Must-Try Baltimore Restaurants
The best bets for dining in Charm City, from trendy taquerias to modern soul food.
Baltimore’s food scene is bursting with must-try eateries in every cuisine, from classic Italian chophouses and cozy French bistros, to sleek sushi bars and farm-to-table favorites. Whether you’re a first-time visitor eager to taste the best Baltimore has to offer, or on the search for the ultimate date night destination or celebratory spot, these restaurants are sure to serve up a memorable meal.
At Azumi, a sophisticated Japanese grill inside the Four Seasons, the menu features luxe ingredients like wagyu short rib and miniature Japanese freshwater crabs—a signature appetizer—plus sushi sliced from fish flown in direct from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Fish Market.
Before you even take a bite, this Remington mezcaleria and taqueria’s clean white walls, warm wood furniture, incandescent string lights and gorgeous greenery will have you dying to snap a picture worthy of Instagram’s Explore page. Just as stylish is the Sinaloan-inspired menu, which boasts modern takes on classic Mexican dishes. Standouts include the lamb tacos with barbacoa braised in Mexican coffee and ceviche with lime-cured shrimp, spicy cilantro pesto and cucumber. There’s more to Clavel’s tortillas than meets the eye, too: the flour ones are the result of Head Chef Carlos Raba’s own family recipe.
Le Comptoir du Vin
Food magazine Bon Appétit added this cozy French bistro to its ranking of America’s hottest new restaurants in 2019, and it’s been a hot ticket ever since. Le Comptoir du Vin’s menu may be minimal—typically just a smattering of dishes written on a chalkboard each day—but it’s mighty. And it’s crafted by chef and co-owner Will Mester, formerly of Woodberry Kitchen. The dishes vary daily, but some of their soul-warming creations have included French lentils served with curry, labneh and grilled flatbread or persimmons with creamy mascarpone, mint and dukkah.
Inventive cuisine crafted by frequent James Beard Award finalist Cindy Wolf has made this upscale Harbor East restaurant a beloved favorite since it opened in the late 1990s, and for good reason. Wolf’s menus deftly combine classic French techniques with the comforting cooking of South Carolina. Charleston’s dishes feature acclaimed plates like black truffle risotto, pan-seared foie gras, cornmeal-fried oysters and slow-roasted pork belly. There’s no wonder this is one the best restaurants in Baltimore.
Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Gertrude’s is as much a destination as its home. Owned by chef John Shields, a well-known expert in Chesapeake cuisine, the restaurant specializes in locally sourced farm-fresh food that honors the area’s culinary traditions. From small plates and salads at lunchtime, to regional specialties like Chincoteague Single-Fry Oysters on its dinner menu, this sophisticated spot is a lovely way to sample the flavors of the region.
Restaurante Tio Pepe
Billed as authentically Spanish, this Baltimore institution has been beloved by diners for a half-century, and for good reason. Tio Pepe serves up a traditional regional menu that includes classic favorites like gazpacho, tortillas and paella, plus grilled and roasted meats and seafood, complete with a selection of fine wines.
A swanky setting with a panoramic view—thanks to The Bygone’s location on the rooftop of the Four Seasons—is married with a historic fantasy approach for this buzzy concept restaurant. Chef Matthew Oetting took inspiration from the glamorous ’20s and ’30s, then blended it with nouvelle cuisine of the post-World War II era and today’s trends to establish his French-inspired menu. The result: a truly special dining experience.
The Prime Rib
At The Prime Rib’s flagship restaurant, luxury is on the menu. Inspired by the founders’ love for 1940s glamour, the restaurant boasts rich leather seating, tuxedoed waitstaff, a complimentary valet and nightly live musicians. The steaks and seafood, too, are second to none. You’re guaranteed a perfectly roasted prime rib, chilled oysters and an expertly shaken (or stirred) martini.
Nestled in the famous Charles Street corridor–the main thoroughfare running through Baltimore–this contemporary Italian restaurant boasts a luxe yet inviting atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with anything on Sotto Sopra’s menu, but their fresh house-made pastas steal the show. Current offerings include honey lavender salmon, pumpkin ravioloni and short rib ravioli.
The Food Market
We can’t let you go to the Food Market without trying their famous pretzels and beer cheese fondue, but that’s not all they have to offer. Chef Chad Gauss combines foods you know and love with innovative technique, like scallops with summer squash risotto, blistered cherry tomatoes and bacon soubise.
Thames Street Oyster House
There’s a reason it’s nearly impossible to get a seat at this Fell’s Point hot spot without a reservation. Thames Street offers freshly shucked oysters, award-winning lobster rolls and a robust menu of local seafood dishes.
An intimate reimagining of the former Woodberry Kitchen, a concept that quickly won praise for its innovative farm-to-table model, Woodberry Tavern aims to provide a cozy, quiet refuge in which diners can unwind and enjoy a carefully-crafted meal. At the helm is Spike Gjerde, Baltimore’s first and only James Beard Award-winning chef, who remains as sustainability-focused as ever. Start with the tavern board, a hearty mix of crackers, cheese, micro-vegetables and cured meats, or one of the artful salads before feasting on your main course. With only 28 seats, Woodberry Tavern books up quickly, but Gjerde’s creations are always worth the wait.