A 10-minute drive from the Inner Harbor, Mama's on the Half Shell is located in the Canton-Highlandtown area. Opening in 2003 and joining the myriad of seafood houses in Baltimore, Mama's environment is down-to-earth. This popular hangout offers classic Baltimore dishes such as their highly-praised fried crab cakes with mustard and their raw bar of oysters and clams. Mama's interior resembles a classic tavern, decked with dark wood and low lighting. Their low prices, large portions, and seafood all-stars such as the Blue point and grilled oysters, fish and chips, swordfish, and pan-seared scallops make it a favorite not only in Canton Square but the Baltimore area on the whole.
Local Expert tip: The raw bar and seafood platters are menu highlights.
Nacho Mama's is a fun place to grab a quick bite of Mexican food for lunch, possibly without the long wait you'll find after work. However, be prepared, the wait can be just about as long as the menu on some days. Popular with the young post-collegiate crowd, this relaxed Mexican restaurant offers well-prepared cuisine fit for a king. Portraits of Elvis line the walls, depicting him in various guises. Some regulars even swear he visits occasionally for great nachos, burritos and fajitas. If you have a lighter appetite, you will appreciate the numerous vegetarian options, such as the portabella and spinach quesadilla, as well as entrees like grilled tuna. At this quirky establishment, the requisite nachos are served in a (clean) hubcap, and the local National Bohemian beer is only a dollar.
Local Expert tip: At this quirky establishment, the requisite nachos are served in a (clean) hubcap.
The Cheesecake Factory is one of Baltimore's few trusted chain of restaurants. Its prime real estate at Harborplace, overlooking the water make it an easy and popular destination for visitors staying at nearby hotels. Its popularity means long waits. The Cheesecake Factory offers an extensive and eclectic list of appetizers, drinks, deserts, and entrees with a range that would appeal to even the pickiest eaters. Menu choices include American fare as well as ethnically-inspired dishes. Well known for their cheesecakes with non-traditional varieties such as red velvet cheesecake and white chocolate caramel macadamia nut cheesecake. They even offer a Sunday brunch menu and take-out just in case waiting isn't an option.
Local Expert tip: There is almost always a long wait at Cheesecake Factory so sign up, grab a pager, and go shopping until you're pager is called. Talk about killing 2 birds with one stone.
McCormick & Schmick's has been serving hungry seafood lovers at Pier 5 near the Inner Harbor since 1998. Although the restaurant is a part of a national chain, this location is distinctly Baltimore serving up local favorites like Maryland crab soup. When the weather is warm, patrons have access to outdoor dining on a first come, first serve basis. The menu changes regularly and the "Fresh List", which highlights fresh catches, changes daily. For the budget conscious, lunch is a viable option with 10 entree offerings for $10 each. The seafood selection is fresh and extensive with over 30 selections of fish ranging from Virginia Chincoteague oysters to Tocumen, and Panama yellow fin tuna.
Local Expert tip: Check out their happy hour to try many of their popular items at a reduced price.
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.
Local Expert tip: Afternoon tea is served on Friday and Saturday from 3-5pm.
Faidley's, located minutes from the Inner Harbor in Lexington Market, is a crab cake landmark. The building itself has been around since 1886. Eat-In is done at stand-up tables where diners can enjoy other Faidley seafood favorites such as raw oysters, shrimp, and clams before heading to the main attraction. Their award-winning crab cakes have been featured in various publications as well as on the Food Network in a crab cake show-down where they came out on top. Patrons can choose between regular or jumbo lump crab cakes where they're fried in minutes and accompanied by any number of side dishes. Visitors interested in enjoying Faidley's crab cakes at home can also have them shipped.
Local Expert tip: Don't short-change yourself by ordering anything less than the jumbo lump crab cake. This is Faidley's work-of-art.