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The 13 best restaurants in Baltimore

Fill up on fantastic local cuisine at the best restaurants in Baltimore

Written by
Sarah Medina
&
Julekha Dash
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The dining scene in Baltimore includes so much more than just steamed crab encrusted with Old Bay (but by no means should you neglect that regional delicacy). Charm City has undergone a culinary renaissance recently, and the best restaurants in Baltimore now comprise a diverse restaurant scene that embraces flavors from around the globe. Alongside classic fine dining restaurants, you'll find Venezuelan arepas, Basque pinxtos and Asian fusion steamed buns.

On this list you'll find pricey venues helmed by James Beard Award-winning chefs sharing a spot next to equally-well-loved small BYOB joints and new restaurants on top of the latest cocktail trends. Also included are decades-old favorites whose dishes have stood the test of time. And, of course, there is a crab house, for those times when you're both hungry and hankering to smash something.

No matter what you're craving, these restaurants should make your list of the best things to do in Baltimore

Best restaurants in Baltimore

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What is it? The unassuming restaurant in a quiet, mostly-residential block serves Neapolitan, wood-burned pizza, homemade pastas and creative salads and antipasti. A thoughtfully curated wine and cocktail list match the food.

Why go? If you’re looking for a cozy spot to catch up with friends over good food and drinks, Hersh’s is the place. Pizzas come with a charred but chewy crust and unique ingredients, such as kale and pistachio, and clams and lemon. House-made ricotta adds a creamy texture to several standout dishes, including the crostini, ravioli and pizza. 

Price: Average

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Currently accepting online orders only 

What is it? Diners cram into this Asian fusion eatery’s tight quarters to eat their steamed bun sandwiches piping hot.

Why go? 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.

Price: Bargain

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Note: Temporarily closed for renovations until Spring 2022

What is it? The decade-old James Beard Award-winning farm-to-table pioneer Spike Gjerde serves flavors of the Chesapeake Bay.

Why go? 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. 

Price: Pricey

What is it? La Cuchara whisks diners to the Basque region of Spain with bite-sized pinxtos, vermouth by the glass and jamon y quesos.

Why go? Located in a former manufacturing building, the restaurant’s exposed brick and white-washed dining room walls complete the trans-continental journey. 

Price: Average

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What is it? Mexican food, margaritas and mezcal make up this bright and bustling taqueria.

Why go? Natural light fills the space and its lights strung across the ceiling and white walls interrupted with plants were inspired by the taquerias in Sinaloa, Mexico. Also stop by owner Lane Harlan’s intimate candlelit speakeasy W.C. Harlan down the street.

Price: Bargain

What is it? A homage to low-country cooking from nine-time James Beard Award nominee Cindy Wolf, Charleston has been wowing diners for more than 20 years.

Why go? 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.

Price: Blowout

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What is it? For steamed crabs topped with Old Bay, there's no better spot than the rooftop at L.P. Steamers.

Why go? This laid-back crab shack in Locust Point is the perfect spot for gathering with friends to pound some steamed crabs. If you sit on the roof, you'll enjoy 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.

Price: Average

What is it? An Afghani restaurant treating diners to authentic food in a dining room bedecked with Afghan art and textiles.

Why go? 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 borwani, a marriage of sweet and savory with baked baby pumpkin topped with garlic yogurt.

Price: Average

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What is it? Comfort eating in industrial surrounds.

Why go? With an open kitchen and bar seating (as well as more intimate tables), The Food Market provides an invitingly relaxed vibe. They've got a menu to match, too, with hearty dishes taking centre stage. Think beer-cheese fondue with plump pretzels, braised pork tacos, crispy lobster fingers and cheesesteak subs. 

Price: Average

What is it? This swanky joint specializes in steak and contemporary takes on classic Italian dishes.

Why go? Tagliata has been attracting the crowds with its fresh-made pastas and its romantic environment – plush chairs in the piano bar and lights strung on its patio. While the menu has its pricey items ($150 porterhouse anyone?), there are tons of more reasonable dishes like the eggplant parmesan. 

Price: Blow out

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What is it? The Venezuelan restaurant serves hearty dishes like tasty arepas stuffed with beans, chicken, seafood or pork.

Why go? 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 entices as well, using vegetables and meats sourced from area farms. Pair it with one of the excellent cocktails, many of which make divine use of rum.

Price: Average

What is it? Comforting Greek grub like Yaya used to make. 

Why go? This cash-only restaurant 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? (Besides the BYOB policy.) The seriously tasty traditional Greek food. Its simple, but homely decor means that the dishes can really shine. 

Price: Bargain

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What is it? The more than 40-year-old landmark serves steamed crabs and seafood in a building shaped like a ship.

Why go?  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. Head across the street for the sister restaurant, a crab house, for outdoor seating with water views.

Price: Average

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