Baltimore. Most seem to know it from The Wire and occasionally from Homicide: Life on the Street or John Waters’ movies like Hairspray. But whether you know anything about this funny city on the water or not, there’s always something else to discover, learn or do just like any other bigger town or city. And as a Baltimore lover and advocate, I get a LOT of requests for what to do on visits to Charm City, so here are a few things to consider and try beyond the harbor.
As in the past, things are organized more or less by neighborhood and focus mostly on dining as that’s what I get asked about the most. Additionally, I’ve put together a Pinterest map board that includes these recommendations (and more that I just didn’t have the energy to write about here) on an helpful map. As ever, please feel welcome to ask questions, make requests or offer suggestions in the comments.
Fells Point & Harbor East
- Ale Mary’s— A neighborhood tavern with nice bar food popular among locals. Their bread pudding is raved about consistently.
- Alexander’s Tavern— A popular spot for drinks and bar food (especially wings and burgers), I’m told the tater tots (especially Maryland style served with crab dip) are great.
- Bad Decisions—Popular low key bar with a wildly popular bacon night themed menu each month.
- Baltimore Tattoo Museum— While there IS a museum component, this is also a spot for getting tattooed.
- Bertha’s—Famous for their mussels, Bertha’s is a favorite among tourists and locals. Also rumored to be haunted, this spot has been a bar under varying names for ages.
- Blue Moon Cafe—A popular brunch spot offering generous portions at reasonable prices. Be prepared to wait for your table though.
- Bonaparte Breads— Enjoy lunch or a coffee break by the harbor at this friendly French bakery.
- Cat’s Eye—Drink with the locals or just pretend you’re a privateer at this colorful pub popular for its live music.
- Charleston— Rated consistently one of the top restaurants in the city. A nice option for special occasions.
- Ding How— Dependable Chinese food at reasonable prices.
- Duda’s—Family owned and operated since the 1940s, offering bar food and drinks with decades of character.
- Johnny Rad’s— Punk rock, skateboarding pizza and beer with skeeball in the back room.
- Liquid Earth—Vegan, vegetarian and fresh juice cafe. Good espresso too!
- Max’s— A perfect spot for beer lovers.
- One Eyed Mike’s—Hidden gem of a local bar with nice bar food, inviting local atmosphere and the world’s first Grand Mariner club to boot.
- Pabu—Excellent Japanese restaurant for a special night out.
- Patisserie Poupon—Amazing French pastries and treats.
- Pitango Gelato—High end ingredients make for high quality, tasty gelato in inventive flavors.
- Sound Garden— I love this music store.
- Stuggy’s—Fresh cut fries, Boylan’s sodas on tap and most importantly, GREAT dogs!
- Waterfront Kitchen—Popular brunch and upscale dining spot right on the water.
- Wharf Rat— Rumored to be haunted, this pub has been here for ages and has the welcoming atmosphere to prove it.
- Wit & Wisdom— Upscale interpretations of familiar dishes made with high end ingredients.
Canton & Brewer’s Hill
- Annabel Lee Tavern—A neighborhood favorite with savory fries and burgers, tasty cocktails and beers and plenty of vegetarian options on the menu.
- Dangerously Delicious Pies—Sweet & savory treats for pie lovers.
- Fork & Wrench—A self-proclaimed “boutique dive bar” perhaps better described as a gastropub.
- JD’s Smokehouse— Dependable bar food with a long beer list. If you’re a meat eater, try their wings or the oft raved about brisket.
- Mama’s on the Half Shell—A good spot for seafood on Canton Square.
- Nacho Mama’s—Tasty Mexican bar food. Consider ordering a hubcap margarita served IN A HUBCAP, best to split with friends, unless you’re actually trying to wipe the slate clean with a serious hangover.
Mt. Vernon and Midtown-ish
- 13th Floor—Dinner & drinks with a view
- Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO)—Enjoy an evening of world class entertainment with the BSO.
- The Brewer’s Art—Whether enjoying an upscale meal in the dining room upstairs or a late night snack in the bar downstairs try a pint of their award winning brews.
- City Cafe—Upscale food without the fuss.
- The Owl Bar—Large menus of drinks & eats in a piece of Baltimore history.
- Two Boots Pizza—Started in New York in the 1980s, Two Boots brings the flavors of New York and New Orleans together on a pizza. Open late most nights, they even offer a gluten-free pizza, yum!
- Walters Art Museum—Explore world art history in an afternoon at the Walters–from 20th century Europe to pre-dynastic Egypt, Old Masters and loads in between this spot is not to be missed.
