It’s been a busy few months for Baltimore’s restaurant scene — just ask my belt. Many new restaurants have opened in recent months, and I couldn’t be more excited.
The best part is there’s no sign of slowing down, which means all of my New Year’s resolutions are already out the window. But enough about me …
From a church-inspired bar to dance parties, Asian street food, a music venue and more, here are my favorite bars and restaurants that have opened since late summer.
2127 East Pratt Street, Baltimore
Ever since Salt in Butcher’s Hill closed, there’s been a hole in my restaurant-loving heart. Luckily, that void (and vacant restaurant space) was filled with the opening of Marta Fine Food and Spirits, which offers “American cuisine with a heavy Italian accent.” It’s serving everything from bar snacks (think: truffle potato chips and hot honey-rosemary wings) to saffron campanelle topped with poached lobster and uni zabiglione (a sweet foamy cream). I guarantee you’ll make your next reservation before leaving dinner. Almost as enjoyable as the food was the atmosphere, reminiscent of an intimate New York City eatery — dimly lit with candlelight, tables in close quarters, and attentive service.
1733 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore
The vibe is John Waters meets Boogie Nights at this 1970′s-inspired dive bar destined to be a hipster’s heaven (don’t @ me). The beverage menu is creative and approachable, and there’s a little something for everyone — whether you’re in the mood for a Miller High Life or a handcrafted cocktail. But before you have too many, I recommend checking out the food menu, and more specifically, the fried chicken sandwich and animal-style tots, which are ideal for setting a solid base before a night of heavy imbibing and dancing to their weekly DJ sets.
3 West Chesapeake Avenue, Towson
Great news! You can now experience the flavors of an Asian night market in brick-and-mortar form at Towson’s newest restaurant, Street Food by Water Song. A sibling to Water Song Yunnan Kitchen in Federal Hill, Street Food offers exactly what the name suggests, fusing flavors from various countries in Southeast Asia. Some of the “must trys” are the chicken katsu and kunming potato. Stay tuned because you’ll also soon be able to create your own street food-inspired wraps and “burritos.”
5718 York Road, Baltimore
Is it a grocery store? Bar? Farmers market? Tasting room? It’s all of the above! You may know HEX Ferments for their delicious fermented foods like kombucha and kraut, but this Superette offers even more. From produce and meats sourced from local farms to goods and products created by local and regional makers, HEX Superette is a one-stop shop for all of your farmers market needs. The best part is you can sip on cocktails and nosh on snacks while shopping. And now through Jan. 8, you can find the Made in Baltimore Pop-Up for your local holiday needs.
1065 South Charles Street, Baltimore
If you’re familiar with the Italian food scene in Baltimore, then you probably recognize the name of this eatery, which just reopened in Federal Hill’s Cross Street Market. But don’t let the venue fool you. When we arrived for our weekend dinner reservation, we were greeted by live music and a friendly staff that immediately transported us out of the market and into the famed dining rooms reminiscent of Baltimore’s Little Italy. From charcuterie carved tableside to a spicy lobster fra diavolo (which three of us ordered), I guarantee you’ll love this newest addition to Federal Hill.
1812 Bank Street, Baltimore
One of my favorite Baltimore restaurants — Henninger’s Tavern — shuttered during the pandemic. When I learned that Little Donna’s was opening in its place, I immediately thought (in Emily Blunt’s “The Devil Wears Prada” voice), “You have some very large shoes to fill.” And they filled them.
The menu was eclectic, offering a variety of options from a house-made pickle plate to pizzas, pierogies, and an old-school Baltimore classic, sauerkraut with Ostrowski’s sausage. And fortunately, most of the space remains unchanged — with the original wooden bar, antiqued glass mirrors, and cozy bar and dining arrangements. Because seating is so limited, consider making a reservation before you go.
