a party for the little ones but don’t want your house trashed? Consider this barrel of monkeys in Cockeysville, an 11,000–square foot, indoor funfest for kids, with moon bounces, slides, jungle gyms, and a “pirate ship.” It’s clean, well-supervised, and flexible: For one party, they managed to pre-order kosher pizza for dozens of kids on the day after Passover, when the kosher restaurants were super busy with hungry fasters. 10626 York Road, Cockeysville, 410-628-7529

– Christopher Myers

Kids' ClothesWee Chic Boutique

What we love most about Wee Chic—aside from the candy “bar” stocked with sweet treats —is that the boutique carries clothing designed to be both stylish and durable for their pint-size customers. With sizes ranging from newborn to tween, the playful, modern Wee Chic offers several high-fashion brands like Tea Collection, EGG Baby, and Splendid. Check out the in-store creative space for special events, art and fitness classes, and photography sessions. 10751 Falls Road #101, Lutherville-Timonium, 410-878-7400

LightingJones Lighting Specialists

It isn’t just selective homeowners you’ll find scouting the vast array of lighting fixtures—for indoors and out—in Bob Jones’s 6,500-square-foot showroom. There are also interior designers, architects, and high-end design/build people in the crowd. One big draw is that there are some antique and custom options you won’t find anywhere else. 1421 Clarkview Road, Suite 114, 410-828-1010

Local Craft FairCharm City Craft Mafia’s Holiday Heap

Charm City Craft Mafia’s annual winter makers’ market gives us yet another reason to rejoice and come together during the holiday season. For one day in December, lovers of handmade goods peruse picks from more than 50 vendors including Annie Howe Papercuts, littlegreenthings, The Broken Plate Pendant Co., and many more. Look out for the market’s new name, Jingle, this upcoming holiday season.

Damage Control

Sure, we’d rather be sipping a piña colada by the pool or barbecuing on the deck, but when you need to drop everything to deal with critical stuff, here’s who you call.

Mac Computer RepairChesapeake Systems

We’ve always counted on this Apple-authorized service provider, which operates out of a reborn Hampden church. They’ve been around longer than most in the region, and have racked up an impressive list of solid reviews from their clients, both residential and commercial (including the editorial and art departments at Baltimore). They even make house calls. Hallelujah! 801 W. 33rd St., 410-243-1023

MenswearAngel Park

Men from all over the city have been flocking to Angel Park since it opened its doors in Fells Point in 2013. The store provides stylish and comfortable clothing from brands like Punk Royal and Mr. Turk, along with body products from local mother-daughter team Mitchell & Co.—we hear their shaving soap is life changing—and an exclusive collaboration with local sunglasses favorite, Fed Thrill, not to mention a free shot of whiskey at checkout. 1709 Aliceanna St., 410-669-0600

– Mitro Hood

Men’s ShoesFor Rent Shoes

How do you keep sneaker connoisseurs happy? Variety. That’s something For Rent Shoes owner Harrison Davis has mastered at his Mount Vernon shop. At For Rent, you’ll find shelves packed with myriad footwear styles and brands—Puma, Clear Weather, New Balance Supra, and Article Number, to name a few. Some styles are rare and some are more mainstream, but all are on trend. 515 Cathedral St., 443-873-9928

New Addition Warby Parker

There is a sense of minimalism in almost every aspect of Warby Parker, best known as the hip online eyewear company, which just set up shop in Harbor East. Parallel shelves minimalistically stock the brand’s full collection of stylish frames, while sleek wooden tables and mod lights all accentuate the geometrical mural on the back wall. It feels like an Apple store, but one that you’ll breeze in and out of (thanks to a savvy staff) looking quite a bit cooler than you did before. 807 Aliceanna St., 410-552-7015

– Courtesy of Warby Parker

Nursery Pinehurst Landscape Co.

Whether we need landscaping, hardscaping, outdoor lighting, water features, tree installation, or just maintenance, our first call is to the experts at this 52-year-old company. It’s also the place to go for the perfect tree or shrub species. (You could get lost in their 120-acre nursery, but you have to do it by appointment.) And who else offers a two-year warranty on their trees and shrubs? 4809 Long Green Road, Glen Arm, 410-592-6766

One-Stop ShopThe Store Ltd.

