Note from Jeremy: This is a guest post by Emma Young, a Ph.D. student in ecology & evolution at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She’s from Baltimore, so she knows the city inside-out. Thanks for sharing your love of your hometown, Emma! This is our second guest post on where to eat and drink Baltimore.
Federal Hill/Convention Center area:
Faidley’s is a classic Baltimore seafood experience, and if you’re searching for crab cakes, look no further. Although you can get freshly shucked raw oysters, amazing cole slaw, cheap beer, and a variety of other seafood at Faidley’s, its crab cake steals the show – one of the best, and most informal, in Baltimore. The space has several long tables with no chairs (standing only), and you order at the counter. Although you can get fresh steamed crabs to go as well, picking crabs is probably more enjoyable elsewhere – a place with chairs, for example. Faidley’s is part of the historic Lexington Market, an interesting assemblage of indoor shops, restaurants and stalls. If you’re interested in walking, Saturday morning is the best time to go, as the Market isn’t in the best part of town.
Hersh’s Pizza & Drinks
Located in historic Federal Hill, Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks has, as you might hope, great pizza, beers, and cocktails, in addition to housemade pasta and other great food. A favorite among Baltimore’s chefs and foodies alike, Hersh’s is well-loved and definitely not one to miss.
Also located in Federal Hill, Ryleigh’s has a great raw oyster selection, craft beers, and slightly elevated bar staples, like salads, wings, and burgers. Their highlight, however, is Shore Night: every Tuesday from 5-10 PM, Ryleigh’s offers $3 crabs, $1 oysters, with various happy hour drink specials. Make sure you get there early, as space fills up fast!
A former dive bar in historic Fells Point, Peters Inn is a casual farm-to-table restaurant featuring food with an upscale presentation and locally sourced ingredients. They don’t take reservations, but they have a fully stocked bar to ease the wait.
Thames St. Oyster House
Widely regarded as one of the best seafood restaurants in the city – if you want to see what Baltimore has to offer, skip Phillips and try the Thames St. Oyster House. Local tip: their lobster roll is incredibly popular and regularly wins national awards. Those against seafood beware; the menu is almost exclusively fish and shellfish.
Rye doesn’t serve food, but the establishment boasts a fully stocked bar, handcrafted cocktails, and is undoubtedly a destination for all those who appreciate dark liquor. The menu has a wide selection of rye, scotch, and bourbon that pairs well with the hip yet classic atmosphere.
Wit & Wisdom
Located within the Four Seasons Hotel, Wit & Wisdom is one of many bars and restaurants within the newly updated Harbor East neighborhood. It’s classy and upscale (definitely not cheap!) but the food and drinks are hard to beat, as is the view of the Inner Harbor. There’s a special happy hour menu with a selection of affordable snacks for those who want to sample the fare but are more budget-inclined.
Fleet Street Kitchen
Located between Harbor East and Little Italy, Fleet Street Kitchen is a great place to go if some people in your dining party are interested in seafood, while others are inclined towards more terrestrial selections. The menu is seasonal, and they have a full array of beer, wine, and cocktails.
Elsewhere around the city:
Woodberry Kitchen (Woodberry)
Although a bit of a hike from downtown, Woodberry is definitely worth a visit. The owner and head chef, Spike Gjerde, is the 2015 James Beard Award winner for best chef in the mid-Atlantic, among other things. Woodberry boasts locally sourced ingredients (from the fish, to the vegetables, to the bread baked in-house), clever, inventive cocktails, great preparation, and a menu that changes daily. Be sure to make reservations – the tables are always full.
Parts and Labor (Remington)
Another more recently opened restaurant opened by Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen (above). Open hearth, amazing meat selection (burgers, steaks, charcuterie), and a full bar to boot.
Di Pasquale’s Marketplace (Highlandtown)
Highland town is, again, quite a hike from downtown, but this small Italian market and deli has amazing sandwiches, wood-fired pizza, pasta, and other Italian staples. If you have the time, it’s an amazing place for lunch, but they close at 6.
The Food Market (Hampden)
Another local favorite, the Food Market is a fairly new restaurant featuring American cuisine and great cocktails. If you can’t get a private seat, you can always sit at the community table!
Ryleigh’s Oyster (Federal Hill)
As I mentioned above, on Tuesday evenings Ryleigh’s transforms from an oyster bar into a temporary crab house. Although not on the water, $3 crabs and $1 oysters is a great deal, and the grilled corn on the cob is delicious.
Nick’s Fish House (Riverside)
Nick’s is located a bit to the south of Federal Hill. It’s a fairly big, recently renovated establishment with a large deck directly on the water. They have just about everything “crab” that you can imagine (steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab dip, crab pretzels, cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup… you get the idea), but they also have a variety of other options, from seafood to burgers. And yes, you can get beer in a bucket.
LP Steamers (Locust Point)
LP Steamers is frequented by locals, and is a very “Baltimore” establishment – not fancy in the least, completely casual atmosphere. Located near Fort McHenry, LP’s has a full bar on the first floor, with steamed crabs on the open-air second floor. Although not on the water, it’s as close to a classic Baltimore summer dining experience as you can get.
If you’re interested in further getting to know how Charm City eats and drinks, my friend and local foodie Amy Langrehr has a wonderful blog, Charm City Cook, which is chock-full of information about local restaurants, food, and cocktails.