2015 Turkey Point Road, Essex
My eating adventures often lead me to questionable places. So when I pulled into the dark boatyard of the Baltimore Boating Center for dinner (thanks Daylight Saving Time), I wondered where my Maps app had taken me. But I trusted my gut and followed the neon Charly’s Sue Creek sign into a bright and vibrant boat house where I was more than pleasantly surprised by the casual vibe and menu that offers what I like to call “elevated comfort food.” As usual, I had a hard time limiting myself to a few dishes, but I did NOT go wrong ordering the spicy lobster deep dish pizza or the autumn spice crush.
4801 Harford Road, Baltimore
The newest addition to the Hamilton-Lauraville restaurant scene, this cozy neighborhood cafe offers dishes inspired by Italy’s Abruzzo region. The menu offerings include antipasti, panini, and pasta, but the best part (in my humble opinion) is that breakfast is served all day. Which leads me to the best dish I tried — capricciosa — focaccia topped with stewed tomato jam, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, olives, shaved parmesan reggiano, and over-easy egg (perfect for that yolk porn content).
1724 Whetstone Way, Baltimore
Smash or pass? Easy. SMASH! Inspired by the smashburger, Fat Pattie’s is reminiscent of a 1970s diner with monster milkshakes (you can make them boozy!), hot dogs, and flavorful fried sides. Into arcade games? They’ve got you covered. Cocktails and beer on tap? They have that, too. But the highlight for me were the crabby patties — a smashburger loaded with American cheese, crab imperial, bacon, tomato and Old Bay.
2219 Maryland Ave., Baltimore
If you haven’t been to Sunday services in a while, consider making a trip to Church Bar in Baltimore’s Old Goucher neighborhood. The space is adorned with church decor and furniture, including a pulpit repurposed as a host stand and organ pipes that protrude over the bar — and they’ve even replaced traditional dining room chairs with pews. With a refreshing cocktail menu, including a martini (aptly named “The Host”) to share, you’ll certainly leave filled with the spirits.
5916 York Road, Towson
The speakeasy trend has made its way to Baltimore — and Clandestino is definitely one worth checking out. It’s a Southwestern-style speakeasy hidden behind the walls of Zen West, a Mexican cantina near Belvedere Square. Their specialty is mezcal and tequila — but if that’s not your cup of tea, they also serve all of the classic cocktails. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you walk along the walls, you may find one of the secret entrances.
2 East Read Street, Baltimore
Sexy, swanky, and stylish, Bloom’s is one of the most Insta-Tok-able new bars in Baltimore — but also one of the most classic. Surrounded by mirrors, red velvet banquettes, and tall metallic palm trees, you can grab a seat at the bar to sip on classics like the champagne cocktail, Midori sour, and French martini. With so many of Mt. Vernon’s restaurants and bars closing in the recent past, it’s a shining beacon of hope that the streets of this once-lively neighborhood will again be buzzing with nightlife.
888 South Broadway, Baltimore
Re-imagining one of Fells Point’s best-kept secrets, Chef Ashish Alfred’s newest concept offers inventive, nautical-themed cocktails paired with tasty bar snacks that, lucky for all of us, come from the kitchen at one of my personal favorites, Duck Duck Goose. While the cocktail list has been updated, you can still get the classics you love, and may even see a familiar face behind the bar. And with the tagline “As low as you can go,” you know you’re in for a good time. (Stay tuned for Chef Alfred’s newest concept, Pirata, set to open right around the corner in 2023).
1710 Thames Street, Baltimore
Enter Baltimore’s newest live-music venue: Waterfront Hotel. This bar on Fells Point’s Thames Street recently got a face-lift — and, in the best way possible, you probably won’t recognize it. In addition to the beautiful courtyard, which opened earlier this season, the second floor now boasts an elevated event stage, state-of-the-art sound system, and bar that seats 40. The venue hosts live local and regional music acts seven days a week, with national acts scheduled to grace the stage in the coming months. If you’re looking for a more intimate dining experience, head farther upstairs to enjoy a cozy meal by the fireplace with views of Thames Street’s paving stones.
If these new options aren’t enough, there’s even more to come! Here are a few openings I’m looking forward to: Woodberry Tavern, Zanders, The Dive, and Ekiben (Locust Point). Stay tuned for updates.
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-area restaurant and hospitality scene.