Foodie Friday: Baltimore Beyond the Crabcakes

by  Karen Gardiner | May 9, 2014
Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland / Sean Pavone/iStock

Last month we told you about the enticing open-air fitness offerings available for visitors to the Charm City. But what to do post-fitness session with a fully worked up appetite? We thought we'd point you to restaurants where you can mingle with locals, eat in good conscience, and, if you want, venture beyond the typical crab meals. Keep reading for where to eat for each meal in Baltimore:

Get in line early for weekend brunch at Miss Shirley's Cafe, where the crowd spills out onto the streets at its bustling Inner Harbor location. Serving up arguably the best breakfast in the city, Miss Shirley's offers Southern-style dishes in huge portions. For a sweet snack, start with a serving of Shirley's powdered sugar- and cinnamon-dusted Funky Monkey bread ($12.99) for the table while awaiting your main dish. Favorite entrees include the Benne Seed chicken n' waffles ($14.99), Shirley's Affair with Oscar (a five-ounce beef tenderloin filet topped with asparagus, jumbo lump crab meat, and hollandaise sauce; market price), and the crab cake and fried green tomato Eggs Benedict (market price). Miss Shirley's does not take reservations, so if you don't make it there early enough to beat the line, grab a Spicy Shirley ($8.99) or Miss Mimosa ($5.99) to sip on the patio while you wait.

Waterfront Kitchen's waterside setting in Fell's Point offers sweeping views across the harbor. The restaurant is open for a picturesque breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As a seed-to-table concept restaurant, Waterfront Kitchen is on a mission to get away from outsourcing produce altogether. We love its after-school and summer BUGS (Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students) program, which teaches inner-city grade schoolers about gardening, good nutrition, and applied academics - and pays them for growing produce for the restaurant in a greenhouse just down the street. A percentage of the restaurant's profits also goes toward furthering the program's educational efforts.

Waterfront Kitchen's seasonally changing menu offers "spirited American dining," with lunch dishes that currently include sandwiches ($11-18), a buttermilk fried chicken ($16), and a parmesan-encrusted meatloaf ($18). For thirsty patrons, a selective wine list offers vino by the glass ($6-15). If you come here in the afternoon, make the most of the sunny patio and watch the boats sail past.

Taking the farm-to-table concept to another level is downtown's Fleet Street Kitchen. Bagby believes strongly in the local food concept and, whenever possible, source as locally as possible. It's part of the Bagby Restaurant Group, whose owner started a collection of farms, Cunningham Farms, that solely supply Bagby restaurants and aims to offer farm tours in the near future.

The menu at Fleet Street Kitchen, another establishment in the group, highlights Cunningham Farms' produce as well as the unusual finds of the head chef, an expert forager. The dinner menu offers four courses for $65 and a seven-course chef's tasting menu for $85 (with a vegetarian tasting option for $65). Craft cocktails include the Kazem's Mule, a take on the Moscow Mule that uses house-made ginger beer served in a copper mug ($12).

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