Baltimore, or “Bawlmer,” (if you’re a true local) is standing up to its nickname, Charm City. So charming, that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner after he witnessed the British defeat at the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. That charming.
The city is a hotbed of history and as it’s perfectly located between Washington DC and Philly, it’s not to be missed. Next time you’re driving down the I-95 consider stopping for a walk around the Inner Harbor, or a trip to the Fort McHenry National Monument (aka, where Francis Scott Key wrote the U.S. national anthem).
But we’re here to prioritize the real reason you should get yourself to Baltimore: the food.
Here are the best of the best spots to grab some grub in Charm City, fit for your every craving.
Breakfast of champions
Baltimore blogger Lauren of “Breathe Deeply And Smile” points us to Blue Moon Cafe. With two locations in the city, it couldn’t be easier to get your hands on, wait for it, the Captain Crunch French Toast. This is the definition of comfort food, American style, and it’s brought in travelers from around the nation.
Other notable mentions on the menu: ginormous cinnamon buns and “Sweet Baby Jesus,” made up of fried hash browns, chunky crab-meat, cheese, tomatoes, and eggs all covered in hollandaise sauce. Food coma, anyone?
Brunch for late risers
Baltimore entrepreneur and fitness guru Kate Rowe steers us to Sobo Cafe, a cozy, intimate neighborhood restaurant in Federal Hill. All of their food, breads, and desserts are prepared fresh, from scratch, using seasonal ingredients. Local is the name of the game. It’s a great break from the Inner Harbor area, so go for their everyday specials – from chicken pot pie to mac and cheese and some great vegan dishes!
Something-for-everyone food court
Putting a food court on a foodie guide is painful, but when it’s good, it’s good. And R House is a smorgasbord of cuisines that is simply delicious.
The surroundings set the tone: an industrial-chic food hall in a former body shop with roll-up garage doors will greet your hungry faces. Seating 350, the hall is spacious and offers 10 chef-run stalls, serving everything from Hawaiian poké to Venezuelan arepas and barbecue-flavored ice cream. You’ll want to try ‘em all, and with doors opening at 7am, we can see how one would want to stay there all day.
Driving through Charm City? Picnicking? Stop everything and order takeout from Ekiben, a consensus among all the Baltimore bloggers. Rachel Lipton notes they serve the best steamed buns in the city, calling ‘em a “party in my mouth.” The small menu means you can’t go wrong: choose among four protein options and then choose either a steamed bun (bao) or a rice bowl. Yum.
Under the sea
We’ve waited long enough to mention seafood, but here it is, folks! Blogger Jason chose the ultimate seafood destination for us: Thames Oyster House, serving self-proclaimed “traditional and modern Maryland, Mid-Atlantic, and New England seafood with a spectacular à la carte raw bar.” But it’s the lobster roll that everyone’s raving about, so we say, go for that. You can get your grub (and cocktail!) downstairs next to the main bar or upstairs, and enjoy a quintessential Baltimore view of the water. If it’s nice out, head out to the lovely courtyard.
Back to basics
New York and Chicago are world-renowned, but how ‘bout some Baltimore pizza? Hersh’s is your place, with ingredients that are as farm-to-table as they get. Besides the delicious pies in their wood-burning oven, you’ll find homemade Italian cooking: breads, cheeses, fresh pasta, and sausages.
Another mouth-watering recommendation is Di Pasquale’s. The gourmet specialty deli and market lets you stock up on imported Italian classics and homemade dishes, or take a seat at the adjacent cafe and order away.
The name kinda gives away the vibe, but Charleston is your pick for New American and French plates in a white-tablecloth setting. Rachel tells us to go for the tasting menu: you have the option to order as many courses as you like and dessert is complimentary. Bonus? The chef Cindy Wolf makes her rounds around the restaurant to hear firsthand your foodie feedback. Notable dishes: Artichoke Soup with a Gruyere Pastry and Local Sweet Corn Flan.
South of the border
Lena sends us to Clavel, a family run mezcaleria and taqueria located in Remington, the heart of Baltimore. Clavel means means ‘carnation’ in Spanish, and boy, is it blooming! Beyond the delicious tacos, handmade tortillas and other Mexican-inspired cuisine, Clavel is a mecca for mezcal (the spirit made from different types of agave plants).
Next to your drink
Bar food can be, well, terrible, but it also can be, well, dreamy. Kate sends us to Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, to Lobo – a fun, small spot to get a specialty cocktail and small bite with the locals. Grab a meat and cheese plate, some raw oysters and clams, and pair with an oak-aged cocktail for the win.
Lauren sends us off to another destination – Bar Liquorice, a Locust Point bar that has friendly people, great drinks, and jars of candy at the bar – perfect for the sweet tooth in all of us. The bartender hands out free rosemary garlic popcorn, and we’re told there’s a signature nutella bread pudding. No time for shots at this joint.
Now that you’re equipped with knowledge from Baltimore’s experts, you’re ready explore this glorious city. Whether you call Baltimore home, or are just popping in to explore, don’t forget to get your stuff protected while you’re out on the town. Take Lemonade for a spin, so you can focus on eating, relaxing, and adventuring your way through Maryland, worry-free.
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