CHARLES VILLAGE FAVORITES
Boz’s Burger Bistro
This casual burger joint will be your go-to for quality burgers, fries and hand-spun milkshakes. For fast food, it’s not quite fast; fresh and handmade burgers can take as long as 20 minutes. But it’s worth the wait. Try unique varieties like the spicy kimchi burger or the decadent Saint Paul burger, filled with chipotle aioli, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and applewood bacon. If you’re not craving burgers, you can opt for their quesadillas, salads or ciabatta sandwiches.
This cozy, vegetarian-friendly spot is a local favorite and appropriate for any time of day. Their grilled cheese is ooey gooey heaven, and you can pair it with tomato soup that’s vegan yet impossibly thick and creamy. You can also indulge in a variety of other sandwiches, which come with a side of greens, chips or cold sesame noodles. Carma’s also serves frittatas, bagels, scones and some of Baltimore’s best cookies. Keep your eyes peeled for their daily specials, which include the popular Cinnamon Bun Latte.
Towson Hot Bagels (THB)
Even New York bagel snobs admit that THB serves delicious bagels. Consistently ranked as Baltimore’s best bagels, THB serves a wide variety of freshly made bagels and bagel sandwiches. A popular menu item to try is their famous chicken salad on a bagel, panini or kaiser roll. You can also enjoy omelettes, coffee, smoothies, muffins and other breakfast items.
BEYOND THE BUBBLE
Chopstix is a bit isolated and a little ways away — about a 20 minute drive from campus — but this Chinese restaurant in Rosedale is great for lower-budget special occasions. You can’t go wrong with their popular dim sum, but if you’re feeling more adventurous, try dishes like their chicken feet or stinky durian.
Grano Pasta Bar
You can build your own pasta and watch chefs prepare it at this snug nook in Hampden. Using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, Grano offers classic pasta sauces, including carbonara and bolognese, as well as more unique varieties like calamari vesuvio. Several options are vegan and gluten-free. Pair a sauce with one of six noodles and order a side of artisanal bread with olive oil and roasted garlic. If you’re still hungry after your meal, order a classic Italian dessert like tiramisu or cannoli.
When I’m homesick and craving Korean food, Jong Kak hits the spot. If you’re feeling self-indulgent, you can get authentic Korean BBQ, cooked in front of you over a grill. Or if your wallet’s feeling a little light, you can sit away from the smoke and choose from an endless list of Korean dishes. I usually get the bibimbap — rice with vegetables, beef and a runny egg in a hot stone pot — and share pajeon — a green onion pancake — with a friend.
The Local Fry
This casual fusion spot has locations in the Rotunda and Federal Hill, and they serve a variety of banh mi, rice bowls, chicken wings and cheesy fries. The kimchi fries are packed with flavor, topped with sauteed kimchi, sriracha mayo, scallions and lots of shredded cheese. For your wings, choose from as many as 19 different flavors.
Mekong Delta Cafe
Indochine or Pho Viet are reliable and more well-known Vietnamese joints, but try stopping by this unassuming booth tucked away in the Charles Plaza food court. This hidden gem offers a variety of authentic pho, including pho ga and pho tai gan, and Southern Vietnamese noodle soups (hu tieu). You can also opt for a stir-fry or get spring rolls on the side.
There aren’t many diners in the City, but thankfully this classic no-frills diner in Waverly is just a few blocks from Homewood. Considered one of Baltimore’s best breakfast spots, Pete’s is bar seating only and gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Get a huge omelette with heaps of toast and several pats of butter, a mountain of popular home fries and free refills of freshly brewed coffee — all for $14. Pete’s is also famous for their blueberry pancakes and for being a favorite with Michael Phelps.
Sam’s Canterbury Cafe
Not only does Sam’s serve delicious coffee, breakfast and lunch, but they also have a unique mission: to give individuals with autism meaningful employment. Owners Michael and Jennifer Myers opened the cafe so that their son Sam, who is on the autism spectrum, could pursue his dream to work in the hospitality industry. Since opening last year, Sam’s has quickly established itself as a community favorite, and Baltimore named them the City’s best breakfast spot this year.