This installment of our walking tour through Federal Hill and South Baltimore is going to meander a bit more than usual. There are several more notable restaurants left in the area, but unlike the others I’ve written about, these are a bit farther apart. But they are worth visiting and definitely worth a mention.
The first restaurant we’ll talk about is Rowhouse Grille, located on Light Street three or four blocks south of the Cross Street Market. It’s a neighborhood tavern that offers great daily specials. For example, Thursday’s special is All You Can Drink Wine. Dangerous for some, but by that point in the work week, a necessity. On Tuesday they offer a free appetizer to couples on a Tinder date, plus deals on tacos and tequila drinks. Tinder dates + tequila seem a sensible combo, no? Perhaps not, but I am sure it’s a popular night. Rowhouse also has some great happy hour bargains, but food prices there are generally pretty reasonable at dinnertime, too. Sandwiches and salads dominate the menu, but there are bigger plates as well, like a filet mignon, seafood gumbo, and pan-seared salmon.
Down in the next block is a new-ish place called In Bloom. I say “-ish” because up until a few months ago, the place was called Liv2Eat. The original owners, a husband and wife duo, have partnered up with another husband and wife team. In addition to the new name, the menu is a bit different, but is still seasonally-driven. I’ll go into more detail about In Bloom in a future Spotlight post–stay tuned for that.
The next cross street is Fort Avenue. If you hang a right and walk six blocks to Hanover Street, you’ll come up on Bluegrass Tavern. (If you get peckish on the way, I won’t blame you if you stop at Delia Foley’s and snag some .99 wings, corned beef egg rolls, and a beer or two.) The menu at Bluegrass touts “Southern Scratch Cooking,” and includes fried chicken and pimento cheese, but also lots of dishes with heavy Cajun and Creole influences. I don’t tend to think of po’ boys and jambalaya as “southern” cuisine, despite them originating from areas that are, geographically, in the south part of the US. They’re part of a whole delicious world unto itself, but I’m always happy to eat blackened catfish jambalaya, especially when it also includes a bounty of other goodies like andouille, chicken, shrimp, and crawfish. Shrimp and grits is a fave, too. At Bluegrass it’s made with andouille, peppers, onions, and a gumbo gravy. Someday I’m going to take myself on a tour of all the versions of shrimp and grits served in Baltimore, as I’ve never tried two that are in any way alike. (Never had a bad one, either.)
Head south on Hanover and turn right onto Randall. Walk a few blocks east and you’ll find SoBo Market, sister restaurant to SoBo Cafe, which we covered in a past installment. In addition to a menu comprised of small plates and sandwiches and a few larger items, there’s also a selection of prepared items to-go. Grab a loaf of their amazing baked-in-house bread and a roasted cage-free chicken, eggplant spread, and the arugula pesto pasta salad and you have the makings of a fab picnic. (Riverside Park is just a few more blocks to the east, if you need a picnic spot.)
There are three more restaurants back over on Light Street that are worth mentioning. They’re pretty far off the beaten path, a good mile south from the Inner Harbor. First on the list is HomeSlyce Pizza Bar, on the corner of Light and Barney Streets. Their speciality is what they call a “slyce,” but what is also known as a “pide,” a type of boat-shaped flatbread that can be considered a Turkish pizza. (The folks who own HomeSlyce also own the Turkish restaurant Casbar on North Charles Street in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood just north of the downtown business district.) They also have the familiar round pizzas in both 10” and 16” sizes, plus calzones, sandwiches, and a mix of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean-style apps like spinach pie and hummus. All of the pies can be had with various unusual combinations of toppings, like the “Touchdown Pie” with tomatoes, parsley, onions, home-ground spicy beef, and feta cheese, or the “1741 Reci-Pie” with pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes, homemade sausage, and…pineapple. You can also build your own, choosing a sauce, cheese, veggie, and protein or nuts. Yes, nuts. It’s entirely possible to get a personal pie slathered in a spicy sauce of herbs, walnuts, and oil with gorgonzola, okra, and pistachios, if you so desire. You can also make a gluten-free vegan pizza if you choose the GF crust and vegan cheese. There’s definitely something for every taste at HomeSlyce.
On the far corner of the next block is Hersh’s, my personal favorite pizza joint in the whole city (and county). Ok, maybe I’m doing the restaurant a disservice by calling it a “pizza joint” because that’s not all they do. Pastas and other dishes are fan-f*ing-tastic, and I’ll talk about them more in depth in a separate Spotlight post. Honestly, if Hersh’s wasn’t so very far from where I live, I’d eat there once a week. At least.
Finally, there’s Minnow, in the 2 East Wells apartment building across the street from Hersh’s. This is the second restaurant from brothers Ben and Jacob Lefenfeld, who also own the Basque-inspired La Cuchara in Woodberry. The focus at Minnow is regional seafood, from moules frites topped with aioli and fresh anchovies with olive tapenade, to a lovely shrimp ceviche and grilled whole fish like sea bream or rainbow trout. There are a couple of meat dishes on the menu too, like the range steak (from the end of a strip loin) served with a lovely smoked oyster butter, and crisply fried chicken. Even a vegetarian will find several things to make them happy. A recent menu included a dish of fideos (a paella-like dish made with ultra-skinny pasta instead of rice) with zucchini and tomatoes; a melon gazpacho; crispy tofu with green mango; and the ever-popular avocado toast. And don’t forget to try both drinks and dessert (like you need a reminder).
Well, that’s all for now, at least as far as restaurants in the Federal Hill/South Baltimore area. Stay tuned for a couple of Spotlights on restaurants in this area before I take a short break to allow for holiday stress.
Check out more places from this series
- Federal Hill and South Baltimore, Part I
- Federal Hill and South Baltimore, Part II
- Federal Hill and South Baltimore, Part III
- Federal Hill and South Baltimore, Part IV
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.