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.
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).
Each day, the Timonium and Frederick branches brew eight different types of coffee (Annapolis brews six per day), mining from the Baltimore Coffee & Tea Company's coffee reserve, a treasure cove of 120 different varieties of beans. Types of coffee ($1.60 for 12 oz.) are offered on rotating basis, with flavors such as coconut cream and pumpkin spice introducing new aromas to bored taste buds, as well as Swiss Water–decaffeinated varieties for those that love the taste of coffee but find themselves inadvertently building a shrine to Grease after two cups of regular joe. Introduce yourself to the well-crafted wares of Mother Earth with a cup of tea ($1.95 for 20 oz.)—the shop features more than 1,000 kinds of leaves for consumption, from medicinal herb tea to an Eastern Shore variety—or go full throttle with an espresso concoction ($1.50–$4.25).
The chefs at Egyptian Pizza trace their cooking techniques to a different side of the Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Egyptians pioneered the practice of rising dough when they cooked crushed wheat germ and water inside early conical ovens. Honoring their forefathers’ methods, the versatile cooks pull more than 30 types of gourmet thin-crust pizzas out of their wood-fired ovens, along with a lengthy menu of Middle Eastern sandwiches and specialties. They take pains to use natural, fresh, and healthful ingredients to whip up plump fish kebabs, tender meat shawarmas and housemade sauces that have won over the palates of reporters from the Baltimore Sun. Their kitchen looks out onto the casual dining room, where servers help uncork BYOB bottles of wines beneath artwork depicting famous Egyptian landmarks, such as the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other toys left behind by aliens.
Inside the savory-scented digs of Honey Baked Ham & Cafe, spools of hardwood-smoked, spiral-sliced ham entice carnivorous palates. Here, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato soufflé. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
Classic Mediterranean food abounds at Desert Cafe, from gardens of crunchy salads to shish kebabs of skewered meat, onions, and peppers. City Paper's review made note of the colorful fabric that decorates the ceiling, forming a vivid canopy above plates of flaky spanakopita or mango curry chicken salad studded with golden raisins. Warm flatbread wraps around gyros made from chicken, beef, or lamb and served with tzatziki sauce. Diners can also enjoy fresh air with their food on a colorful covered patio, sipping drinks amid strings of party lights and wood painted crimson. The caf? is also home to owner Blake Wollman's lauded Wild Pea hummus, which was voted best hummus of 2012 by Baltimore Magazine.