Pigtown — or Washington Village — got its name in the 19th century from the pigs, imported from Midwestern farms, that were offloaded from trains and herded through its streets to nearby butcher shops and meat-packing plants. The neighborhood is located in the southwest area of the city and is home to many appetizing and affordable restaurants, bars and carryouts.

As part of a regular series, I am writing about the most interesting restaurants in Baltimore neighborhoods.

This week, I explore some eats in Pigtown.

Nick’s Rotisserie, 807 Washington Blvd.

The leg dinner at Nick's Rotisserie in Pigtown. (Simone Phillips)

A 30+ year-old Pigtown institution, Nick’s Rotisserie is known for its seasoned, juicy rotisserie chicken and soulful sides. The carryout is ordinary in appearance with bare walls and a few paper menus. I almost always order the “Leg Dinner” which comes with your choice of two sides and a soft, sweet corn muffin. Macaroni and cheese and collard greens are my sides of choice. The macaroni and cheese is baked with a harmonious blend of cheeses. The greens are cooked in that comforting, Southern style — tender and salted to perfection. Nick’s generous portions, consistently delicious sides, and jumbo half & half (lemonade and iced tea) makes it one of my favorite places for takeout in Baltimore.

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Swill by Blacksmiths, 906 Washington Blvd.

At Swill by Blacksmiths in Pigtown, they make the pineapple orange drink from fresh fruit. (Simone Phillips)

The cafe recently opened serving classic items including coffee, tea and pastries, along with hot waffles and fresh juice blends. Swill’s space is stylish with exposed brick and walls lined with paintings of Black women — one a huntress, another the famous singer, songwriter and classical pianist, Nina Simone.

On my visit, they sold their last waffle to the person right ahead of me so I ordered a latte and an orange pineapple juice. The juice was made to order, and tasted naturally sweet and citrusy. You can also request to add champagne, if you like. The latte was straightforward — a mellow espresso and a nice balance of milk and foam.

Swill by Blacksmiths hosts a weekend brunch with a full menu and specialty drink options. I’m excited to come back and taste the waffle.

Suspended Brewing Co., 912 Washington Blvd.

A  beer at Suspended Brewing in Pigtown.
A beer at Suspended Brewing Co. in Pigtown. (Simone Phillips)

Suspended Brewing has a massive array of beer options. Their self-proclaimed “love for variety” is shown in the production of their beers as well as their business model which prioritizes social justice and ecological sustainability. I sampled a few beers in the taproom before touring the space. The beer ranged from hoppy to fruity to mild.

While there isn’t much square footage to actually tour, their brewing practices and commitment to social responsibility left me inspired. The brewery’s electricity use comes from wind power, some of the extracted grain is sent to a Maryland farm and pig sanctuary while the rest of the grain, hops and yeast are sent off to be turned into compost. These are just a few ways Suspended Brewing limits their waste and energy use. If you are a beer drinker, this is a must-try Baltimore brewery.

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Marty’s Deli, 798 W. Cross St.

A chicken salad sandwich at Marty's Deli. (Simone Phillips)

Some food businesses capture Baltimore’s charm so well. This was my first-ever visit to Marty’s Deli, although the carryout has been recommended to me on Twitter as having some of Baltimore’s best chicken salad. The counter window and adjacent wall are covered in Polaroids. The images are of the deli’s customers, each photo signed with the guests’ monikers. Lor Clutch, Flash, Q-Money, River and James to name a few. I asked an employee how someone gets added to the wall and was told customers are asked at random to have their picture taken, typically between the breakfast and lunch rush. Some decide to use their real names, others use nicknames.

Traditional American breakfast and lunch best describes the menu here. I went with the recommended chicken salad sandwich, and chicken tenders with fries and honey mustard. The sandwich was modest — not overstuffed, not too lean. The flavor was uncomplicated, savory with bits of celery and a few cranberries. I loved the chicken tenders. Again, nothing fancy but hot, crispy and absolutely delightful.

Staff were a pleasure to meet and brought a memorable energy to the experience; the food was inexpensive and enjoyable. You cannot ask for more from a carryout.

Friends Grille, 737 Carroll St.

Old Bay honey wings at Friends Grille in Pigtown. (Simone Phillips)

Neighborhood bars can be a home base where regulars and newcomers are made to feel like distant cousins gathering at the family reunion. The bartenders call customers by name and invite them to indulge in the lively atmosphere.

It was a Friday evening when I went and I was not sure what to drink, so I asked for something “not too sweet with tequila.” The drink exceeded my expectations. It was boozy, fruity, and no, it did not have a name. The honey Old Bay wings were outstanding — fried, saucy, and well-seasoned. Some of the best I’ve had.

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Friends Grille also isn’t far from Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, if you need a bar to swing by on your way to or from a game.

That is it for Pigtown. As always, if you have a restaurant you love or a neighborhood you think is worth exploring, feel free to reach out.

simone.phillips@thebaltimorebanner.com

Simone Phillips is the founder of the food blog Charm City Table and a Creative in Residence for The Baltimore Banner.

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Simone Phillips is part of The Baltimore Banner's Creatives in Residence program, which amplifies the work of artists and writers from the Baltimore region. 

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