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“I don’t do politics when I eat,” says Riccardo Bosio, owner of Sotto Sopra and Sotto Caffé. That’s what all of the Baltimore restaurant owners we called said when asked to name their favorite places to dine out. It’s not about spying on the competition or studying the menu, they told us. It’s about getting a good meal and good service, and having fun. k “Since I’m a chef, people always have me analyze the food, and I’m not interested in doing anything when I dine out,” says Ann Nault, chef/owner of Taste. “I just want to enjoy the meal.”  Check out the places Bosio, Nault and their fellow chefs and owners haunt on their days and nights off. Whether it’s a restaurant known for lobster creme brulée or chicken soup with Fritos, these folks know how to pick ‘em.

Edward Dopkin, owner, Alonso’s, Loco Hombre and Miss Shirley’s; co-owner, Glas Z Café
“For casual dinners, I rotate between the very fast and very clean Towson Diner, or Kabob Hut in Towson. They have great chicken, roasted and grilled vegetables, roasted tomato kabobs. For inexpensive and fast steak or chicken, I go to Outback Steakhouse, and for great steaks I like Shula’s or Ruth’s Chris. Both also have great vegetable offerings. Fresh vegetables are hard to find in casual dining. I crave vegetables.” 

Sascha Wolhandler, owner, Sascha’s 527 and Sascha’s Catering
“For breakfast, there is nothing better than Jimmy’s in Fells Point. If I’m feeling decadent on a Sunday morning and have run my requisite miles and lifted my requisite weights, I eat Jimmy’s whole wheat pancakes, eggs over-easy and the sin-of-all-sins: bacon smothered in a lot of syrup. And if I’m feeling very decadent: vodka and grease— the perfect antidote for anything in life, particularly in the form of martinis and french fries.”

Sonny Sweetman, owner, Abacrombie Fine Food and Accommodations
“When we go out, it’s for a special occasion. We just went to Restaurant Eve in Washington, a four-diamond, French-American restaurant with a nine-course menu. My favorite dish there is lobster creme brulée. I have a small daughter, and I’m at work most of the time. I take her to the Red Robin, a burger chain in Towson, or the Towson Diner. She has a good time there.”

Riccardo Bosio, owner, Sotto Sopra and Sotto Caffé
“The Wine Market is my favorite right now. I’ve been 10 times for lunch. Everything is good: gazpacho with crabmeat, the lamb burger was very good, good pizza. I also go to Pazza Luna in Locust Point and for sushi to Kawasaki. The Bicycle I like also.”

Kir Singh, owner, Ambassador Dining Room and The Carlyle Club
“I go to Sushi Hana for great seafood sushi. For special occasions, I go to Charleston and Pazo, because Tony Foreman is there, and he always goes out of his way to welcome us. It is always changing, and I love their specials. I’m so fortunate to be in this town, where I don’t feel it’s a competition. It’s more of an accompaniment.”

Thomas Rudis, owner, Golden West
“We always take our kids to our regular places on Harford Road, near where we live in Hamilton: Los Amigos, Big Bad Wolf’s House of Barbeque and Chameleon Café, where we probably go the most. They have exceptional calamari and a really good charcuterie plate with homemade sausages, paté, chutney and cheeses.”

Tony Foreman, co-owner, Charleston, Petit Louis, Pazo
“Last time I went out for my birthday was the same place we went when I was 7 years old— The Prime Rib. I had the exact same thing:  prime rib! We [he and wife/chef Cindy Wolf] love to go to Andy Nelson’s Barbecue. That’s the real thing. We get food from him for casual parties, almost every gathering. For one big Christmas party with 200 staff, we had their pig wagon. It’s always pulled pork and always the Alabama barbecue sauce.”

Ed Scherer, co-owner, Helen’s Garden
“We [he and co-owner Tom Looney] go four places regularly. At Kali’s Court, we like the royal dourade, a sweet white fish, grilled simply with capers, garlic, olive oil and lemon, and salt and pepper. Mezze is our favorite tapas place, with very nice wines by the glass. We like their grilled baby lamb chops, tuna carpaccio and the Greek village salad.  At the Orchard Market and Cafe off Joppa Road in Towson, one of our favorites is a garlic eggplant chicken, a phenomenal dish: roasted chicken so tender it falls off the bone, in light butter and saffron sauce, accompanied by soft, ripe roasted eggplant with some sour cream. For sushi, we go to Kawasaki Cafe in Fells Point for lunch a lot. Amazing lunch specials, especially ‘the box,’ which has their house salad, marinated seaweed salad, rice, a California roll and a choice of chicken or beef teriyaki, or vegetable or shrimp tempura, or sashimi or sushi.”

Dimitris Spiliadis, owner, The Black Olive
“I’m very picky. If I get a [free] night, I’ll make a reservation at either Asia Nora or Nora [both in Washington, D.C.], the only organic restaurants in the whole area. My favorite selections there are lobster dumplings and Caesar salad with calamari.”

