At Tark's Grill, diners arrive early for a shot at Table 601, with views of the patio scene and the goings-on at the bar. At Hampden's hot new Food Market, regulars have started zeroing in on the two quiet tables by the front window.

And at Kali's Court, regulars are willing to squeeze eight people around Table 2, which comfortably seats four.

How does a table go from run of the mill to top of the heap? A beautiful view helps. In this clubby business town, it's still see-and-be-seen, and many hall-of-fame tables put diners front and ever-so-slightly off-center. But a new Baltimore style is emerging as well: Taking a page out of the nightclub book, these tables are see-and-not-be-seen.

Many restaurateurs demur when asked to name the famous names at their establishments — a few decline outright to discuss desirable tables, for fear of ruffling feathers. But 10 still walked us through the prized seats in town.

The Prime Rib

Quieter tables exist, but Table 1 has charisma and mystique. Says general manager David Derewicz: "It's the Power Table."

Who's dined here? Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier (not at the same time), Rosa Parks, Harry Belafonte, Johnny Unitas and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"Table 1 is the Prime Rib's best view of the world," Derewicz says. It's just inside the side room. Diners see everyone walking through the main room, and everyone walking into the side room must parade by.

1101 N. Calvert St., Midtown-Belvedere; 410-539-1804,

The Food Market

Tables 54 and 55 aren't perfect. They're by the bar. One side of each stainless-steel table has banquette seating; the other has stools.

But chef and co-owner Chad Gauss thought chef's prep tables would work by the front windows, originally deemed waiting space. Now, regulars request them when making reservations, which aren't easy to come by.

The tables are relatively quiet. Diners facing in view the Food Market scene; those facing out see the Avenue and the unlucky stiffs waiting for a table.

1017 W. 36th St., Hampden; 410-366-0606,