Dinner Is Lit This Winter, Eat at One of These Hearth-Warming Establishments.


In the age of instant streaming, the presence of a burning yule log is merely a click away—but no matter how high-def, don’t expect a simulated snap, crackle and pop to warm your Netflix-and-chilly bones. When it comes to the essential pleasures produced by an indoor fireplace, one should accept no substitutes. Fortunately, you can count on these local spots for wintertime drinking and dining alongside a brilliant, burning hearth.

The Bluebird Cocktail Room

The Bluebird Cocktail Room
3600 Hickory Ave., Hampden
At first glance, Bluebird’s welcoming yet understated fireplace mantelpiece might seem eclipsed by the enormous factory-style windows that surround it, but the alluring, sunlight-by-day and firelight-by-night combination is certain to draw your gaze across the room at any hour. While Bluebird might consider cocktails its expertise, the bar’s signature concoction is its eye for aesthetics, and, in concert with its elegant and immersive library-chic environs, the flickering warmth of its gas-fueled fireplace is an added attraction that visitors can count on from October through April. thebluebirdbaltimore.com

The Valley Inn
10501 Falls Road, Lutherville-Timonium
Given the feeling of pride and grandness that permeates The Valley Inn, a sprawling campus of a restaurant that was built around 1832, it comes as little surprise that seven fireplaces adorn the restaurant — including a wood-burning stove and cigar-friendly pit built into the patio outside. Inside, the main dining room is bookended by two gas-lit hearths — each framed with its own dignified wood mantelpiece, and both visible from any table in the room. The restaurant’s lively bar features another gas-powered fireplace, and an upstairs private dining room is outfitted with two more. From the restaurant’s hearty surf-and-turf menu and lodge-like setting to the professional decorator responsible for adding seasonal touches throughout the year, “warm” is a fitting description for The Valley Inn during any season — but especially apt when its blazing septet is aglow. thevalleyinn.us

The Dizz
300 W. 30th St., Remington
Given the bright, blinding, wonderfully over-the-top Christmas light display that bedazzles its facade every winter, it’s understandable you could miss the unassuming fireplace inside The Dizz. But come frigid weather, the wood-fire blaze adds yet another layer of charm to this cozy, come-as-you-are neighborhood institution. But while the drinks are cheap, the menu unfussy and the atmosphere timeless, don’t take any of it for granted — both the building and restaurant were listed for sale in September. thedizzbaltimore.com

Petit Louis Bistro
4800 Roland Ave., Roland Park
Particularly picturesque when donning gay apparel, Petit Louis gets dressed up for the holidays beginning Thanksgiving weekend. However, a white marble, wood-burning fireplace lends to the stately, year-round ambiance of this classy neighborhood destination that offers classic French fare (and exquisite desserts that are themselves worthy of a reservation). Although calling fireside shotgun comes as first request, first served, guests can phone ahead with their seating preference. In fact, this French bistro makes a habit of becoming familiar with its regulars — so, get to know the staff, and they’ll probably get to know your favorite spot. petitlouis.com

The Wharf Rat
801 S. Ann St., Fells Point
Like a home away from home crossed with the belly of a ship at sea, The Wharf Rat is a neighborhood landmark where everyone may not know your name, but they most certainly know what comfort food, drink and good cheer taste like. Boasting one of the oldest and perhaps largest fireplaces in Baltimore (in a building dating back to the late 1700s), head to the back corner of the bar to warm your bits, where The Wharf Rat’s enormous, wood-burning chimney is stowed away — which is to say, as much as anything the size of a Fiat can be stowed. thewharfrat.com

Ambassador Dining Room

Ambassador Dining Room
3811 Canterbury Road., Tuscany-Canterbury
From the moment you enter the building in which it is nestled, the splendidly
cinematic Ambassador seizes the imagination like a colorful pop-up book —
or a set piece borrowed from a Wes Anderson film. Located opposite Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Campus, the vibe and dress code here are suitably casual
and convivial, but the stellar service and detail-rich setting remain absolutely first rate. What’s more, the Ambassador’s enclosed patio features a gas-lit fireplace and exquisite gardenscape. If you’re lucky enough to snag a window view during a snowfall, consider yourself #blessed. ambassadordining.com