Art gallery, clothing shop, or home goods store? It’s hard to tell, but after a half-century, The Store Ltd. has cemented itself as a local landmark thanks to its masterful mix of goods and artisan items from all over the world—think African beaded crowns and papier-mâche from Haiti, and Italian-made home goods. Specializing in decorative housewares, women’s clothing from upscale brands like Elm and Clemente, and designer jewelry by owner, Betty Cooke, the store has many treasures to be found amongst the handpicked merchandise. 5100 Falls Road, 410-323-2350

Outdoor InspirationTochterman’s Fishing Tackle Shop

Have you been watching too much Netflix lately? Is your AC giving you a summer cold? Well, take one look inside Tochterman’s and you’ll be inspired to get outside and commune with nature. Owner Tony Tochterman and his wife, Dee, make this 100-year-old Eastern Avenue tackle shop instantly feel like home, and whether you’re a novice fisherman or an old pro, they’ve got you covered for everything from trout on the Gunpowder to tarpon in the Florida Keys. Browse colorful lures, creative flies, a rambling rod selection, and boxes full of worms (for bait, naturally). 1925 Eastern Ave., 410-327-6942

Pop-Up ShopCrimson and Clover Valentine’s Day Pop-Up at Trohv

They say too much of a good thing can be bad. Well, that certainly wasn’t the case when one of our favorite floral havens, Crimson and Clover, hosted its second Valentine’s Day pop-up shop at Trohv in Hampden. Love was in the air with a mix of small pre-made arrangements in fun vessels, wrapped bouquets, and some potted plants. With Trohv’s extensive card and wrapping-supply section, the pop-up was a sure savior for many procrastinating boyfriends. 921 W. 36th St., 410-366-3456.

Reason to Work Out Before 6 a.m.November Project

Waking up early is hard, but it’s made a lot easier when you’re greeted by more than 100 smiling faces. Launched by Nick Rodricks in 2014, the Baltimore “tribe” of the national November Project meets two days a week, ready to make you sweat with a mix of cardio and interval training. Rodricks, aided by group leaders Sydney Van Horn and Pat O’Neil, guides the troops with positivity and encouragement, welcoming everyone from experienced athletes to recovering couch potatoes.

– Cory Donovan

Rug RestorationMain Street Oriental Rugs

If salvaging Great Aunt Thelma’s Bokara is really important, make the trip to this place to get the job done right. Besides being something of an Oriental- and Persian-rug historian, Iranian-born owner Mojan Bagha specializes in rug cleaning and repair, even in cases of serious damage. And while you’re there, you’ll want to peruse more than 3,000 rugs in stock, with prices ranging from $99 to $20,000. 8290 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-313-9090

SalonSmoke + Mirrors

Opened in December 2015, Smoke + Mirrors has made a name for itself by specializing in handcrafted hair using only organic products and hair color. Owner and senior stylist Leah Taylor, previously of Sprout, has built strong relationships and trust with her clients, who consider their bond with Taylor second only to that with their significant other. With a team of talented stylists, the warm space offers an impressive array of cuts and colors (see their Instagram for proof). Smoke + Mirrors is definitely where we’re going for our next hair transformation. 811 W. 36th St., 667-930-3974

Senior Move ManagerSenior Move Success

When we know it’s time for mom to move out of the old homestead, our first call will be to Caryl Siems and her staff. They do it all in a professional and sensitive manner, from planning the move (they first take photos of all the furnished rooms to record what was where) and helping to downsize to managing the movers and setting up the new place. 410-323-3853.

Style IconBetty Cooke

There are few people in Baltimore who haven’t heard of legendary jewelry designer Betty Cooke. From The Store Ltd., the Cross Keys mainstay she owns with husband Bill Steinmetz, to her beautiful, architectural jewelry creations, it’s safe to say Cooke is a household name among Baltimore’s tastemakers. Her collections of necklaces, rings, bracelets, and brooches have been showcased in publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, they've been worn on the runway for Geoffrey Bean, and they've won her two De Beers diamonds Today awards. At 92 years old, the MICA grad and instructor is still creating timeless pieces that stay true her roots. Says Cooke, “What my jewelry has in common over the years is that it always looks like I did it.”

Weekend WearPunch!

