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Clam pasta and meatballs at Tagliata
Photo: Tagliata / Facebook

The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Baltimore

Where to find fry bread tacos, shellfish-studded pasta, duck flambé, and smoldering cocktails

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Clam pasta and meatballs at Tagliata
| Photo: Tagliata / Facebook

Today, Eater once again turns its hungry eye to Baltimore to check out some of the city’s newest and most in-demand restaurants and bars. Our guide? Local food writer Ryan Detter, who has picked 12 of the area’s hot spots to highlight here.

“Despite some recent closings around town, Baltimore’s growing food and drink scene doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” says Detter. “A slew of new openings — some fancy, others more down-home — have kept Instagram feeds plenty busy and diners clamoring for tables, while the cocktail and beer scenes’ rises seem to have no end in sight.”

Among his picks, a bike shop/pizza shop/sandwich shop/cocktail bar/beer bar (Handlebar Cafe), a modern soul food restaurant named for a civil rights pioneer (Ida B’s Table), two glam additions to the hotel restaurant game (The Bygone, Rec Pier Chop House), and — as this is Baltimore — a casual shrine to local seafood (Minnow).

Without further ado — and in geographic order — the Eater Heatmap to Baltimore:

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

The Bluebird Cocktail Room

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Inspired by Parisian bars where Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald might have imbibed, this dimly lit cocktail haven above a Belgian beer hall is already seeing wait lists. Sit at the bar or at one of the communal tables lit by crystal chandeliers and sip on its literature-inspired boozy concoctions (many served with swank, hand-cut ice) while sharing plates of lamb meatballs or fried oyster and bacon skewers.

Crostini from Bluebird Cocktail room
Photo: Bluebird Cocktail Room / Instagram

Blacksauce Kitchen

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For years, locals have been waiting in lines at farmers markets to score one of Blacksauce’s decadent biscuit breakfast sandwiches. With a new Thursday-only brick-and-mortar, people are making weekly pilgrimages to this simple lunch counter for brisket fried rice, smoked shrimp and pickled okra fritters, and thick slices of chocolate stout cake. Almost the entire menu changes weekly, but it’s posted every Thursday morning on Instagram, for those who like to plan.

Barbecue beef sandwich at Blacksauce Kitchen
Photo: Blacksauce Kitchen / Facebook

The BBQ

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Opened in what has been largely considered a food desert, this proud neighborhood spot has become an oasis for nearby residents and a worthy destination for everyone else thanks to the much-lauded hickory-smoked chicken, sauce-laden ribs, and hearty brisket burnt ends. At the no-frills but tastefully decorated spot, order at the counter and grab a seat with fellow barbecue fans as you bond over plates of smoked meat and cups of sweet tea.

Outside the BBQ
Photo: The BBQ / Facebook

Monument City Brewing Company

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This popular brewery recently moved from the co-op space at Peabody Heights Brewery to its own full-blown production space and taproom on the east side of town. Since then, it’s become the go-to spot for fans of local craft beer. Drink a hoppy 51 Rye (the beer that put it on the map) or a Penchant Pils while enjoying free ping-pong, live music most Friday nights, and rotating food vendors on Saturdays.

Beers at Monument City Brewing Company
Photo: Monument City Brewing Company / Instagram

Ida B's Table

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Named for Ida B. Wells, the famous black journalist who tackled civil rights issues in the early 1900s, this breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot serves up modern interpretations of locally sourced soul food. Chef David Thomas’s catfish, Native American fry bread tacos, fried chicken, and octopus po’ boy sliders are some of the more talked-about plates, while the standout cocktail program doesn’t just list ingredients, but also the bold flavor profiles of its creations.

An eggy biscuit at Ida B’s
Photo: Official

Handlebar Cafe

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Hall of Fame mountain biker Marla Streb and her husband Mark Fitzgerald opened this amalgamation of a bike shop, coffee counter, pizza-and-sandwich shop, and craft beer-and-cocktail bar after deciding they liked all of those things equally. And given the response, they’re not alone. In the summer you’ll find the casual, open-air space filled with bikers taking a break for a cold beer and wood-fired pizza, while in the winter it’s an enclosed escape from the elements with big burritos and time to eye up your next bike purchase.

A happy hour spread at Handlebar Cafe
Photo: Handlebar Cafe / Instagram

The Elk Room

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A secret door down an alleyway of Harbor East leads to this speakeasy-style cocktail bar that features drinks, decor, and bartender theatrics that match the neighborhood’s other upscale dining destinations. Head bartender Shawn Stewart is behind the cocktail creations, some of which are served smoking, flaming, or with the help of liquid nitrogen, while glitzy chandeliers, leather-tufted seats, and the sounds of nightly live jazz only add to the drama.

