When I was growing up in Fells Point, there wasn’t much at all west of Broadway. That’s only partly true, of course–there always was stuff, just not anything that my younger self was interested in. I knew full well that Downtown Baltimore was west of where we lived; my Mom and I made weekly excursions to the shopping district by bus. We picked up the number 10 on the corner of Ann Street and Eastern Avenue, and it took us north on Broadway and west on Lombard Street before turning north on Howard, where we’d deboard. If I had been asked to draw a map of the city according to my 8-year-old mind, the area between our house and our favorite department stores would be blank. And really, apart from Little Italy, a neighborhood full of restaurants and residences, and a handful of Jewish delis on Lombard, there wasn’t a whole lot between Ann Street and Howard Street. Back then, the Inner Harbor had far more tugboats than tourists, and the restaurant-packed area known today as Harbor East was mostly warehouses or empty lots.
Today, however, the area between Broadway and the Inner Harbor is packed cheek-to-jowl with eateries and boutiques, making for a pleasant walk between neighborhoods. Wander west on Thames Street at Broadway and you’ll find several notable spots. We covered Points South Latin Kitchen in two previous posts, but need to put in a word for Rye, a cocktail bar across the street. Named one of the Best Bars in America by Esquire Magazine, Rye is a fine place to sip an interestingly named, high-end cocktail or two. If you just want a beer and some live music, The Horse You Came In On may be more up your alley. Opened in 1775, the Horse likes to promote the legend that it was the location of Edgar Allen Poe’s last drink. In reality, Poe was found several blocks away–perhaps too far from the Horse to have walked there in his state of extreme inebriation–before being taken to a nearby hospital where he died 4 days later. The Horse has food these days, your burgers and wings and whatnot, but if you’re looking for something more delicate, wander back across the street to Sofi’s Crepes. It’s on the back side of the same building as Kilwin’s chocolates and ice cream, where of course you should stop for caramel apples and nut brittle and maybe an ice cream cone, too.
If you’re more in the mood for a sit-down meal, keep walking down Thames Street. Kali’s Mezze specializes in Greek-style Mediterranean tapas, like grape leaves, spinach pie, and taramasalata. If you’re not in the mood for Greek, try Bond Street Social. The idea there is that it’s more fun to eat and drink while socializing, so food comes ready-to-share, like the Cobb salad deviled eggs, pulled duck confit arepas, and portobello “Sloppy Joe” sliders. Certain cocktails, too, are available by the 100-ounce jar (please don’t drink those on your own), but rest assured that no one will make you share your regular-sized can of Bud or bottle of Heavy Seas Loose Cannon.
If you’re in the area before dinnertime, you might want to take in a bit of shopping. Fells Point Surf Company is next door to Rye. While it’s not advisable to surf in the water at the foot of Broadway (especially since there’s not much in the way of waves), Fells Point Surf sells clothing as well as surf gear. Ten Thousand Villages offers fair-trade goods made by artisans from 38 countries and is a good source for everything from housewares and home decor to jewelry and accessories. I’m a fan of their scarves, made in places like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Across the street, Zelda Zen has lots of fab jewelry, Baltimore artwork, and greeting cards and is an ideal stop for folks on the way to gift-giving occasions as they’re happy to wrap your purchases. The Sound Garden sells music–both new and used CDs and vinyl–plus DVDs, and video games. DJ equipment, too. Finally, Su Casa has great furniture and home accessories. Maybe a sofa isn’t the ideal souvenir of Baltimore, but a pasta bowl with a crab on it or a beer-scented candle (try Vanilla Stout or Raspberry Lambic) in a repurposed bottle from Max’s Taphouse on Broadway might do the trick.
Want to keep walking? Ok. When you get to the end of the next block, the corner of Caroline and Thames, you have two choices: continue on Thames; or turn right on Caroline. Neither choice seems particularly appealing at first glance, what with all the parking lots, apartment buildings, and cranes and construction sites, as something new is always going up around this area. If you choose to continue on Thames, note that the name of the street changes to Philpot on maps. However, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Education Pavilion, a rather interestingly shaped brick building standing alone on the left just beyond the sea of parking lots, lists its address as the slightly more glamorous 1417 Thames Street.
Harry Weinberg, like my grandmother, came from Eastern Europe in the early 20th Century and settled in Baltimore. Unlike my grandmother, Mr Weinberg made a lot of money in his lifetime. He left nearly a billion dollars to the foundation he and his wife founded in 1959, which donates to organizations benefiting the elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities, among others. Before his death in 1990, Weinberg decreed that any building to which his foundation gave more than 250K would have his name on it, so there is no shortage of structures in the Baltimore area with Harry and Jeanette Weinberg emblazoned on the side.
Within the Weinberg Education Pavilion is Waterfront Kitchen. Want a harbor view with dinner? Then this is the place for you. Waterfront Kitchen “celebrates nature’s bounty on the plate,” by partnering with local farms and with the BUGS Greenhouse down the street. The current chef at Waterfront Kitchen is the super-creative Cyrus Keefer, a man responsible for several of my favorite dishes at various restaurants in the Baltimore area. More on Waterfront Kitchen and Chef Keefer will be coming up in a future post.
But wait…maybe you didn’t want to continue up Thames Street and preferred to take your chances on Caroline. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what happens then.
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.