While my love for food photography knows no bounds, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight some of the remarkable spaces our city has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a beautiful background for your food photos or an epic place to take a group shot or selfie, here is a list of the most Instagram-worthy restaurants in Baltimore.
1302 Fleet St., Baltimore
It’s always a party at BLK Swan, where the DJ spins from a larger than life swan’s nest overlooking the diners as they enjoy craftily curated cocktails and devour lobster mac and cheese. A wall of glossy black trophies sits over the kitchen, highlighting the restaurant’s focus on Black excellence and drawing attention to the chefs who turn out dish after dish of deliciousness. With every corner worthy of a photo shoot, you may spend more time taking photos then actually eating your dinner. But, then again, that’s not unusual for me.
10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore
Who doesn’t love dining in the company of priceless works of art? And I’m not just talking about Chef John Shields’ crab cake. With a patio located next to the sculpture garden at the Baltimore Museum of Art, it’s no surprise that Gertrude’s has one of the prettiest backdrops for the savvy social media guru. And while you’re there, bookend your visit with a trip inside the museum to check out one of the many free exhibits, which currently include the John Waters Collection.
31 E. Cross St., Baltimore
Vibrant pinks and blues set the mood at this Federal Hill eatery known for its flower-covered walls and ceiling constructed with “steel” beams designed to resemble the underbelly of the Eiffel Tower. On the outside, the stage is set for the ideal photo opp with a mural featuring a 20-foot bottle of rosé pouring onto an umbrella that you can stand under. And inside, if you want the perfectly plush shot, get comfy with a cocktail or glass of rosé on the velvety pink banquettes surrounding the dining area, or take a selfie with the murals depicting culinary legends Anthony Bourdain and Paul Bocuse.
1010 Fleet St., Baltimore
If you enjoy dinner and a show, you’re going to love Monarque, where burlesque dancers, contortionists, jugglers, drag queens and singers grace the stage every Thursday through Sunday. Whether you’re focusing on your dinner plate or the performances, it’s safe to say that there is plenty to feature on your social media feed in this 1920s French cocktail club-inspired eatery. Even between performances, the energy doesn’t stop as you bop in your seats to Gatsby-style remixes of pop classics.
227 W. 29th St., Baltimore
Not all diners are created equally. And that certainly holds true for the Papermoon Diner, which has been serving an eclectic and extensive menu of comfort food — from bananas foster French toast and burgers to tasty milkshakes and TV dinners — since 1994. But even more eclectic than the food is the decor, with antiques, children’s toys, dolls and mannequins hanging from the walls and ceilings. While I promise they won’t eat much, if you were traumatized watching M3GHAN, this may not be the ideal spot for you. But if you can overcome your fears, this colorful beacon of unconventional cuisine is a rite of passage for any Baltimore foodie.
P.S. Be sure to check out the extensive collection of PEZ Candy dispensers while waiting for your table.
1024 Light St., Baltimore
What’s black and blue and Fed all over? Blue Moon Too! Serving up Baltimore’s best breakfast with a side of scenery in Federal Hill you’ll have a hard time resisting your first bite before snapping photos — especially when the homemade “sinnamon” rolls, which are prepared daily, land on your table. But the food is not the only thing worth capturing. The retro-goth decor fills the need for your social media feed with paintings of Beetlejuice, Marilyn Monroe and other pop icons playfully placed on a dazzling mural of a wintry forest at night — glow-in-the-dark stars included.
3650 Toone St., Baltimore
With so many unique spaces, you’ll have to make several reservations to experience the various vibes that create the dining experience at Gunther & Co. From a grand central dining room featuring a two-story living plant wall to a uniquely chic and pet-friendly heated patio with fire features, a waterfall, and koi pond, there’s no shortage of views in this industrial chic space, formerly home to the Gunther Brewery. But if you want the ultimate Gunther & Co. experience, reserve a seat at the chef’s counter where you can watch the kitchen’s culinary masters create your plates. Even though I help manage the Gunther & Co. social media account, I promise I’m not biased.
1715 Thames St., Baltimore
Whether it’s the decor or the dishes, the phone always eats first at Rec Pier Chop House. Located in The Pendry Hotel, and overlooking historic Thames Street, this Italian chophouse is one of the premier spots for people-watching in Fells Point. That’s if you can stop staring at the stunningly decorated bar and dining space occupying Baltimore’s former historic recreation pier originally built in 1914. But with some of the Harbor’s best views, you may not want to stay inside. This summer, spend a few afternoons on their pool deck, where you can sip frozen espresso martinis and watch the sunset.
2 E. Read St., Baltimore
Hotel Ulysses is home to two of the city’s most Insta-worthy photo opportunities — Ash Bar and Bloom’s. Exuding two distinctly separate moods, you can go barhopping in the comfort of a single building with just a hotel lobby in between. My recommendation? Start with dinner at Ash Bar, an “overly-veneered all-day bistro” designed to resemble the vintage steam train dining cars of eras past. And when you’re finished, walk a few short steps to Bloom’s, where you’re immediately transported into a “decadent cocktail lounge” featuring plush banquettes, mirrored surroundings, silver palm trees and vintage cocktails.
Chris Franzoni is a Baltimore native, resident, food fanatic, and “Eater-in-Chief” of @EatMoreBeMore, which he started seven years ago with two goals – eating his way through the city and shining a positive light on the Baltimore restaurant and hospitality scene.