Cara over at landofbean invited us to write a post for blogtrotting- a virtual travel blog. We got really excited to share our quirky city and then realized we were faced with the challenge of boiling down the best of Baltimore into one blog post. We both immediately began calling out ideas -insisting that the other was crazy for her suggestions- and after a three-day fist fight created the list below.
Trinacria Macaroni Works, West Side
First timers to Trinacria are often alarmed by the bullet-proof glass, aging sign and desolate neighborhood locale. (It's Baltimore. We get it.) But once inside, Trinacria may as well be a portal to the old country. The place is always packed. Packed with food, packed with wine, packed with hungry masses yearning to break free. The store is chaotic, clustered and incredible. Trinacria sells homemade pastas, wildly inexpensive (like, $2 inexpensive) wine, perfectly seasoned meats and warm-from-the-oven bread. Their made-to-order sandwiches are cheap and over stuffed with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and drizzled in olive oil and cracked pepper.
Best of all, we found a way to eat and holiday shop. Waiting for your sandwich to assemble is the perfect time to put together an edible gift basket. We bought big baskets at Target and filled them with homemade sauces, pastas, bottles of wine and aged cheese. Bonus: If you get crumbs on your presents no one will notice
Woodberry Kitchen, Clipper Mill
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Ahhh, Woodberry Kitchen. A Baltimore staple for those of us who love to eat fresh and don't mind smashing our piggy banks to do it. Using produce/meat/dairy from all organic, local farms, Woodberry is located in the super hip (and boy do they know it) Clipper Mill.
In warm months, juicy and perfectly ripe produce is the order of the day/night. The heirloom tomato flight, served with sea salt and a mini mason jar of red wine vinegar, is delicious, and we don't even like tomatoes. When things start to cool down, the menu turns heartier, lending to the super cozy vibes of the restaurant (think soaring ceilings, exposed wood beams and a few cords of wood neatly stacked against the wall). Get your mitts on one of their signature drinks- we recommend the Manhampden- and take it outside to cozy up to the roaring fire pit.
While it may be a bit expensive, we promise it is worth it. We would give specific recommendations, but it’s all so good that no matter what your order, you’ll be thrilled. Attempt to align your dining experience with Gutierrez Studios' First Fridays when they open their doors and play host to anyone who straggles in.
Charles Theater, Station North
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There is really nothing better than a trip to the Charles. Some of our best nights of summer have been spent lazily walking up Charles Street, grabbing a glass of wine and sinking into this air conditioned cinematic mecca.
Nestled between Tapas Teatro and Sofi's Crepes, The Charles generously allows movie-goers to bring their bounty into the theater. As if sipping wine and watching any of their impressive, off-the-beaten-path movie roster isn't fabulous enough, pop across the street to Club Charles for an apres-film cocktail and a (almost guaranteed) John Waters sighting.
Patterson Park Ice Rink, Patterson Park
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While we do realize that ice skating is a historically outdoorsy endeavor, it's kind of nice to ditch the extra layers and glide around inside of a windless dome for a bit. If you're more of a toothless, full contact type, The Patterson Park Ice Rink is also home to several area ice hockey teams, and offers pick-up games on weeknights.
Channeling your inner Johnny Weir on a Tonya Harding budget? Put down that tire iron! It only costs $6 dollars to rent skates and practice your triple sow cow. Bonus: after skating you can refuel at nearby Matthew's Pizza.
SideShow, Locust Point
Located inside the American Visionary Arts Museum, Sideshow is, in one word, insane. Whether you are looking for an original painting by Baltimore artist Sogh, or pining over a hot pink whoopee cushion, there is something here for everyone. Over the years we've picked up incredible design books, a few neon NKOTB cups, lovely scarves and an angel made from a Natty Boh can. This is where we go to truly feel like a kid in a candy shop. And did we mention the prices? There are few places where you can walk in with a $20 bill, and leave with a shopping bag full of wonderful goodies.
Red Tree & Double Dutch, The Avenue, Hampden
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Anyone who has seen Mannequin (admit it- you've seen it) knows the importance of stellar window dressing. We like any business that uses fabulous design to entice us, and The Avenue in Hampden is all about drawing in shoppers with their kitschy, crazy and beautifully Baltimore store fronts. From splurge worthy boutiques to tasty dining experiences, the Avenue is anything but a one trick pony. One of our favorite spots is Red Tree; a home goods wonder filled to the brim with cheeky knick knacks, handmade jewelry, and one of a kind pieces of furniture. We can (and do) spend hours slowly wandering the floors, leaving nothing but ‘’ohh’’s and ‘’ahh’s in our path. We dare you to leave empty handed.
After you’ve gotten some bling for your digs, head over to Double Dutch for a wonderfully non pretentious boutique experience. This charming store may be small, but what they lack in square footage, they more than make up for in style. Double Dutch is the quintessential spot if you’re looking for a flashy New Years Eve dress or just something casual and cute for our sweltering Summer days. Bonus: Insiders (or anyone with an email address) get access to incredible sales whenever the store changes for the season.