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12 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. Ready to eat? Here are some of our top picks for a memorable meal in Charm City.

Woodberry Kitchen

Located inside a converted flour mill near HampdenWoodberry Kitchen is more than just a restaurant; it is a testament to James Beard Award-winning chef Spike Gjerde’s unwavering commitment to sustainable and local food sourcing. Though the restaurant first opened its doors in 2006, Gjerde continues to craft innovative concoctions. The menu changes daily to reflect the availability of seasonal ingredients gathered from local farmers and watermen, but diners can always expect a fresh meal designed with Baltimore in mind.

Clavel

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.

The Bygone

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.

Azumi

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.

Azumi patio

Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Baltimore Museum of ArtGertrude’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.

Gertrude's patio

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.

Charleston

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.

A plate of food at a Top Baltimore restaurant in Charleston.

The Prime Rib

Opened in 1965, the Prime Rib hearkens back to the golden era of fine dining complete with white tablecloths, live piano music, tuxedoed waitstaff and the best cuts of steak, prime rib and chops.

Sotto Sopra

Since 1996, Sotto Sopra has been serving classic Italian cuisine in creative ways. Think dishes like squid ink spaghetti with shrimp and calamari and pumpkin ravioloni topped with amaretti cookies in a cream sauce.

The Food Market

The exterior of food market brunch spots.

The Food Market is on The Avenue in Hampden.

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.

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