Searching for the perfect outfit to wear for a night out this weekend? Look no further than under the black-and-white-striped awning on South Charles Street in Federal Hill. Known for its affordable, contemporary style, Punch! boutique’s collection of chic tops, dresses, rompers, and jumpsuits is ideal for an outdoor summer concert or a night out in the city. We love their Tory Burch meets Kate Spade-inspired décor, collection of Kendra Scott necklaces, and, of course, champagne gummy bears. 1132 S. Charles St., 443-885-9435

Workout SoundtracksREV Cycle Studio

Let’s be honest—a workout is only as good as its playlist. That’s why we love REV Cycle Studio and its variety of musically themed classes that keep us back in the bike saddle week after week. From recurring themes like Electro ’80s Dance Party and Throwback Jams to special onetime classes like Preakness Ride (featuring a playlist of this year’s infield performers), Beyoncé World Tour, and Michael Jackson vs. David Bowie, REV sure knows how to keep us moving. 1718 Whetstone Way, 410-727-4738

Yoga With a View M.Power’s Natty Bohga

Warmer weather brings many wonderful things, but for Baltimore yogis it means one thing and one thing only: Natty Bohga. Since 2014, M.Power Yoga has hosted this outdoor class series, which is held on the Natty Boh rooftop in Canton—above its studio and retail space—on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. all summer long. Grab your mat, drown out the sounds of the city, and enjoy an hour of power vinyasa flow under the neon wink of our favorite beer mascot. 3600 O’Donnell St., Suite 100, 410-534-9642

News & Media

By Ron Cassie

AnchorMary Bubala

The WJZ anchor brings energy and smarts to her early-evening gigs alongside co-hosts Vic Carter and Jessica Kartaliga, rightfully earning a local Emmy nomination for her work this year. She also garnered a second local Emmy nom as part of WJZ’s “continuing coverage” team effort following last April’s riot. But we especially love the sharp reporting and interview skills Bubala brings to the table in WJZ’s “Coffee With: Mary Bubala” segments, from chats with astronaut Reid Wiseman to a profile of a state delegate who suffered childhood sexual abuse.

ArchivistWebster Phillips

History is powerful when it’s accessible. Phillips III is the grandson of former Afro American photographer Irving Henry Phillips—who shot the iconic Baltimore photos of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong on Pennsylvania Avenue, for example—and son of former Sun staff photographer Irving Phillips Jr. A photographer himself, Phillips has been busy archiving and presenting his family’s chronicling of African-American life in the city, including a spellbinding show at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center this year.

– Mike Morgan

ControversyPort Covington

Will Kevin Plank and Under Armour’s proposed new city within the city become a boon for Baltimore—or exacerbate the gulf between white and black Baltimore? Most likely it will do both. Sagamore Development, Plank’s real estate arm, is seeking a $535 million tax-increment financing deal, the largest ever in the city, to help offset the project’s costs. At this point, it looks like a done deal with the city and state’s political leadership on board. The only real questions still up for debate regard Sagamore’s commitments toward local hiring, the inclusion of affordable housing, and impact on school funding.

Guest ColumnCindy Huang

Reporters generally don’t write columns. And for good reason—they need to remain objective. But Huang, an education reporter, penned a straight-forward yet powerful column last year for the Capital Gazette chronicling her experience as a Chinese-born young woman growing up in the U.S. The piece, titled “No more pretending—racism hurts,” highlighted her self-preservation tendency to deny or diminish painful experiences, and won a Best of Show—Local Column: Critical Thinking award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.

Immigration Story“Unsettled Journeys”

Veteran Sun education reporter Liz Bowie teamed with Sun photographer Amy Davis to paint vivid portraits of the lives of the city’s growing number of immigrant teenagers, who now make up one-third of the student body at East Baltimore’s Patterson High School. Their eight-month effort highlighted the daily cultural, linguistic, academic, and psychological obstacles facing young refugees from war-torn countries, winning recognition from the national Education Writers Association.

Investigative Reporting (Tie)“Where’s Housing’s Money?” and “Rising Wealth, Falling School Aid”

Jake Carlo’s City Paper story on the Housing Authority of Baltimore City never received the play it deserved, given the department’s epic and possibly criminal failures. Carlo reported that, instead of allocating its funding to actually address housing problems, the department used tens of millions of dollars to bulk up its already enormous cash reserves. In another example of top-notch, investigative governmental reporting, The Sun ’s Luke Broadwater, in “Rising Wealth, Falling School Aid,” showed how big city tax breaks and public financing plans for developers have negatively impacted state funding for Baltimore’s public schools.

’Nuff Said!

Twitter Exchange David Simon and
Edward Snowden

An unlikely pair debate
cellphones and surveillance.

