Archives For Design*Sponge

Baltimore. Most seem to know it from The Wire and occasionally from Homicide: Life on the Street or John Waters’ movies like Hairspray. But whether you know anything about this funny city on the water or not, there’s always something else to discover, learn or do just like any other bigger town or city. And as a Baltimore lover and advocate, I get a LOT of requests for what to do on visits to Charm City, so here are a few things to consider and try beyond the harbor.

As in the past, things are organized more or less by neighborhood and focus mostly on dining as that’s what I get asked about the most. Additionally, I’ve put together a Pinterest map board that includes these recommendations (and more that I just didn’t have the energy to write about here) on an helpful map. As ever, please feel welcome to ask questions, make requests or offer suggestions in the comments.

Fells Point & Harbor East

  • Ale Mary’s— A neighborhood tavern with nice bar food popular among locals. Their bread pudding is raved about consistently.
  • Alexander’s Tavern— A popular spot for drinks and bar food (especially wings and burgers), I’m told the tater tots (especially Maryland style served with crab dip) are great.
  • Bad Decisions—Popular low key bar with a wildly popular bacon night themed menu each month.
  • Baltimore Tattoo Museum— While there IS a museum component, this is also a spot for getting tattooed.
  • Bertha’s—Famous for their mussels, Bertha’s is a favorite among tourists and locals. Also rumored to be haunted, this spot has been a bar under varying names for ages.
  • Blue Moon Cafe—A popular brunch spot offering generous portions at reasonable prices. Be prepared to wait for your table though.
  • Bonaparte Breads— Enjoy lunch or a coffee break by the harbor at this friendly French bakery.
  • Cat’s Eye—Drink with the locals or just pretend you’re a privateer at this colorful pub popular for its live music.
  • Charleston— Rated consistently one of the top restaurants in the city. A nice option for special occasions.
  • Ding How— Dependable Chinese food at reasonable prices.
  • Duda’s—Family owned and operated since the 1940s, offering bar food and drinks with decades of character.
  • Johnny Rad’s— Punk rock, skateboarding pizza and beer with skeeball in the back room.
  • Liquid Earth—Vegan, vegetarian and fresh juice cafe. Good espresso too!
  • Max’s— A perfect spot for beer lovers.
  • One Eyed Mike’s—Hidden gem of a local bar with nice bar food, inviting local atmosphere and the world’s first Grand Mariner club to boot.
  • Pabu—Excellent Japanese restaurant for a special night out.
  • Patisserie Poupon—Amazing French pastries and treats.
  • Pitango Gelato—High end ingredients make for high quality, tasty gelato in inventive flavors.
  • Sound Garden— I love this music store.
  • Stuggy’s—Fresh cut fries, Boylan’s sodas on tap and most importantly, GREAT dogs!
  • Waterfront Kitchen—Popular brunch and upscale dining spot right on the water.
  • Wharf Rat— Rumored to be haunted, this pub has been here for ages and has the welcoming atmosphere to prove it.
  • Wit & Wisdom— Upscale interpretations of familiar dishes made with high end ingredients.

Canton & Brewer’s Hill

  • Annabel Lee Tavern—A neighborhood favorite with savory fries and burgers, tasty cocktails and beers and plenty of vegetarian options on the menu.
  • Dangerously Delicious Pies—Sweet & savory treats for pie lovers.
  • Fork & Wrench—A self-proclaimed “boutique dive bar” perhaps better described as a gastropub.
  • JD’s Smokehouse— Dependable bar food with a long beer list. If you’re a meat eater, try their wings or the oft raved about brisket.
  • Mama’s on the Half Shell—A good spot for seafood on Canton Square.
  • Nacho Mama’s—Tasty Mexican bar food. Consider ordering a hubcap margarita served IN A HUBCAP, best to split with friends, unless you’re actually trying to wipe the slate clean with a serious hangover.

Mt. Vernon | AmandaMuses

Mt. Vernon and Midtown-ish

  • 13th Floor—Dinner & drinks with a view
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO)—Enjoy an evening of world class entertainment with the BSO.
  • The Brewer’s Art—Whether enjoying an upscale meal in the dining room upstairs or a late night snack in the bar downstairs try a pint of their award winning brews.
  • City Cafe—Upscale food without the fuss.
  • The Owl Bar—Large menus of drinks & eats in a piece of Baltimore history.
  • Two Boots Pizza—Started in New York in the 1980s, Two Boots brings the flavors of New York and New Orleans together on a pizza. Open late most nights, they even offer a gluten-free pizza, yum!
  • Walters Art Museum—Explore world art history in an afternoon at the Walters–from 20th century Europe to pre-dynastic Egypt, Old Masters and loads in between this spot is not to be missed.

