The Baltimore food scene is hopping and recent changes to state law are expected to have the wine, beer and liquor industries booming as well. From fine dining and trendy, to cheap, decadent street food, Baltimore has options to delight and satisfy every diner. While the roster of beloved and thriving Baltimore restaurants has seen some turnover in the last few years, many of city’s mainstays like Restaurante Tio Pepe continue to anchor the community, welcoming regulars and visitors alike. Newcomers are also popping up across the city, keeping the culinary landscape fresh and exciting.
However, amid the ebb and flow, one thing remains constant: No one can get enough of Baltimore seafood. The city is home is multiple restaurants nominated for having not only the best crab cakes on the East Coast, but in the entire nation. Whether it’s lobster, fish, oysters or some other maritime delicacy, expect Baltimore chefs to permanently raise the bar of your expectations.
It’s impossible to get a definitive list of the best restaurants in Baltimore. Lovers of French cuisine will vote for creative French-influenced bistros such as Chez Hugo. Connoisseurs of classical masterpieces like lobster Newburg and Baked Alaska will unerringly point to Bygone, while fusion food devotees will argue for Citron. And that’s only the tip of the city’s culinary iceberg.
Baltimore’s fine dining landscape is prolific and varied. From Inner Harbor to Federal Hill, there are dozens of top of the line restaurants to serve every taste and style. Travelers with their sights set on more exclusive restaurants, however, would be wise to make their reservations well in advance. Some of the hottest spots seat as few as 30 people, which means there’s rarely room for walk-ins.
Fine dining is hardly the only fare on offer in Baltimore. From Baltimore Inner Harbor restaurants to Fells point restaurants and bars, the city has a wealth of quick and casual fare for laid-back dining with friends, fast lunches and breezy weekend brunches.
Visitors can roam concentrations of great eateries at central points like Lexington Market and Power Plant Live!, often with free live entertainment or a local festival happening in the background. Travelers with more time or a particular love of exploring can check out the city’s amazing stand-alone favorites, such as Alma Cocina Latina, which serves colorful and creative tapas and has a well- stocked bar. Travelers can expect tastes for every palate, too. Local favorite Azumi offers Japanese fusion, while popular Gnocchetto boasts top-notch Mediterranean dishes. You can learn about these great dining options and more with our detailed Baltimore food guide!
It is impossible to have a discussion about seafood restaurants in Baltimore without understanding the city’s place in the national seafood rankings. Baltimore doesn’t just have excellent restaurants and superb seafood. It is a seafood destination. Celebrities no less famous than Oprah cite the city as the home of the best crab cakes they’ve ever eaten.
While crab cakes tend to steal the show in discussions, all kinds of divine fish and lobster dishes await adventurous seafood lovers in Baltimore restaurants. As with fine dining restaurants, however, trying to nail down a single, agreed-upon list of the best seafood in Baltimore is more likely to start a brawl than earn a solid dining recommendation.
Many of the city’s finest establishments are known for the delectable and perfectly executed seafood dishes on their menus. An equal number of quick casual places and even bars have reputations for great seafood, too. While big names like Oprah claim the best crab cakes in Baltimore come from Pappas or the Costas Inn, many locals argue in favor of sites such as Loch Bar, Black Olive and Captain James Landing. Fortunately, poor seafood is a rarity in the city so no matter which recommendation visitors take they are unlikely to be disappointed.
Brunch is a big deal in the city, and visitors can expect to hear plenty of suggestions on where to go for the best Bruch in Baltimore. Anyone with the opportunity should take advantage of the chance to enjoy the city’s brunch culture and the unique, flavorful dishes local chefs offer up for weekend indulgences.
Aside from making time for brunch, visitors should expect primary hotspots to be the Inner Harbor, Harbor East and downtown. High-end Harbor East restaurants can be perfect after a day on the town, while the restaurants in downtown Baltimore offer ideal spots for late dinning, drinks and tapas around shows and festivals.
For a shortcut to the best restaurants in every corner of the city, check out the more complete listing of popular and top-rated establishments in our Baltimore Guide.