Locust Point / South Baltimore
NOTE: Click on a restaurant's name to get more information in our Eat Guide.
1421 Lawrence St., (410) 625-7800
Notable for serving pretty good Middle Eastern food on a pleasant porch in Locust Point, and not much else. The schwarmas and kebabs and the sampler platter (hummus, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, etc.) are better than fine, but chances are they'll be out of anything else that sounds appealing on the menu. There are service and bathroom issues, as well. That said, when the weather is good, Aladdin's Café's porch is a nice place to while away a lunch hour, and it also serves as a fine provisioner for a Fort McHenry picnic.
601 E. Fort Ave., (410) 727-4799, www.captainlarrys.com
Captain Larry's signature dish is scrapple with American cheese on a toasted English muffin with maple syrup for dipping--a regular baseball-and-apple-pie kind of thing for South Baltimorons. But that's not all you can get at the Locust Point bar. Crab cakes, fish sandwiches, conch fritters, burgers, tacos, and other pub fare at reasonable prices make this cash-only joint with a nautical theme a must-stop along Fort Avenue. The daily specials--like a pound of shrimp and a pitcher of domestic beer for $10 on Thursdays--are even easier on the wallet.
1000 Hull St., (410) 837-0073, www.myharvesttable.com
The lucky, lucky citizens of Locust Point's Tide Point office park can come to this bright and modern place every day for breakfast and lunch, sampling its fresh hand-patted burgers, stuffed sandwiches, terrific quesadillas and burritos, and cool smoothies. The rest of us must content ourselves with visiting on Saturday morning, when Harvest Table whips up such lovely Southern-influenced brunch gems as chicken pancakes with pear salsa, Grand Marnier French toast, and the Carolina layered breakfast, a stacking of buttermilk biscuits, scrambled eggs, grits, chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, and diced tomatoes--that ought to tide you over until lunch at least. Counter service and great WiFi are pluses as well.
1222 Hull St., (410) 727-7476, www.hullstreetblues.com
The more Locust Point gentrifies the gladder we are that Hull Street Blues is still the unpretentious, enjoyable restaurant it's been for the past two decades. This place straddles the line perfectly between “old” and “new” neighborhood joint--for years, it was the only place around you could both play shuffle bowl and get a mesclun salad, and we suspect it may still retain that distinction. Sunday brunch is legendary. The shuffle bowl table is transformed into a buffet of glorious breakfast fare, from eggs and sausage to carve-your-own ham and smoked-fish platters. Pancakes and French toast are made to order and brought to your table, and the Bloody Marys are mighty. Though Hull Street might bring in folks from outside the neighborhood primarily on Sundays, food the rest of the week is good, too. Check the affordable sandwich menu for blockbuster shrimp salad and a tasty blackened fish sandwich.
1100 E. Fort Ave., (410) 576-9294, www.lpsteamers.com
Seafood at L.P. Steamers tends to fall into one of three categories: raw, steamed, or deep fried. It's a simple menu; basically, you pick your crustacean and then choose how you want it cooked. You can hit the trifecta by ordering, say, the fried sampler platter, a rewarding mountain of clam strips, shrimp, oysters, a codfish cake, fries, and scallops topped off with a crab cake. Follow that with a dozen clams or oysters from the raw bar, and then a pound of steamed shrimp. But try also to save a smidgen of room for the exemplary Maryland and cream of crab soups, and the stuffed fried soft crab if it's available. In short, if it's seafood at L.P. Steamers, it's going to be good.
500 Harbor View Drive, (410) 230-0704
Choose to visit the marina-based Lillies when the weather's nice and you can sit at tables spread along the wide waterfront patio. (The inside seating is drab.) And absolutely make your meal from the fun listings of pan-Mediterranean tapas instead of the dull standard menu. Plucky pomegranate shows up a few times, brightening up succulent baby lamb chops and enlivening a skewer of oil-infused swordfish. Start with the Greek Zone, Lillies' version of the sampler platter, and definitely the spinach- and feta-stuffed phyllo “pillows.” Lillies' offerings can be spotty and incomplete, but on the right summer night, the resortlike setting provides a no-airfare vacation.
1325 Key Highway, (410) 837-9903, www.littlehavanas.com
For a city with few Cuban immigrants and thus little by way of comparison, Little Havana is a reasonably good Cuban restaurant. The paella is flavorful and the Cuban sandwich is as it should be, though neither these nor the rest of the menu will likely satisfy Cuban-cuisine cognoscenti. But since people don't flock here for the food, that all seems beside the point. Little Havana is much more of a bar than a restaurant; Sunday brunch is more popular for its all-you-can-drink mimosas and Bloody Marys by the pitcher than its huevos habaneros.
2600 Insulator Drive, (410) 347-4123, www.nicksfishhouse.com
Hidden away in an industrial waterfront basin in South Baltimore, Nick's is “adaptive reuse” at its Baltimore best. Crabs, beer, and assorted fried stuff just taste better when guzzled and grubbed on a broad deck overlooking pleasure crafts (and a roaring highway). If you can't get a table outside, the spacious restaurant is perfectly pleasant, if a bit thick with the post-frat vibe. Nick's is great for large groups, though that also means you might end up sharing deck space with a bunch of dudes in Hawaiian shirts celebrating having met their sales goals. When flying solo, better to belly up at the original Nick's Seafood counter at Cross Street Market.
1401 E. Clement St., (410) 727-1212, www.pazza-luna.com
This romantic (and expensive) Locust Point garlic-lovers' trattoria is under new ownership, but the shrewd menu and expressive interior have stayed the same. There's still that beguiling Rao's shrimp scampi (lightly floured and flash-fried), the succulent littleneck clams in their own juice served over angel hair, and the mammoth peppercorn-encrusted Black Angus steak. Pastas are homemade, simple, and limited, happily, to a manageable half-dozen, a testament to Pazza Luna's personal touch. The Frank Sinatra adoration remains in place, and reservations are still a must.
921 E. Fort Ave., (410) 244-6166, www.the-wine-market.com
Attached to a wine store, this Soho-style loft space works a contemporary American menu, which feels fresh and improvisational--a pork-loin chop rubbed with garam masala, shrimp dumplings with jalapeño dipping sauce. Located in Locust Point, the Wine Market feels disconnected from the neighborhood, which a lot of newcomers have decided is a good thing, especially at happy hour. People look good in the space, and the interior courtyard is very inviting. Entrées are 20 percent off on Monday nights, but they don't accept reservations, so be prepared to wait for a table. There are 50 wines by the glass, but despite the focus on wines, the menu doesn't suggest pairings.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201