The 10 Best Local Restaurants In Baltimore, Maryland

Photo of Marcelina Morfin
9 February 2017

Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, is a diverse seaport city rich in history. It is also culturally diverse, which makes for some wonderful sights and delightful culinary options. With so many dining choices from classic American fare to Afghan cuisine, it can be hard to choose where to stop and grab a bite to eat. Here’s a list of 10 must-try restaurants in Baltimore.

A signature dish at Thames St. Oyster House | Courtesy Thames St. Oyster House

Thames Street Oyster House

Bar, Restaurant, Pub, Seafood, American, Gluten-free, $$$
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Located in the heart of the historic Fells Point district, Thames Street Oyster House is a classic oyster house specializing in traditional and modern fresh seafood all within a charming environment. Guests can sit downstairs where the main bar is located and sample a variety of raw items, upstairs where they can enjoy a beautiful view of the water, or even in a lovely courtyard. With a host of options from the raw bar, seafood lovers can also enjoy a variety of other dishes, including a New England lobster roll, cast iron crab cakes served with spicy remoulade, cucumber salad, and fingerling potato salad, and a family-style lobster pie. Rounding out the menu are beverages, which include wine and cocktails, plus tasty desserts.

Koco's Pub

Pub, Seafood, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, American, $$$
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As the name suggests, Koco’s Pub is a pub specializing in delectable American cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. Established in 1985, this casual dining venue is family-owned and operated and serves lunch and dinner to hungry diners Tuesday through Saturday. In a lively and colorful environment, seafood lovers can feast upon succulent crab cakes, which are some of the best in Baltimore, plus other enticing options, such as a shrimp salad sandwich accompanied by potato chips.

Annabel Lee Tavern

Cafe, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub, $$$
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Annabel Lee Tavern Baltimore Edgar Allan Poe
© Kurt Bragunier
Named after Edgar Allen Poe’s last poem, Annabel Lee Tavern celebrates everything Poe and Baltimore and is a great choice for a romantic date or a gathering with friends. Located in the Canton area, this restaurant features ‘upscale comfort’ cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, complete with dark red walls decorated with verses straight from Poe’s work. A diverse menu presents diners with a variety of tempting choices, including sweet potato fries tossed in Cajun spices and a brown sugar glaze, a crab and sweet corn quesadilla served with salsa rojo and rice, and Southern-style meatloaf accompanied by applewood bacon gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, and sautéed string beans.

Blue Moon Café

Cafe, Restaurant, American, French, $$$
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Located in the historic Fells Point neighborhood, Blue Moon Café, is an eclectic restaurant specializing in breakfast items. Opened in 1996 by Sarah Simington and her mother, Sherri, this friendly cafe has a colorful funky interior where breakfast aficionados can get their fix of the most important meal of the day seven days a week. The menu has an array of sweet and savory dishes, all of which are made with seasonal produce, which means that some items may not be available all year. Tasty highlights include the famous Captain Crunch French toast, oatmeal and brown sugar pancakes, and Earl’s vegetarian eggs Benedict.

The Corner Bistro & Winebar

Bar, Bistro, American, Wine, Beer, $$$
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A signature sandwich at Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace
A signature sandwich at Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace | Courtesy Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace
Opened in 2011, The Corner Bistro & Winebar is a cozy establishment tucked away in the Ridgley’s Delight neighborhood, and features mouth-watering American fare in a relaxing atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu changes daily to reflect the freshest ingredients available, but it always includes a crab cake dinner accompanied by rice or potatoes and vegetables plus meat, fish, and pasta of the day. A variety of tasty sandwiches and salads are also available along with numerous wines. Be sure to reserve a table on Saturday nights when wine is half price.

Di Pasquale's Italian Marketplace

Market, Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, $$$
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Di Pasquale's Marketplace, Baltimore
Di Pasquale's Marketplace, Baltimore | © Di Pasquale’s Italian Marketplace
A staple on Baltimore’s culinary scene for 100 years, Di Pasquale’s Italian Marketplace specializes in everything Italian. Lovers of Italian cuisine have two options – they can visit the market where they can purchase specialty items needed in order to make a delicious meal at home, or they may dine in the cozy dining room. Featuring rustic Italian fare, foodies can feast upon mouth-watering items, including lasagna — meat or vegetable — a homemade meatball sandwich, or the Caspian brick oven pizza topped with Italian tuna, capers, black olives, red onions, and olive oil. For those with a sweet tooth, plenty of desserts are available as well, such as cannoli and fried dough stuffed with Italian Nutella.

The Helmand

Restaurant, Middle Eastern, $$$
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Established in 1989, The Helmand is an elegant restaurant specializing in authentic Afghan cuisine. Named after the owner’s first-born son and the Helmand River, which runs through Afghanistan, this restaurant delights customers with its exotic flavors, not only from Afghanistan, but also India, Iran, and Greece. From succulent meats to seafood to poultry to vegetables, the menu will sate not only hunger, but also curiosity. Fragrant dishes include dwopiaza, which is lamb cooked with onions, yellow split peas and tossed with more onions lightly marinated in vinegar, and vegetarian mantwo — steamed pastry shells stuffed with vegetables on a bed of yogurt, topped with a yellow split pea and carrot sauce.

Jack's Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, American, Wine, Beer, Fast Food, Vegetarian
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Jack’s Bistro
Jack’s Bistro | © Jack’s Bistro
Touted as being the first sous-vide restaurant in Baltimore, Jack’s Bistro offers guests an eclectic array of innovative American cuisine. Chef Ted Stelzenmuller creates delectable dishes drawing from various international cuisines and often pairs flavors that many diners would not think of putting together, such as macaroni and cheese with chocolate. In a cozy and friendly environment, guests can try other choice options, including the Guinness-braised filet mignon with demi-glace, grilled French green beans, smoked gouda and jalapeño grits and the Malaysian laksa — a spicy coconut milk curry with roasted chicken, gulf shrimp, egg, pickled vegetable, and cilantro.

Sotto Sopra

Cafe, Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
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Station North Arts Cafe Gallery exterior
Station North Arts Cafe Gallery exterior | Courtesy Station North Arts Cafe Gallery
Owned by Executive Chef Riccardo Busio – a native of Italy – Sotto Sopra is an award-winning restaurant specializing in farm-to-table contemporary Italian cuisine or more specifically, Northern Italian fare. Nestled in a beautiful 19th century building with lofty ceilings and mosaic tile floors in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood, the colorful and welcoming atmosphere here cannot be beaten. Using locally sourced ingredients, the enticing menu includes pork osso buco with truffled wild mushroom risotto, ravioli d’aragosta with lobster, a brandy-shallot reduction, and fried leeks, and veal agnolotti with sautéed spinach, truffle oil, and veal demi-glace. This establishment also hosts events throughout the year, such as opera nights.

Station North Arts Cafe Gallery

Cafe, Restaurant, American
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Station North Arts Cafe Gallery, Baltimore
Station North Arts Cafe Gallery, Baltimore | © Station North Arts Cafe Gallery
Situated in the heart of Baltimore’s arts and culture district, Station North Arts Cafe Gallery is a unique gem as it is an art gallery and a restaurant, featuring delicious food at affordable prices. An airy space with a friendly atmosphere, this lovely spot attracts people wanting not only to see local art but to sample breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. The entire menu is served all day and includes tasty options, such as a Belgian waffle with sweet cream butter and warm maple syrup, the Vegematic sandwich with eight fresh veggies and provolone on multigrain bread, and a hot dog topped with bacon, cheese, and beef chili.

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