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January 26, 2023

Hampden's can't-miss restaurant rundown

By TANGYA TAN | December 1, 2021

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COURTESY OF TANGYA TAN

Though a bit pricey, The Food Market offers superb American cuisine.

Forget the $20 Uber rides split with friends that are needed to pursue fine dining at the Inner Harbor. Instead, with a simple click on TransLoc, a Blue Jay Shuttle Night Ride will take you to Hampden, a quintessential Baltimore neighborhood whose main drag is home to some of the city’s best dining and bar options.

The Food Market

Wallet Drain: $$$

The moment I started research on these restaurant recommendations, I booked a reservation for brunch at The Food Market. This place offers not just dinners but also great lunch and brunch options.

Brought about by Chef Chad Gauss and his hand-selected crew, The Food Market serves creative American cuisine and cocktails in a modern industrial space, providing an ambient atmosphere. It is perfect for those looking for a date location or just for catching up with family and friends. 

Unlike its more traditional competitors, The Food Market’s menu separates its dishes by “little,” “small” and “big” to indicate the size of the plate. Some of my favorite dishes include the candied bacon bao buns, pan roasted mussels (A MUST TRY!) and duck parts. 

Bodhi Corner

Wallet Drain: $$

COURTESY OF TANGYA TAN

Bodhi Corner's warm atmosphere matches its hot dishes.

A family-owned restaurant, Bodhi Corner provides truly authentic Northeast Thai cuisine. However, its menu also presents many unique, original dishes that one wouldn’t find in an ordinary Thai eatery.

Besides having the classic tom yum soup, pad thai and basil fried rice, Bodhi Corner hosts several creative dishes inspired by seasonal fruits and ingredients imported from Thailand. 

The restaurant is located one block away from The Charmery, Hampden’s quirky ice cream shop. Residing on a slight hill, Bohdi Corner exudes a cozy, peaceful feeling. At typical hours, you can walk in and see customers already sitting at the warm, wooden tables. The waiters respond quickly, so you won’t be hungry for long. 

(Also, if you were a previous fan of Khun Nine Thai near Peabody, you will be happy to know that the same crew now works at Bohdi Corner!)

Daniela Pasta & Pastries

Wallet Drain: $$

COURTESY OF TANGYA TAN

Daniela's authentic Italian cuisine is a great option regardless of whether you pick indoor or outdoor seating.

Featuring authentic Sardinian cuisine, Daniela’s restaurant is one of the best Italian eateries in town. While I cannot recall the exact number of times I’ve paid it a visit, I do know that its homemade Italian sauces are aromatic and tasty and its ingredients are fresh.

The owner of the shop, Daniela Useli, moved to Baltimore in the 2000s and brought her own Sardinian touches, opening Daniela Pasta & Pastries. Out of all the amazing dishes, my favorites are the lasagna and the thyme- and white wine-infused lamb chops (agnello in salsa di timo).

The restaurant is located in the heart of Hampden and has ample seating available. I love to sit outside during warm weather and watch passersby. 

At Daniela’s, one can find many different twists and turns of classic Italian dishes.

Wicked Sisters

Wallet Drain: $$

COURTESY OF TANGYA TAN

For burgers and drinks, consider Hampden's Wicked Sisters.

Next on our list is a New American cuisine restaurant brought about by chefs Trinity Fisher and Daiveon “D” Jacobs: Wicked Sisters. This place is a bit away from Hampden’s main street, but its two-story setup with modern design and decor leaves the restaurant filled with lots of cheers and fun. 

Why wicked? Because it’s wicked good. Its forte is the burgers: the Insanity Burger, Karma Burger, Wicked Rachel and more. But the restaurant also has a lot of exotic dishes that reflect international elements and inspiration.

Besides, it has a ton of drinking options, from cocktail crafts to beer tap. Once I intended to order a Manhattan and the bartender surprised me with a Rusty Nail, which was later added to my personal list of cocktails to order. 

The Bluebird Cocktail Room

Wallet Drain: $$

Looking for a premier cocktail room nearby? The Bluebird Cocktail Room has got you covered. It’s been my favorite late-night hangout location since the beginning of freshman year, and I’m hesitant to share this secret spot to many others by featuring it in this article! 

Whether you’re an old-fashioned type of guy or a cosmopolitan type of girl, Bluebird’s bartenders have your choices under their belt. 

What’s special about Bluebird is that here, you are incentivized to come often or you might miss out on its new drinks: Bluebird’s cocktail menu changes by season and by special occasions. For example, the bar recently printed a Halloween menu, inviting many to visit on the actual holiday. 

While the bar checks out at 1 a.m., Bluebird also has a kitchen that cooks until 10 at night. Its burgers are smaller than usual but are meaty enough to fill you up. For me, though, I usually order a plate of rosemary fries as a shareable bistro fare with friends — these are simply the best in town. 


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