Many know Baltimore for its picturesque Inner Harbor or NFL championship team, but this city has even more to offer. Here are eight under-the-radar spots across town, from espresso to opera, with fewer crowds and the same oh-so-Baltimore charm.
The new kids on a Mount Vernon block and on the Baltimore coffee scene serve Counter Culture roasts plus breakfast, lunch, beer and baked goods like olive oil-zucchini bread. Fresh-cut wildflower bouquets adorn a whitewashed space with communal tables where customers enjoy good company and free Wi-Fi.
13.5% Wine Bar
This casual Hampden gathering place bridges the gap between quality vino and laid-back atmosphere. Oenophiles kick back with more than 40 wines by the glass and 200 bottles, a killer cheese selection and plates small to large. Sister restaurant Silo.5% Wine Bar in Locust Point has the same vibe but adds harbor views and a patio.
Baltimore Concert Opera
The local operatic scene rises up, and one of the key companies making it happen is the city’s concert opera. Home stage performances take place at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion in Mount Vernon, a townhome built in the Golden Age that encompasses four houses in one with 40 total rooms. Before performances, guests begin with a meal in the dining room and a complimentary lecture in the grand ballroom.
Named “Best Vintage Shop” by Baltimore magazine, this self-proclaimed “shop in the old church” fills a former Hampden sanctuary with racks of vintage and new clothing for men and women. Hunting Ground stocks pieces from small designers like Warpaint tees, MINKPINK frocks and Courtshop denim, plus jewelry, accessories and West Third Brand fragrances. Local makers debut “distinctly Baltimore” designs here too.
Culinarians Laura and David Alima pay homage to Baltimore with an unlikely medium: ice cream. Find flavors like Old Bay Caramel and Berger Cookies and Cream plus shakes, rickeys and sundaes in their open-late corner parlor on Hampden’s “The Ave.”
Union Craft Brewery
With the recent cultural renaissance in Woodberry, a craft brewery was destined to rise with the same creative energy. The Baltimorean trio behind Union Craft Brewing started a year ago and have since experimented with more than 13 different beers, including an age-old berlinerweiss recipe (tart German beer). “We’re Baltimore born and raised,” says founder Jon Zerivitz, “and we want people to see us as their neighborhood brewery.” Tours and Tasting Room sampling happen every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
Around the corner from Patterson Park, Creative Alliance hosts performances, workshops and exhibits year-round to promote the arts in its Highlandtown community, one of Baltimore’s three rising arts districts. The multi-purpose center kept the big screen of previous tenant the 1910 Patterson Theater and added live-and-work studio lofts for eight artists. The lobby-adjoining Marquee Lounge serves cocktails and a seasonal menu before and after events.
Hersh’s Pizza & Drinks
The two-story Neapolitan-style pizzeria in South Baltimore serves up more than a mean piece of pie. In addition to inventive wood-fired pizzas (think kale and pistachio), “rustic Italian” small plates include seasonal crostinis and the polenta stack plus pastas like cavatelli with figs. Head bartender Jamaal Green mixes cocktails—some classic, some his own concoction—like the Not For Everyone with elderflower liqueur and Mezcal.