Cocktail theatrics at the Elk Room
Photo: The Elk Room / Facebook

Tagliata

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When it was announced that former head chef of the revered Cinghiale Julian Marucci would be leading the kitchen in this new Italian restaurant, local food lovers instantly took note. And since opening, the Harbor East restaurant has been racking up accolades. Inside, patrons can expect to dine on plates of homemade pasta, like the squid ink campanelle with blue crab and sea urchin, over the sounds of nightly live piano. Or on warmer nights, they can sit outdoors with spoons of king salmon crudo and wine from the 1,000-plus bottle list.

Clam pasta and meatballs at Tagliata
Photo: Tagliata / Facebook

The Bygone

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Baltimore city is buzzing about this opulent space on the 29th floor of the Four Seasons. Opened by the Atlas Restaurant Group as part of its growing roster of highly touted Harbor East spots, the Bygone is an homage to the Roaring ’20s’ reputation for over-the-top indulgence. Pick from Maryland’s largest whiskey selection or a bottle of wine from the 30-page list and dine on the likes of lobster Newburg, duck flambé, and caviar while overlooking one of the best — if not the best — views of the harbor.

Duck flambé at the Bygone
Photo: The Bygone / Facebook

Rec Pier Chop House

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Located in the stunning new Sagamore Pendry hotel, this contemporary Italian chophouse looks out over Fell’s Point’s cobbled streets as diners enjoy Caesar salads prepared tableside, handmade pasta, and 28-day dry-aged steaks. James Beard award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini leads the kitchen, his work elevated by the restaurant’s attention to service and its instant-classic setting complete with iron light fixtures, tufted banquette seating, tableside brass lamps, and marble bar.

Steak at Rec Pier Chop House
Photo: Rec Pier Chop House / Instagram

Focusing on all-things seafood, this sister restaurant to the much-touted La Cuchara represents a more casual — though no less inspired — affair in Riverside. Plates of whole branzino, shrimp ceviche, and rainbow trout may be featured, but it’s also known for its “bait” section: composed, appetizer-sized bites of sardines, fried oysters, and marinated mussels served in repurposed fish tins. Not to be outdone, the bar features hot toddies for two and the Love Potion No. 8, a vodka and elderflower concoction that billows over with fog from dry ice.

House made potato chips, creme fraîche, and salmon roe at Minnow
Photo: Minnow / Facebook

Rye Street Tavern

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James Beard award-winner Andrew Carmellini is also behind this culinary accompaniment to the brand-new Sagamore Spirit rye distillery next door. Rye Street has become the first true hot spot in the soon-to-be re-developed Port Covington neighborhood. A copper-accented bar prominently displays bottles of Sagamore whiskey, while a fireplace and stuffed bison head give the space a stylish lodge vibe. The menu — which draws inspiration from mid-Atlantic-meets-Americana dishes such as fried chicken, wood-grilled seafood, steak, seafood bakes, and a daily blue crab preparation — has garnered gushing reviews.

Wood-grilled Maryland rockfish, shrimp and grits, and smoked tomato at Rye Street Tavern
Photo: Rye Street Tavern / Instagram

The Bluebird Cocktail Room

Inspired by Parisian bars where Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald might have imbibed, this dimly lit cocktail haven above a Belgian beer hall is already seeing wait lists. Sit at the bar or at one of the communal tables lit by crystal chandeliers and sip on its literature-inspired boozy concoctions (many served with swank, hand-cut ice) while sharing plates of lamb meatballs or fried oyster and bacon skewers.

Crostini from Bluebird Cocktail room
Photo: Bluebird Cocktail Room / Instagram

Blacksauce Kitchen

For years, locals have been waiting in lines at farmers markets to score one of Blacksauce’s decadent biscuit breakfast sandwiches. With a new Thursday-only brick-and-mortar, people are making weekly pilgrimages to this simple lunch counter for brisket fried rice, smoked shrimp and pickled okra fritters, and thick slices of chocolate stout cake. Almost the entire menu changes weekly, but it’s posted every Thursday morning on Instagram, for those who like to plan.

Barbecue beef sandwich at Blacksauce Kitchen
Photo: Blacksauce Kitchen / Facebook

The BBQ

Opened in what has been largely considered a food desert, this proud neighborhood spot has become an oasis for nearby residents and a worthy destination for everyone else thanks to the much-lauded hickory-smoked chicken, sauce-laden ribs, and hearty brisket burnt ends. At the no-frills but tastefully decorated spot, order at the counter and grab a seat with fellow barbecue fans as you bond over plates of smoked meat and cups of sweet tea.

Outside the BBQ
Photo: The BBQ / Facebook

Monument City Brewing Company

This popular brewery recently moved from the co-op space at Peabody Heights Brewery to its own full-blown production space and taproom on the east side of town. Since then, it’s become the go-to spot for fans of local craft beer. Drink a hoppy 51 Rye (the beer that put it on the map) or a Penchant Pils while enjoying free ping-pong, live music most Friday nights, and rotating food vendors on Saturdays.

