Cream Of The Crop: A Variety Of Good Eats Near Baltimore's Waterfront

Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith
By Tawanna Browne Smith, Family Travel Expert

Sushi, seafood, American tavern, Hawaiian, Lebanese...these are just a few of the cuisines you'll find at the Inner Harbor's best restaurants. When we speak of the Inner Harbor, we cast our net far and wide. So put on your walking shoes and get ready to discover some of the best restaurants along the waterfront.

If you want to stay right in the Inner Harbor, you have super upscale choices like Charleston, where your night out will be more than just dinner, but rather a 7-course experience. Charleston tops dozens of foodie lists because of its unlikely fusion of low country dishes and french cuisine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Edo Sushi offers some of the best sushi not only in the Inner Harbor but also in Baltimore. The Rusty Scupper serves up succulent seafood and occasional entertainment to boot.   

Head east along the waterfront and you'll land in the uber chic Harbor East area where you'll find an eclectic mix of restaurants that have quickly become some of the city's best places to dine. Wit and Wisdom sits on the Southern side of the Four Seasons Baltimore, with a picturesque view of the water. Pazo's, Roy's, and Lebanese Taverna are just foot steps away. They will take your taste buds on a world tour. You just need to be willing to travel.

8. The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Photo courtesy of The Oceanaire Seafood Room

The Oceanaire Seafood Room shakes things up in the Harbor East restaurant scene with its retro Supper club decor. Located in the heart of Harbor East on Aliceanna street, the Oceanaire's name gives it away. This hot spot specializes in all things from the sea, serving up fresh fish flown in daily from around the world. One of Baltimore's best happy hour menus, the Oceanaire offers up a healthy selection of fish offerings, ranging from $5-$7. That coupled with $6 and $7 specialty martinis and drinks, and it will be hard for you to stop by the Oceanaire outside of happy hour.

7. Brightons Orangerie
Photo courtesy of Brightons Orangerie

Located in the former Harbor Court Hotel now called the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel, this elegant dining and tea room features fine chandeliers, dainty furnishings and a beautiful panoramic view of the Inner Harbor. Drawing straight from the waters of the Chesapeake, the kitchen boasts artful presentations of fresh seafood, regional cuisine, and other delicacies such as turtle soup and frog legs also appear on the menu. Daily specials are created using herbs and from the hotel's rooftop garden. If you're looking to do something a little sophisticated with some girlfriends or just enjoy this British tradition, high tea is served on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

6. Wit and Wisdom
Photo courtesy of Wit and Wisdom

Wit and Wisdom is one of two premiere restaurants at the Four Seasons Baltimore. Owned by restaurateur, Michael Mina, this establishment serves delicious food in an elegant setting with a beautifully designed lay out. Long, wide windows offer great views of Harbor East, an oval bar makes for a perfect happy hour hangout, lounge chairs and a fireplace set the mood for sophisticated relaxation. The semi-open kitchen is a playful way to "invite" patrons in to the food preparation process. This chic restaurant serves American tavern food with a bit of panache. Honoring the farm-to-table movement, the restaurant aims to put a spin on local Chesapeake favorites.

5. Waterfront Kitchen

Ensconced in the ground floor of the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Meyers Museum, the Waterfront Kitchen serves meals, quite simply, that you'll be remembering fondly (and hungrily) weeks later. Chef Jerry Pellegrino and his spectacular team pride themselves on being a "seed-to-table" institution, owing to their heavy emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. This popular Fell's Point restaurant adds diversity to the neighborhood, taking the dining experience up a notch. On Sundays Waterfront Kitchen serves brunch from 11am-3pm with entree prices ranging from $9-$20. And to go with pocket-friendly prices and fresh local food is a view of the east side of the Inner Harbor to be admired by any other restaurant in the area.

4. Rusty Scupper

Located in the heart of the Inner Harbor, right around the corner from the American Visionary Arts Museum, Rusty Scupper provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Baltimore waterfront. Its location makes it a popular seafood destination for tourists and those looking for a romantic upscale Inner Harbor evening. The menu is primarily focused on seafood dishes, inspired by the foods and flavors of the Chesapeake region. Its Sunday brunch is complete with a live Jazz band or live piano and plenty of patrons. Reservations would be wise. Crowd pleasers include the warm ciabatta bread, the crab bisque and Maryland crab cakes. The restaurant also offers a free shuttle service to visitors residing at nearby Inner Harbor hotels.

3. Roy's
Photo courtesy of Roy's

Where else can you find Hawaiian food in Baltimore? We don't know either! This top-notch kitchen produces a short menu of Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Creative starters might include the Canoe appetizer with shrimp sticks, Szechuan baby back ribs, edamame, seafood pot sticker and more. Roasted macadamia nut mahi mahi and charbroiled beef short ribs are among the promising mains. A heavenly melting chocolate souffle highlights the final course. Choose the prix fixe menu of an appetizer, main course and dessert, and experience the Islands for an unbelievably low price. When you're done getting your fix of the big island, take a load off and walk through the energetic streets of Harbor East to burn some calories.

2. Lebanese Taverna - Baltimore
Photo courtesy of T. Browne Smith

This Baltimore outpost of the Washington, DC - based chain is an open and modern dining space, popular amongst locals and visitors. With great views of the water, and a warm, welcoming environment, Lebanese Taverna makes a great destination for both dates and business. Family-style dining is encouraged as a part of the experience and prices are very affordable. Start with hommos and fresh, warm pita, then prepare yourself for flavorful and flaky Mediterranean Sea bass (the whole fish is served) with a side of fragrant Lebanese rice. Don't sell yourself short by skipping dessert - few things beat warm honey drenched donuts.

1. Charleston
Photo courtesy of Charleston

Charleston is arguably Baltimore's number one restaurant. A Michelin starred establishment, the menu offers refined Southern-inspired dishes with a French flair. Fresh ingredients from local farmers help to deliver the best seasonal creations. Located in trendy and energetic Harbor East, the price tag for dinner at Charleston is not for the budget conscious. Portions are small and attention is paid to quality over quantity. Exquisite and original seafood and beef entrees are available as small plates for diners to enjoy 3, 4, 5 or 6 course meals, ranging from $76 to $111, not including wine. Charleston's offers a 600-bottle wine list and suggested pairings for each dish.