Baltimore’s dining scene takes seafood very seriously, and there are endless ways to savor and sample Maryland blue crabs, fresh local oysters and other bounties of the Chesapeake Bay. Read on to find out where you can enjoy our state’s most classic cuisine; here, we’ve highlighted brand new hot spots, hidden gems and those that are loved by locals just as much as visitors.
Thames Street Oyster House
This Fell’s Point mainstay is always packed, and rightfully so. Besides the long list of raw bar offerings, Thames Street has garnered fame for a lobster roll that gives seafood shacks in New England a run for their money.
The Local Oyster
The Local Oyster started as a one-man traveling oyster bar that popped up all over Baltimore; today, it occupies a stall in Mount Vernon Marketplace, a busy food hall near The Walters Art Museum. Oysters on the half shell are always available, including the house oyster the Skinny Dipper. Local Oyster also offers almost every other kind of shellfish available.
Mama’s on the Half Shell
Mama’s on the Half Shell quickly became a Baltimore seafood institution after opening in 2003. For more than 15 years, the Canton gastropub has served Charm City classics like crab cakes, coddies (a fried mixture of salt cod and potato served between saltines with mustard), rockfish and, of course, oysters on the half shell.
Ryleigh’s Oyster took up residence in Federal Hill nearly 20 years ago and has been serving raw oysters ever since. The menu also includes classics like crab dip, crab cakes and fried oyster po’boys. Be sure to wash it all down with an orange crush or oyster shooter.
Faidley’s started out as a fish purveyor in Lexington Market in 1886. The market is still there and so is Faidley’s, though it’s now most famous for its jumbo lump crab cakes. Faidley’s also offers oysters, fried fish, coddies, classic Maryland crab soup and more.
Bertha’s Restaurant & Bar
If you’ve spent some time in Baltimore you probably already know Bertha’s for its iconic green bumper stickers encouraging you to “Eat Bertha’s Mussels.” In Fell’s Point, Bertha’s serves mussels in a variety of ways, from classic butter, oil or broth preparations to dishes served with specialty sauces like an aromatic and spicy coconut concoction.
Nick’s Fish House
Nick’s will make you think you’ve been transported to a beach town with the open-air wood deck and docks overlooking the water. It’s the perfect spot to dig into a pile of freshly steamed crabs, but don’t skip on the crab cake or fresh catch of the day.
Spike Gjerde, the James Beard award-winning chef and owner of Woodberry Kitchen, was one of the first to make farm-to-table (or ocean-to-table) the standard in Baltimore. All ingredients are seasonal and local, including the house made Snake Oil Hot Sauce, made from Maryland fish peppers. We recommend adding a dab to Woodberry’s oysters or rockfish.
The Urban Oyster
Chef Jasmine Norton opened The Urban Oyster’s first brick-and-mortar location at McHenry Row in Locust Point, making it the first black-owned and female-owned oyster bar in Maryland. The restaurant’s menu includes plenty of oyster dishes—think char-grilled, cheese-topped oysters and zesty oyster tacos—as well as non-seafood classics like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
After a massive rennovation of Fell's Point's historic Broadway Market, The Choptank opened in the south shed. The latest venture from Atlas Restaurant Group, which operates Bygone, Loch Bar and Azumi among others, The Choptank is an upscale seafood restaurant focusing on steamed crabs, oysters and rockfish, with indoor and outdoor seating.
True Chesapeake Oyster House
A collaboration between The Local Oyster team and chef Zack Mills (formerly of Wit & Wisdom), True Chesapeake Oyster House will be the main restaurant concept coming this summer in Hampden’s Whitehall Mill, a converted historic mill, and will have a strong locally seasonal menu emphasis – that means no crabs in the winter, sorry!
And if you’re still looking for the traditional crab feast, find our top picks here.