Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guilford in Bloom

I visited north Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood today, intent on photographing the famous tulip beds at Sherwood Gardens, where 80,000 tulips bloom annually.  Alas, the tulips have yet to bloom, but this flowerbed brought a big smile to my face, as did the pint-sized bench with animal motif.  I am only posting one photograph of the park, because I hope to return soon to take photos of it in its full glory.  Stay tuned!

I may not have found tulips, but I discovered a lot of beautiful homes in the neighborhood, which was developed in the early 20th Century and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I have a thing for glassed-in sun porches, a feature of many Guilford homes.  This home has four!
Most of the homes are constructed of brick or stone, and mature trees shade most of the lawns. 
This home stands out due to its brightly painted facade.
Though single family detached homes are the norm, Guilford also offers town homes, such as the beauties featured here.  Great condominium buildings exist in the immediate vicinity of Guilford as well.
Since I have never spent any time in Guilford, I did not know what to expect.  I found a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, but I also saw a lot of people out and about enjoying the beautiful afternoon, walking, bicycling, picnicking and looking for Easter eggs in the park, and working in their yards. 
The famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted oversaw the planning of the neighborhood, which explains the obvious respect for topography in its layout and the community's lovely public parks.  For those of you who grew up in the 1980s and watched a lot of John Hughes films, doesn't this look like one of his sets?
Guilford's quiet streets make it ideal for bicyclists traveling to nearby Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, Notre Dame University of Maryland, and nearby commercial amenities, as well as ....
... downtown Baltimore.  Despite Guilford's bucolic setting, it is actually within walking and bicycling distance of great amenities, from the Baltimore Museum of Art to the 32nd Street Farmers Market, not to mention downtown.  Careful, though, the ride home from downtown is uphill!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain Larry's: A Family-Friendly Pub

Thanks to Captain Larry's, many lucky South Baltimore children will have unique memories of New Year's Eve.  Captain Larry's rings in the new year with an indoor ball drop, family-friendly menu and lots of fun nonalcoholic beverages for the kids.  The event has proven so popular that the captain has to take reservations and drop the silvery glittery globe twice.  Parents love this event, because they get to celebrate with their friends and kids - down the street from home.  After the second family-friendly seating, Captain Larry's opens for regular New Year's Eve business.  After all, it is a pub!
I took these photos during another big event at Captain Larry's - the annual chili cook off.  This year the chili cook off benefited Jake's Law and the place was PACKED.  Captain Larry's owners are very community-oriented, and it shows in the events they sponsor and their loyal following.  As far as the food is concerned: try the fish tacos, considered by many to be the best in Baltimore, and the turkey club, made from fresh-roasted turkey and garnished with avocado.  Tasty!   

This painter set up her studio across the street in order to paint Captain Larry's, a sure sign of its popularity and status as a Baltimore institution.    I should mention that Hilltop is a fine carry out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Belvedere Square: Dining and Shopping Destination Extraordinaire

North Baltimore's Belvedere Square boasts a dynamic mix of shopping and restaurants.  It's market building hosts a carefully curated mix of delicious food, which patrons can enjoy on-site or take home.  Within this 5,000 square foot emporium, one can dine on nourishing soup and a salad made of the freshest ingredients, treat the kids to homemade ice cream or vegan chocolate, rejuvenate with hand squeezed blood orange juice, and pick up smoked seafood or meats for tonight's dinner.  This is just a sample of what the market has to offer, and I highly recommend checking their website for a complete directory.
A pleasant atmosphere encourages patrons to linger and enjoy the company of others.  Dogs are welcome, too (outside).
In response to demand for more seating, the owners of Belvedere Square reconfigured space inside and expanded the outdoor seating area to accommodate more tables and these large umbrellas, which patrons will enjoy especially during hot summer days.
One of the larger stores in Belvedere Square, Ceriello's offers Italian delicacies, prepared foods, and staples including their own sauces, marinades, and dressings.  Patrons can sit right down in the store to enjoy the fare.
The neighborhoods surrounding Belvedere Square attract many families with young children, so the owners wisely provide pint-sized seating options.
While Belvedere Square is very well known for its great restaurants, gourmet food businesses, and its popular summer outdoor concert series, Belvedere Square also offers a nice mix of stores.  In addition to Techlab, pictured here, Belvedere Square includes a shoe "salon", home furnishings shops, and a unique florist.
Located across the street from Belvedere Square, the recently restored c. 1939 Senator Theatre offers residents and visitors the opportunity to see a movie in one of the grand movie palaces of the past (upgraded with today's comfort and sound standards in mind).  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Senator is a perfect complement to the shops and restaurants of Belvedere Square.  It attracts patrons anxious to see the latest blockbuster as well sophisticated movie-goers interested in Oscar-worthy pictures.  On many a Saturday morning, the Senator features beloved children's movies from yesteryear, from National Velvet to the Princess Bride, and the Senator also streams performances live from the Metropolitan Opera. 
One of a number of restaurants at the Square, Sofi's Crepes just blew out the candles on its 10th birthday.  This photo shows the exterior of Sofi's Crepes, which is located around the corner from the main market and across the street from the Senator, during the holidays.  I highly recommend the Nutella crepe, and I will leave on that note to go dream about crepes!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rotunda Redevelopment in Hampden

