Find yourself "charmed" by these culinary hot spots in Baltimore.
From the Baltimore Museum of Art’s outstanding Matisse collection to the historic waterfront Fell’s Point neighborhood, there are plenty of reasons to visit Baltimore (from Washington, D.C., it’s an hour’s drive and a 30-minute Amtrak ride). Another reason to plan a long weekend is the city’s incredible foodie scene–sure, you likely know about Maryland blue crabs served in any number of delicious ways (crab fries, anyone?), but here are a few other can’t-miss culinary experiences to check out in Charm City.
Blue Moon Cafe
Start your day with a hot mug of coffee at Blue Moon Cafe, a funky breakfast spot in Fell’s Point that opened in 1996 (there’s also a second location in Federal Hill). The small space–with bric-a-brac and colorful local artwork of famous musicians–means you’ll probably have to wait for a table but don’t let that deter you. Signature items include the Cap’n Crunch French toast (featured on Diner, Drive-Ins, and Dives), jumbo lump crab eggs Benedict, and hash browns. And be prepared; the portions are huge!
Lexington Market is Baltimore’s most historic and beloved public market, so a brand new venue is definitely big news. The $45 million bi-level space will feature 50 vendors, including old favorites like family-run Faidley’s, selling seafood since 1886 (the jumbo lump crab cakes are a must), along with stalls like Tio G’s for empanadas, JBee’s Jamaican Me Crazy for jerk dishes, Bmore Vegan Joint for meatless burgers, and Connie’s for chicken and waffles—not to mention yummy small-batch ice cream from Taharka Brothers (I defy anyone to have just one bite of the Honey Graham).
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Maryland Blue Crabs
No visit to Charm City is complete without smashing a few hard-shell Maryland blue crabs with a little wooden mallet to get to that elusive meat. A super fun seafood house to try your hand at “crab picking” is Choptank, an upscale hipster restaurant at Broadway Market in Fell’s Point. Sit inside or on the patio, decked out with fire pits and corn hole, don your plastic bib (it can get messy, hence the brown paper atop the table), and bash away at Old Bay-slathered steamed crustaceans. The only thing to make it more perfect is a cold beer—try local favorite National Bohemian, aka “Natty Boh.”
Located within the Ivy, an upscale boutique hotel in Mount Vernon, Magdalena is where you go if you’re looking for a sophisticated fine dining experience. Helmed by chef Scott Bacon, the seasonal menu combines classic French flavors with produce and dairy from local farms and seafood from the Chesapeake Bay. Expect dishes such as a mushroom tartine with charred scallion farmer’s cheese and sweet onions and crispy skin bass with smoked squash cream and confit root vegetables–and let the sommelier guide you through the extensive wine list. If the weather is cooperating, sit in the courtyard garden.
The Pendry Hotel
Not only is the Pendry one of the city’s most luxurious hotels—a $65 million renovation of a historic Fell’s Point pier resulted in this harbor front stunner complete with 128 rooms, an art collection that includes a massive Botero sculpture, and an Insta-worthy infinity pool— it’s also a foodie hotspot. The Rec Pier Chop House, courtesy of chef Andrew Carmellini (NYC’s Dutch and Locanda Verde), is a gorgeously designed Italian chophouse serving everything from tomahawk steaks and milk-fed veal chops to antipasti and house-made pasta like linguine tossed with chunks of crab meat. Post-dinner, sip an artisanal cocktail made with the hotel’s own Sagamore Spirit rye in The Cannon Room, an intimate whiskey bar named for the 18th-century cannons found during the excavation (one of them is on display under a Plexiglass panel in the floor).
Bloom’s for Cocktails
One of Mount Vernon’s newest cocktail lounges is also one of its most fun. Bloom’s, part of the new 116-room Hotel Ulysses, gives a nod to the James Joyce novel in its name, but the bar is pure boudoir-meets-speakeasy. Expect red velvet curtains, plush purple velvet barstools, mirrored walls, cool tunes, and mood lighting that makes everyone look great. Sip on classic libations like Champagne cocktails, gimlets, and martinis and enjoy the excellent people-watching. At the opposite end of the lobby is Ash Bar, an all-day bistro that makes for a cozy spot for a morning cup of coffee or mid-afternoon cocktail.