Mother’s Grill has become one of our favorite places on Federal Hill because it consistently offers good, reasonably priced food, lots of options and friendly service. Located in the Cross St Market area on Federal Hill (the existing market was built in 1951 but there’s been a market on the site since the 1840’s), it’s a convenient alternative to the Inner Harbor pricier chain restaurants (though finding parking can increasingly drive us crazy). We usually go to Mother’s for wide range of sandwiches, soups, and salads but they also offer regular entrees (as well as brunch on weekends!)
Enter the door, you’ll find yourself at one end of long bar – keep to the right and you’ll find the entrance to the restaurant and the hostess.
Compared to the bar, the dining room an intimate, quieter space with dark pressed tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, colorful artsy posters, 18 or so tables covered in white paper (and perfect for doodling or practicing your drawing!) and a peak into what’s going on in the kitchen.
Mother’s menu asserts that 95% of the food served is made “from scratch” ingredients – I like the sound of that! Soups are homemade and excellent. Marty is a big fan of the “Maryland Crab Soup” ($3.99 cup) which is full of crab meat and spicy veggies.. John gets excited about “Black Bean Chili” ($3.99 cup) with ground beef and topped with cheddar cheese and diced onions (and confesses to using his finger to lick up every last drop!) If you’re hungry, you can get the larger “bowl” for just $1 more. Sandwiches are mostly in the $8-11 range and come with lettuce, chips and pickles. You can add fries ($1), sweet potato fries or onion rings ($2), or avocado ($2). (Marty is in lust with the onion rings! John thinks the fries are better than average and easily worth a buck). There are a couple dozen sandwiches to pick from and picking one isn’t easy because there are a lot that sound good! If you’re feeling brave, try the “Big Buh’s Monster Burger” ($10) with 1 lb of beef! (or save your arteries and get the 8 oz version for $8). Marty was tempted by “Fire on the Moutain” ($9), a chicken breast with avocado, mozzarella and pesto but opted for “Phat Phrank’s Chicken Cheesesteak” ($9). This chicken version of a Philly cheese steak oozing with onions, peppers, and cheese on a club roll proved to be just his thing.
At our most recent visit in 2014/April, we started by taking advantage of a couple of Wednesday night regular specials (Glass of Stella for $3 and 10 boneless wings regularly $10 but half priced at $5). You can get the wings prepared 20 different ways! With help from our waitress, we finally opted for #11 – “My Thai” wings – with a sweet Thai chili sauce with a bit of a kick and blue cheese dip, they proved a great choice.
There are a half dozen entrée sized salads ($8-15) John has tried and enjoyed the “Wild Mushroom Salad” ($9) with sautéed mushrooms on a bed of spinach topped with red peppers, walnuts, feta cheese and tomatoes finished off with balsamic vinaigrette. Undecided which salad to get, John tried the Southwest Chicken Caesar Salad ($13) at our waitress’ recommendation. A bed of romaine was tossed with a Southwestern Caesar dressing and topped with corn, black beans, crispy fried tortilla strips, tomato, and chili seared (a bit too seared and dry though for him to order this one again…) chicken tenders.
There are 20 different ½ lb burgers to pick from for $11 that comes with chips and pickle (Regular Fries will cost you a $1 and Sweet Potato Fries or Fried Onion Rings cost $2 extra) Tom went with #14, the “Ragin’ Cajun” burger with the extra sweet potato fries; the burger was Cajun “Blackened” (but Tom reported gently and not overly hot); it arrived with melted cheddar cheese on top and Creole mustard. He enjoyed it judging from how few crumbs were left on his plate!
There are a lot of interesting entrees (mostly $11-18) which we never tried for no good reason (maybe our mothers always served us soup & sandwiches and being at “Mother’s” influenced our decision <Smile>?) We’ve also been way too good and avoided desserts but we’ve been sorely tempted by the homemade “Pop Pop’s Homemade Ice Cream” ($4 for two big scoops) after seeing people at another table looking mighty happy eating it.
We love a bargain and “Mother’s” has some bargain nights that are worth remembering: On Mondays, there are taco platters for $8, on Tuesday’s, $7 burgers (including the veggie, turkey and even the “monster” burgers), on Wednesday, the ½ price $5 wings, on Thursday, pick from a 12 oz NY Strip, 8oz. Filet, or Crab Cake w/ 1 side all for $13.95 See more at Mother’s web site listing of specials.
FACTS: Mother’s Grille (Federal Hill), 1113 S. Charles St., 410-244-8686, www.mothersgrille.com, (Open 11:30am-11pm Mon-Thur, til 1 am on Sat-Sun) Light fare and full entrees; vegetarian options. When there’s a Ravens and Oriole game, Mother’s can be VERY crowded and finding any parking nearby would require a miracle.
SUGGESTION: Take a walk along S. Charles Street which has interesting shops and art galleries and/or explore the nearby historic Cross St Market