Spoiled for Choice: Dig Into the Best Food Halls in BaltimoreBy Nell McShane Wulfhart
Going to a food hall isn’t just a way to squeeze extra meals into your day (although no judgement if you manage two lunches or an extra dinner). It’s also a handy shortcut for checking out a city’s restaurant game.
Baltimore’s food-hall scene is booming, with new, industrial-chic spots appearing alongside long-standing traditional markets. Some spaces act as laboratories for the city’s top chefs, others market artisanal products, and then there are old-school destinations that cling to authentic Baltimore vibes. Check out these four food halls as you’re seeking out where to eat in Baltimore.
A former auto showroom might seem like an odd choice for a food hall, but the rolling garage doors and 50,000 square feet of R. House, which opened in 2016 in trendy Remington, make a perfect setting for nine food outlets and one craft-cocktail bar.
Chefs use the space to test-drive new concepts. The offerings at the stalls include the city’s first Hawaiian poke bowls, nitro cold-brew coffee and super-sophisticated vegan food, including a “Remington Ruben” made with smoked beets instead of corned beef.
It can be hard to find an open seat at cocktail powerhouse R. Bar, but the wait is worth it for the top-notch drinks. Our current fave? The Hearts + Daggers, a just-sweet-enough blend of chamomile-flavored grappa, amaro, lemon juice and strawberry jam.
This upscale market has combined boutique shops selling prepared foods and fresh produce; small, chic restaurants; and plentiful outdoor seating and occasional live music. The result? A space in which you could easily spend an entire day exploring, snacking and lounging.
Artisanal offerings run the gamut from experiments in fermented foods (miso kimchi, ginger kombucha and juniper-caraway sauerkraut, to name a few) from the “food alchemists” at HEX to Scandinavian-inspired smoked fish at Neopol and raw, organic and vegan chocolates from Jinji.
The Grand Cru wine bar and shop has a “make your own Bloody Mary” bar on Sundays and holds weekly wine tastings, too.
After a visit to the world-class Baltimore Museum of Art, the nearby Mt. Vernon Marketplace will be calling your name. This brightly lit warehouse space opened in 2015 and is always bustling thanks to its collection of energetic and enthusiastic vendors.
Standouts include the primary-color bowls of veggie-packed Korean bibimbap at Brown Rice, handcrafted dumplings stuffed with kale and Maryland crab at Pinch, and the fresh shucked oysters and clams at the Local Oyster raw bar (try to time your visit to coincide with the Buck-a-Shuck happy hour, weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
We suggest bringing your food over to Taps Fill Station, where the carefully curated selection of beers and small-batch ciders come in draft form — plan to wash down your snacks with a flight of beer, wine or even mead.
Lexington Market has an ineffable charm that defies its seen-better-days décor (although, to be fair, the market did first open in 1782). This place is a long-standing Baltimore tradition and still draws daily crowds of locals for its down-home cooking, fresh Maryland seafood and delightfully old-school bakeries.
Faidley’s Seafood, home to some of the city’s best crabcakes and an oyster raw bar, is first on the list of must-tries, although the chicken tenders and buttermilk waffles at Connie’s give it a run for its money.
For dessert choose from a handful of seductive bakeries selling cupcakes, poundcakes in a dozen flavors and the kind of fabulously moist yellow cake you’ll remember from childhood birthday parties.