Baltimore is one of the best cities for foodies in Maryland, thanks to a culinary boom that’s intertwined with Chesapeake Bay seafood classics. Its many neighbourhoods, such as Inner Harbor, Little Italy and Fells Point, offer diverse dining opportunities.

    Charm City, as the seaport city is fondly called, is home of the delicious, yet pricey crab cakes. Even so, you can also find a thriving international cuisine scene. From upscale Afghani to Asian fusion, you’ll find just about any type of cuisine in Baltimore’s flourishing local food scene. Check out our guide to places locals love to eat in Baltimore.

    1

    Faidley’s Seafood

    Home of Baltimore’s finest crab cakes

    • Food

    Faidley’s Seafood’s world-famous crab cakes is a must-try and no foodie guide to Baltimore would be complete without highlighting it. This joint is located in Lexington Market, one of the longest-running public markets in the USA. It also sources fresh and high-quality seafood every day, giving you a plethora of options besides crab cakes.

    The standing-room-only oyster and clam bar is excellent for enjoying raw seafood, and a warm bowl of clam chowder makes for a comforting meal on a cold autumnal day. If you can’t decide on just 1 item, Faidley’s Pick Three Assortment Platter allows you to sample whatever catches your fancy. Try visiting in the mid-afternoon to avoid the downtown lunch invasion.

    Location: 203 N Paca St, Baltimore, MD 21201 USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 410-727-4898

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    2

    Annabel Lee Tavern

    A romantic date-night spot with upscale comfort

    • Food
    • Couples

    Annabel Lee Tavern is a cosy eatery in the Canton area of Baltimore. It has a literary flair, named after Edgar Allen Poe’s last poem. A contrast to the dark themes of the author’s writings, its vibe is warm and welcoming, the staff genial, and the food creative.

    Start your evening with a serving of chunky buffalo mushrooms glazed in hot sauce or the refined blackened tuna wontons. For mains, try the Annabel Lee staple – tuna panini served on divine grilled flatbread. The accompanying cocktail list is full of Poe-themed concoctions with creative names, such as The Masque of the Red Death. Don’t leave without indulging in the gut-busting Edgar A. triple-chocolate pate. The tavern only has around 50 seats, so make sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

    Location: 601 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD 21224 USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 4 pm to 1 am, Sunday from noon to midnight

    Phone: +1 410-522-2929

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    3

    The Helmand

    Serving up authentic Afghan cuisine in an elegant setting

    • Food

    Located in Midtown Baltimore, The Helmand has been delighting locals with exotic Middle Eastern flavours since 1989. The menu has plenty of succulent meats and aromatic vegetable dishes that satisfy patrons’ hunger and curiosity.

    The feature dish of The Helmand is kaddo borwani – a paradox of sweet and savoury with pan-fried pumpkin drizzled with garlic-yoghurt sauce. Make sure to order a couple of servings of pillowy naan to polish off any leftover sauce, as well as an order of tender meatballs for a well-rounded meal. A fun fact about The Helmand – the owners are directly related to the former Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

    Location: 806 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +1 410-752-0311

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    photo by Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Chaps Pit Beef

    Home to the finest pit beef sandwich in Baltimore

    • Food

    Chaps Pit Beef is a low-key stand serving up Baltimore’s famous pit beef sandwich. Located in the Pulaski Industrial Area, this no-frills sandwich shop has constant lines running around its building.

    Here, the pit beef is directly cooked over charcoal, then thinly sliced before piled high on a soft bun. Finally, it’s topped with grated horseradish and raw onions. If you return for a second visit – which is highly likely – try the house-made pork sandwich. Pair either sandwich with one of Chaps Pit Beef's home-style sides and you'll have a very filling meal.

    Location: 5801 Pulaski Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21205 USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 10.30 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 10.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 410-483-2379

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    5

    Thames Street Oyster House

    Classic oyster house in modern digs

    • Food

    For a different type of Chesapeake seafood, head to Thames Street Oyster House, located in the historic Fells Point district. Enjoy a drink at the downstairs main bar, revel in gorgeous views of the bay from the upstairs dining area, or sip an Orange Crush on the peaceful patio.

