$$$$ | Station North, Baltimore
It sounds cliche, but walking into Alma Cocina Latina is like taking a breath of fresh air. The restaurant is in the center of Station North and very easy to get to — within Blue Jay Shuttle distance and next to the Charles St. and North Ave. JHMI stop. As soon as I walked in, the high ceilings and huge leafy plants that adorned the space had me knowing that I would be back again, even if the food wasn’t that good (spoiler: it wasn’t).
Alma is loud and bustling, which makes it perfect for big groups, and the ambiance and drinks definitely helped make it a good night. There are many options to try, and the entrees are large and easily shareable, which I definitely recommend. The drinks are phenomenal, with the sangria being the type that’s not too sweet yet definitely packs a punch (you won’t regret getting a carafe). Simply put, it’s the perfect place for a birthday dinner or just a nice night out with friends.
That being said, there are outdoor tables that seemed cute and more low-key — optimal for a date night! Each dish and drink is a work of art, and unlike some things that might taste better than they look, this restaurant exceeded all of my expectations.
Here’s a brief rundown of the foods that I tried:
Calling these balls of fried cheese the Venezuelan mozzarella stick simply would not do them justice. The pops were crispy and doughy and filled with a mellow but delicious cheese that strikes similarities with mozzarella but definitely has its own spin. It is served with a spiced sugar sauce that was so good, my friends and I basically licked the plate clean.
Though the menu said it would be covered in cheese, sauce and chiles (and to their credit, it definitely was), the toppings were honestly the best part of the dish. Once all of the cheese and chiles were devoured from the top, I was left with a yucca fry that was underwhelming, bland and honestly starchy. Not the best thing out there, but still worth a try!
This was our least favorite of the dishes. The cassava bread simply was not our thing. It is a gluten-free bread, and it definitely tasted like it. This is one that I would say could be a “pass” for next time.
I’ve eaten a fair amount of branzino in my life, and I’ve never had one like this. First, the presentation is jaw-dropping. It comes wrapped around shreds of fresh mango with swirls of citrus aioli encircling the fish. The biggest problem with branzino is usually wrestling to get the tiny bones out of my teeth, which was not an issue in the slightest. Though pairing it with mango seemed to be an unusual touch, the dish was nothing short of brilliant. Once again, a plate wiped clean.
The Dark Cloud
I’m a huge chocolate person, but this chocolate mousse just didn’t have the umph it needed. The texture of it is light and airy, which seemed like a good idea when we ordered it as we all groaned about how stuffed we were. In the end, the mousse was so light that it had the effect of opening a bag of chips pumped with air that only has about two chips settled at the bottom — disappointing.
I’m usually the person at the table sulking when a dessert is ordered that doesn’t include chocolate, but this tres leches has a place in my heart. It was creamy and decadent and exceptional. The dish is definitely sweet, so indulge that nostalgia for having a childhood palate of unlimited sugar and dig in because I am telling you, you won’t regret it!