Non-British Guardian ReporterBaynard Woods

The national press continues to show up at the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse for the ongoing trials of the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. But some of the best of that national reporting comes from a local guy, City Paper editor-at-large Baynard Woods, who is covering the city on a continuing basis for The Guardian U.S.—the American edition of the British journalism outlet. Woods, who did award-winning work following Gray’s death, brings neighborhood knowledge, sources, and genuine boots-on-the-ground reporting to his coverage, which shouldn’t just be read by The Guardian’s audience but by Baltimoreans as well.

Op-EdNikkia Rowe

In her compelling Sun piece, the principal of Renaissance Academy High School in Upton/Druid Heights wrote about the systemic issues facing her students. But she also stressed her genuine honor in serving those kids during a year that saw three Renaissance students killed in separate incidents in the struggling West Baltimore neighborhood. Rowe’s unwavering commitment is not just inspiring, it has also engendered real success, including an 82 percent four-year graduation rate this year despite those tragedies.

– Mike Morgan

Personal PostAdam Marton

The Sun's senior editor of interactive design posted a compassionate reflection on his Facebook page regarding a 28-year-old homicide victim with the memorable name Thelonious Monk. Marton remembered the name as the same as that of a young man who had stolen his car—later returned strewn with job applications—12 years earlier.

– David Colwell

Political DiscussionBaltimore City Voters

The Baltimore City Voters Facebook page, created by tech entrepreneur David Troy and former Sun tech reporter Gus Sentementes, has proved to be a minor stoke of genius in this critical election season. With some simple rules for members—most importantly, that those participating are Baltimore residents (not city-bashers from outlying counties) and that real names are used—the dialogue to date has been overwhelmingly productive. There are few, if any, consistently better conversations focused squarely on local issues.

Poop ScoopBlue Water Baltimore

Nonprofits such as Blue Water Baltimore are no longer just filling a traditional advocate’s role, but are becoming multimedia outlets themselves. Blue Water Baltimore, for example, documents their outreach, education, and clean water efforts via Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, its website,, where they blog about urgent storm water and sewage issues. Meanwhile, the release of their Healthy Harbor Report Card has become an important annual city event for the environmentally conscious.

’Nuff Said!

brief national obsession The runaway Aberdeen blimp

A military blimp floats off, but
thankfully lands safely in Pa.

PreservationistsBaltimore Heritage

Executive director Johns Hopkins (a distant relative of his namesake) and director of preservation and outreach Eli Pousson have made an enormous impact on preserving Baltimore’s rich architectural heritage. They don’t just testify at hearings, but have been at the forefront of efforts to document and preserve the city's cultural landmarks, including those from West Baltimore’s historic civil rights movement. The nonprofit’s walking and bicycling tours of the city’s hidden history are also musts for anyone interested in learning about Charm City.

Street Photography Theresa Keil and Larry Cohen

“The Darkroom,” The Sun’s exploration of visual journalism by photographers, really works better online than in print. Without the limitations of space—and quality—imposed by newspaper, the digital component of the project offers a comprehensive look at the themes each photographer tackles as well as their personal styles. In particular, the work of Keil and Cohen, who also form the event photography outfit TLC Baltimore, pops off the screen with its spontaneity, color, and composition.


There's an overhaul of Baltimore's political leadership underway, including a new mayor and at least eight new City Council members. Here's a handy chat to track the changes and April's new Democratic party winners.

Tag Team Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector

Whether live tweeting from the courthouse or breaking down the events of the day in their daily newspaper reporting, the partnership between The Sun’s Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector in covering the trials of police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death has been both prolific and insightful. If anyone was surprised that prosecutors had their hands full winning convictions, they simply weren’t following the pair’s coverage, which revealed the skill and preparation work of the officers’ capable defense teams.

TV ReporterKathleen Cairns

With more than 25 years in journalism, Cairns’s work at WBFF, from spot news reporting and man-on-the-street interviews to feature stories, earned her a Best Reporter nod from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association this year. Winner of 17 local Emmys and nominated for five more this year, Cairns—who was inducted into the local chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’s “Silver Circle” last year—has the range to hold public officials accountable with tough questions as well as bring a human interest piece to life.

– Christopher Myers

ZineTrue Laurels

The best endeavors often fill a void we hadn’t anticipated. Even before the unrest last spring, Lawrence Burney—a former contributing writer for City Paper, whose work has also appeared on the websites of Pitchfork, XXL, The Fader, and Vice—had been collecting the words and images that ultimately became True Laurels, a full-color, quarterly zine published this May. It’s a printed testament to some of Baltimore’s most dynamic rappers, musicians, and visual artists who remain off the mainstream media's cultural radar despite all the attention the city has received in the past year.

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