- Baltimore Print Studios— Ever wanted to learn about letterpress or screen printing? This is the place. Workshops are offered monthly and studio rentals for trained printers are available 4 days a week.
- Charles Theatre—Baltimore’s favorite indie movie house.
- The Chesapeake— Recently reopened and offering regional specialties.
- Liam Flynn’s Ale House—Friendly local pub specializing in British Isles Ales, Whisk(e)ys & Ciders.
- Lost City Diner—Late night comfort food with lots of vegan options.
- Red Emma’s—Radical bookstore also serving vegetarian food and house roasted coffee.
- Tapas Teatro—Enjoy a bite before a movie at the Charles next door or candlelit date night.
- The Windup Space— Part gallery, part bar, part music venue.
- Art House Cafe— Part gallery, part cafe. Enjoy wood fired pizzas and fresh salads in this friendly spot.
- Atomic Books—Their old tagline sums things up pretty well: “Literary finds for mutated minds!.”
- The Charmery— Handmade premium ice cream made with local ingredients & clever rotating flavors & sundae menu.
- Choux—Lovely baked goods & fresh salads with a modern aesthetic.
- Corner BYOB—Modern European with a knack for exotic meats. Self-described “refined peasant fare and continental comfort food.”
- David’s 1st &10—Surprising, thoughtful bar food served in this sports bar full of neighborhood character, a zillion TVs, and an impressive serpentine bar with loads of taps and drink choices.
- Golden West—Whether stopping for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch, the Golden West offers a large menu of Americana and Southwestern favorites featuring lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options.
- Grano Pasta Bar— While there is a larger Grano Emporium up the street, the original pasta bar is where it’s at. The place is tiny so you may have to wait, but once seated you will be treated to incredibly fresh salads and pasta dishes made before you eyes. BYOB.
- Holy Frijoles—Rock n’ Roll Mexican. House made chips are way too tasty at this solid spot for drinks, as long as you like your music LOUD.
- In Watermelon Sugar— Another great bet for gifts and small personal goodies. A colorful assortment of cosmetics and jewelry invites you in and an array of housewares, paper goods and seasonal gifts and decor fills the second room of this charming shop.
- Luigi’s Deli & Market— Stop for lunch and enjoy a sandwich or selection of prepared foods or pick up ingredients for a nice dinner at home.
- Ma Petite Shoe— Shoes and chocolate. Seriously. What more do you need?
- Mud & Metal— Discover funky art, gifts and jewelry at this friendly independent shop. “Art to live with.”
- Paradiso—Antique to modern furniture, art and housewares.
- Rocket to Venus—Generally clever interpretations of familiar favorites with lots of vegetarian options & a bit of a rock vibe.
- Service Photo—Whether you need to repair or replace your camera or just stock your studio or darkroom, Service Photo is THE place for service in Baltimore!
- Spro Coffee— Progressive American coffeeshop that brews every cup to order.
- Trohv— Often noted as a great place to pick up gifts and souvenirs, Trohv really is a treasure trove of goodies ranging from furniture and wearables to cards, baby goods and all manner of housewares.
- Artifact Coffee—Handcrafted coffees, treats and informal eats.
- Birroteca—Craft beer, wine and artisan pizza.
- Corradetti Glass—Browse the shop gallery and pick out a gift for a special occasion, try a mini workshop or class or just admire the ancient craft of glassblowing.
- Woodberry Kitchen—Farm to table food heaven.
- Greg’s Bagel’s— Soft, fresh, flavorful bagels handmade everyday. Arguably Baltimore’s best bagels with high end ingredients and toppings.
- Shoofly Diner—Farm to table American favorites handcrafted imaginatively.
- The Senator Theatre—Baltimore’s favorite historic movie house. Catch a show a this art deco beauty and enjoy a meal in one of the nearby cafes.
Other Guides to Baltimore
- If you haven’t seen it yet, Design Sponge has already put together a very nice guide to exploring Baltimore.
- Check out Apartment Therapy’s Baltimore Guide here.
- Lonely Planet, has a good set of travel guides for most cities around the world. Here’s their guide for Baltimore.
- Here’s Atomic Books’ Baltimore Hotlist of eateries, shops, bands and events.
- Guides from AFAR ‘s Baltimore Guide.
- All of the above suggestions and quite a few more are collected on my Pinterest map board of Baltimore.
Think something’s missing or want something more specific not included on the list? Just leave a comment or email me and I will add it in. Happy Trails!