Station North

  • Baltimore Print Studios— Ever wanted to learn about letterpress or screen printing? This is the place. Workshops are offered monthly and studio rentals for trained printers are available 4 days a week.
  • Charles Theatre—Baltimore’s favorite indie movie house.
  • The Chesapeake— Recently reopened and offering regional specialties.
  • Liam Flynn’s Ale House—Friendly local pub specializing in British Isles Ales, Whisk(e)ys & Ciders.
  • Lost City Diner—Late night comfort food with lots of vegan options.
  • Red Emma’s—Radical bookstore also serving vegetarian food and house roasted coffee.
  • Tapas Teatro—Enjoy a bite before a movie at the Charles next door or candlelit date night.
  • The Windup Space— Part gallery, part bar, part music venue.

Hampden Flamingo | AmandaMuses


  • Art House Cafe— Part gallery, part cafe. Enjoy wood fired pizzas and fresh salads in this friendly spot.
  • Atomic Books—Their old tagline sums things up pretty well: “Literary finds for mutated minds!.”
  • The Charmery— Handmade premium ice cream made with local ingredients & clever rotating flavors & sundae menu.
  • Choux—Lovely baked goods & fresh salads with a modern aesthetic.
  • Corner BYOB—Modern European with a knack for exotic meats. Self-described “refined peasant fare and continental comfort food.”
  • David’s 1st &10—Surprising, thoughtful bar food served in this sports bar full of neighborhood character, a zillion TVs, and an impressive serpentine bar with loads of taps and drink choices.
  • Golden West—Whether stopping for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, the Golden West offers a large menu of Americana and Southwestern favorites featuring lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
  • Grano Pasta Bar— While there is a larger Grano Emporium up the street, the original pasta bar is where it’s at. The place is tiny so you may have to wait, but once seated you will be treated to incredibly fresh salads and pasta dishes made before you eyes. BYOB.
  • Holy Frijoles—Rock n’ Roll Mexican. House made chips are way too tasty at this solid spot for drinks, as long as you like your music LOUD.
  • In Watermelon Sugar— Another great bet for gifts and small personal goodies. A colorful assortment of cosmetics and jewelry invites you in and an array of housewares, paper goods and seasonal gifts and decor fills the second room of this charming shop.
  • Luigi’s Deli & Market— Stop for lunch and enjoy a sandwich or selection of prepared foods or pick up ingredients for a nice dinner at home.
  • Ma Petite Shoe— Shoes and chocolate. Seriously. What more do you need?
  • Mud & Metal— Discover funky art, gifts and jewelry at this friendly independent shop. “Art to live with.”
  • Paradiso—Antique to modern furniture, art and housewares.
  • Rocket to Venus—Generally clever interpretations of familiar favorites with lots of vegetarian options & a bit of a rock vibe.
  • Service Photo—Whether you need to repair or replace your camera or just stock your studio or darkroom, Service Photo is THE place for service in Baltimore!
  • Spro Coffee— Progressive American coffeeshop that brews every cup to order.
  • Trohv— Often noted as a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs, Trohv really is a treasure trove of goodies ranging from furniture and wearables to cards, baby goods and all manner of housewares.


  • Artifact Coffee—Handcrafted coffees, treats and informal eats.
  • Birroteca—Craft beer, wine and artisan pizza.
  • Corradetti Glass—Browse the shop gallery and pick out a gift for a special occasion, try a mini workshop or class or just admire the ancient craft of glassblowing.
  • Woodberry Kitchen—Farm to table food heaven.

Belvedere Square

  • Greg’s Bagel’s— Soft, fresh, flavorful bagels handmade everyday. Arguably Baltimore’s best bagels with high end ingredients and toppings.
  • Shoofly Diner—Farm to table American favorites handcrafted imaginatively.
  • The Senator Theatre—Baltimore’s favorite historic movie house. Catch a show a this art deco beauty and enjoy a meal in one of the nearby cafes.

Other Guides to Baltimore

Think something’s miss­ing or want something more spe­cific not included on the list? Just leave a comment or email me and I will add it in. Happy Trails!

