Mid-Govans and Belvedere are adjacent neighborhoods along York Road in North Baltimore. Here you can find community and family-friendly dining establishments, some of the city’s best barbecue, and a food hall with sandwiches, smoothies and sweet treats.
As part of a regular series for The Baltimore Banner, I am exploring Baltimore neighborhoods for their tastiest eateries.
Here are the places I discovered in Mid-Govans and Belvedere.
529 E. Belvedere Avenue
A family-friendly gathering place, Belvedere Square Market has plenty to eat and drink for most dietary preferences. The market is inviting, with bright yellow umbrellas covering the outdoor seating and green and white striped awnings over the market windows. Inside, there are 10-plus food stalls, a wine shop, a full-service bar and some retail. The food options range from plant-based smoothies and juices at Plantbar, to fast casual Thai food at Thai Landing to responsibly sourced, handcrafted chocolates by Pure Chocolate by Jinji.
My favorite stop here is Neopol Savory Smokery.
Neopol Smokery is known for its artisanal and affordable sandwiches and salads, but the stall offers a variety of wood-smoked fare. Their most popular menu items are the smoked salmon BLT — smoked salmon, house-made bacon, lettuce, tomato and honey dill aioli on your bread of choice — the New Zealand smoked mussels, and ginger cardamom lemonade. If you do not eat bacon, opt for a Smoked Salmon ALT by adding avocado or apples. On my last visit, I ate and drank the menu favorites. The sandwich and mussels were pleasantly smoky and the lemonade delightfully sweet with the cardamom adding an herbal spice.
For dessert, I like getting a scoop of cappuccino chip ice cream from Prigel Family Creamery. Their family-owned farm in Baltimore County makes the ice cream and cheeses for the market stall. I’ve also been enjoying The Confetti Cake Bar’s Oreo and strawberry crunch cupcakes with buttercream frosting.
There’s lots to eat and explore at Belvedere Square Market. Their Summer Sounds series — a monthly concert event with fare from the market’s tenants — is also worth checking out.
5921 York Road
Swallow at the Hollow has all the characteristics of a proper neighborhood pub. From the floors to the tables and chairs, the restaurant and bar is mostly shades of brown; the walls decorated with neon beer signs and sports memorabilia. There’s cheap and local beer options, a full bar, and some of the city’s best made-from-scratch pub fare.
On my latest visit, I ate honey ghost chicken wings and mini crab balls at the bar. The honey ghost wings were sweet to start, with the heat from the ghost pepper slowly intensifying with each bite. As a lover of spicy foods, these wings are my go-to order here. The crab balls were fresh backfin crab meat with virtually no filler and a classic Maryland crab cake flavor. A familiar and comforting bite.
The charm of Swallow at the Hollow is just as much the people as it is the food. It’s common to see families dining with their children and regulars catching up with the bartenders. The service is informal and efficient. This is a place where members of the community and newcomers can truly unwind.
5800 York Road
A true barbecue joint takes pride in mastering the craft of smoking meats. Heritage Smokehouse seems to take top quality a step further by creating a menu and atmosphere that reflects the art and thoughtfulness of this time-intensive cooking style. A space with wooden paneled walls, neon signs and photos of musicians, including James Brown and Dolly Parton, dining here feels like eating inside of a hip, vintage basement.
The menu is almost entirely meat with some fish options and classic barbecue sides. I ordered the Ron Swanson to sample a few of the meats, the cold-smoked steelhead trout, and a few tiki cocktails from their notable rum list. For sides, I ordered mac and cheese, braised greens, beans and coleslaw. A tray piled with barbecue ribs, chicken, pulled pork, pork belly and sides was placed in front of me. The flavors exceeded my expectations. Meats are juicy and delicious and the sauces range from sweet and sticky to spicy and tangy. I enjoyed the sides as well.
You can expect Texas, Tennessee, and various styles of barbecue at this restaurant. Just follow the smell of smoke to the red and white mural on York Road.
5722 York Road
Finding a dine-in West African restaurant in Baltimore is challenging. Fresh Out the Kitchen is a full service restaurant, carryout and lounge, providing plenty of options for enjoying their Senegalese food. The inside of the restaurant looks like an elevated cafe with wooden chairs, white table cloths and light fixtures designed with West African prints.
On a recent visit, I had Lamb Dibi with brown rice and plantain. Lamb Dibi is a Senegalese staple with sweet onions, marinated lamb, and a mustard sauce. The lamb was tender and savory with some tanginess from the mustard sauce. The brown rice, seasoned with peppers, onions, and spices, and soft, sweet plantain could be eaten as their own meal. The bold flavors and family-style portions here left me satisfied with leftovers.
Dining in owner Nailah’s relaxed space and eating its flavorful made-to-order menu offerings makes this spot worth a visit. Their family-style takeout trays feeding two to three people continue to be a recurring dinner option in my household.
5604 York Road
Sitting among so many other businesses on York Road, Full Tilt’s brewery is unassuming from the outside but on the inside feels like you are visiting the home of a ’90s cool kid. With colorful walls, a basketball hoops arcade game, plenty of board games, video games, and an impressive Star Wars-themed bathroom, the large, open space is dripping in ’80s and ’90s nostalgia.
This was my first visit to Full Tilt’s brick and mortar restaurant, though I’ve had a few of their beers over the years. I sampled a beer flight and ordered the Beer Fishy Fishy sandwich. Upon ordering the flight, I was handed a beer menu and a piece of chalk to write my beer selections onto the flight holder. My four beers ranged from fruity and sour to hoppy and citrusy. The fish sandwich dressed in tartar sauce on a Hawaiian roll was a good choice. The batter on the fish was crispy, golden brown, the tartar sauce savory with a little tartness, and the Hawaiian roll slightly sweet.
Full Tilt hosts an eclectic mix of community events like Sip & Stitch, an embroidery workshop, and Tilted yoga, a yoga class complete with beer, wine, and slushies for sipping. This is a brewery to bring your friends and enjoy an adult beverage while having childhood fun.
Mid-Govans and Belvedere are home to some other solid local eateries as well. Clark Burger, a wonderful Canadian-inspired burger and poutine spot; Koba Korean BBQ, an all-you can eat Korean barbecue and boba tea restaurant; Zen West, a Tex-Mex and live music haunt; and Noir Restaurant & Lounge, a trendy lounge serving modern American cuisine, are a few more neighborhood gems I’ve visited.
I’d love to hear your favorite place to eat in Baltimore. Email me at email@example.com with recommendations.
Simone Phillips is the founder of the food blog Charm City Table and a creative in residence for The Baltimore Banner.