Nutritious Noshes In Charm City - Part One
We here at Baltimore Eats obviously love our food, and we definitely have a soft spot for trying all of the season’s best offerings, no matter what the season. So, juicy burgers, crispy fried chicken, and those deep fried soft shell crabs flanked by two slices of mayonnaise coated white bread are, without a doubt, on our list of summertime treats to enjoy. But we also know that savoring these summery favorites has to be paired with a healthy approach to dining as well.
For this reason, we bring to you our guide to some of the restaurants and resources in Charm City and beyond that provide diverse varieties of food and products for you to dine on at their place, or yours, that will make you feel good about what you are eating. We know that the word “healthy” means many things to many people and, for that reason, have included a wide array of options that cater to diners with required restricted diets and lifestyle choices that limit certain ingredients to the home cook looking to add more local meat and produce to her cooking, and everyone in between.
So, dive in to this guide faster than you would your local swimming pool to find out where and what to eat around town to nourish both your body and your love for food. When you embrace food from your own healthy, wholesome perspective we believe that, despite what Mom told you, you can both eat to live and live to eat. And who doesn’t like that?
Eating Healthy Around Town
In Baltimore, we are blessed with some naturally healthful food that is omnipresent in the form of crabs and other seafood. Additionally, certain popular cuisines just lend themselves to wholesome eating, like sushi. Some restaurants prepare dishes specifically for the health-conscious diner, like Aldo’s in Little Italy who prepares an Italian spice marinated and grilled airline chicken breast with the drumette, served with crispy fingerlings, or Donna’s who features a soup made with nutritious sweet potato and superfood kale.
Admittedly, though, it can be a challenge to find restaurants that meet individuals’ nutrition needs while fulfilling the craving for a certain type of cuisine, ambiance, or speed of preparation. Enter: This list of reliable restaurants serving up diverse cuisine within the city and elsewhere.
Nalley Fresh, http://www.nalleyfresh.com/locations.php, Locations in Baltimore, Towson and Hunt Valley
This new local eatery specializes in offering quick and healthful dining options including salads, wraps, and bowls. The concept is simple: choose a protein from fish to tofu to various preparations of beef, pork, or chicken, then choose a preparation in the form of the salad, wrap, or bowl, including some Asian and Mexican inspired preparations and... Voila! Lunch is ready. Could it be much easier?
Towson Hot Bagels, http://www.towsonhotbagels.com/, Locations in Canton, Timonium, and Towson
THB is not, by definition, a health food restaurant, but the owners keep a keen eye on what their customers want, ensuring they provide options for diners looking to eat outside the box. Simple changes to bagel sandwiches like “scooping and skinnying” can drastically reduce the amount of calories and carbohydrates in a dish, and there a handful of low fat options in their cream cheese varieties and salads (think: low fat chicken salad and low fat tuna salad). Egg whites are always an option for breakfast omelets and sandwiches, and the menu even offers a few sandwiches that have estimated “Points” (from the Weight Watchers program) published next to them. Finally, THB recently began serving gluten free bagels for those who cannot, or choose not to, eat gluten.
Land of Kush, http://landofkush.com/, Mt. Vernon
Stevie Wonder recently visited Baltimore and in his very short stay in Charm City he stopped in for a meal at Land of Kush not once, but twice. This is not unlike many of the diners who frequent this vegetarian soul food establishment. BBQ ribs (made with soy protein), eggplant parmesan (with house made vegan cheese), vegan spinach lasagna, and even a vegan crab cake made of Old Bay seasoned vegetable protein adorn this menu which proves that even if you’re an herbivore in Baltimore, you can have your (crab) cake, and eat it too.
Liquid Earth, http://liquidearth.com/, Fell’s Point
With a passion for using local and natural ingredients, and a dedication to reducing the processing of food to retain its nutritional quality, Liquid Earth is the place to go for vegan, vegetarian, and raw food followers alike (not to mention the rest of us, who just really enjoy wholesome meals). Sandwiches include vegetarian versions of anything from a Philly cheesesteak to a reuben, the juice list is inclusive of an extraordinarily wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and the raw food menu is just plain impressive. There’s a reason this Fell’s Point staple has been around since 1996 and remains as popular as ever.
One World Cafe, North Baltimore City (Near JHU)
This vegetarian and vegan cafe serves up snacks, soups, salads, and even full entrees to meet the needs of Baltimore’s veggie lovers, with a wide range of cuisines represented on the menu. Snack on pita and hummus or a big stack of nachos, nosh on an eggplant gyro or tofu club sandwich, or dive into some comforting baked mac and cheese or a crispy tofu curry. The soups are always changing, but each steamy one is a tasty and healthy way to start off your afternoon or end your evening.
Sweet Duke’s Vegan Bakery, http://sweetdukes.com/, See webpage for where to find products
Operating out of Mt. Washington, Sweet Duke’s Vegan Bakery aims to provide both sweet and savory options for the vegans of Charm City. Additionally, there are often gluten free items on the weekly menu. While the offerings do rotate, know that you can find the likes of cheddar-thyme biscuits, gluten free chocolate chip cookies, strawberry cream cheese danishes, and even croughnuts when you seek out Sweet Duke’s products where they are being sold locally.
Atwater’s, http://atwaters.biz/, Multiple locations in and around Baltimore City and County
Dedication to providing high quality cuisine using locally sourced meat, cheese, and produce is what makes Atwater’s an ideal choice for a healthy meal. Creative soups are packed with bright veggies and the perfect dash of spices while salads are dressed up with flecks of local cheeses and drizzles of housemade dressing. Balanced entrees feature protein like fish or meatloaf with accompaniments like grit cakes, buttered swiss chard, or pickled cabbage. Even the macaroni and cheese is good for you with a nutritious addition of butternut squash. And we know we’re trying to be healthy here, but it might be unforgivable to not mention Atwater’s new housemade ice cream and sundaes, already receiving kudos in publications around town. Everything in moderation...
Agora Market, http://www.theblackolive.com/Inn/Market.html, Fell’s Point
A small cafe on the first floor of the Inn at the Black Olive, Baltimore’s premier organic boutique hotel, Agora serves organic and biodynamically farmed food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While some of the salads, soups, and entrees are clearly Greek inspired, the kitchen also clearly embraces a variety of other flavors from traditional offerings like elevated tuna melts (chipotle mayo!), to Asian inspired options like the Spicy Thai Salad or Mexican bites such as guacamole or fajitas. There are multiple raw food options and juices that are available as well. And since we’re speaking of liquid goodness, it’s important to note that even Agora’s wine and liquor are all sourced with the same purpose of serving only organic and biodynamically farmed products. Don’t have time to sit down and dine? The cafe also has some products already prepared to go.
Sexy Vegie, http://www.sexyvegie.com/, Location changes daily
Offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free foods, Sexy Vegie is a food truck that operates in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. While this truck of tastiness seems to operate mainly in the Montgomery County area and into D.C., in Baltimore City the truck can be found at local food events, the most recent being the Taste of 3 Cities food truck event at M&T Bank Stadium on May 31. While the menu does rotate, expect to find sandwiches with riffs on meat products (think: meat free counterparts of chicken salad and pork), burgers made with vegetables or beans, and tons of flavor that comes from condiments like habanero chipotle aioli or toppings like apple cilantro slaw.
So, get out there and try some of the wholesome goodness that these restaurants are serving up, then chime in and let us know what you think!
In the meantime, we’ll be working on Part Two of this series to bring you a long list of local markets and other resources where you can source your prepared healthy food or find some of the highest quality local meat, produce, condiments and more so you can elevate your cooking and your health.