Rye Street Tavern
13 Rye St., Port Covington
Similar to distilling, the act of building a fire involves an artful balance of form and function. From the pride its staff takes in tending the fire to the locally sourced white oak wood that fuels its flames, there is a gorgeous display of intentionality on view at Rye Street Tavern. Not to be upstaged by the imposing American Bison mounted just above, an immodest 4-foot-by-6-foot stone hearth and mantle frames the attractive fireplace, which features a herringbone-pattern black firebrick inlay and an ornate, laser-cut fire screen. The fiery, amber glow of the restaurant’s industrial-style lighting plays well opposite the fireplace’s dancing flames, which also distribute ample heat and ambiance to the adjacent dining tables and bustling bar. Evident as much in the food and drink menu as in its fireplace design, Rye Street Tavern performs an unmistakable balancing act between classic versus modern style and sleek
versus intimate presentation — and does so exceedingly well. ryestreettavern.com

Rye Street Tavern

The Brewer’s Art
1106 N. Charles St., Mount Vernon
The word “roaring” comes to mind when describing this mammoth beast of wood-burning glory, whose mantle wears a warning to guests like a badge of honor — suggesting that they mind their proximity whilst minding their pints. Accessible on the restaurant’s main floor lounge (read: no reservations required), this one throws off a ton of heat — so it is usually only lit when temps are at their absolute coldest. thebrewersart.com


10215 Wincopin Circle, Columbia
Like a dinner table, the best thing about fireplaces is gathering around them.
Fortunately, at Lupa, you can do both at the same time. In one of this family-friendly restaurant’s two large dining rooms, a living-room-sized gas-burning fireplace greets you, with its version of trophies atop the mantle: Italian wines to accompany house-made gnocchi, ricotta and mozzarella. Illuminated only when seasonally appropriate, seating in front of the fireplace is accommodated based on availability or can be reserved for festive celebration of up to 30 guests. lupacolumbia.com

Panera Bread (multiple locations) and La Madeleine French Bakery & Café
6211 Columbia Crossing Circle, Columbia
Whoever said that fireside dining necessitates a special occasion? Step out early for lunch, and chances are you can score a cushy, front-row spot at one of Panera Bread’s nearby fireplace-equipped cafés, including Canton, Columbia, Glen Burnie, Rosedale and downtown Baltimore. Soup, sandwich and settle in. Meanwhile, Columbia’s La Madeleine French Bakery & Café (the only local outpost of this national restaurant chain) sports a Hobbit-house vibe with its intimate, cottage-like interior and gas-powered, double-sided hearth. Imagine cafeteria-style dining so fast, casual and snug that it feels almost jammies-appropriate. Almost. panerabread.com, lamadeleine.com !

More Fireplace Favorites

Citron, 2605 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, citronbaltimore.com

Michael’s Café, 2119 York Road, Timonium, michaelscafe.com

The Grill at Harryman House, 340 Main St., Reisterstown

The Elkridge Furnace Inn, 5745 Furnace Ave., Elkridge

The Kings Contrivance Restaurant, 10150 Shaker Drive, Columbia

The Oregon Grille, 1201 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, theoregongrille.com

Ananda, 7421 Maple Lawn Blvd, Fulton, anandarestaurant.net

Bond Street Social, 901 Bond St., Fells Point, bondstreetsocial.com

Brewer’s Cask, 1236 Light St., Federal Hill, brewerscask.com

Manor Tavern, 15819 Old York Rd., Monkton, themanortavern.com

Wit & Wisdom, 200 International Drive, Harbor East, witandwisdombaltimore.com

Photos by David Stuck

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