Restaurants in Baltimore

In a world where chain restaurants are quickly diluting the local flavor of cities far and wide, Baltimore stands apart. It’s one of the few cities where you can still find regional specialties, such as pit beef and coddies, with relative ease. And yet, that fierce love of tradition has done nothing to stifle its burgeoning foodie scene. In fact, at Baltimore restaurants, you can find virtually anything your heart (or stomach desires), whether it’s an amazing feat of molecular gastronomy or just the best crab cakes you’ll ever eat

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:



  • Faidley Seafood. If you come to Baltimore and you don’t visit Faidley’s, you’ve done it wrong. The crab cakes are legendary and a must-try, but don’t overlook their cousins the cod cakes (commonly known as coddies). More on coddies below.
  • Charleston. Chef Cindy Wolf celebrates the food of South Carolina by putting high-brow spins on low-country cuisine, resulting in dishes like crispy turbot with black truffle and grilled veal sweetbreads with zucchini beignets.


  • Thames Street Oyster House. You probably came for the oysters, but you’ll be tempted by the lobsters rolls and giant iron skillet crab cakes you see arriving at nearby tables. And just when you think you’ve made up your mind, you remember this is one of the only places in town to get quahog clams. Decisions. Decisions.
  • Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry may be the most local of local kitchens in Baltimore, sourcing every single thing from local farmers and fishermen, and even serving only beer that’s produced in Maryland.

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:



  • Jimmy’s Famous Seafood. You’ll find very little filler in the crab cakes here, just large lumps of tender crab meat held together with the perfect amount of seasoning and breadcrumbs. You’ll want to save room for the main event, but it will be hard.




  • Mama’s On the Half Shell. Mama’s is the holy grail of Baltimore restaurants: a great seafood spot that’s also a really great bar. Even if you never use tartar sauce, order it here: it’s homemade and will make you a convert.




  • Nick’s Fish House. You’re almost certain to find a wait at Nick’s, which many folks believe serves the best steamed crab in town. If you’re lucky, though, you’ll snag a seat on the rooftop and be treated to one of the best views and meals in town.


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.

Try It: Coddies

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).



  • DiPasquale’s Italian Marketplace. This charming Italian deli and grocery isn’t just the best place to pick up cold cuts or homemade cannoli. It’s also one of the best Italian restaurants in Baltimore, serving up much raved-about lasagna, brick-oven pizza, and meatball subs.


  • Aldo’s. From the local, organic ingredients to the intricately-carved woodwork, everything at Aldo’s is done with care. You can’t go wrong with the wild boar bolognese or the osso bucco.
  • La Scala. Work up an appetite on the bocce ball court, then dig into hearty plates of pasta carbonara, shrimp risotto, and lobster tails served over penne.

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?


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Try It: Pit Beef


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!