We only spent a brief two days in Baltimore, but I happy to report that in our short time there our culinary assays demonstrated it to be a city with some great dining options for families. And visitors aren’t limited to the more touristy options around the Inner Harbor – with lots of fun and funky neighborhoods, there are a number of similarly diverse eating options. Here’s a brief overview of what we found:
Located just a few blocks from the Maryland Science Center, Regi’s American Bistro is a great neighborhood joint, absolutely perfect for weekend brunch with kids (they serve it from 9:30 until 3 on Saturdays and Sundays and on warmer days you can eat outside). I love that the food is prepared using vegetables grown on the roof or purchased from nearby farms.
We started our meal with one of the house specialties – A.J.’s Tater Tots, which are topped with melted brie and applewood bacon. Loyal readers will know that I pride myself on the fact that I know my pig meat. The bacon at Regi’s gives other famous bacon a run for its money. And as for this application to potatoes, well, let’s just say I think it’s probably a good thing for my heart that I don’t live up the street.
Salmon eggs Benedict, a bacon-and-egg panini, and a pumpkin waffle with cranberries and pecans followed this initial indulgence, all equally good.
If you prefer your food to be more lunchlike, there are also big salads and sandwiches on the menu. And Regi’s has been singled out as a place to sample crab cakes, no small feat in this crab-loving city. The staff here was accommodating too – Teddy didn’t want the entire half-pound Black Angus burger, so the kitchen made him two sliders instead.
I feel that I should point out that this restaurant is also an easy walk from both the baseball and football stadiums, if the sports are what you’re after.
“Mom, look! Guy Fiori ate here!” was Tommy’s cry when he discovered a poster from the Food Network star on the wall of Brick Oven Pizza in Fell’s Point. This alone was enough of a selling point for my oldest (he’s a fan) but I liked the fact that slices at this Baltimore institution can be custom designed with a huge number of toppings before being slid into the eponymous oven. Matt and I were still full from breakfast and didn’t create our own slices, but both boys did and enjoyed them mightily.
Another bonus is that BOP sells Sprecher’s Cream Soda, a nectar-like beverage if ever there was one and which up until that point I had only ever seen on our trips to Wisconsin. Should you feel really ambitious (and flush) you might order the 18-inch pizza complete with all 52 toppings.
P.S. Step next door for a cappuccino or a cup of sipping chocolate at Pitango Gelato. You won’t be disappointed.
Baltimore boasts its own Little Italy, which to me means one thing and one thing only: Cannolis filled to order while you watch. Rumor informed me that Vaccaro’s is the place to pick up these cream-filled treasures and I’m happy to say that the clove-scented cannolis here did not disappoint. It may be heresy to say so, but I think I liked them better than the ones at Mike’s Pastry in Boston. (Not that I’m trying to start a New England/Mid Atlantic rivalry or anything).
Is it possible that my cannoli was eaten before I thought to take a picture of it? Yes, yes, it is. But I did get a shot of the cookies while I waited in line. This is known as the place in Baltimore to stop for dessert. The café menu also includes panini and salads, but with all the pastries available here, I’m thinking you might just want to have cake for lunch (as even their awning suggests).
A later Saturday dinner with the kids in a nice restaurant is a new thing for us, something we’ve just started to try now that the boys are a little older. The B&O Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco did not disappoint with its friendly but impeccable service and kid-friendly touches. The dimly lit and cozy dining room felt completely comfortable with the kids, especially since a screen separated our table from the next.
Although I was somehow completely remiss in the photography department and didn’t snap any photos of our drinks, I highly recommend that you choose from the list of artisanal cocktails. Matt tried the Carthusian Frappe, a citrusy, lime green delight (who knew that anise and lemon made such a nice combination?) and at the recommendation of our waiter I sampled The Cadizian, which is the restaurant’s very up-to-date and delicious version of an old fashioned. And Teddy wasn’t left out either – he ordered a fruit punch, which the bartender custom made for him, and which arrived with a beautiful frothy top after being concocted in a shaker. This proved to be as carefully prepared and delicious as our alcoholic drinks, and he happily consumed two of them.
There are lots of options at the B&O, which offers both main and small plates, another reason it’s great for kids. Teddy chose pizza from the children’s menu, which turned out to be a simple and cheesy version of the flatbread served on the regular menu. Tommy ordered a plate of short ribs with fingerling sweet potatoes and bacon from the main plates on the dinner menu and didn’t even mind that it accidentally came served on Brussels sprouts and not the bourbon apple puree he had requested (the waiter immediately realized the mistake and brought Tommy a big dish of the puree on the side).
Matt and I decided to share a number of small plates including chorizo and mussels, clam and poblano fritters, and the wild mushroom flatbread – all delicious. But it was the small plate of pork belly that really stole the show as far as I was concerned. Topped with pickled pears, this sweet, salty, smoky dish was perfectly prepared and melted in my mouth.
It’s just a shame that my husband can’t stand the texture of pork belly and I had to eat the entire thing myself.
The hotel graciously offered us a complimentary breakfast at the restaurant the next morning and Matt was thrilled to discover that the same short ribs Tommy had enjoyed for dinner were served in omelet form – Brussels sprouts and all.
I tried the cornflake crusted French toast, which was served with syrup laden with lardons of bacon and crystallized ginger. It was an interesting although perhaps not entirely successful combination of flavors and texture (I think perhaps the bacon would have been enough).
Whether or not you’re staying at the Hotel Monaco, I definitely recommend the B&O as a great place to try some slightly fancier family dining. It may be sophisticated, but it’s also welcoming and we felt completely comfortable. It helped that our waiters were friendly and knowledgeable about the menu as well.
I’m sure you’re not surprised to read that I can’t wait to return to Baltimore for more yumminess! But right now I invite you to head over to the Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick, where there’s sure to be even more delicious posts.
Our breakfast at the B&O was paid for by the Hotel Monaco; we covered the expenses for all our other meals. The opinions shared here about bacon and everything else are my own.