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Baltimore is great. Baltimore is close. You should go to Baltimore more often.

This is not an all encompassing guide to Baltimore. We’re not pompous enough to think that a weekend could encompass everything that makes Baltimore great. We’re providing a few options to make your next trip to Baltimore better. The following contains no references to The Wire or Ravens or O’s. Other than that sentence.

Breakfast

Ceremony Coffee – Located in the middle of Mt. Vernon, Ceremony Coffee is a true oasis. It’s the perfect place to stop and take a breather, and our go-to spot whenever we’re in the city and need to vanquish a hangover. There’s something about the space, the white walls, the minimalist furniture, that puts a hush over everything. Even ordering at the counter is a quiet affair, but the product itself should be sung from the rooftops. It’s no surprise their coffee is fantastic, but it’s their expertly curated tea list that brings us back morning, noon and night. Need something solid? Don’t skip out on their food menu, which has a solid list of salads, sandwiches and bowls. Personally, we’re a fan of their toasts, which are heartier and more filling than you’d think.

 

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Lunch

Joe Squared – A Baltimore institution, Joe’s is more like a Swiss Army Knife than a restaurant. It’s your local art gallery, your local music venue, your local comedy club and your local pizza joint. It’s your best bet if you’re in the city and don’t know what to do with yourself. After checking out whatever Baltimore artist has hung their stuff up on the walls, make your way over to the bar where you’ll be greeted by a small, yet focused, local beer list. Grab something from Hysteria, Union Craft or The Brewer’s Art (you’re in Maryland, so you should drink something from Maryland) and pair it with one of Joe’s wilder pizzas, like the Seafood Lovers, the cumin braised lamb or the bacon and clam.

Rye Street Tavern – We visited Rye Street Tavern when it was opening. The distillery/restaurant/party space is unlike anything in D.C. We have lots of distilleries and restaurant and party spaces. We don’t have an all in one that delivers. If you have the time, go on a tour and then enjoy the crispy flounder sandwich for lunch while you look at the water.

Dinner

La Cuchara – This Spanish restaurant is a little difficult to find but it’s worth informing your Uber to keep going down that street that looks like it may be a service road. It’s not a service road.

La Cuchara is the kind of restaurant I want to travel from D.C. and back. It’s that enjoyable. The menu changes on a daily basis but when the skate is on the menu, order the skate. It’s one of the best fish dishes I’ve had this year. Their wine list is extensive and it’s not surprising Wine Enthusiast said it’s one of America’s 100 Best, but their wine by the glass and wine flights list is well curated and well priced. Their Sunday through Friday happy hour makes it an even better deal. If you’re looking for Baltimore’s version of Mintwood Place, here you go.

Clavel – No trip to Baltimore is complete without grabbing a meal at Clavel. This is the kind of place I have to force myself to write about, because it’s already hard enough to get a table on Friday night. I don’t need (or want) to compete with strangers for the last two top in the dining room… yet here I am. Truly, you cannot go wrong with anything on their menu. Whether you’re eating nothing but tacos, going all ceviche or hitting up those quesadillas, you’re going to have a good time, but the best way to do it is to order a little bit of everything. First, stop and soak up the mezcal menu, which is not playing any games. If you’re a mezcal fiend, dive in and check out their mezcal flights or their long-ass list of sipping mezcals. If you’re looking for something with a little less maintenance, their spicy mezcalita is a godsend, but all of their cocktails are worth your time. Foodwise, start off with the best ceviche on the menu, the Banderita made with rockfish that’s been cured in leche de tigre and then finish the meal with as menu tacos as you can stand. I love the Al Gobernador, the lengua, the conchinita pibil, but goddamnit they’re all good.

 

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Drinks/Happy Hour

The Brewer’s Art – We’re recommending the bar, not the dining room. There’s nothing wrong with the dining room, it’s just not where we want to drink happy hour beers. Drink some of Baltimore’s best beer that used to be not so easy to find.

The Bluebird Cocktail Room – Perched above a German beer hall in the middle of Hampden, Bluebird is one of the best cocktail joints in the city. If you’re serious about your drinks, this is the place to go. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgable and are more than happy to point you in the right direction, but the menu is also chock full of poems, quotes from books and other fun things to peruse as you decide what to drink. We loved the Mrs. Dalloway, an incredibly refreshing cucumber cocktail that made us forget it was 90 degrees outside, but we also enjoyed their classic Old Fashioned.

 

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Club Charles – The neighborhood bar every neighborhood needs. We’re not talking about 67 year old bar, not the movie theater or bar/restaurant available for corporate events. Club Charles may or may not be open. They closed for summer 2017 and re-opened in October. According to a recent Facebook post, they’re closed for renovations. If/when they’re open, it’s the best bar to drink at before or after going or coming from Penn Station. Also, John Waters drinks there and we have to have at least John Waters reference in a piece called “Waters World.”

W.C. Harlan – Tucked away on a residential street in Remington, W.C. Harlan is worth the special trip. This candle lit bar with its saints and mystics inspired menu doesn’t have a bad drink on the list, plus it’s a little less rowdy than most of our favorite Baltimore bars. If you’re looking for a respite, Harlan will take care of you. Just be sure to order the potato vodka / beet shooter. You can thank me later.

Hotel

This is the trickiest part of planning a trip to Baltimore, because if you’re coming fro D.C. or Northern Virginia or the Maryland suburbs of D.C. you can get home without a problem. Sure, your Uber / Lyft / Via / whatever might be north of $50, but it’s possible. People have paid more for less. That’s not even including public transportation options like the Marc, Amtrak or Megabus. Suffice it to say, if you don’t want to spend the night in Baltimore, you don’t have to.

So if you’re going to, you should go all out. That’s why we’re recommending a night at the Sagamore Pendry. The service is excellent, the lobby is beautiful and if you’re looking to eat and drink without leaving your hotel (which we obviously don’t recommend, but sometimes you’re hungry at 4 a.m. and desperately need a burger) the Pendry will definitely be able to take care of you.

But those are far from the best parts of staying in the Pendry. What really makes it worth the cost are the rooms and the pool. First, the rooms are gorgeous, with huge beds and immaculately designed bathrooms. As people who were working while visiting Baltimore, we also appreciated the furniture set up in the room. The sofa was a comfortable place to kick it and write stories in between running around the city and the view of the harbor was absolutely delightful. Watching the water taxis go back and forth from the comfort of a king size bed made all of our Baltimore dreams come true.

Outside of those king sized beds, the infinity pool was our favorite place to hang out on the property. We kicked it there during the day, we kicked it there at night and we even woke up early to start the day with a morning swim. The views of the harbor are the perfect backdrop to your Baltimore trip.

 

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Do

Water Taxi – Take the water taxi. Yes, it’s slow and, yes, it’s limited. But it’s your best bet if you want to relax, catch some beautiful views and live out your best pirate life. It’ll get you from point A to point B in style.

National Aquarium – The Baltimore aquarium deserves all your money. Become a member. Go more than once a year and it’s totally worth it. Take your friends. Take your family. Hell, take someone else’s family. From the minute you walk in the door you’re whisked away into an aquatic dreamland where you’ll get to see and do things you’ve never seen before. Want to pet a jelly fish without getting stung? They’re on it. Want to see some gnarly carpenter shark? They’ve got them. Do you just want to hang out in a tropical rainforest with some sloths? They have that too for some reason! It’s a truly magical place. Give them your money. D.C. is full of amazing, free world class museums. We are recommending a $39.95 adult ticket without hesitation. The National Aquarium is that good.

 

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