Best Places to Eat in Baltimore

These 5 restaurants are helping Baltimore reach new culinary heights.
By: Nevin Martell
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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.
1. Shoo-Fly Diner
Shoo-Fly Diner

Shoo-Fly Diner

Photo by: Shoo-Fly Diner

Shoo-Fly Diner

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).
2. Wit & Wisdom
Wit & Wisdom

Wit & Wisdom

Photo by: Getty Images

Getty Images

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.
3. Mr. Rain's Fun House
Mr. Rain's Fun House

Mr. Rain's Fun House

Photo by: Mr. Rain's Fun House

Mr. Rain's Fun House

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.
4. Clementine
Clementine

Clementine

Photo by: Clementine

Clementine

This is a meat lover's mecca. ''Chef-owner Winston Blick handcrafts charcuterie with locally-entineentinesourced meats – from pâtés and pepperoni to bologna and bacon. Diners can even peer into the restaurant's custom-built curing room, where strings of sausages hang from the ceiling and shelves are lined with pigs' heads, hams and duck breasts. The menu sports a surprising array of multi-culturaloptions. Feel French enjoying escargot with mustard thyme cream, appreciate the Italian inspiration devouring vegetarian carbonara and get into a Belgian state of mind with a steaming bowl of buttery, vinous mussels. Home-style brunches are a family-friendly treat, rife with savory and sweet options. If there's a batch of freshly fried doughnuts on deck when you arrive, make sure to order one.
5. Fork & Wrench
Fork & Wrench

Fork & Wrench

Photo by: Fork & Wrench

Fork & Wrench

One of Baltimore's fastest rising stars is executive chef Cyrus Keefer. He first made his mark at Birroteca, a top-notch, beer-loving pizza pub built in a 19th century stone mill that's worth its own visit. Now he is helming the kitchen at one of the most buzzed about restaurants in town, Fork & Wrench. The classically-grounded, modern-minded cuisine is inventive without being precious. Risotto gets a rich boost from smoked lamb's neck, veal cheeks are lightened with poppy grapefruit, and a puffy Asian bun comes stuffed with escargot, melted provolone, parsley butter and onion ribbons. Though it's a meat-heavy menu, vegetarians and vegans can order an ever changing 3-course tasting dinner that's so well-executed it doesn't feel like an afterthought.
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