Baltimore’s culinary scene for many years meant crab from the Chesapeake Bay, red-sauce Italian food in the city’s Little Italy and a smattering of steak restaurants along the Inner Harbor. But in the past 20 years or so, a reawakening has happened in the form of farm-to-table restaurants such as Spike Gjerde’s Woodberry Kitchen and plenty of others that rely on Southern cuisine. Many of the city’s more creative restaurants are found in unusual spots, such as in an old mill, inside museums or even in an old auto body shop.


Situated in the heart of Federal Hill, Spoons (, 24 East Cross St., 410-539-8395) is a bustling, family-friendly place, decorated with a wooden carousel horse, that serves enormous breakfast platters. Huevos rancheros ($13.70), fried eggs served on top of a corn tortilla with black beans and salsa, also comes with a generous heap of home fries dotted with herbs. Other great options are cinnamon-roll pancakes with maple-coffee glaze ($9 for three pancakes, $2 extra if you want bacon inside the pancake); eggs Benedict ($12.70); fried oysters and grits ($14.70), featuring chicken-fried oysters, bacon, mushrooms, garlic, green onions and Old Mill cheesy grits; and something called the Beast ($14), which includes a buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, smoked bacon, American cheese, a fried egg and sausage gravy. I wasn’t brave enough for that one. Tasty drinks include the cafe au lait, made with beans roasted in-house, and a Chinese breakfast tea. On a busy weekend morning, the no-reservations place fills up fast.


Speaking of Gjerde (who also recently rolled out
A Rake’s Progress in the District), an excellent lunch spot is the recently revamped Parts & Labor (, 2600 N. Howard St., 443-873-8887). The meat-centric place — it’s also a butcher shop — in the Remington neighborhood, named for its original role as a tire store and car garage, has playful options such as a sandwich called Dad Bod ($16): smoked ham, pit beef, krakowska (a Polish sausage), onion, barbecue sauce and spicy tiger sauce. Although our waitress suggested the raw cheeseburger ($11) and the chicken soup ($12) served with Carolina gold rice, carrots, leeks and cilantro, we went for the Cuban ($16), a tender combination of smoked shoulder, capicola (Italian salami), lomo (dried pork tenderloin), plus mustard and pickles; and the turkey Appalachian sausage made with ground turkey and cheese and ordered (for another $1 each) with sauerkraut and a roll ($10). To drink, there’s a vast local beer selection, such as a Blue Moon-style Yellow Sudmarine ($3 during happy hour). We didn’t save room for dessert, although persimmon pie was tempting.


Bruno is a writer based in the District. Find her on Twitter: @brunodebbie.