Denver Guide

08/02/2012 — Leave a comment

It’s been a few years, but some of you may recall the days when I lived in colorful Colorado. Over the last few months, a number of colleagues and fellow travelers have sought Colorado and Denver-specific recommendations with surprising regularity. So in the interest of simplifying things, I’ve begun assembling a more complete list of Denver food and entertainment recommendations. For those unacquainted with the city, here are a few quick ideas in a few neighborhoods before the list:

Capitol Hill
Spend an afternoon strolling through the Denver Botanical gardens admiring flora from around the globe or settle into their cafe for a hot beverage and free wifi. Not a garden person? Stroll through Cheesman Park for a little exercise and people (and dog) watching or admire the striking pavilion at the top of the park’s hill. Stop in at Wyman’s No. 5 along 13th Avenue for a pint or a deep dish Chicago pie. Or cool off a few doors down at Liks for a scoop of fresh local ice cream or a thick milkshake. A few blocks across Colfax, St. Mark’s Coffeehouse offers a neighborhood hangout with a wide assortment of teas and coffee drinks, sandwiches and pastries. Stop in next door at the Thin Man for a cocktail and good conversation; be sure to try their house infused vodkas or seasonal cocktails.

Congress Park
Further east down Colfax, just across from Eastern High, resides the Tattered Cover (its new location since moving from Cherry Creek) in the old Lowenstein Theater. A Denver legend, the Tattered Cover is a temple to the printed word with a staff and inventory to prove it. A trip downtown to LoDo offers an even bigger Tattered Cover. Continue a few more blocks east on Colfax and stop in at Mezcal for dinner or Happy Hour (or even brunch on the weekend) or next door at the Goosetown Tavern for a burger and a round of pool. Cross the street for a show at the historic Bluebird Theater; then kick back for a beer at the Atomic Cowboy.

Lower Highlands
Not a far from LoDo, at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the S. Platte River lies lush Confluence Park, just at the base of the Highlands. Stroll through the park for people and dog watching or spend an hour picnicking or flying a kite. Cross the bridge and you’ll find yourself along Platte street which offers light shopping and a few local eateries. Pull up a chair at a popular bohemian coffeeshop, Paris on the Platte or visit its neighboring wine bar for a more quiet evening. A few doors down is the local hit, Savory, which offers the freshest herbs and spices from around the world, ground fresh weekly in small batches on the premises. Continue down Platte Street and visit Denver’s REI flagship store for outdoor gear with a view, or stop in at My Brother’s Bar for a relaxed burger and pint. A few doors down, Mona’s offers a popular spot for weekend brunch.


Argonaut—(Capitol Hill) 760 E. Colfax at Clarkson
The only liquor store you could ever need, Argonaut seems to have it all. With a knowledgeable and helpful staff, this palace to man’s favorite poison offers obscure and familiar selections alike. Looking for more unconventional Colorado souvenir? Toddle down the whiskey aisle and pickup a bottle of Stranahan’s micro-batch handcrafted Colorado whiskey. Like the Argonaut, it won’t disappoint!

Atomic Cowboy—(Congress Park)3237 E. Colfax at Adams
Fun all around bar for locals and visitors alike. Don’t let their Flash website deter you, they’re fun and friendly at the Atomic Cowboy.

Buenos Aires Pizzeria1307 22nd & Larimer
Savory pizzas and heavenly empanadas delight at this quiet spot tucked in the shadow of Coors Field, home to the Colorado Rockies.

City o’ City206 E. 13th & Pearl
Welcoming local bar, sister to Watercourse Foods. Local coffee and pastries available to go or pull up a chair in the bar and order some light fare. Their Mediterranean sampler is great.

The Cruise Room—(LoDo) 1600 17th St
Located in the old (reportedly haunted) Oxford Hotel, the Cruise Room is not to be missed on any visit to Denver. Whether for a single cocktail or a festive night with friends, the Cruise Room serves classic cocktails executed masterfully by professional mixologists in a perfect reproduction of a lounge on the Queen Mary. Food from McCormick’s next door is available as well, simply ask your bartender.

Delite32 S. Broadway
Inventive top-shell cocktails and tapas in a cool package prepared by the same chef/owner as neighboring Deluxe.

Deluxe30 S. Broadway &
Chef owned and operated American bistro serving up imaginative dishes. Reservations are not required but highly recommended at this local hot spot.

Go Fish1 S. Broadway & Ellsworth
Cheap, fast and friendly is the name of the game at Go Fish. Curl up with hot saki and buckwheat noodle soup on cold days, or enjoy a sushi happy hour.