    Serving only the freshest seafood nightly, the loaded raw bar is a must-try for shellfish lovers. Divulge in a New England-style lobster roll or cast iron crab cakes, along with a tossed cucumber salad and a shareable lobster pie. Join the throng of local ‘yo-pros' taking advantage of dynamite weekday happy hour deals from 5 pm to 7 pm.

    Location: 1728 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 3.30 pm to 8 pm, Friday–Saturday from noon to 8.30 pm, Sunday from noon to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 443-449-7726

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    6

    Di Pasquale’s Italian Marketplace

    Baltimore’s Italian staple for over a century

    • Food
    • Shoppers

    Di Pasquale’s Italian Marketplace is part cosy dining experience, part speciality food market. Featuring traditional Italian fare at its finest, this is a true Italian ‘bring-your-appetite’ adventure.

    The homemade lasagne covered in made-fresh-daily mozzarella – meat or vegetable – is the go-to item for locals. But don’t stop there, order a delicious brick-oven pizza along with a warm bowl of minestrone. Top it all off with a cannoli or fried dough stuffed with Italian Nutella. The staff makes you feel like part of an Italian family, but don’t lollygag as DI Pasquale’s closes at 6 pm.

    Location: 3700 Gough St, Baltimore, MD 21224 USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 410-276-6787

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    7

    Woodberry Kitchen

    Rustic eatery serving up New American cuisine

    • Food

    Woodberry Kitchen is a leader in Baltimore's farm-to-table movement, sourcing only seasonal produce from local farms. The brick walls and high ceilings shed light on its past as a forgotten steel mill, yet the natural light makes this 2-storey restaurant feel bright and airy. Patrons looking for an intimate dining experience should head to the cavernous upper level – otherwise, grab a seat in the chic main hall or massive patio.

    The gluten-free menu is robust with options ranging from creative seafood dishes to zucchini topped flatbreads, indulgent desserts, and a stellar cocktail list. However, Baltimore natives truly flock to Woodberry Kitchen for 2 things – the Tilghman Island crab cake and the CMP (ice cream sundae topped with hot fudge and marshmallows).

    Location: 2010 Clipper Park Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211 USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 410-464-8000

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    8

    Ekiben

    A taste of Asia in the heart of Fells Point

    • Food

    Ekiben’s diminutive storefront is packed daily with patrons looking to divulge in its Asian fusion delicacies. Combining Ethiopian, Thai, Taiwanese and Indian flavours, the creative owners have made tofu and bean curds must-try dishes in Baltimore.

    The fast-casual eatery is mostly known for its Neighbourhood Bird dish – Taiwanese-style fried chicken with sambal mayo and pickled cucumber. Make sure to grab a steamed bun sandwich before exploring Fells Point. Ekiben also has a popup menu on Wednesdays, serving seasonal dishes and local craft beers.

    Location: 1622 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21231 USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 3.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 3.30 pm and from 4.30 pm to 11 pm

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    9

    Petit Louis Bistro

    Baltimore’s power lunch mainstay

    • Food

    Petit Louis is Baltimore's go-to lunch spot, offering a French café ambience partnered with an impeccable menu. Situated north of the city, in the Roland Park neighbourhood, wine with lunch is absolutely acceptable here.

    The rotating prix-fixe lunch menu is the best way to enjoy French cuisine. It offers unique appetizers such as squash beignets, hearty meat-based entrées, and scrumptious desserts such as chocolate mousse. Keep your eye out for the roaming cheese cart circling the tables regularly. Reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.

    Location: 4800 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210 USA

    Open: Monday from 5 pm to 9 pm, Tuesday–Thursday and Sunday from 10.30 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm, Friday from 11.30 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 10 pm, Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 410-366-9393

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    10

    Station North Arts Café Gallery

    All-day breakfast in an artsy setting

    • Food

    Station North Arts Café Gallery in Baltimore’s arts district combines beautiful local art with affordable comfort food. Here, colourful portraits and abstract art watch over you as you dig into a platter of stacked pancakes covered in syrup.

    Simple home-cooked food is why locals flock to the cafe – standouts include the soft Belgian waffles and Reuben sandwich served with tomato soup. You’ll feel like you are eating in grandma's kitchen thanks to friendly banter and big smiles. Station North Arts Café Gallery is excellent for a quick lunch before gallery-hopping North Avenue for the day.

    Location: 131 W North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21201 USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +1 410-685-0039

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    Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer

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