Baltimore may be best known among food-focused travelers for its crab cakes, pit beef and Berger cookies, but the city's burgeoning dining scene has so much more to offer. In recent years, a new vanguard of eateries has elevated and expanded dining choices – from the Inner Harbor to the outskirts of the city limits. These 5 restaurants are helping the Monumental City reach new culinary heights.
Spike Gjerde is Charm City's gastro godfather. His passionate dedication to locally-sourced ingredients and a skillful melding of Old World techniques to a 21st-century outlook helped make Gjerde's flagship, Woodberry Kitchen, one of the best restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic. His burgeoning empire also includes this winsome diner in the charming Belvedere Square neighborhood. Country-style comfort fare rules the menu. Begin with indulgent small bites, such as maple-buttered cornbread and cheesy, gravy-drenched disco fries topped with a sunny side up egg, before diving into substantial sandwiches, hearty entrees and Grandma approved desserts. Two pieces of advice: come ready to eat and be prepared let your belt out a notch (or 2).
Situated inside the Four Seasons Hotel at the Inner Harbor, this ambitious venture comes courtesy of A-list chef Michael Mina. Whether you choose to sit outside to enjoy the waterfront scenery or perched next to the open kitchen with its roaring wood-fired grill, you're guaranteed an electrifying view. Pitched as a modern tavern, the restaurant's New American cuisine manages to be both traditionalist and contemporary. Think an old-school Maryland crab cake gussied up with pistachio butter and horseradish-amped cabbage or pork belly braised in dark roast beans from Lamill Coffee next door. Save room for pastry chef Dyan Ng's progressive pastries, which often include surprising savory elements, such as a sugary olive wafer set atop white chocolate pudding.
Sometimes you find the best bites in the most peculiar places. This whimsically named eatery is perched on the third floor of the equally quirky and compelling American Visionary Art Museum (no museum admission is charged if you're only eating at the restaurant). Though Mr. Rain's decor may seem inspired by a trip down the light fantastic, the food takes its cues from continental classics. House-made pickles, artisanal sausages and creative charcuterie are great shareable starters. Burgers are smart choices for your main course, including one made with ground brisket that's coronated with seared foie gras and sweet, smoky ketchup (don't worry, we won't tattle to your cardiologist if you order it). If the weather permits, sit on the patio you so you can enjoy views of Federal Hill and the museum's fantastical outdoor sculptures.