Though he spent much of his life as a truck driver for the city, Shareef's true calling was cooking. But it wasn't until he resigned from his driving job that he took a leap of faith and opened his first restaurant. Shareef's business has since evolved from halal hot dogs and burgers cooked on a small grill at his first establishment to a full menu of Mediterranean-style wraps, sandwiches, and platters served at two namesake eateries. To anchor the menu, the grill's chefs pair tortillas, buns, and beds of lettuce with halal and kosher meats and vegetables sautéed in their own butter sauce and craft housemade desserts including sweet-potato-and-cheese pies from fresh ingredients. And regardless of what location you are dining at, Shareef and his staff aim to make their space inviting and their food consistent by making every order fresh.
And Shareef's diners aren't the only ones raving about the menu's healthy yet delicious Mediterranean cuisine. The mayor of Baltimore even took notice, presenting the eatery with a certificate of recognition for their "outstanding contributions and dedication to providing . . . families with nutritious, affordable food."
A coffee shop is a great place to get work done without being actively social but still feeling completely social. Use today's Groupon to be productive in the comfort of the crowd instead of alone at home. For $10, you get $20 toward anything edible and drinkable (does not include intangibly consumable events) at Peace & A Cup of Joe. You can snag up to three Groupons, which will be converted into gift cards the first time you head into the quaint, independent shop. These will act just as regular gift cards act, with composure and class. Groupons are also good toward daily specials.
Midtown BBQ & Brew's cooks begin with organic and locally raised meats, slowly smoking them in-house to create dishes that the Baltimore Sun called "unapologetically traditional, rich and charmingly displayed on the plate." Ribs, pulled pork, and housemade sausages share space with sides like spicy crab mac ‘n’ cheese and southern cornbread. An ever-expanding drink selection features macrobrews alongside local creations and imported bottles.
Local-band performances, open-mic nights, and art exhibitions frequently drop in to occupy the restaurant's upper floors. Downstairs, trivia and karaoke keep diners entertained between bites.
Brunch Café | New American Dinner | Trendy Cocktail Bar | Dog-Friendly Patio
Where to Sit: Since City Cafe is split into three sections, where you sit depends on your dining motives. Select from the café section (for morning coffee), the elegant cocktail lounge (for late-night and happy-hour drinks), or the cozy, split-level dining room (for more leisurely meals).
When to Go: Swing by for dinner on Tuesday, when every bottle of wine is discounted by $10 and select entrees only cost $15.
Inside Tip: When the weather's nice, ask your pooch to accompany you for brunch on the dog-friendly patio.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Sip a coffee while scoping out the tiny, but intriguing collection of books at Read Street Books (229 West Read Street).
After: Get your daily dose of culture at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (1212 Cathedral Street) or the Lyric Opera House (140 West Mt. Royal Avenue), both just blocks from City Cafe.
The clinks of wine and cocktail glasses echo in Sascha's 527 Cafe's decadent 19th-century townhouse, adorned with cascading red velvet curtains and ever-changing displays of artwork. Illuminated by flickering candles and prismatic glints from a crystal chandelier, shareable small plates introduce the menu's New American flavor with an emphasis on quality ingredients. Entrees include grilled and sautéed cuts of seafood, chicken, and steak, bathed with dynamic sauces and paired with wholesome produce. Patrons can whisper décor compliments into the ears of painted portraits residing on the eatery's walls, and then dig into a homemade dessert for a sweet jolt proven to be safer than drinking hot cocoa from a plugged-in toaster.