This was a year of saying goodbye to a few of Baltimore’s restaurants, and welcoming dozens of new venues. From a white linen-style restaurant spin-off to cocktails along Hampden’s 36th Street, Baltimore’s foodies are delighted with this year’s crop of eateries. These, the area’s best new restaurants, opened to rave reviews in 2012.
1520 Clipper Road
Baltimore, Md. 21211
Three months from signing a lease to opening a restaurant is an ambitious endeavor, but Chef Robbin Haas accomplished just that. On Oct. 1, Haas opened the doors at Birroteca in the Woodberry neighborhood, serving organic pizzas, craft beers and small plates. Customer favorites quickly emerged: “Duck Duck Goose” pizza, pasta bolognese, and salumi and cheeses. “The experience at Birroteca is beautifully refined down to the smallest details,” raves Ednor Gardens resident, Erin Weigel. “The décor includes vintage Edison light bulbs, chalkboard wall menus and re-purposed communal tables made from antique doors. It’s a trendy, yet laid back place where you can enjoy incredibly fine food without pretension.” Haas said he hopes to expand that sentiment by opening new restaurants in 2013 and plans to add outdoor space at Birroteca.
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Fork & Wrench
2322 Boston St.
Baltimore, Md. 21224
Already named best new restaurant by the City Paper, Fork & Wrench is making its mark on Baltimore’s dining scene. Since opening in March, Fork & Wrench doesn’t shy away from items diners might question, including chicken liver mousse, pickles and pate, and foie gras. If you ate something once, you may not see it again for a while. Chef Sajin Renae frequently changes the menu. Owners Andy Gruver and Jason Sanchez spent two years on the interior of Fork & Wrench until they were satisfied it met their vision of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s working class. Gruver and Sanchez keep a farm-to-table mentality by sourcing ingredients from local growers, cheese makers and farmers whenever possible. Diners should keep an eye on the restaurant’s Facebook page; Renae often uses it to announce new menu items.
2933 O’Donnell St.
Baltimore, Md. 21224
There are spots that are cursed by frequent turnover, and Shiso Tavern, Canton’s newest sushi venture, opened at one of them in June. Run by the proprietors of Blue Hill Tavern and Tavern on the Square, Shiso stands a good chance of becoming a mainstay. “We chose to open our restaurant in Canton because we like the people and the community of Canton,” says long-time resident and co-owner, Tim Ernst. Since June, executive sushi chef Daniel Binghak, formerly of Morimoto, has been introducing patrons to a menu beyond just sushi, including seared diver scallops, sushi nachos and short ribs. Baltimore loves maki, though, and the Canton roll pays homage to the neighborhood with dashes of Old Bay. After starting slowly with limited hours, Shiso has seen enough success to offer full lunch and dinner menus Tuesday through Sunday. Shiso also offers convenient online ordering.
Related: Best Sushi in Maryland
Langermann’s on Light
1542 Light St.
Baltimore, Md. 21230
Rather than white-linen tablecloths and servers in ties, like its namesake, Langermann’s on Light features wings and servers in polo shirts. Langermann’s on Light is the spin-off of Langermann’s in Canton, at the Can Company, which has a much more formal atmosphere with Southern dishes. Langermann’s on Light features some of the same dishes, such as the shrimp and grits, but also offers casual fare such as wings and barbecue ribs. Mark Lasker has owned the building for years and saw it through changes under different names, including The Reserve and 1542 Gastropub. When the last team moved on, Lasker decided it was time to bring some of Langermann’s flavor to the west side of the Inner Harbor, and the neighborhood is appreciative.
1017 W. 36th St.
Baltimore, Md. 21211
When The Food Market opened in June, patrons eagerly lined up to see what would set it apart from the other restaurants that line The Avenue in Hampden. The first thing? The noise. As a former grocery store, The Food Market’s tall ceilings carried voices with little to absorb them. Owner Elan Kotz and his team quickly addressed the problem to ensure patrons have a great dining experience at a reasonable decibel. Chef Chad Grauss, once named best new chef at Baltimore’s City Cafe, takes comfort food to a new level. Customers gravitate toward his Amish soft pretzels with beer cheese fondue, buffalo pickles and duck confit potato skins. “We want to continue to strive to keep the restaurant alive and honest,” says owner Elan Kotz. “We’ll start exploring other opportunities for growth in the neighborhood.”