If you’re a foodie on a budget, or just trying to find a good meal for cheap, Charm City might be serving up just what you’re looking for on your next dining expedition. Baltimore offers an abundance of options for delicious meals, featuring both well-known hot spots and hidden gems in many of its distinctive neighborhoods. And what’s particularly alluring (especially in contrast to its much pricier neighbor city of Washington, D.C.) is the opportunity to get a great meal without emptying your wallet. Here are some picks for the most delicious and finance-friendly food spots in Baltimore.
Hours: Sun-Thurs 7 a.m. – 12 a.m., Fri/Sat 7 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Reviews, Directions & More InfoPaperMoon Diner sits very conspicuously on a corner of 29th Street in Baltimore’s Charles Village/Hampden area. Adorned on the outside with a lush flowery garden (featuring a few green mannequins peeking out of the shrubbery) and inside with toys and folk art galore, it might take awhile to get your eyes past the decorations and start checking out the extensive menu. But when you do, you’ll have a tough time choosing from a myriad of creative and reasonably priced favorites.
Choice Budget Bite: The Crab Mac and Cheese with Truffle Oil ($9) is simply divine, and definitely filling enough for a meal, even though it is featured on the appetizers list. Secret score!
*Bonus Bite: Still hungry? Try the sweet potato fries, too. They are a pretty killer addition to any meal.
Hours: Mon to Wed 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Thurs to Fri 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Reviews, Directions & More InfoNestled beneath an apartment complex just north of Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, Chocolatea is a quaint fusion café that is noodle joint/tea shop/sandwichery, all blended into a peaceful and yummy place to soothe your hunger pains. An inexpensive and original take on lunch food will keep you coming back for more… and more… and more…
Choice Budget Bite: You haven’t had a tuna melt until you’ve tried Chocolatea’s: fresh tuna salad, Granny Smith apples, crispy romaine and melted Swiss, accented with a kicky wasabi Mayo.
*Bonus Bite (or sip, in this case!): Chocolatea makes their Arnold Palmers with their own aromatic Earl Grey tea, instead of just the old standby. It’s a perfectly sweet herbal pick-me-up to complement your lunch bite of choice.
Hours: Mon to Fri 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.Endlessly delicious menu to please just about anyone? Check. Lunch and dinner? Check. Build-Your-Own-Burger? Check. A full meal for under twenty bucks? Check, check, check. On The Hill is one of the cheap-eater’s gem finds in the Bolton Hill neighborhood. It sits on a quiet street, but still manages to have a long line of eager diners waiting to gobble up a new treat off its imaginative menu.
Choice Budget Bite: OTH Club is one of the best turkey sandwiches in town, with generous, fresh ingredients all the way to the last bite.
*Bonus Bite: Two jumbo-sized, Vietnamese spring rolls for $3.99. We’ve seen them ordered as a meal, and we’re certainly not above yummy food for that price!
Hours: Daily 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.We’re sure you’d agree: this list wouldn’t be complete without a bangin’ pizza joint. Federal Hill favorite, Pub Dog, is just that. Plus– phenomenal booze to go along with it. Featuring a long list of out-of-the-box (literally) takes on ‘za, even the strangest palates can get their fix, for under ten bucks a pie. And if you can’t decide? Smash Dog Pizza: choose your two pies of choice, and have a hybrid of the two! Talk about a compromise.
Choice Budget Bite: The Wing Dog Pizza has us salivating over its smokey Gouda, spicy marinated Buffalo chicken and fresh green onions, settled nicely with a cool Ranch Dressing. More, please!
*Bonus Bite (a sip, yet again): Fresh beers brewed with puppy love, on site. And if you order two of a kind at the same time, it’s $4 for the whole lot. Something tells me we’re going to be here for a while.
Sophie Vinograd is a writer, editor, creative strategist, designer and wild foodie living and eating in Baltimore.