With Jen settling into her new hood, I thought it was time to get rolling on some full-out Hometown Guides, rather than some measly restaurant reviews about what I ate over the weekend (though you all do seem to really like those). Also, it's Passover and I keep it, so I'm basically spending a lot of time right now thinking about food I can't eat...basically everything below.
I'm starting with Hampden for a couple reasons -- first, it holds a special place in my heart because I've spent a large amount of time there with two shitty jobs, and second, because it's fucking POPPING OFF, culinarily speaking.
We've written a few things about Hampden in the past, and if we didn't scare you away too much with talk of John Waters and hipsters, here are the places we can go when you visit me.
Ugh. That's "ugh" in a good way. DROOL. I'm not exactly a historian, but by my memory, Woodberry is the first to bring the whole farm-to-table, nose-to-tail, deliciousness-to-Staci's-mouth movement to Baltimore. Super homey inside with a cute little patio on the outside. I pretty much attribute the aforementioned "popping" of "off" in Hampden to Woodberry Kitchen's presence. I would definitely recommend brunch over dinner though, and make sure you get whatever they've baked that morning because it'll be insanely good.
I eat here a lot and will continue to do so because the food is bangin'. Lots of share-able plates, which you know I love, and really I just can't say enough about how good it is. Brunch or dinner, I'd eat there any time, all the time. Bonus, they do brunch on Fridays, which most places don't do. Jen and I have had Black Friday brunch here two years running. I recommend the soft pretzels with beer cheese and anything on the menu that involves beets.
Admission -- I am not really a whiskey person. Really, when it comes to cocktails, I'm a "the more it tastes like fruit juice, the better" person. When my buddy Ryan always has me try his old-fashioneds, I feel like I've just licked the ground. But a mission to find farmer's market pickles took me and my friend Steve to Remington one day, and next door to the hipster grocery store is a whiskey distillery bringing back the Maryland rye tradition (or so the website tells me). In addition to whiskey, they have ginger apple liqueur, smoked apple brandy, and gin. Plus! They give free tours on Saturdays with free sips, and they throw great parties in Hampden sometimes.
Holy Frijoles is a pre-Woodberry place. In fact, it's been around a while (like my dad took me here as a kid), and it's a John Waters favorite. Solid chips and salsa. It's that GOOD Mexican shit. The kind that makes you feel like rolling over and dying when you're finished eating it. Recommendation here is the taco salad, but trust me, it's not a wimpy salad. You'll still need to unbutton your pants after you eat it, whether you finish it or not.
Back when I was at Shitty Hampden Job #2, my crew and I regularly did happy hour here. It's another John Waters spot and SUPER hipster. Which is great since I definitely got pretty drunk once, climbed on top of a chair, and to a bar full of hipsters yelled out "I AM NOT A HIPSTER." My only complaint is that they once had the most perfect four-cheese grilled cheese sandwich with Bloody Mary sauce in the world and then they changed it. But the rest of the food is still great, and happy hour include a mix-and-match trio of beer "toddlers."
This coffee shop prominently features a sticker that says "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks," and while I frequent Starbucks on the reg, I appreciate the sentiment. I just don't happen to have an independent coffee shop like Common Ground within walking distance of my house. But I do appreciate a good indie coffee shop, and Common Ground has great drinks and a delicious selection of baked items. While at Shitty Job #2, I frequented the shop for one baked good in particular, only now I can't remember what it was. Sugar coma amnesia I guess. I recommend the chai latte. PLUS, they have almond milk, which Starbucks, for some reason, still does not.
ALL the ice cream flavors you can think of (and some you wouldn't have ever come up with yourself). Super Baltimore flavors include one with Old Bay and a Berger cookie cookies and cream.
Known for delicious pizza with crazy toppings, but holy shit, if you haven't had their Brussels sprouts, you haven't LIVED. I know that sounds weird, but trust me. NOMS AHOY.
Unngh, I have such dissonance over this place. The food is dope, and they have breakfast every day. They also have a large amount of vegetarian items for my veggie friends. AND they offer fresh-baked cookies. But the angry hipsters give such bad service there. In fact, one time a waiter told me I could not have my fresh-baked cookies because he did not feel like making them. True story. Still, the food is good enough to keep me going back, so keep that in mind.
I've only been here once, but it's owned and run by the same people who brought Baltimore Woodberry Kitchen, and it's attached to a butcher shop, so you know, all the meat. Really tasty meat. Such meat.
Hopefully my buddy Mike who bartends here won't read this and know that I listed Le Garage as an honorable mention, but ONLY BECAUSE I RAN OUT OF MY MAX NUMBER OF TOP SPOT SLOTS. The drinks are GREAT. The food is delicious too. Poutine. That is all. (Oh also, if you're not down for a full meal, you can stop by the store front and grab a cone of fries with your choice of dipping sauce. It's very Pommes Frites for my NYC friends. #RIP)
Only honorable mention because Common Ground is cheaper. This is another Woodberry Kitchen spinoff and the bakery items here are just as good. Plus, like WK, it's another rustic, cozy little spot I love.
Only been here once, but remember the food being a-mazing. Just pricey.
Seriously, fuck the lady who owns this place. She's capitalizing on the Baltimore hon beehive hair thing and I get it, but it's such a tourist trap and the food suuuuucks. Like moldy bread suckage.
I feel a little guilty saying this because when my Shitty Job #2 crew and I weren't HH-ing at Rocket to Venus, we were at the Dizz, primarily because it has outdoor seating. But I think the service kind of sucks, the food is just OK, and after a while the novelty of watching Asian tourists take pictures outside of Ace of Cakes wears off.
I've never been here, but it's a few spots down from Common Ground and I refuse to ever go because last time I checked, they were selling like $8 coffee and just no. I already hate myself enough every time I spend over $5 at Starbucks.
ON THE TO-DO LIST
Have heard amazing things, mouth waters just thinking about it.
Have heard other amazing things, must eat all the amazing things.
AND CHECK THIS OUT! I MADE A MAP! Now I know why Jen loves planning our trips with Google Maps so much. I even color-coded it for you. Gold stars for top spots, green diamonds for honorable mentions, red circles for "don't go here" (lol if you get me), and blue "You are here" thingees for the to-do list.
So Hampdenites...what did I miss?