Zagat named Baltimore one of its most exciting food cities in 2017, thanks in part to a slew of new openings from acclaimed chefs. But if you’re visiting Baltimore for the first time, there are just some places you have to visit, at least once, to get the true flavor of the city. With that in mind, here’s our short list for the best restaurants in Baltimore:
Two of the best seafood restaurants in Baltimore (Faidley’s and Thames Street) are also our top restaurants, but in a city that worships all things crab, you better believe there are plenty of other great spots for seafood. Here are a handful worth checking out:
Captain James Landing. That big ship parked on Boston street is actually one of the most unique seafood restaurants in Baltimore, serving up Chesapeake mussels, snow crab legs, and creamy crab soup with a prime waterfront view.
If you aren’t from Maryland, chances are you’ve never heard of, let alone eaten, a coddie. But you’ll soon find you’ve been missing out. What looks similar to a crab cake is actually a snack made from salted cod, mashed potatoes, spices, and crushed saltine crackers, fried to a golden crisp, and then sandwiched between two saltine crackers with a little yellow mustard. Coddie vendors were once as prevalent on Baltimore streets as hot dog carts are on New York’s, but these days, you’re more likely to find them on the bar snacks menu at a traditional pub. Seek them out and you’ll be rewarded.
To find the best Italian restaurants in Baltimore, you don’t have to go far—the city’s Little Italy neighborhood is located just steps from the Inner Harbor, and a stone’s throw from the trendy neighborhood of Fell’s Point. Whichever spot you choose, be sure to save room for a slice of tiramisu, which some people claim was invented in Baltimore’s Little Italy in the 1960s (though the origin is hotly debated).
Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop. If the cases filled with fresh cannoli, tender ricotta cookies, and cream-filled eclairs don’t tempt you, then perhaps the giant gelato sundaes are more your speed?
Another specialty you likely won’t find outside of Baltimore restaurants is pit beef. Unlike most other styles of regional barbecue, pit beef chefs use no rub or sauce on their meat, preferring instead to let the charcoal flavor shine. The medium rare beef is then shaved thinly and piled onto a kaiser bun, and is topped simply with sliced white onion and a bit of tiger sauce (that’s Baltimore speak for a combination of mayo and horseradish).
As far as obtaining a pit beef sandwich, Chaps Pit Beef is generally considered to be the best place in town. But locals might have their own favorites, so it pays to ask around!