It's been some time since I posted our first Baltimore Hometown Guide on Hampden and its surrounding areas, and I believe it's time for a guide to a decidedly less hipster neighborhood -- my own, Canton.
What Canton lacks in hipsters, it has in yuppies (or puppies, for those of us who are more so poor urban professionals). We're not as "cool" as Hampdenites, older than the average Federal Hill frat bro, a bit more...normal than the eccentric Fells Point resident. Overall, I like to think my neighborhood is a little quieter, adding a drop of sophistication to the Baltimore landscape. We have our own square of bars (more on that shortly), a beautiful promenade along the water, and most importantly -- some really great places to eat.
Without further adieu, I give you Canton.
I've sung the praises of Iron Rooster before ("If loving brunch is basic, then basic I am"). Homemade poptarts, giant cocktails, chicken and waffles, FREE BACON. What's not to love? Well I suppose the fact that Iron Rooster doesn't take reservations is somewhat unlovable, especially since the wait is typically interminable, but that's just a testament to how amaze balls it is. Worth every minute (every hour, frankly) of said wait.
This is a long-time favorite of mine and happily in walking distance from my house. It's cozy, Edgar Allan Poe-themed, and the food is delicious. It's another place that doesn't take reservations, but I also maintain that it is worth the wait. Or just go on a weeknight when it's not as busy (yes, even *I* will go out on a weeknight if it means dining at Annabel Lee). I particularly recommend the cookie sandwich for dessert -- two warm, half-baked, gooey chocolate chip cookies, held loosely together by vanilla ice cream -- a classic. Just like Poe.
Alma Cocina Latina is currently housed in a space that has been home to like three or four restaurants inside of the seven years I've lived here. Woof. Clearly, none of them were particularly good. I think Alma will break the curse with its creative arepa bar and delicious cocktails. When I went, my friend and I split a few dishes, and every bite was better than the one before it. I was super impressed and happy to welcome it to the neighborhood.
Huck's is literally around the corner from me, but before it was in the spot it's in now, there was a bar that I had actually never been in. That's how grody it looked from the outside -- a 30-second walk from my house and I wouldn't go. I'm happy Huck's is there now. Aside from the phenomenal soft pretzel you see here, they also have great burgers, all-day breakfast, and pretzel pies -- personal-sized pizza-like pies with a pretzel crust. NOMS-A-FUCKING-HOY, amirite? They're also associated with the Gjerdes of Woodberry fame AND Alexander's Tavern, a mainstay of Fells Point.
Of Love & Regret is probably my favorite neighborhood jam of all. When my friend Ryan and I get together to catch up, we don't even discuss where to go -- the answer is always OLAR. The menu changes seasonally, but the burgers are always good. There are also great vegetarian options for my veggie friends, and I always love the cocktails. Also, I very much prefer bars/restaurants that do not have TVs or else I'll sit there and zone out with my eyes glued to the screen, regardless of whether I'm actually interested in what's on. Plus, the service is always on point (maybe because they recognize me and Ryan now).
Atwater's is a local chain serving locally sourced food, great coffee, and even better ice cream. It's one of my favorite spots for breakfast, and even though most of the menu items are pretty healthy, they have a decidedly wonderful and unhealthy bakery. It's another seasonal place, so the menu's always changing. The service is also always friendly and attentive, and there's outdoor seating, which is clutch.
- Jack's Bistro Jack's is kind of nestled away from everything else, so I tend to always forget about it, but every time I've been, the food has been great. I genuinely think about the lamb pasta randomly from time to time (I'm looking at you, Amy Keller).
Gunther & Co. OK, so this new spot is super cool on the inside, but by virtue of being new, I think they're trying a liiiiiittle bit too hard. When a friend and I went recently for dinner, the host and manager seemed flustered about how long to wait to seat us -- even though the restaurant was practically empty. They explained that they wanted the timing to give us a "perfect" experience, though somehow our food did end up taking a really long time. The server was quite rehearsed as well, and we definitely threw him off his game with more than one smart-ass comment, but I'd go back because the food was ridiculously good, and they have about a million different kinds of oysters.
Mama's on the Halfshell Seafood classic. When friends come to Baltimore (or Baltimore ex-pats come home), this is where we go to get a seafood fix. No reservations again, yet always busy. I (perhaps mistakenly) think of Mama's as the home of the orange crush, and the mussels are not to be missed.
Nacho Mama's Right next door to Mama's on the Halfshell is Nacho Mama's, a gluttonous, super Baltimore, kitschy Mexican joint filled with Elvis art. To be honest, in my old age, I don't know that I have the tolerance anymore for the margaritas that come in a hubcap and the dinner plate-sized quesadillas, but it's a solid Baltimore classic.
Gypsy Queen Food Truck One of my all-time favorite places in Canton (and Baltimore overall) was a place called Helen's Garden that had the. best. brunch. ever. Then they closed and came back as the Gypsy Queen Food Truck. While I still sorely miss Helen's (literal years later), the food truck is a great stand-in. Try the fries topped with a crab cake.
The Fork and Wrench Recently, the F&W menu has shrunk, which I'm not a huge fan of, but the food is always good. I also really love the ambiance. Each room is designed to have a different feel, starting with the '20s speakeasy on the bottom floor. Love it.
BoatHouse Canton I've only been to BoatHouse once, and it was food brunch, which was decent. nothing phenomenal. The best part about BoatHouse though is the ample outdoor seating on the water alongside Canton's marinas.
Plug Ugly's Publick House This is the bar that currently occupies the space that once was Helen's. All I really have to say about it is it's sticky and smells like a bar.
Looney's Pub Neighbor of Plug Ugly, El Bufalo, and Claddagh -- If you like three floors of loud shitty music, being pressed up against a stranger at any given time, and not having any decent food options, this is the place for you.
El Bufalo See Looney's Pub. ^^^^
Claddagh See Looney's -- Ah, fuck it. Just skip the whole damn Square unless "Mama" is in the name.
The Chasseur This used to be a pretty good place whose name escapes me, but the last time I went (ages ago), the server didn't know how to pronounce his own restaurant's name.
Blue Hill Tavern Soulless, overpriced, yuppie restaurant without any character, personality, or particularly good dishes.
ON THE TO-DO LIST
Southern Provisions I'm dubious of this place because it is on the Square and doesn't have "Mama" in the name, but I do like some good Southern comfort food.
Captain James Landing A self-proclaimed "seafood palace," this place is actually shaped like a giant boat, and has been around forever, so at some point, I feel like I've gotta get my ass to the boat place and see what it's all about.
Patterson Perk There are literally three Starbucks within a 1-mile radius of my house, and while I'm not complaining, I feel like I should be giving an independent coffee shop a little more love.
Bo Brooks Another Baltimore classic, I've never been to this crab spot, located on the same promenade as BoatHouse. And since I'm not crazy about nearby Canton Dockside, next time I'm crabfeasting, it might have to be at Bo's.
Pig & Rooster Smokehouse I tend to like most places that have "Pig" in the name.
Alright neighbors of mine. What did I miss?