Baltimore is for food lovers. There is an unprecedented, beautiful variety of cuisine that can be sought out in this city. Baltimore is a quirky place. It’s filled with these niches of the odd and the peculiar. And, at the same time, there is a great amount of diversity, a rich diversity of cultures, traditions, and perspectives. They all cumulate in a food scene that is vibrant and intriguing that satisfies the appetite of even the most curious.
I won’t claim to have a complex palette or to be able to recognize one. But, as a person with taste buds, I do have some merit in recommending places that at least blew my mind. And of course, I had to take photos of all of it. I hope I can capture the dreamy quality of all these moments.
Breakfast at Shirley’s is a tour de force of everything fresh and unique about Baltimore. In the late summer, berries and other fruit are ripe and sweet. These topped crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside waffles that were coated in snowy powdered sugar. Also, old bay corn bread made a great side, contrasting with the sweet-tarty goodness of raspberry jam. This is definitely one of the best ways to start a Saturday.
At the 5 & 10 on the main street in Hampden I had avocado toast that was to die for. I miss avocados. Its one of the only things that the FFC is missing, and something that I always miss from home, since aguacates are a big part of any Cuban meal. Here, they were smashed on top of whole wheat toast, with a salty fried egg on top and homemade hot sauce. Paired with berries, this dish was a ying & yang combination of savory and sweet.
This photo depicts the inside of the Golden West Cafe, a gift to the breakfast world sent from God. The inside is filled with an eclectic mix of chandeliers, train station benches, antiques, and interesting taxidermy. All the menus are attached to the back of vinyl album covers. They serve large mugs of coffee and pancakes just as strange as the interior decorating, but just like the odd mix of furniture and decor, the non-conventional flap-jacks (whether infused with bacon and topped with bananas, or made out of zucchini and topped with gooey melted cheese) just seem to somehow work. The breakfast here is inventive and unapologetic (and amazing).
(Skipping lunch since it is the lame version of dinner)
Tamber’s is an indian diner super close to campus that serves both traditional indian cuisine and American diner food. Closer to the beginning of the year I went for a friend’s birthday and it was literally one of the best meals I’ve had here. I wasn’t expecting much, just because of its proximity and its dual mandate menu. I got lamb vindaloo, which was sweet, spicy, and aromatic without being overpowering or overdone. This was served with sticky long grain rice and a side of garlic stuffed naan made in heaven. Tamber’s was a surprise find, but it shouldn’t have been in a city where branching out and experimentation on both sides of the counter is key.
Gia’s is an amazing restaurant in Little Italy. Almost every square inch of the place is painted in vibrant, beautiful scenes done by one of the owners. It serves authentic, super yummy pasta that I still can’t get over. I had artfully-made gnocchi with a creamy cheesy sauce. The texture was a contrast of chewy smoothness and the crunch of random nuts mixed in with the pasta. It was simple, yet intricate. Coming from a small town that doesn’t have its own Little Italy, I was awe-struck.
The Rusty Scupper is the complete antithesis of its name. Walking to it, on the outer edge of Inner Harbor, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, upon walking inside, I discovered that this place is really a gem. You get to dine with great views of downtown and the other end of the Inner Harbor while feasting on extremely fresh seafood. This dish was overwhelmed by super yummy, tangy mussels and sprinkled with old bay. Other than that the diced tomatoes mixed in and the light sauce base for the pasta helped to add simplicity and freshness to a dish that would’ve been overpowering and hard to swallow down. The chef knew how to make the fresh seafood at hand shine through different tastes and mixtures of strong and softer tastes.
Late night snacks on the purple route are the best, especially if they are chocolate-oreo milkshakes from Shake Shack. I know this is a very non-foodie addition to this list but hey, it was the shake of the month and it was soooo worth it. This is also a staple from home that I could not just simply abandon or ignore for the sake of artsiness and credibility.
This is a perfect cylinder of mango ice cream, made in a solo cup at a place called Indigma. It is an indian restaurant in Mount Vernon (if you couldn’t tell from the geo-tag). It serves delicious indian food in a converted mansion, painted in bright yellow and dark violet colors with beautiful views of the rest of Mount Vernon including the Washington Monument. Despite all of its amazing dishes, this dessert takes the cake. It’s a perfect compliment for spicy food. It is refreshing, cool, crisp, sweet, and definitely necessary for a spicy-food lightweight like me.
The Final Course: Friendsgiving
Honestly though, the best meal I’ve had here is not something that I found at one of the numerous restaurants here. It was something that I actually, with my very limited ability, helped make. My friends Kevin, Mikey, Jenna, Kai, and I went to a local Super Walmart and did friendsgiving in the cheapest and most delicious way possible. No, it was not a five-star restaurant meal, but it was pretty damn good considering that Mikey had to drag the rest of us through what to do. My favorite thing about food, honestly, is not the way that it tastes, but its ability to transcend the boundaries of many cultures and different ways of life as a central meeting place, a place to gather after a long day or before the beginning of a new one. It gives us all an excuse to meet up, exchange stories and jokes and sentiments. It is always something to interact over, something to come together over. The thing that made this meal great was all the friends that I got to share it with, these people that I am so deeply grateful for.
(If you couldn’t tell by the change in quality these last two photos are taken by Kevin; the rest are from my very basic snapchat stories.)