Your holiday guests have just arrived, but you have no idea where to take them to eat in a city that’s overflowing with amazing options. Their visit sneaked up, and you need an itinerary — and fast. You’ve lived here for a while, and really need your cousins to think you’re cool.
Well, I’m here to help. Today, I take you on a journey through Baltimore City’s off-the-beaten-path favorites where there’s something for everyone.
913 S. Lakewood Ave.
Your guests got in late. They’re hungry, tired and need coffee and food. Starbucks? They have that at home. Instead, try OneDo Coffee Roasters, a tiny coffee shop nestled among vines and grape leaves that serves fresh breakfast items, pastries and coffee.
OneDo’s avocado toast is my favorite. And it’s not too expensive. You’ll still be able to afford a house afterward. If avocado toast isn’t for you, there are a number of breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks, bagels and pastries. Is there someone in your group who doesn’t vibe with breakfast? OneDo’s cold udon noodle salad is refreshing and filling. While OneDo is off the beaten path, it IS a local favorite so get there early or wait until the breakfast rush is over. Breakfast is served until 3:30 p.m., so you can sleep in.
418 S. Clinton St.
Now it’s time for lunch or an early dinner. I suggest heading out for a fancy dinner later on but heading out somewhere to tide people over until then. Snake Hill is a cozy little bar on the corner of Clinton Street right off Eastern Avenue. It specializes in sausages and has 20 craft varieties sourced vfrom local butchers. Its “exotic” sausages range from alligator and duck to lamb and rabbit, with classic favorites such as pork and chicken-based sausages. Do you have a vegan visiting? They can eat here too.
Snake Hill also has a great cocktail list with refreshing choices such as the spiced apple spritz and the pomegranate fizz.
32 N. Chester St.
I’m glad the food from Snake Hill tided you over until the fancy dinner. We’re going to La Barrita, an Argentinian steakhouse nestled on the corner in a quiet neighborhood near Patterson Park. Don’t let “residential” worry you; nearby street parking is easy to find. I suggest making a reservation. The tiny restaurant is a local favorite and isn’t very large, so a reservation is a must if there are more than two people.
The menu is diverse, but every dish is made with care and superior attention to detail. My favorite is the mushroom polenta and the octopus salad. Sentient beings not your thing? There are plenty of salads with big flavors and a number of pasta dishes. The selection of cocktails and wine is large, and the bartenders are knowledgeable about which beverages pair with specific dishes.
1733 Maryland Ave.
Dinner is done, and now it’s time to burn those calories off — or maybe eat some more. Let’s go to The Royal Blue, a cozy little dive bar on the corner of Maryland Avenue and West Lafayette Avenue. Cocktails, a full menu and disco dancing reign supreme in this spot. The vibes are chill, the people diverse, and the conversation is always interesting. This is a spot where you’ll leave with more friends than you came with. The menu is late night and open weeknights until 1 a.m. and weekends until 2 a.m.
239 W. Read Street
Don’t feel like hitting the bar and the disco floor? Get coffee or tea instead. The Bun Shop is open until 3 a.m. every day. The menu has various coffees, teas and lattes. It even has spicy cocoa. My go-to is the Vietnamese coffee, which is espresso, coffee and condensed milk. The Bun Shop has a dim, cozy atmosphere that feels more like an old living room than a public space. The long tables are often shared by late-night laptop dwellers, and the corner seating typically is filled with intimate groups of friends rehashing the day or catching up.