Celebrating Baltimore's Culinary Traditions: Charlesmead
A few days ago I took a trip to Charlesmead pharmacy; truly, it was like taking a trip back in time. This North Baltimore pharmacy features an old-fashioned soda fountain that seems like its hardly changed a bit from the 1950s.
Growing up just over the county line in Rodgers Forge, I visited Charlesmead frequently. It was almost exactly as I remembered it, down to the white and pea-green tiled floor and the shiny chrome stools at the counter. There's even a banner above, proclaiming "FAX IS HERE." (Any bets on what year that was put up?)
The menu was pretty much the same, too. Charlesmead's specialty is simple comfort food like grilled cheese, peanut butter-and-jelly, soft pretzels, and egg-and-cheese bagels. Snowballs are still a Charlesmead favorite, as are old-fashioned milkshakes. A root beer float will run you $3.00, which has to be the cheapest one in town. And that's not the only thing that's cheap: cheeseburgers are $2.25, hamburgers are $2.00. I remember eating tuna fish sandwiches at Charlesmead, but I didn't see those on the menu (although egg and chicken salad were represented, just like your grandma would want them to be).
My sweet tooth is just as powerful as it was when I was a kid, so I loved seeing all the bins of candy that sit on the counter at Charlesmead. The old-fashioned choices like Squirrel Nut Zippers and Wax Lips are still there, along with Tootsie Roll Pops, Now And Laters, and other classic candy. I helped myself to a Cow Tale for 25 cents and enjoyed a seasonally-appropriate pumpkin milkshake, too. It was such fun to sit on the stools (No Spinning Allowed, according to the hand-lettered sign), sip my milkshake, and relive a little bit of my childhood.
The service at Charlesmead is always swift and personal; there was only one person working when I was there, and he had our food out lickety-split. It's such a fun place to take kids; the coloring books and small toys that line the aisle in back of the food counter have changed from the Ninja Turtles and Little Mermaids of my youth, but Charlesmead's remained just as charming as ever. If you're looking for a low-key spot to get a snack or a simple lunch, you should pay this sleepy spot a visit.
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