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Trip List by lkirsh

Baltimore Restaurant Recommendations from a Local

May 1, 2006  Baltimore City Local
4.5 of 5 stars based on 13 votes

I'm a Baltimore city native who has built this list in hopes that those who visit will see the absolute best that Baltimore has to offer. From tourist sites to unique neighborhood finds, I'll give you my recommendations on what is worth your time and money. You will not find chain restaurant information here, as I want you to truly experience what is unique to Baltimore while you are here. Welcome to Charm City!

  • Category: Best of
  • Appeals to: Business travelers, Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with teenagers, Students, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Charleston Restaurant
    http://www.charlestonrestaurant.com/

    Local star, and renowned chef, Cindy Wolf, owns and operates this formal restaurant, with a price list to match. Despite the price tag, you will probably have one of the best dining experiences of your life. When it comes to the finest food, superb wine selection and absolute impeccable service, the Charleston wins hands down. This would definitely be a choice for a special occasion dinner.

  • 2. The Wine Market
    http://www.the-wine-market.com/

    The Wine Market is a new addition to the Baltimore dining scene describing itself as a "unique cafe, wine bar and wine shop all under one roof." Set in an old warehouse in the neighborhood of Locust Point, The WIne Market serves up gourmet fare that changes with the season. I enjoy the Mediterranean Lamb "Burger" on Flatbread with Cool Yogurt Dressing and Spicy Fries when dining outside (they have a wonderful outdoor patio located in a courtyard) and also enjoy the Monkfish slow cooked in White Wine, Tomato, and White Beans
    served with Fennel, Proscuitto, Eggplant, Basil, and Capers. I can also highly recommend the side dish of macaroni and cheese. It is the best I've ever tasted! I have tried just about everything on their menu and have NEVER been disappointed. It is just a wonderful atmosphere and very reasonably prices, especially for the quality of food.

    Special Note: Because there is also a wine shop in part of the restaurant, you can request any wine in the store, that may not be on the menu, for a very small corking fee.

  • 3. Pazo
    http://www.pazorestaurant.com/

    Another Cindy Wolf masterpiece. Located in the neighborhood of Fells Point, Pazo takes tapas to a whole other level. Tapas at Pazo have the taste of the Mediterranean and the environment is draped in fabric and cushions that eminate the rusts, golds and reds that one would expect. The atmosphere is truly romantic in an exotic way. Some of my favorite tapas are grilled lambchop, warm artichoke, and shrimp with garlic and tomato. Definitely order some of their homemade breads and try a cheese platter, with your choice of cheeses.

  • 4. Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop
    http://www.vaccarospastry.com/

    After having dinner in Baltimore's Little Italy, you must go across the street to Vacarro's to taste the Baltimore's legendary Italian pastry shop's fresh cannoli (and almost every other dessert option, all wonderful). Forget the dessert menu at the restaurant you are at (they most likely ordered their desserts from Vaccaro's anyhow), Vaccaro's is an experience to be had. This little pastry shop, albeit not fancy, serves up gorgeous Italian cookies, mouth watering gelato and the most perfect cannoli in town. They are open late night, so this can also be a nice stop after a night of dancing.

    Please note that there are several locations in Baltimore, but the original one on Albemarle St. is the one to experience!

  • 5. Miss Shirley's
    http://www.missshirleys.com/

    This is a MUST stop for breakfast/brunch. Miss Shirley's is a recent phenomenon in the Baltimore area, just outside of downtown. You will need a car and/or cab to get to this dining wonder, but it is certainly worth it to experience Coconut Cream Stuffed French Toast, German Apple Pancackes and custom Omlettes! You may have to wait around 30 minutes to get seated, as this place is very popular, small and doesn't take reservations.

  • 6. Amicci's
    http://www.amiccis.com/

    Baltimore is full of small neighborhoods with ethnic historys. Amicci's lies in Baltimore's most famous dining area, Little Italy. Many will tell you to try Sabatino's, which is a staple in the area, but it is highly priced where Amicci's offers the same level of pasta quality, with a lower price tag and is casual dining to boot! I recommend their Lasagna or Mussels served over the pasta of the day. Also try a unique appetizer called Pane Rotundo (don't bother ordering if you are counting calories). However, skip dessert. You must go across the street to Vacarro's to taste the Baltimore's legendary Italian pastry shop's fresh cannoli (and almost every other dessert option, all wonderful).

  • 7. Bo Brooks Crabhouse & Restaurant
    http://www.bobrooks.com/

    This is where you want to go when you are looking to experience hard shell crab picking in Baltimore. Phillips, the more well-known choice, is too much of a factory and has lost the quality that they once had when they were a much smaller operation. Most natives refuse to go to Phillips. Bo Brooks is where you want to go if you want a more upscale feel when eating hard crabs (for a true, down-home feel, see my LP Steamers suggestion below)! This restaurant sits on the water over in Canton and is a bit cleaner than most crabhouses. Stick to the steamed crabs, shrimp, and mussels and you'll truly experience a well-seasoned crab feast. This is not my #1 crab cake place, that is a different story as you will find that most Baltimorean's have a favorite crab cake place and a separate favorite hard shell place.

  • 8. Nacho Mama's
    http://nachomamascanton.com/

    Here is a quirkly little restaurant/bar in a growing neighborhood called Canton. Nacho Mama's is famous for its unique versions of quesadillas and fresh tortilla chips served in hub caps (or platters made to look like them). This restaurant/bar, outside of its TexMex inspired menu, eminates all that is Baltimore paying special attention to National Bohemian beer (Natty Boh) and local Orioles/Colts/Ravens sports legends. I guarantee you will wait a bit of time, but there is a reason you'll see locals piled up in a line out the door.

  • 9. Helen's Garden
    http://www.helensgarden.com/V2/

    Helen's Garden, located in the Baltimore city neighborhood of Canton, is an odd little find. Sitting in "O'Donnell Square," Helen's Garden is an eclectic mix of entrees supported by an amazing wine list. The walls are filled with quirky art work and the entryway is a VERY narrow, long brick hall with a colorful mural. The owners are attentive and friendly. It can get a little noisy in here, but the food is consistently excellent.

  • 10. G&M Restaurant (Crab Cakes outside city)
    http://www.gandmcrabcakes.com/

    BEST CRABCAKES - Atmosphere is poor, but crabcakes are just about the best you can find. They are the size of your face and made up entirely lump crab meat. Other food, outside of crabcakes are mediocre. This is located about a 15 min. drive from the city.

  • 11. Timbuktu (Crab Cakes outside city)
    http://www.timbukturestaurant.com/)

    Atmosphere is also poor, but again, crabcakes are awesome. I highly don't suggest ordering anything other than a crabcake here, but the crabcakes are phenominal. This is about a 20 min. drive from the city.

  • 12. LP Steamers (Hard Crabs AND Crab Cakes)
    http://www.lpsteamers.com

    This is in the city and will be replacing my Bo Brooks suggestion for hard crabs. LP's, in addition to hard crabs, also have pretty good crab cakes. Mostly every seafood item on this menu is good! This is a true Baltimore experience as the place is owned by "Baltimore Hons" and you are treated like a family friend. It is located in the neighborhood of Locust point which is very near Ft. McHenry if you are doing the tourist thing.