Visit Like A Local with Jesus Perez
Read on to learn more about some of Jesus' favorite spots in Baltimore for food and culture.
How would you describe Baltimore?
Baltimore is an amazing city, full of exciting and diverse people and activities. There is a lot to offer here – arts, culture, community, music – and you can see all of this as you go from downtown to interesting neighborhoods in just minutes, whether you walk, take a bus, or ride a bike. Baltimoreans like to eat and there are so many food options here. You can walk down the street and see amazing food spots right in the heart of the city. It’s small a city with a big heart that beats to welcome people from the around the world.
What recommendations would you give to a visitor to experience Baltimore like a local?
Go beyond the Inner Harbor and see what Baltimore is really about. If you like nature go to Patterson Park. There is always something going on there, whether a huge festival like LatinoFest, bubble-ball games or even a local game of futbol! Rent a bike with the Baltimore Bike Share or take a walk. I love to walk and see more of the city, the neighborhoods and really connect with our people. Baltimore draws immigrants from Nepal, Africa, Central America, especially my own Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. I love that Baltimore lets me connect with people from all over the world, and one weekend I can enjoy a quinceañera and the next I’m participating in Taste of Peru and sampling all kinds of delicious foods.
And if you like arts and culture go to the Creative Alliance. It’s an awesome art center with a theater that draws shows, exhibits and music from all types of artists – there is even a bar inside. They host great programs that truly represent the neighborhood, like Artesanas Mexicanas, which are local artists that proudly maintain their countries’ customs, like designing piñatas, or altars for Day of the Dead. Creative Alliance is truly a hidden gem.
If you only had 24 hours in Baltimore, where would you go?
Baltimore has a lot of diverse neighborhoods but if I only had 24 hours I would spend it in Highlandtown. I grew up in Highlandtown and over the years it has become very diverse, with Greek immigrants, folks from Nepal and, of course, tons of Latinos all working and living together – there is a whole other world of cultures here. I would go to a show at the Creative Alliance or see an art expo, especially from one of their resident artists, take a walk around Patterson Park, enjoy the Pagoda, grab a slice of pizza at Matthew’s Pizza. I would also spend time at Sagrado Corazon (Sacred Heart) Church. It’s so much more than a traditional church where we like to spend our Sundays. It’s where we all meet up, where the community hosts events and festivals.
So, for me, 24 hours in Baltimore would be about living my everyday life in my neighborhood – the local food, the local art scene, the local food with my local people.
Where do you like to eat in Baltimore?
There are so many! There is a food truck on Broadway, called Tacos Jalisco, that I love because it reminds me of my mom’s home cooking with the tortillas, the carne, the jalapeños. It reminds me of home. I also love Michelle’s Café because it’s a small café with a homey feel to it, and La Cabaña Restaurant, a Mexican restaurant that is the real deal, a family-owned spot that has the best tacos al pastor with a new spin. Baltimore is also known for its great local hang outs, and Mother’s in Federal Hill is one of my favorite spots. Another amazing food experience is at the local markets, like the Baltimore Farmer’s Market, for he local vendors, which of course, includes farmers, but also florists and craftsman. Plus, the best part is the ready-made dishes like tamales from Tacos Locos. Baltimore has so many cool places to eat and the markets have them all in one place.