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8 Reasons to Drive to Baltimore

By Rina Rapuano
April 8, 2014
Photo by: Pabu

Most Washingtonians end up in Baltimore on the regular for one reason or another - something work-related, a day trip to the Inner Harbor with the kids, a romantic getaway, visiting friends who left DC for a more hospitable real estate market. And it's amazing that a city only an hour or so north of DC could have such a very different feel - but we love those differences, embracing the rawness and creativity and edginess that is sometimes tougher to unearth in polished DC. 

We've compiled a list of eight places that not only offer delicious ways to satisfy your hunger when you find yourself in Charm City, but also eight reasons to get in the car (or jump on a handy MARC train from Union Station) and head there on the spur of the moment. 

  • Charleston

    Executive chef and co-owner Cindy Wolf was just named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award category of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, ensuring this well-regarded fine-dining room's spot on our destination-dining radar. The French-meets-Lowcountry menu might pair foie gras with a cornmeal cake, and shrimp Creole can follow up a decadent starter of caviar service.

    1000 Lancaster St.; 410-332-7373

  • Baltimore Farmers' Market & Bazaar

    This incredibly popular Sunday market, which opened last weekend for the season and runs through December 21 this year, has been around for more than 35 years. The bazaar part tips you off that it's much more than just fruit and vegetables; there are also flowers and plants, food vendors and trucks, crafts and clothing for sale. 

    Holliday and Saratoga Sts.; 410-752-8632

  • The Food Market

    Chef Chad Gauss dishes up traditional Americana with a twist from the open kitchen of this sleek yet rustic spot on Hampden main drag. The meaty, bacon-heavy menu is cheekily broken up into "little," "small," "big" and "in between," allowing diners to graze or pig out. This restaurant notably offers free valet parking, which - if you've ever tried to find parking in Hampden - is incredibly useful.

    1017 W. 36th St.; 410-366-0606

  • Canton Dockside

    No Baltimore dining list would be complete without a bona fide crab house, and this one is a crowd favorite with locals. Here, you get crabs - from Maryland in-season and from the Gulf in the off season - the way they are meant to be served: in a pile on a butcher-paper tablecloth with a view of the water. 

    3301 Boston St., Suite 102; 410-276-8900

  • Ouzo Bay

    This upscale, waterfront Greek restaurant in Harbor East allows guests to choose their fresh fish from its icy display, then cooks it simply - priced by the pound. Other dishes are beautiful compositions that belie their humble-sounding menu descriptions. The modern dining room is bathed in electric-blue light and boasts of having the largest ouzo lists on the East Coast.

    1000 Lancaster St.; 443-708-5818

  • Pabu

    Celebrity chef Michael Mina partnered with chef Ken Tominaga to create this high-end izakaya in Harbor East's Four Seasons. Executive chef Jonah Kim's team perfectly executes everything from sushi to cocktails to meats cooked on the robata grill to outstanding desserts - not to mention the world-class sake selection.

    725 Aliceanna St.; 410-223-1460

  • Thames Street Oyster House

    This Fells Point eatery is a fine example of a classic Maryland oyster house, honoring the ocean with seafood towers, a raw bar, oyster stew and crab cakes - even New England gets some love with a family-style clam and lobster boil. Upstairs offers views of the water, while a charming patio is the place to be in warmer weather.

    1728 Thames St.; 443-449-7726

  • Photo by: Woodberry Kitchen

    Woodberry Kitchen

    Chef-owner Spike Gjerde, another finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic, has the Midas touch - regularly making national headlines with his cadre of successful restaurants that also includes Artifact Coffee and Shoo-Fly. His Hampden neighborhood flagship continues to wow with its locally sourced menu, housemade everythings and farm-to-table ethos.

    2010 Clipper Park Rd.; 410-464-8000


Places Mentioned


American • Harbor East

Food29 Decor28 Service28 Cost$99
The Food Market

American • Hampden

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Ouzo Bay

Greek • Harbor East

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
Thames Street Oyster House

Seafood • Fells Point

Food24 Decor21 Service23 Cost$43
Woodberry Kitchen

American • Woodberry

Food27 Decor26 Service25 Cost$49
Artifact Coffee

Coffee Shop • Hampden

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
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