It can be overwhelming to scan the restaurants in Baltimore for the best brunch. Baltimore is rapidly becoming known as a true foodie city, and brunch is a great way to experience this destination.
Where to start
Brunch is such a celebratory meal. It’s a time for friends and family to relax and enjoy a Sunday with good conversation, food, drinks and perhaps a good view. Not a typical blast-through breakfast, brunch cajoles us into an almost European type meal where an hour or two spent at a restaurant lingering over food and wine is time well spent.
Let’s get started at one of the most visible restaurants in Baltimore, The Rusty Scupper. Anyone visiting Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor can plainly see the Rusty Scupper across the harbor from several vantage points. Set at the foot of Federal Hill for 35 years and overlooking the Inner Harbor, customers get a sweeping view of Baltimore’s skyline. In the restaurant world, it’s unfortunate that a restaurant with a great view quite often has less-than-stellar food. The Rusty Scupper has both great food and views.
Rusty Scupper: The best view
Brunch at the Rusty Scupper is a buffet style, all-you-can-eat affair with plenty of seafood, and live jazz. Once seated, you are offered a choice of drinks like mimosa, bellini, champagne or a seasonal special sangria. The wait staff is a cut above average and set you up for a pleasant stay from the moment you sit down. They will help guide you to the carving station where a large ham and prime rib reside. The omelet station is a good choice if you want a crab omelet with all the extras. This is usually the only crab available on the buffet. In the main buffet area, dive into piles of fresh shucked oysters, fish of the day, breakfast potatoes and more.
Attention to detail is shown in the long and luscious dessert table. Starting with a hot “best ever” bread pudding and trailing along cookies, pastries and a large cake, you might want to scope this out first to save room. A hot tip is to grab a bowl of bread pudding then traipse on over to the pancake/waffle station and get some whipped cream on top for a heavenly combination. Although the Rusty Scupper is fairly expensive at 43 USD plus tax, parking, and gratuity, it’s worth the splurge if you are hungry and want this special view of Baltimore.
Blue Moon Cafe: Good things come in small packages
On the opposite side of the Inner Harbor and price range is Blue Moon Café. This is not a traditional brunch, but the food is legendary and deserves a spot on the list. This is an order-off-the-menu affair and is mostly breakfast food with the exception being a burger choice and a few sandwiches. Be sure and get there early, like 8–9 a.m., if you don’t want to wait in line for long. They always seem to have a significant line on Sunday from 9 to noon as dedicated regulars wait outside since there is no waiting space inside. If there is a line, go in and get your name on the list and wait it out if you can. Blue Moon Café is open 24 hours on weekends and is a BYOB if you want to bring wine, beer, etc.
The reward for waiting is a dining room with just 9 tables and 4 breakfast bar seats that would barely fit the Baltimore Ravens defensive squad. Once inside, grab the menu and order up a coffee to get started. Probably the most famous items are the Sweet Baby Jesus or Captain Crunch French Toast. The Sweet Baby Jesus was born out of an epic blizzard when food supply trucks couldn’t get into the city for several days. The owner was scrounging around in the walk-in for something to serve that morning and had crabmeat, hash browns, tomatoes and eggs. They cooked it up and smothered it in hollandaise sauce and Sweet Baby Jesus was born. The Captain Crunch French Toast is one of the best renditions of this breakfast favorite ever! After being dipped in egg the Texas Toast is dredged in Captain Crunch crumbs and fried. Next, it has a generous blob of whipped cream on top studded with fresh blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas and apple slices. If you love French toast, this version will blow you away! As their menu says, “Millions of people can’t be wrong!” The rest of the menu is quite good, as is the service. If they aren’t too busy, the wait staff usually offers to send you off with a cup of coffee to go. Prices range from 6.95–19.95 USD.
Gertrude’s: An artsy choice
Gertrude’s is a restaurant attached to the Baltimore Museum of Art. With locally sourced menu items, brunch fans flock here on warm weather days when the outdoor patio calls with splashing fountains and chirping birds. Brunch is served both Saturday and Sunday. Gertrude’s is an order-off-the-menu type of brunch. Choose from specialties like Miss Jean’s Maryland Crab Soup, A Berry Good Salad, Sirloin Steak Ranchero, or Eggs Gertrude’s — a crab cake version of eggs Benedict.
Brunch cocktails are extra and run from 7 USD for a mimosa up to 11 USD for Saint Sangria. After brunch, the outdoor sculpture gardens of the BMA provide a leisurely walk among the tall trees, fountains and statues. Parking tip: on Sunday, on-street parking is free, but get there early or else pay to park in the museum lot in front of Gertrude’s.
Donna’s: Brunch with a Mediterranean twist
Donna’s Cross Keys is a buffet brunch in a quiet, treed location off Falls Road near Roland Park. The outdoor deck is a great place to eat or drink and parking is free and easy, unlike many Baltimore restaurants. There are plenty of meat options but what sets Donna’s apart from most are several Mediterranean, vegetarian-friendly options. Diners choose from tasty veggie dishes like: marinated portobello mushrooms, caponata, kale salad with goat cheese and raisins, grilled asparagus, roasted pears with gorgonzola, grilled carrots, eggplant, cauliflower and sweet potatoes to name a few.
The steamed shrimp at Donna’s are the best in town and all you can eat! The smoked salmon is a must have on a toasted bagel with capers, onion and a touch of cream cheese. There’s an omelet station, carving station, and the delicious desserts are made by Sabine Breitstein, who has been with Donna’s for 20 years. They have a full bar and your brunch price of 25 USD includes either a Bloody Mary, mimosa, or coffee.
Wit and Wisdom: On the high end
Last but not least is the most expensive brunch on the list at 54 USD. Within the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel on the Inner Harbor is Wit and Wisdom, by star chef Michael Mina. Sunday brunch is an over-the-top affair and is an all-you-can-eat foodie extravaganza. Even kids are catered to in a special way with a low-to-the-ground spread of burger sliders, grilled cheese, French fries, and chicken tenders.
Their hot items include omelets/eggs to order, carving station with prime rib, halibut, Palmetto Farms cheddar grits, buffalo fried oyster and a crepe station. Desserts include panna cotta, eclairs, apple tarts, a s’mores station and more. Brunch runs from 9–2 p.m. on Sunday. On special occasions, like Mother’s Day, the price goes up to 69 USD and reservations are a must. Parking in the hotel’s underground lot is based on an hourly fee or or 12 USD for valet.
With this list you are sure to find a brunch just right for your visit. Come and spend a Sunday in Baltimore and enjoy the good life.