Built in the 1920s, the Rotunda has long housed offices, small shops, a grocery store, and a movie theater.  However, given its underused parking lots and location in trendy Hampden, the Rotunda clearly has potential to bring even more energy to the community in terms of new residents and a greater mix of stores.
Enter Hekemian & Company, the developer renovating and retrofitting the existing structure and transforming the surface parking lots into 150,000 square feet of new retail space, 382 apartments, and a parking garage.  MOM's Organic Market leads the roster of new tenants, to the delight of many devotees of this environmentally-friendly grocery store.
Residents in this block of colorful row homes will soon have new stores to walk to in their neighborhood, in addition to the appealing mix of independently-owned shops and restaurant already thriving on the Avenue located just several blocks south.

Another shot of the construction shows the original building in the background Hekemian expects to finish the work in summer 2015.
The artsy/environmentalist vibe of Hampden extends far beyond its epicenter on The Avenue to these homes closer to the Rotunda, where residents paint their homes in a rainbow of colors and ride their bikes on even the coldest, iciest days.  This major new investment in Hampden confirms what many have known all along: the artists, environmentalists, and small business owners (and others - I certainly don't intend to exclude anyone who has had a hand in the transformation of Hampden) have created a very desirable place to live.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Beautiful Hunting Ridge in the Snow

Hunting Ridge is a very pretty, peaceful, tree-lined neighborhood in far West Baltimore populated by homes built mainly in the 1920s and 1930s - mostly cottages, bungalows, and Sears Roebuck Four Squares.
A portion of the neighborhood is located in a local historic district to ensure that its charm remains intact.
Many of the homes feature neighborly front porches.  Technically, this porch is on the side of the house, but it fronts on the street, so it counts as a neighborly "front" porch in my mind.
Residents of Hunting Ridge have easy access to Leakin Park and the Gwynns Falls Park and Trail, one of the largest urban parks in the country.
Good night from Hunting Ridge!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Too Lazy to Make Your Own Eggs? Favorite Breakfast and Brunch Spots!

Fell's Point's Blue Moon Cafe serves a dose of rock-and-roll style with great breakfast food until 3:00 p.m. during the week and 24-hours a day on weekends. Baltimoreans had long flocked to the funky, welcoming Blue Moon Cafe when Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and made its Captain Crunch-encrusted French toast famous.  Homemade biscuits and cinnamon rolls complement a wide range of omelets and other egg dishes, pancakes and French toast, and generous servings guarantee that you will walk out with a doggie bag or a very full stomach. The Blue Moon Cafe is on one of my regular weekend running routes, and I always see a crowd of people waiting for a coveted seat in this fun and funky Fell's Point breakfast spot.  
South Baltimore's Little Havana offers a Cuban-inspired Sunday brunch, with everything from Huevos Rancheros to Churros con Chocolate.  As a bonus, you can dine outside in the nice weather.

Jimmy's Restaurant is an institution on Broadway Square in Fell's Point.  If you are looking for an inexpensive, quick, tasty breakfast, old-school atmosphere, and perhaps a glimpse of a local politician, Jimmy's is your place.

