Baltimore has over 100 seafood restaurants to choose from. Some are great, some are fishy. How do you find the best? Join me, Kurt Jacobson, former professional chef, and current travel writer as I guide you through my ten favorite seafood restaurants in Baltimore.
Word on the street
Thames Street Oyster House
As the name suggests, this seafood eatery is on Thames Street. Smack dab in the heart of Fells Point, this restaurant is in a row of restaurants, bars, and shops drawing locals and tourists alike. The downstairs is mostly a bar-scene and raw bar worthy of happy hour or watching sports on TV. The raw bar features oysters from local waters, East Coast, West Coast, and beyond. Cooked, then chilled, Maine lobster tails and claws are reasonably priced at 6.25 USD each. Mixed drinks, beer, and wine are available upstairs or downstairs.
Find the main dining room upstairs for sit-down lunch or dinner. Dig into the appetizer list with lobster mac & cheese, fried oysters, grilled octopus, or calamari. Sandwiches, soups, and salads dominate the lunch menu. Dinner specials like their New England clam and lobster boil serve four to six and require minimum two-day advance notice. Limited parking is on the street and metered.
Every big city needs a quality sushi restaurant, Azumi is Baltimore’s best. Don’t miss the happy hour with several sushi rolls, appetizers 3-12 USD, wine-by-the-glass, and beers priced reasonably. Azumi flies fresh fish from the Tokyo Toyosu Fish Market in daily. The sushi bar is available for true sushi fans, while an elegant dining room is perfect for a quiet dinner. Don’t miss the miso black cod entree, one of the best fish dishes in Baltimore. Wagyu beef is offered for the meat eaters in your group who tolerate joining you at a seafood restaurant.
On warm days, dining al fresco will deliver a wide view of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. On summer nights when a concert is held at nearby Pier Six, you can hear the music from Azumi’s patio. Valet parking is offered.
Crabs and big buffets
Baltimore is crab-crazy. Eating steamed crabs is an experience every seafood loving visitor should try. Conrad’s Crabs is run by a family that catches their own crabs and sends them to their restaurant or seafood market. Their restaurant is in Perry Hall, about a twenty-minute drive north of downtown Baltimore. Conrad’s Crabs serves up the freshest crabs I’ve had, and in a clean modern restaurant.
Starters include crab hash, seafood quesadilla, crab mac & cheese, and jumbo tater tots to name a few. Oysters on the half shell, salads, and soups are good starters or happy hour choices. Conrad’s Crabs has an outdoor second-floor deck perfect when the weather cooperates. Dinner options like rockfish, grouper San Remo, rainbow trout imperial, and some non-seafood items will please your group. Two new locations are in Bel Air and Abingdon, Parking is easy using their valet or nearby lots.
The Rusty Scupper is visible from just about anywhere on the Inner Harbor. Known as one of the best seafood places for lunch, brunch or dinner you can’t go wrong here. On Sundays, their brunch often sells out as diners love the live jazz music, tons of seafood options at the buffet, and big views of the Inner Harbor. The service at the Rusty Scupper is exceptional, as is the food.
At dinner enjoy fresh oysters, signature soups, today’s catch, entrees, and classics like crab-stuffed lobster, cioppino, surf and turf, or lobster pie. A full bar serves cocktails, beer, cider, wines by-the-glass, or by the bottle. Special events like Mother’s Day brunch, Father’s Day brunch, or the July 4th Extravaganza usually sell out so reserve ahead of time. Whether you come for lunch, brunch, or dinner, parking is available in the garage next to the restaurant for a fee.
A newer Baltimore seafood restaurant on the water is Loch Bar. Already growing a loyal fan base, Loch Bar is a favorite on warm days when dining al fresco on the Inner Harbor is delightful. This shiny new space reminds one of a classic Parisian seafood cafe serving seafood by the tower. One of the most popular sandwiches is the lobster roll. Served on a split-top bun with Kerrygold Irish butter puts a different spin on this favorite from Maine. Their crab grilled cheese with gruyere, gouda, and bacon is worth a try if you love grilled cheese with crab.
The clientele is a bit trendy, and the dress code (enforced after 4 p.m.) is part of the reason. They ask customers not wear gym clothing, active wear, sweatpants, obscene ripped clothing, sleeveless shirts, or hunting apparel. Close in parking is available (20-25 USD) at the Four Seasons Hotel garage, or choose valet.
City or suburbs
Located in the historic Power Plant on the Inner Harbor is a seafood palace. The regular crab cakes at Phillips are big and delicious. Live large with the ultimate crab cakes made from expensive 100% lump crab for 47.95 USD with sides of crab mac & cheese and asparagus.
Sunday brunch offers omelets, carving station, breakfast favorites, raw bar, bread station, cold station, and a bottomless Bloody Mary bar for 35.99 USD adults or 14.99 for children 4-10. Parking is easy to find in one of several public parking garages nearby and usually costs around 20-25 USD.
Lib’s Grill Perry Hall
What locals like about Lib’s Grill is the neighborhood feel. With two locations either north in Perry Hall or south in Maple Lawn, come to Lib’s for excellent raw bar choices a bit more affordable than the city-center restaurants. Their raw bar features lots of oysters from near and far (mostly Mid-Atlantic and Canadian waters). Happy hour (Monday-Friday 3-7) features buck-a-shuck oysters, fish tacos for 3 USD, sautéed mussels 7 USD, snacks 2 USD, and more. Draft beers, domestic bottles, and import beers are all reduced for happy hour. Don’t miss their delicious shrimp and grits at happy hour, lunch and dinner.
Lunch, brunch, or dinner are worth a stop at either Lib’s. Tuesday nights feature a whole Maine lobster special with sides and dessert, and on Wednesday nights they have a steak special and half price bottles of wine (only for wines under 80 USD). Parking is a breeze at either location.
Lib’s Grill Maple Lawn
This location is newer and has more space than Lib’s Perry Hall. The raw bar at Lib’s Maple Lawn is separate from the regular bar but still offers gobs of oysters from North American waters. Happy hour (Monday-Friday 3-7pm) offers the same pricing as the Perry Hall location. Tuesday is Maine lobster night and Wednesday has the steak special plus half priced wine by-the-bottle (only for wines under 80 USD). This location seems to be busier than the Perry Hall location for brunch so be sure and reserve your table ahead of time.
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South side of Baltimore City
This classic crab house serves up steamed crabs, at a no-frills row house in Locust Point. With three floors to dine in, try the third-floor deck on beautiful days and let the crab hammers fly. Bust up a dozen of their tasty steamed crabs and chase it down with a pitcher of Natty Boh. Other favorites are the crab cakes, cream of crab soup, and hush puppies served with decadent cinnamon butter (bet you can’t eat just one). For a full-meal crowd pleaser try the Boh’t Load Of Food seafood platter for 65 USD. This platter comes with steamed crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp and lobster tail plus a pitcher of beer. On-street parking is a bit tricky but doable.
Tucked into a neighborhood of row homes is one of Baltimore’s newest seafood restaurants. Run by the same folks that own La Cuchara, Minnow serves a Mediterranean-style menu of tapas and wines from the Mediterranean. On Sundays, their bottomless brunch for 39 USD offers 14 tapas and bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys. Brunch tapas include fried oysters, French toast with maple apple compote, shrimp ceviche, bacalao croquettes, smoked salmon, and don’t miss the sour cream doughnuts. Half-priced wines by the bottle on Sundays are available for brunch or dinner. Valet parking is a must in this part of town and although complimentary, tipping is encouraged.
One or more
After trying one or more of these excellent restaurants, you too will agree Baltimore is tops for seafood.
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