Get us in your inbox

maryland steamed crab
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 13 best restaurants in Baltimore

Charm City has embraced its culinary renaissance, and the best restaurants in Baltimore are as diverse as its people

Written by
Sarah Medina
&
Julekha Dash
Advertising

We won’t bury the lede; eating steamed crabs encrusted with Old Bay is an absolute must in Baltimore. You could go so far as to call it a rite of passage. When discussing food in Charm City, it doesn’t get more Baltimore than that.

The dining scene here is about so much more than that classic experience. The best restaurants in Baltimore showcase a city that has embraced its culinary renaissance, and the menus of Charm City are as diverse as its people. Classic American? Venezuelan arepas? Basque pintxos? Asian fusion? All that and more, buddy. Eating is one of the best things to do in Baltimore, whether smashing crabs or getting dolled up in your Sunday best.

RECOMMENDED: The best Irish bars in Baltimore 

Best restaurants in Baltimore

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Hersh's (@hershspizza)

The unassuming restaurant in a quiet, mostly-residential block serves Neapolitan, wood-burned pizza, homemade pasta, and creative salads and antipasti. A thoughtfully curated wine and cocktail list match the food. If you’re looking for a cozy spot to catch up with friends over good food and drinks, Hersh’s is perfect. Pizzas come with a charred but chewy crust and unique ingredients.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by EKIBEN (@ekibenbaltimore)

Diners cram into this Asian fusion eatery’s tight quarters to eat their steamed bun sandwiches piping hot. Broccoli and tofu may seem like unlikely stars among passionate foodies, but Ekiben’s take on veggies and bean curds is unlike any other, combining Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, and Ethiopian flavors. The broccoli is topped with fresh herbs, chopped onions, and rice vinegar, and the tofu bites are smothered in a spicy peanut sauce. 

Advertising

Helmand is an Afghani restaurant treating diners to authentic food in a dining room bedecked with Afghan art and textiles. Pillowy warm naan, tender lamb and beef meatballs, and melt-in-your-mouth ravioli filled with leeks have been winning repeat visits from guests for more than 30 years. The star attraction, however, is kaddo bowrani, a marriage of sweet and savory with baked baby pumpkin topped with garlic yogurt.

This James Beard Award-winning farm-to-table pioneer Spike Gjerde serves flavors of the Chesapeake Bay. Exposed brick, natural wood, and light make for a casual, rustic setting in this repurposed former mill. Rockfish and Tilghman Island crab are among the best seafood dishes, while the rotating crispy flatbreads topped are a favorite among brunchers. The commitment to local sourcing extends to its stellar cocktail and mocktail list. 

Advertising

This swanky joint specializes in steak, and contemporary takes on classic Italian dishes. Tagliata has been attracting the crowds with its fresh-made pasta and the romantic environment – plush chairs in the piano bar and lights strung on its patio. While the menu has its pricey items, there are tons of more reasonably priced dishes. 

Comforting Greek grub like Yaya used to make. Samos has been serving the hungry folk of Baltimore for a long time, and their success doesn't look like it'll abate any time soon. The main reason behind their longevity? The divine traditional Greek food. The simple but homely decor means that the dishes can really shine. 

Advertising
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by CLAVEL (@bar_clavel)

Mexican food, margaritas, and mezcal make up this bright and bustling taqueria. Natural light fills the space, and its lights strung across the ceiling and white walls interrupted with plants are inspired by the taquerias in Sinaloa, Mexico. Also, stop by owner Lane Harlan’s intimate candlelit speakeasy W.C. Harlan down the street.

Advertising

The Venezuelan restaurant serves hearty dishes like tasty arepas stuffed with beans, chicken, seafood, or pork. The bright and airy space charms visitors with its exposed brick and copious plants—some sprouting in giant tomato cans hanging on the wall. The Venezuelan fare is delicious, using vegetables and meats sourced from local farms. Pair it with one of the excellent cocktails, many of which make divine use of rum.

A homage to low-country cooking from nine-time James Beard Award nominee Cindy Wolf, Charleston has been wowing diners for over 20 years. With one of the best wine lists in the city and a prix-fixe menu that explores seafood, poultry, and meat with equal panache, Charleston is a local favorite for celebratory meals. Also, check out Foreman-Wolf’s other restaurants around town: Cinghiale and Petit Louis Bistro.

Advertising

For steamed crabs topped with Old Bay, there is no better spot than the rooftop at L.P. Steamers. This laid-back crab shack in Locust Point is the perfect spot for gathering with friends to pound some steamed crabs with gorgeous views of the Baltimore skyline and Inner Harbor. Fried seafood platters are spot on too, but don't miss the Old Bay fries or crab cakes. Feel free to take advantage of the cheap, cold Natty Boh.

Advertising

This more than 40-year-old landmark serves steamed crabs and seafood in a building shaped like a ship. Sounds awesome, right? You might confuse this restaurant for a boat docked at the harbor in this waterfront neighborhood, but there’s no confusion inside, where you can enjoy all-you-can-eat crabs served with a cup of Maryland crab soup.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!