Morris Martick, owner, Martick’s
“I eat in every new restaurant that opens. I like the ethnic restaurants, and Sobo Café near the Cross Street Market. They serve encrusted catfish homestyle, topped with crabmeat and a medley of vegetables and mashed potatoes.”

Un Kim, owner, Ixia and Papermoon Diner
“I eat out very rarely, but one place I go back often is Abacrombie [Fine Food and Accommodations]. Great owner, great product, great price. I love [owner Sonny] Sweetman’s brunch. Last time he fixed us a tasting menu: thyme-infused French toast, foie gras and roasted peaches.”

John Shields, owner, Gertrude’s
“At the Ambassador, they make this veggie dish with spinach and nuts. The first time I ate that, all I could do was dream about going back to eat it again. For casual, I like Golden West. I’m semi-addicted to the chicken soup with Fritos on it. They take it off the menu, and then you have to wait for a while for it to come back. So that’s kind of fun.”

Kim Acton, owner, Pazza Luna
“Going into a restaurant for me is like a busman’s holiday. On Mondays, I sometimes go to Morton’s Steakhouse and do the whole gamut: Champagne, smoked salmon appetizer, domestic lamb chops, with a great bottle of Pinot Noir and some decadent chocolate dessert. My favorite place for Italian is Sotto Sopra— we understand the same cuisine. Or I go for something totally different, like sushi. I’ve been going to Kawasaki on Charles Street for years. I know I’m going to get totally good quality food there.”

Timothy Dean, owner, Timothy Dean Bistro
“On Sunday for brunch for the staff, we go to the tortilleria [Tortilleria and Tacos] on Eastern Avenue. They have a machine like they have in Mexico. We bring them back and scramble eggs and use chorizo sausage, cilantro, some lime, some refried beans. I go to Chiu’s Sushi near Whole Foods for sake, steamed dumplings [shumai], sashimi and a Godzilla roll, with soft shell crab deep fried and wrapped. It’s so huge. I also go to Ray Lewis’ Full Moon Bar-B-Que for a pulled pork sandwich with french fries and cole slaw.” 

Ann Nault, chef/owner, Taste
“I love the price of the wines, the atmosphere and the owners at Helen’s Garden. We go on Wednesdays when they have the $12 entrée. At Amiccis, I love their lasagna. That’s what I have when I want some substantial, comfort food.”

Karen Patten, co-owner, Kali’s Court, Mezze
“For special occasions in town, I go to Saffron on Charles Street. There’s a spicy lamb dish I love. Also Helen’s Garden, especially for salads. For munchies, the Chesapeake Wine Co. in Canton has great pizza and antipasto. At Ruth’s Chris, I love their filets. Red Star in Fells Point has an eclectic menu. I went to the Prime Rib for my last birthday. I love the ambience.”

Pat Karzai, co-owner with husband Qayum, The Helmand, Tapas Teatro and b bistro
“My husband is a big fan of salads. He judges the remainder of the meal based on the salad. I don’t eat any shellfish, so I like going to restaurants where there are plenty of other offerings. “At Petit Louis, my husband likes the eggplant dish as the appetizer, and I like their daily specials for variety. Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Clarksville, near where we live, offers four entrées per day— seafood, vegetarian, fish and beef. It’s a very small place with a lot of noise, but not so overwhelming. We like the quality they put into each plate. “At Kali’s Court, we particularly love their salads, one with yellow and red tomatoes and goat cheese. We love the garden area with its potted plants and greenery. It’s like sitting in your own private back yard, or Europe or Italy, right in the middle of Fells Point. “The Brass Elephant on Charles Street people think is only for special occasions. But we love their tenderloin and their steaks are some of the best you can get in the city at their prices.”

Steve Ward, owner, Vespa
“I like going to other restaurants in Federal Hill. At Corks, my favorite is the duck confit; at Metropolitan Coffee House & Wine Bar, it’s the prime rib. At Rich’s Sushi [in Magerk’s Pub], I like the spicy tuna roll.”

Denise Whiting, owner, Café Hon and Hon Bar
“I go to Petit Louis. The food is always excellent and the service is always excellent. A favorite food is the Bibb lettuce and warm goat cheese salad with olive tapenade, which they don’t have all the time. I wish I could find a restaurant that would be my competition. I’d love to go have a really good hot turkey sandwich somewhere else besides Café Hon.”

Steve De Castro, owner, Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses, Blue Sea Grill, Babalu Grill
“I don’t serve Italian, but I love Italian food. I go to Little Italy, where I like Aldo’s and Da Mimmo. They do a special veal Milanese at Aldo’s and veal chops at Da Mimmo. At Maria’s in Annapolis, I like the veal parmesan.”

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