Goosetown Tavern—(Congress Park) 3242 E. Colfax at Adams
A popular neighborhood bar with solid bar foods and friendly bartenders. Crowds can get overwhelming with shows at the Bluebird.

The Hornet76 Broadway & 2nd
Hip bar with a wide beer selection and well delivered American bar foods. In the mood for a snack? Try their nachos. Not a night owl? Come back on the weekend for brunch complete with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar.

The Horseshoe
Laid back and a little divey, the Horseshoe offers drinks and cheap eats with a side of pool and darts. Some nights they crank up the party with live music.

Liks Ice Cream—(Capitol Hill) 2039 E. 13th at Race
Family-owned small batch creamery serving up tasty treats with complex flavors to delight all ages.

Little Ollie’s— (Cherry Creek) 23 E. 3rd & University
Arguably some of if not the best asian food in town. Everything is super fresh at this local eatery which delivers big on style and taste.

Lucile’s275 S. Logan at Alameda
After a weekend visit to Lucile’s for brunch or breakfast, it’s hard not to fantasize about eating here daily. Celebrate the weekend with a bloody mary or just relax with the best creole comfort food you’ve ever had outside of Louisiana.

Mezcal—(Congress ParK) 3230 E. Colfax & Adams
Worth the trip to the east on Colfax for this local gem. Choice Happy Hour specials and a nice spot for dinner or even brunch. Great cocktails and probably the biggest tequila selection in town. If in the mood for cocktails, try a Mojada or Dark & Stormy. Don’t miss their spiced coffee if you’re in for brunch.

My Brother’s Bar—(Lower Highlands) 2376 15th & Platte
Largely unchanged since the ’50s, My Brother’s Bar is a safe bet for a relaxing burger and reasonably priced pitcher of beer. Don’t miss their patio on warm evenings.

Pablo’s Coffee630 6th Ave at Washington
First-rate Indie coffee shop serving up tasty baked goods and playful coffees.

Paris on the Platte1553 Platte & 15th
A popular destination among locals, Paris on the Platte seems to be a bit of an indie institution. Not a big coffee drinker, or in the mood for something more quiet? Stop in next door at Paris’ wine bar for a nice selection of domestic and international wines and light fare; their cheese boards are a perfect complement to a glass (or two) of wine.

St. Mark’s Cafe2019 E. 17th & Race
One of the ultimate local hangout bohemian coffeeshops. Right next door to The Thin Man, both owned by the same local family.

Sam’s #31500 Curtis & 15th
Arguably the best classic diner in Denver, serving up the massive portions you’d expect from a classic American diner. Cozy up for leisurely breakfast with friends, or try one of their rich milkshakes.

Snooze2262 Larimer St & 23rd
Fantastic brunch spot, offering clever interpretations of breakfast favorites. Using high quality ingredients from conscientious producers, brunch at Snooze isn’t the cheapest, but it’s worth the long wait.

Sputnik 3 S. Broadway & Ellsworth
A funky neighborhood bar with an artsy side offering a broad assortment of food including lots of vegetarian options (consider the Vietnamese sandwich or sweet potato fries). Check out the rotating display of work from local artists or stop in for a drink before a show at the Hi Dive.

Steuben’s—(Capitol Hill) 523 E 17th Ave Pkwy at Pearl St.
Heavenly food always served–comfort food for grown-ups. Open late and a favorite among locals for brunch. Wait ’til after 3pm and try their wonderful mashed potatoes.

Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs3525 E. Colfax at Monroe
In the mood for quick, easy comfort food? Steve’s has you covered. With authentic Chicago hot dogs, burgers, fresh squeezed lemon- and limeade, golden fries and a host of other goodies, this spot is great for travelers with little ones. Try the green beans for a something a little different with your dog.

Table 6603 E. Corona at 6th
Don’t miss this upscale American bistro. A nice spot for a “fancier” dinner without the fuss of a “fancy” restaurant.

The Thin Man —(Capitol Hill) 2015 E. 17th & Race
Great neighborhood bar with lots of character. Try their house infused vodkas or seasonal cocktails. Food is typically available from St. Mark’s next door, just ask the bartenders.

Tommy’s Thai—(Congress Park) 3410 E. Colfax & Cook
Family owned and operated, Tommy’s cooks up fresh Thai favorites at modest prices. Their simple, clean and modern interior makes for a pleasant lunch or a fast but tasty dinner.

