In 1957, while in the twilight of their careers as Baltimore Colts in the burgeoning NFL, Alan Ameche and Captain Gino Marchetti opened up the first Gino's with their pal, Louis C. Fischer. Through the years, the crew helped innovate the restaurant industry, especially with the Gino's Giant burger in 1966, whose triple-decker design arguably went on to inspire the multipatty burgers of other national fast-food chains. Ahead of their time, the team later cobranded with Kentucky Fried Chicken to bolster their menu and widen their appeal to the public before Gino's was acquired by the Roy Rogers brand in 1982, leaving many nostalgic for one of the fast-food industry's originals.
It wasn't until 2009, when Tom called up Gino to pose the idea of bringing Gino's back, that fans of the eatery could begin to quell their well-documented nostalgia in anticipation of enjoying Gino’s special recipes once again. Today, the menu boasts off-the-grill burgers, more than 100 flavors of real ice-cream shakes, and the return of the Gino's Giant, slathered in a secret sauce that was kept secret all these years by hiding it inside a modern-day football.
Mike and Tim Murphy, the brothers behind Burger Bros., specialize in hand-sculpted burgers that weigh in at a hefty 6 ounces. They crown the patties with toppings such as caramelized onions or blue cheese and also marinate portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian version of their classic handheld. Burgers aren’t the only reason to visit, though. Cooks also toss chicken wings with piquant sauces and cut Idaho potatoes by hand to create their fries. Patrons can sip ice-cream floats, freshly squeezed lemonade, or Mexican Coca-Cola sweetened with real cane sugar rather than mashed up cupcakes.
The chefs at Bread and Circuses Bistro—formerly called The French Press Cafe—serve up colorful American cuisine with a contemporary edge in a vintage-café-inspired dining room. The bistro's menu, like a yellow-marker-wielding culinary student, highlights an eclectic array of paninis, such as the grilled vegetable, a sumptuous repository of root vegetables and roasted red pepper garbed in bruschetta and balsamic vinaigrette ($8), or the new york strip steak and cheese ($10). Chew into the crusty exteriors of nonpressed sandwiches, including the baltimore club, a double-stacked crab-cake BLT (market price). Explore entrees such as the shrimp-and-scallop risotto ($17) or the salmon, pampered with a molasses kneading, rainforest-fruit-salsa dressing, and a French manicure before nestling against roasted red potatoes and grilled vegetables ($15).
Anyone can offer crabs on a menu, but it’s what you do with them that counts. Luckily for diners, what The Crackpot does with them has, according to Baltimore magazine, become "a Baltimore tradition to appreciate." A full-service bar helps customers wash back these tender crab morsels, which are still cooked according to The Crackpot's original recipe.
Though the five-page menu has expanded to include steak, prime rib, burgers, wings, pasta, soups, and a kids' menu, not much has changed since 1972 in terms of ambiance. The retro crabhouse—decked out with wood shingles and twinkling holiday lights—still has its first crab traps hanging from the walls, sharing space with a 7-foot sailfish and a mounted swordfish. The restaurant also hosts a Heroes Table event, inviting a small group of wounded veterans and their spouses to dine for free once a week.
Brothers Jimmy, Tony, and Nick Miller pioneered Buddy Maratta’s Cafe and Deli, christening it after their father’s childhood nickname, with the vision of enlightening palates to traditional Baltimore cuisine. Drawing on his degree from the Baltimore Culinary Institute and on years of fine-dining experience, Chef Nick whips up a menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and calls upon the Miller mother and aunts to bake homemade desserts and cakes. Platters of specialty crab fries, braised-short-rib cheesesteaks, and a variety of gourmet salads emerge from the kitchen into a casual-dining area where rows of tabletops bask beneath hanging lights and framed artwork, among the free WiFi waves. In addition to dining in, patrons can request catering services for special events, meetings, and jury-duty reunions.