6 Things You Need To Know About Baltimore
Where to go, what to miss, and how to be less hungover than your friends.
July 27, 2017 ● 3 min read
By Richie Nakano | Image peeterv via iStock
My trips to Baltimore always elicit the same reaction: “But, why?”
It’s a city that people mostly ignore, their only connection to it via The Wire or John Waters films. Admittedly, when I first traveled there three years ago I had a lot of the same reservations; it was just a few months after Freddie Gray, and the city was still healing, still raw. Getting there had proven difficult after my connecting flight in New York was canceled outright, so after flying all night with little sleep, I found myself starving on an Amtrak. Stepping out of the train station into the sweltering mid-Atlantic heat, I was convinced I had made a mistake in coming here.
20 minutes later I stood at Faidley's in Lexington Market with a giant lump crab cake and an ice cold National Bohemian beer in front of me, and my entire perception changed. Now, after a few years roaming the streets during hot summer days, I give you: A Visitor's Guide to Eating in Baltimore and Not Looking Like An Asshole.
1. Skip the Inner Harbor.
Yeah, it’s got a Shake Shack. So does Citi Field—you wouldn't subject yourself to the horrors of a Mets game, would you? The Inner Harbor is pretty and clean and offers almost nothing of value in terms of food. There’s the McCormick & McKinley store and an old ship and a nice view of the Under Armour Factory and that's about it. From here though, board a water taxi and head to...
2. Fells Point.
Yes, it vaguely has the same vibe as a Long Island bar fight, but it's a great place to eat crabs, mussels, drink like eight margaritas then wind up in a strip club by 4 pm. Fells point is charming and warm and ranges from smelly sports bar with an oddly delicious food menu to bougie cocktail room where no one talks to each other. From here, go to...
3. The Horseshoe.
Just kidding. Unless you want to check out the local Guy Fieri outpost.
Isn't that place kind of an open air drug market? you ask. Well yeah, but it's got great fried chicken and Faidley's is there. Ok, so Lex isn't the Ferry Building, or Eataly per se, but that's what makes it great—it feels real. It serves as a utility. Real people shop there, real people eat there. And tucked in the back of the place is a national treasure...
I didn’t realize it at first, but every crab cake I had ever had in my life was a lie leading up to the lump at Faidley's. Part fish market, part bar, part stand up restaurant, the menu here is vast, but according to my guide, Baltimore native Christian Ciscle, you come to Faidley's for three things: crab cakes, oysters, and cold beers. Day activities are planned around this trip, and plans are easily altered to accommodate more time for lumps. It’s the perfect way to start the day, cure a hangover, or plan the rest of your day. They also sell muskrat and raccoon meat, albeit only seasonally.
6. Caribbean food while walking between Club Charles and Mt. Royal Tavern.
These two bars are like your cool cousins that have so much style and flavor and give absolutely zero fucks—effortlessly cool while maintaining a pure, real vibe. If you need a break from the heat, ducking into these bars is a nice, chilly hug in a very, very dark room. Hours are lost in these places, but when you decide to migrate, a stop at one of the many Caribbean places that dot the road in between can mean the difference between life and certain death. One day, I ate four Jamaican patties on trips back and forth, and I was the only one in my group of friends that avoided a hangover the next day.
I’m just saying.