Watercourse—(Capitol Hill) 837 E. 17th & Emerson
A local favorite for vegetarian fare, nice for a leisurely weekend meal. Great fries, try the French Dip Sandwich.

Wazee Supper Club—(LoDo) 1600 15th & Wazee
Known and celebrated by locals for their pizza, Wazee Supper Club is the perfect spot for a casual night out with friends. Their kitchen is open late and they feature a late night happy hour from 10-Midnight.

Wyman’s No.5—(Capitol Hill) 2033 E. 13th
Chicago deep dish pizzas in the Rockies? Oh yes. This warm and friendly neighborhood bar delivers on their promise of Chicago deep dish and familiar bar foods.

Wynkoop Brewing Company—(LoDo) 1634 18th & Wynkoop
Small batch beers, attentive service and one of the city’s best pool halls all make the Wynkoop a favorite brew pub among locals and travelers alike.

Zengo1610 Little Raven St.
Interesting Latin-Asian fusion with flavorful cocktails. Generally noted as a bit pricey so perhaps best for happy hour or celebrations.


3 Kings60 S. Broadway
It’s always a party at Denver’s answer to a raucous rock bar.

The Bluebird Theater—(Congress Park) 3317 E. Colfax between Adams & Cook
One of Denver’s favorite venues, the historic Bluebird offers an intimate setting for live music. Overwhelmed by the crowd? Try a little more breathing room in the balcony upstairs.

The Denver Art Museum (DAM)100 W. 14th at Bannock
Admire the new(ish) Hamilton wing from inside and out, or browse their collections of contemporary and historic art. Don’t miss the DAM’s impressive collection of Native American art.

Denver Botanical Gardens—(Capitol Hill) 1007 York St. between 9th & 11th Avenues
With 43 individual gardens and hundreds of species from around the globe, the Denver Botanical Gardens has something for everyone (even free wifi).

Denver Zoo—(City Park) 23rd between Colorado Blvd. & York
Sick of museums, bars and cafes? How about an afternoon at the Denver Zoo? Whether you’ve got kiddos in tow or not, the zoo is a fun break, boasting 3,500 animals from over 650 species most in lovely updated, naturalistic habitats.

El Chapultepec—(NW LoDo) 1962 Market & 20th
Around since the ’30s, this jazz club still serves up drinks to wake the dead legends who’ve played here. Don’t forget, they’re still a cash-only bar!

The Hi Dive7 S. Broadway & Ellsworth
Denver’s favorite little venue for live music. A little worn in but always a party. Be prepared for a crowd. Stop in next door at Sputnik to refuel with a snack after the show.

The Kirkland Museum1311 Pearl St. at 13th
The mothership of late 19th–20th Century decorative arts located in the heart of the west. An amazing collection of thousands of artifacts from Arts & Crafts to Bauhaus to Pop Art.

The Mayan Theatre110 Broadway between 1st & 2nd
Funky historic theater showing the latest indie flicks. Head upstairs for a cocktail from their full bar to complement your popcorn. Still hungry after the movie? Just cross the street to the Hornet for well-done bar food classics.

The Skylark — 140 S. Broadway at Maple
A trip back in time to a relaxed bar with live music most weekends and great jukeboxes upstairs and down. Head upstairs for pool and shuffleboard!

Tattered Cover Books—(multiple locations)2526 E. Colfax & Columbine OR in LoDo at 1628 16th & Wynkoop
Time generally ceases to exist in this local temple to books. Browse through your favorite book sections, or find help with their knowledgeable and friendly staff. Refuel at their coffee counter.

Twist & Shout—(Congress Park) 2526 E. Colfax & Columbine
Like its neighbor, the Tattered Cover, Twist & Shout seems to be enjoying the extra leg room in its new locale. Offering movies, music (on all manner of media including, yes, vinyl) and a host of toys and merch Twist & Shout is a popular spot to browse for gifts or replacements for the obscure albums you lost moving to your first real job after college.

The Walnut Room—(RiNo) 3131 Walnut St
Some people know it as a nice music venue, others recognize it as a fun spot for unique pizzas; either way the Walnut Room is worth a trip to RiNo (River North Art District).

Need more ideas and haven’t time to ask? Checkout Design*Sponge’s Denver Design Guide! This fantastic list goes in to greater detail about shopping than I have here.

Think something’s missing or want some thing more specific not included on the list? Just email me and I will add it into a follow-up post!

Happy Trails!