Latino & Hispanic-Owned Restaurants in Baltimore
Enjoy sweet and savory Latin American and Spanish delicacies, courtesy of Charm City's Hispanic chefs and restaurateurs.
Baltimore’s Latin American and Hispanic community is growing rapidly, adding new, colorful layers to the city’s rich cultural fabric and culinary scene. From hole-in-the-wall taquerias to thoughtful coffee roasters and upscale tapas joints, the Latino & Hispanic-owned restaurants below deliver on freshness, flavor and familial atmosphere.
To find Hispanic and Latin American heritage events around Baltimore, including street festivals, educational events and performances, follow Nuestras Raíces, Inc. on Instagram.
Alma Cocina Latina
Located in Station North Arts & Entertainment District, Alma Cocina Latina takes a contemporary approach to Venezuelan cuisine. Chef Irena Stein recently published the first arepa-focused cookbook in the world, so you’ll want to try the the arepa pabellon from the brunch menu; her rendition of Venezuela’s national dish contains layers of black bean purée, fried plantain, shredded beef and fontina cheese. Must-try items on the dinner menu include the red snapper ceviche, the seafood rice and the sweet corn cakes with Halloumi. Also on tap: artisanal sangria and cocktails made with small craft spirits.
Chicken Rico promises the best Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken in the world, thanks to a 50-year-old family recipe forged when Dora Giordano opened her first location in Lima, Peru. In 1995, ownership transferred to her daughter, Mirian, who brought Chicken Rico to the United States. In addition to the chicken, which is cooked over fiery charcoal in rotisserie ovens, Chicken Rico sells other Peruvian specialties like pollo and lomo saltado, a traditional stir-fry dish. Find them on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, or check out their fresh “Poyoteca” concept near Power Plant Live in the Inner Harbor.
The newest concept from longtime Baltimore restaurateur Carlos Cruz, Bayside Cantina offers one of the best waterfront settings in the city with ample covered and uncovered outdoor seating options. The menu features traditional Mexican fare like tacos and burritos while the cocktail list encourages you to step outside your comfort zone. The Mescalita, for example, is a twist on a margarita that pairs mezcal, sour mix and caramelized chile ancho syrup. There’s also the Bayside Manhattan, which uses tequila and chocolate bitters. Follow their Facebook to keep tabs on Taco Tuesday deals and live music nights.
After 25 years of experience working in prestigious kitchens in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Chef Valentino Sandoval realized his culinary dreams with his first self-owned restaurant, Bmore Taquería. Showcasing the flavors of his native country, Mexico, this Upper Fell’s Point eatery offers authentic street tacos, delicious homemade flan, and refreshing sangrias and micheladas. Be sure to try the al pastor tacos—Sandoval is known for his “Trompo” technique, a method of roasting meat on a vertical rotating spit. During happy hour from 4-6 p.m., enjoy lower prices on beers, sangrias, wine and select tacos.
Cafe Los Sueños
Carlos Payes spent his childhood in El Salvador working in the coffee fields, and he brings the expertise and passion he gained there to his storefront in Remington. Sueños is Spanish for dreams, and the shop is filled with reminders of all Payes has overcome to fulfill his American dream. Behind the counter hangs a framed black t-shirt: the only shirt Payes owned when he first emigrated to the United States in 2005. In addition to handcrafted coffees, Cafe Los Sueños carries Wight Tea products and pastries from Ovenbird Bakery.
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.
Owned by sisters Alejandra and Nicole Leiva, Dulceology specializes in Latin American and El Salvadoran desserts. Their signature is alfajores, a shortbread cookie filled with a rich dulce de leche filling and topped with powdered sugar or covered in chocolate. Plus, the duo can use 3D printing and molding technologies to personalize alfajores for events and company functions. Other treats sold from the bright pink Federal Hill store include tres leches, empanadas, pavlovas, meringues and one-of-a-kind square-shaped donuts (sold only on weekends).
Franchesca’s Empanada Cafe
With her cafe, Franchesca Nuñez aims to provide the Highlandtown community with affordable high-quality Latin American cuisine, and she delivers. She and her team serve up delicious empanadas with an impressive selection of filings to accommodate all diets, including shredded chicken, ground beef, and spinach & ricotta, plus vegan options like sweet plantain & vegan cheese.
With a kitchen that’s open until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, Mr. Tepaches fulfills a need for satisfying late-night dining in historic Fell’s Point. The name refers to a Mexican fermented drink made from pineapple peels and rinds, just one of the refreshing house drinks available at Mr. Tepaches. As for food, patrons can savor quesadillas, tacos and burritos, plus a one-of-a-kind birria pizza.
At Papi Cuisine in Federal Hill, owner and award winning chef Alex Perez blends the recipes and culinary techniques he learned from his Dominican father and African American mother to create an exciting Afro-Latin menu bursting with flavor. The restaurant is seafood-focused, and standouts include the stuffed lobster, crab eggrolls, seafood alfredo and honey glazed salmon. The cocktails look plucked from your last Caribbean vacation, complete with a rum punch served in a whole pineapple.
Another Highlandtown hotspot, Taqueria Vargas stands out for its large portion sizes and affordable prices – everything on the menu is less than $15. Popular dishes include the sizzling queso fundido, huevos rancheros, picaditas and, of course, tacos. Beyond the traditional al pastor, asada and carnitas fillings, Taqueria Vargas offers campechanos, tripas, lengua and buche. Across the street, community staple Vargas Bakery sells a wide variety of pastries and sweet breads, though it is known for its rosca de reyes, or king cake; the bakery sells up to 400 of the wreath-shaped cakes every year in preparation for Three King’s Day, or Día de los Reyes.
The Empanada Lady
After operating a boutique empanada cafe out of Motor House in Station North for three years, Elisa Milan (aka The Empanada Lady), recently opened a larger, sit-down restaurant downtown with a full bar and expanded menu. In addition to a variety of empanadas, diners can enjoy crab balls, ceviches, salads and one-of-a-kind cocktails. The colorful interior celebrates Milan’s Puerto Rican culture; a mural by Jaz Erenberg features the Puerto Rican resistance flag, native plants to the island, and traditional Taino symbols, and hanging umbrellas pay homage to Old San Juan’s Umbrella Street.
Restaurante Tio Pepe
Billed as authentically Spanish, Restaurante Tio Pepe has been beloved by diners for more than half a century. Chef and owner Emiliano Sanz has been with the restaurant for almost as long, serving as a friendly, welcoming presence for the locals who return to the restaurant for regular doses of gazpacho, paella, tapas and decadent desserts like the sought-after pine nut roll. Located in Mount Vernon, Restaurante Tio Pepe is the perfect place to stop after taking in the sights from the top of the Washington Monument or exploring the Walters Art Museum.
Reviews of this Federal Hill Mexican joint rave about the “fire” hot sauce, the fast service and generous portions, but there’s another secret to Ruben’s success: the familial spirit. Owner Ruben Ramirez has been making crepes and burritos since he was 12, and when it came time to open his own restaurant, he recruited his cousins, aunt and close friends to run it with him. The result is a joyous community restaurant that feeds patrons more than flavorful burritos, tacos, queso and agua frescas. Open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Ruben’s is the place to grab a bite after a night out on Charles Street. Both the Federal Hill and Fell’s Point locations also offer breakfast and $1.99 tacos on Tuesdays.