No discussion of breakfast or brunch in Baltimore is complete without mentioning Miss Shirley's, which serves some of the most mouth-watering fare anywhere.  Miss Shirley's now has three locations, two in Baltimore and one in Annapolis.  The downtown Baltimore location, pictured here, is so popular that the restaurant took over the large lobby of the office building in which it is located.  Miss Shirley's has southern roots - think cornmeal-encrusted fried oysters and Bayou omelet - but also serves goodies for people with a serious sweet tooth, such as raspberry white chocolate waffles.
A cozy yet classy spot in Federal Hill, Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar is casual enough for a no-makeup, hair-in-a-ponytail Sunday breakfast but special enough to take out of town guests.  The menu ranges far and wide, from a breakfast banana split overflowing with berries, melon, cantaloupe, pineapple, vanilla yogurt and granola to the decidedly less healthy cheesesteak and eggs.
A no-frills diner with good food and very loyal patrons, Pete's Grille sits in the heart of Waverly next to the year-round 32nd Street Farmer's Market.

Delicious and creative food is the hallmark of Clementine restaurant in the Hamilton/Lauraville neighborhood.  Like Clementine's dinner menu, the brunch menu features dishes with far-reaching origins, from the Korean hot pot to the Indian scramble.  Clementine makes most of its own condiments, such as fig-habanero sauce and corn relish, as well as its own sausage, scones, muffins, and breakfast breads.

The Papermoon Diner offers "day-ending" breakfast ... meaning if you eat it all, you will want to retire for a long nap.  The eclectic outdoor decor - note the table settings on the three yellow moons - continues to the interior, where the Moon serves great diner food for breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Seeking to add a little class and music to your Sunday brunch?  Look no further than the Jazz Brunch at Ze Mean Bean Cafe in Fell's Point.  With its roots in Eastern Europe, Ze Mean Bean excels at pierogies, Hungarian goulash, and anything with Polish kielbasa, but this charming spot also offers classic breakfast dishes such as blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs with melted Gruyere.  The lunch and dinner menu expands to offer an even greater variety of signature Slavic dishes, such as Holupki and Chicken Kiev, and chef's specialties like rosemary pesto lamb. 
Featured in at least one previous post, Artifact Coffee serves yummy homemade pastries (I had a chocolate doughnut there this morning, in fact), great coffee from their espresso bar, and tasty breakfast sandwiches on English muffins, also homemade.  

Located within Hampden's recently restored Union Mill, Artifact Coffee is definitely a hot spot for the hip, but it has very broad appeal.  During our recent trip to Artifact, my husband and I sat near a large extended family and a guy quietly doing some homework over a cup of coffee. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Little Bit in Love with Otterbein

One of Baltimore's most beautiful and historic neighborhoods, Otterbein is nestled between Federal Hill, downtown, and the Inner Harbor.  People love this location because they can walk to work or take the MARC train to Washington, DC, from the Camden Line stop, a mere 5-10 minute walk away; they can also stroll to the many shops and restaurants of the Federal Hill Main Street.
Location is not Otterbein's only draw.  Many of the neighborhood's historic homes date from the mid-19th Century and still retain their historic charm.
Despite its proximity to the lively Federal Hill Main Street and the attractions of the Inner Harbor, Otterbein itself is very quiet and peaceful.  However, Otterbein does have one big and very busy attraction: the Otterbein Swim Club.  The Otterbein Swim Club appeals to both kids AND their parents, with play groups, gas grills and a picnic area, evening swims for adults, movie nights, and sometimes even some live music.  What's not to love? 
Otterbein also sits in the shadow of Camden Yards, one of the country's most accessible ball parks.  Assuming seats are available, residents of Otterbein can literally decide thirty minutes before the singing of the National Anthem to catch the game and be in their seats by the first pitch.  (Photo courtesy of my very own O's fan, Jim Mitchell!)

Otterbein boasts some lovely newer homes, such as the one shown here, in addition to its historic stock.

Flower-lined walkways make strolling the neighborhood even more pleasant ...
... and cobbled alleys and pocket parks make Otterbein just that much more special.
Many of the homes boast small front garden areas - just enough space to satisfy the need to personalize one's front "yard" without requiring an entire weekend to maintain it. 
Goodnight from Otterbein!