Chances are you’ve already heard Baltimore earn rave reviews for its rich history, awesome aquarium, and thriving music scene. But did you know it has a rockin’ culinary circuit, too? And we’re talking about more than just crab cakes and Berger cookies — which remain no-brainers, of course.
In recent years Charm City has made a name for itself in the foodie sphere, with exciting additions joining old standbys on the must-do list. Visitors can sample a range of casual and fancy fare, including fresh-from-the-Chesapeake seafood, comfort food just like mom used to make, and an abundance of Old Bay-seasoned, well … everything.
Baltimoreans have been sampling Old Bay’s zesty flavoring for 75-plus years, and today it complements much more than bountiful crab platters (found at popular spots like Nick’s Fish House or Canton Dockside). Visitors can also sample the seasoning in their drinks (on omnipresent Bloody Mary rims) and in breakfast dishes. For one, try Blue Moon Cafe’s Sweet Baby Jesus, which features hash browns and crabmeat topped with eggs and hollandaise sauce. Dessert time at Gertrude’s showcases a delightful candy-bar treat with an Old Bay/Mojo Sauce, and B&O American Brasserie at our Hotel Monaco Baltimore usually has housemade Old Bay-dusted popcorn or potato chips as bar snacks.
To experience the distinctive flavors of this multipersonality town, head to areas like Fell’s Point — the city’s oldest neighborhood — known for it’s gorgeous water views and a New Orleans-esque vibe. Breakfast dishes reign supreme at comfort-food hangouts like Jimmy’s Restaurant and Blue Moon Cafe. Another nearby treasure is Peter’s Inn — a former farmhouse and a former biker bar — today serving soft-shell crab with orange hollandaise and a signature steak.
North of downtown you’ll find a beloved, don’t-miss restaurant: Woodberry Kitchen. It’s the leader of the pack in the city’s farm-to-table movement and has earned major props nationally. In fact, chef Spike Gjerde was recently named the Mid-Atlantic’s best chef by the James Beard Foundation, earning Baltimore its first James Beard Award in the process. The revamped factory features a hip, rustic-chic ambiance and New American fare that features local product from both land and sea. Other locavore hot spots in town range from Fork and Wrench to Fleet Street Kitchen to Dooby’s.
When it comes to satisfying that sweet tooth, consider Little Italy’s Piedigrotta Bakery. Rumor has it that owner Carminantonio Iannaccone invented Italy’s most beloved dessert — tiramisù. If ice cream’s your thing, visit The Charmery, a quirky, family-owned shop not far from the Johns Hopkins campus.
Have we mentioned Baltimore’s booming beverage scene? Move over Natty Boh; Maryland’s recently seen a surge of breweries, and some popular venues include Union Craft Brewing, Brewer’s Art, and Heavy Seas. Grab a local brew at favorites like Pratt Street Ale House, Of Love and Regret, Heavy Seas Alehouse, and Max’s Taphouse.
To properly experience Charm City’s cocktail highlights, relish creative concoctions at WC Harlan, Bar Clavel, and Rye. Grabbing a cool one at B&O American Brasserie is a smart choice, too — head bartender Brendan Dorr happens to also be president of the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild. (You can check out how to make Brendan’s Le Citron Fizz right here.)
So enough about history and fish tanks … let’s grab a drink and toast fine dining in Baltimore.