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Charm City cuisine: Make time at Expo East to explore Baltimore's food scene

11 restaurant picks that offer an array of international, American and Maryland flavors plus varying price points and ethical commitments, including farm-to-table, vegan and vegetarian.

Baltimore is so much more than just a crab cake town. In fact, Zagat dubbed it the second best food city in the U.S. last year. Baltimore is truly a city of neighborhoods, and in so many of these communities, the restaurants and bars mirror the residents’ growing commitment to environmental consciousness. From fine dining to on-the-go market eats, your food choices are almost endless, so we thought you’d like a little help narrowing down the options.

Alma Cocina Latina
2400 Boston St.
Neighborhood: Canton
Alma’s South American flavors are bright, its spirit lively and its commitment to healthy food steadfast. This place offers gluten-free, made-to-order arepas and locally sourced, hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. Alma’s ceviches feature the freshest treasures from the sea, while its tasty beverages reflect the restaurant’s roots. Find a wide range of beer, wine, cocktails and seasonal fruit sangrias on the menu.

Cava Mezze
1302 Fleet St.
Neighborhood: Harbor East
Cava Mezze’s “New Greek” stylized small-plate offerings include numerous seasonal Mediterranean favorites that are gluten free and/or vegan friendly. This casual yet handsome spot is conducive for conversation as you taste Greek delights you already know and love plus Mezze’s new takes on old favorites. Light up your dining experience with the tableside-flambéed saganaki.

The American Visionary Museum
800 Key Highway
Neighborhood: Riverside
Encantada’s museum home inspires the artistry it puts on plates. This restaurant’s sustainable international dishes are vegetable centric with a dash of seafood and meat dotting the menu. Specialty cocktails, international wines and juices, and Local Evolution Brewery IPAs, ales, stout and hard cider will quench any thirst.

Fleet Street Kitchen
1012 Fleet St.
Neighborhood: Harbor East
Fleet Street Kitchen serves up American cuisine as fresh as it can get. The restaurant’s own farm supplies sustainably raised pork, lamb, beef, eggs and vegetables. If you can get your whole table on board, indulge in the six-course vegetarian tasting menu. You’ll also be impressed by the extensive, expertly curated wine list.

The Baltimore Museum of Art
10 Art Museum Drive
Neighborhood: Johns Hopkins
A leader in the farm-to-table movement, Gertrude’s maintains restaurant gardens whose bounty graces its Chesapeake cuisine. On any given day, choose between two special crab cakes and find a bevy of seasonal seafood offerings such as oysters, crab and various fish from Maryland waterways. Vegans, don’t despair: Among the main-course options is a delicious grated-zucchini “crab cake.”

Liquid Earth
1626 Aliceanna St.
Neighborhood: Fell’s Point
This raw, vegetarian restaurant located in historic Fell’s Point is also vegan friendly. Offering veggie sammies, marinated tofu, a dynamite hummus plate, fresh juices and smoothies, and vegan desserts, Liquid Earth has something for everyone. Tip: The kitchen often shuts down around 6:45 p.m., so plan accordingly.

One World Café
100 W. University Parkway
Neighborhood: Johns Hopkins/Homewood
This café proudly serves a variety of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes that are easy on your wallet and the planet. You can order up breakfast, lunch, dinner and even late-night snacks at the bar, and the daily specials are always fantastic. This is a fabulous spot for lively conversation and late-night chats.

Sotto Sopra Restaurant
405 N. Charles St.
Neighborhood: Mount Vernon
Located in an eye-catching, muraled room in a historic townhouse, Sotto Sopra is Baltimore’s leading Italian restaurant with a focus on top-quality, authentic Northern Italian cuisine with a Maryland accent. Expect numerous daily specials crafted fresh from local farms and waters.  

The Helmand
806 N. Charles St.
Neighborhood: Mount Vernon
The Helmand proffers authentic Afghan cuisine that has earned this restaurant accolades for more than 25 years. Middle Eastern herbs and spices play a starring role in the tasty vegan, vegetarian and meat-centric dishes. Afghan food might seem simple, but the fresh, high-quality ingredients make it sing.

Waterfront Kitchen
1417 Thames St.
Neighborhood: Fell’s Point
Waterfront Kitchen calls itself “seed-to-plate” because it works closely with local farmers to create seasonally inspired, stylized, spirited American cuisine. The harbor view is an added bonus to the bounty and beauty on your plate. Beverages run the full gamut, including local brews to wet your whistle.

Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Road #126
The hottest dining reservation in Baltimore, Woodberry Kitchen is often touted as the Chez Panisse of the East Coast. It’s nationally recognized for its stringent commitment to local ingredients and delectable farm-to-table dishes. In fact, if an ingredient doesn’t grow locally, it isn’t used (ahem, no olive oil). Executive Chef and Owner Spike Gjerde is a James Beard Award winner.

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