Federal Hill and South Baltimore, Part IV

This week’s installment of our tour through Federal Hill and South Baltimore will be more similar to the way Baltimore locals scout out dining options, with one exception: locals live here. So we already know where all the good eats can be found. But you, intrepid traveler, probably have no idea that there are some very fine noms to be had in restaurants located deep in residential or industrial neighborhoods. Because you have no need to be in those neighborhoods. But if you happen to be wandering aimlessly down Key Highway because the weather is nice and you’re lost in thought after a fun tour through the American Visionary Art Museum, rest assured that you’ll find several places to slake your thirst and hunger before you realize you are hopelessly lost and should probably call a car to get back to your hotel.
Order & Chaos waffles Baltimore
Say you’ve just walked past the Harborview complex when you realize that a cup of coffee or tea would really hit the spot. Perhaps accompanied by something snacky, like a waffle. (Yes, I said “waffle.”) Then Order & Chaos is the place for you. They’re only open until 5pm, so if it’s currently later in the day, I’m sorry that you’ve missed out on a cup of locally roasted (just blocks away!) Pfefferkorns Coffee, or a peanut butter smoothie, and a “walking waffle.” They’re really liege waffles, a crisp yeasted treat that has the extra crunch of caramelized pearl sugar inside. Unlike a normal waffle, which is big and square and goes kinda floppy after a few moments out of the waffle iron, the liege stays crispy and can be eaten quite easily on the go, hence the “walking” moniker. You can get them with toppings at Order & Chaos, but they’re perfect just as they are.

 

If you’re looking for a bit more than coffee and a snack and it happens to be early on a weekend, hit up brunch spot Home Maid, next door. Or if you prefer something with a Latin flavor, try Little Havana across the street. They have a great patio for al fresco dining, and a fun Cuban vibe indoors. Appropriately, the Cubano sandwich is their most popular dish, but there are lots of other menu items with that Caribbean flair.

 

You can find still more restaurants if you head southwest (away from the water) down Webster Street, which runs between Little Havana and Home Maid. Walk three blocks to Fort Avenue, which is kinda like the Main Street of this part of town. Take a right, walk a block to Jackson Street, and you’ll find Rachel, one of the newer additions to the Baltimore restaurant scene. They specialize in locally-sourced, farm-to-table cuisine, which by now is a pretty familiar concept. I definitely still appreciate when a restaurant goes out of the way to find ingredients rather than call up the giant wholesale purveyor to deliver everything to their door. Rachel’s menu includes items that are quickly becoming hallmarks of Modern American cuisine: octopus; scallops; duck. A recent menu had the octopus served with white beans (a perfect pairing), sweet Peppadew peppers and pork belly, the scallops with a pea puree and an intriguing lemon saffron gelee, and the duck with a wild blueberry bbq sauce and parsnip puree. Don’t know about you, but I’m hungry now. Rachel also has a nice happy hour Tues – Fri when spicy habanero-sauced pork short ribs and a beer will set you back about ten bucks.


Catty-corner from Rachel is Captain Larry’s, a lively neighborhood bar with a menu of pub grub and sandwiches. Another neighborhood haunt, Shotti’s Point, is down the street. They also serve pub food, but their crispy and moist wings come in 10 varieties and there are items like seared duck breast tacos and even poke. You’ll find Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen in the next block, a delightful spot for Middle Eastern yumminess like falafel and baba ghannoush. Or in this case, Baba’s ghannoush. This place is great for vegetarians, and many dishes can be made gluten free by omitting the accompanying pita and replacing it with quinoa.

 

If you stroll down a bit more, you’ll come to a shopping center called Southside Marketplace, home to a couple notable eateries. There’s fast food, sure, but also South Asian cuisine at Kumari, square pies at Ledo Pizza–a Maryland favorite since 1955–and Bar Liquorice. The latter is more bar than restaurant, though they do have a short menu of snacks and panini, plus warm Nutella bread pudding. Mmm! Cocktails are the real draw here, both classic and new, carefully crafted and inventively named. Even Yelp!ers have a hard time finding a bad thing to say about the place. While Bar Liquorice is a cocktail bar, Wiley Gunter’s, on the other end of the same strip of shops, is more of a beer bar. They regularly have a dozen-and-a-half beers on draft and over 100 in bottles and cans. Well-prepared bar food is on the menu, with lots of specials on Game Day. Be forewarned: if you’re looking for a place to watch the home team Baltimore Ravens, Wiley Gunter’s is a Washington Redskins bar. (Booo!) But if you’re an out-of-towner, that probably doesn’t bother you as much as it bothers me.

 Wine Market Bistro in Baltimore

Beyond the shopping center, at the intersection of Fort Ave and Key Highway, is the Wine Market Bistro. They’ve been going strong for over a dozen years now, serving sustainably-sourced chow and carefully-selected small producer wines. Food is familiar yet inventive, like the roasted beet salad with goat cheese, prosciutto, arugula…and salted caramel pecans and a brown butter vinaigrette. Or the pan-seared rockfish (that’s striped bass to folks outside Maryland) served with smoked fish croquettes, spaghetti squash, blood orange gastrique, and a sauce gribiche. Not only can you get wine with your meal, but you can also pop into the attached wine shop and buy a bottle or ten, 7 days a week. (If you haven’t realized this, Maryland’s liquor laws are pretty stodgy, and 99% of places that sell alcoholic beverages are closed on Sundays.)

Best Baltimore Crabs

Another block down Fort Ave to the corner of Woodall Street is LP Steamers. “LP” stands for Locust Point, which is the neighborhood we’re in now and that covers the rest of the peninsula, including Fort McHenry at the easternmost edge. LP Steamers is your typical Baltimore crab-a-palooza kind of restaurant, offering delicious steamed crabs, crab soup, crab cakes, soft shell crabs, and lots of other fried, steamed, and raw seafood. And burgers, for the weirdos who go to a seafood restaurant and won’t eat seafood. (Or can’t, in that case they’re not a weirdo, just missing out.) If you continue down Woodall Street, it becomes Whetstone Way at the beginning of the McHenry Row complex of businesses and residences, and home to several eateries. If you like beer and loudness, head on to World of Beer down by the circle, otherwise stop by Ruby 8 for sushi and other pan-Asian treats, Samos Greek Island Grill (a spin-off of one of the best Greek restaurants in town) for souvlaki, lamb chops, and spinach pie, or the newly opened outpost of breakfast-all-day favorite Iron Rooster. I’ll be featuring the latter in a Spotlight post in the weeks to come. Right now, I’m ready for lunch!

Check out more places from this series


Minxeats Baltimore food blogger and Co-author of the new book, Maryland’s Chesapeake: How the Bay and its Bounty Shaped a Cuisine, plus Food Lovers’ Guide to Baltimore, and Baltimore Chef’s Table.


Editors Note: One thing we like to do when launching in a city is to partner with local writers. This is a key part to the City Walker experience, we don’t only want our app (iOS and Android) to have a local prospective, we want our blog to have it too! This gives the authentic personal prospective that no one other than a local can offer. We are honored to have MINXEATS be a guest writer for City Walker in Baltimore.

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