Beers at Monument City Brewing Company
Photo: Monument City Brewing Company / Instagram

Ida B's Table

Named for Ida B. Wells, the famous black journalist who tackled civil rights issues in the early 1900s, this breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot serves up modern interpretations of locally sourced soul food. Chef David Thomas’s catfish, Native American fry bread tacos, fried chicken, and octopus po’ boy sliders are some of the more talked-about plates, while the standout cocktail program doesn’t just list ingredients, but also the bold flavor profiles of its creations.

An eggy biscuit at Ida B’s
Photo: Official

Handlebar Cafe

Hall of Fame mountain biker Marla Streb and her husband Mark Fitzgerald opened this amalgamation of a bike shop, coffee counter, pizza-and-sandwich shop, and craft beer-and-cocktail bar after deciding they liked all of those things equally. And given the response, they’re not alone. In the summer you’ll find the casual, open-air space filled with bikers taking a break for a cold beer and wood-fired pizza, while in the winter it’s an enclosed escape from the elements with big burritos and time to eye up your next bike purchase.

A happy hour spread at Handlebar Cafe
Photo: Handlebar Cafe / Instagram

The Elk Room

A secret door down an alleyway of Harbor East leads to this speakeasy-style cocktail bar that features drinks, decor, and bartender theatrics that match the neighborhood’s other upscale dining destinations. Head bartender Shawn Stewart is behind the cocktail creations, some of which are served smoking, flaming, or with the help of liquid nitrogen, while glitzy chandeliers, leather-tufted seats, and the sounds of nightly live jazz only add to the drama.

Cocktail theatrics at the Elk Room
Photo: The Elk Room / Facebook

Tagliata

When it was announced that former head chef of the revered Cinghiale Julian Marucci would be leading the kitchen in this new Italian restaurant, local food lovers instantly took note. And since opening, the Harbor East restaurant has been racking up accolades. Inside, patrons can expect to dine on plates of homemade pasta, like the squid ink campanelle with blue crab and sea urchin, over the sounds of nightly live piano. Or on warmer nights, they can sit outdoors with spoons of king salmon crudo and wine from the 1,000-plus bottle list.

Clam pasta and meatballs at Tagliata
Photo: Tagliata / Facebook

The Bygone

Baltimore city is buzzing about this opulent space on the 29th floor of the Four Seasons. Opened by the Atlas Restaurant Group as part of its growing roster of highly touted Harbor East spots, the Bygone is an homage to the Roaring ’20s’ reputation for over-the-top indulgence. Pick from Maryland’s largest whiskey selection or a bottle of wine from the 30-page list and dine on the likes of lobster Newburg, duck flambé, and caviar while overlooking one of the best — if not the best — views of the harbor.

Duck flambé at the Bygone
Photo: The Bygone / Facebook

Rec Pier Chop House

Located in the stunning new Sagamore Pendry hotel, this contemporary Italian chophouse looks out over Fell’s Point’s cobbled streets as diners enjoy Caesar salads prepared tableside, handmade pasta, and 28-day dry-aged steaks. James Beard award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini leads the kitchen, his work elevated by the restaurant’s attention to service and its instant-classic setting complete with iron light fixtures, tufted banquette seating, tableside brass lamps, and marble bar.

Steak at Rec Pier Chop House
Photo: Rec Pier Chop House / Instagram

Minnow

Focusing on all-things seafood, this sister restaurant to the much-touted La Cuchara represents a more casual — though no less inspired — affair in Riverside. Plates of whole branzino, shrimp ceviche, and rainbow trout may be featured, but it’s also known for its “bait” section: composed, appetizer-sized bites of sardines, fried oysters, and marinated mussels served in repurposed fish tins. Not to be outdone, the bar features hot toddies for two and the Love Potion No. 8, a vodka and elderflower concoction that billows over with fog from dry ice.

House made potato chips, creme fraîche, and salmon roe at Minnow
Photo: Minnow / Facebook

Rye Street Tavern

James Beard award-winner Andrew Carmellini is also behind this culinary accompaniment to the brand-new Sagamore Spirit rye distillery next door. Rye Street has become the first true hot spot in the soon-to-be re-developed Port Covington neighborhood. A copper-accented bar prominently displays bottles of Sagamore whiskey, while a fireplace and stuffed bison head give the space a stylish lodge vibe. The menu — which draws inspiration from mid-Atlantic-meets-Americana dishes such as fried chicken, wood-grilled seafood, steak, seafood bakes, and a daily blue crab preparation — has garnered gushing reviews.

Wood-grilled Maryland rockfish, shrimp and grits, and smoked tomato at Rye Street Tavern
Photo: Rye Street Tavern / Instagram

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