From a younger age, chef and restaurant proprietor Jasmine Norton was the adventurous eater in her spouse and children. The almost lifelong Baltimore, Maryland resident started off consuming raw oysters at seven years outdated, and she credits her father for usually encouraging her to try new things.
By the time Jasmine was outdated enough to begin producing supper designs with friends, it was evident to her that most of her close friends ended up not up for sushi, uncooked oysters or any other form of raw fish or seafood. Like any fantastic visionary, Jasmine observed an option.
The strategy for The Urban Oyster grew out of her adore of seafood, as well as a wish to encourage African Us citizens to extend their palates. Jasmine understood that her friends and spouse and children have been open to taking in cooked seafood (a staple of any Marylander’s diet), so she determined to meet them wherever they ended up.
In 2016, she opened The Urban Oyster with the intention of promoting foodstuff that the neighborhood neighborhood will consume. It truly is the very first woman- and black-owned oyster bar in the United States. The notion took off immediately, to the position that The Baltimore Sun nominated their cream of crab for Most effective Crab Soup. When Jasmine and her mom (and enterprise spouse) opened The City Burger Bar, they rapidly gained the Greatest Burger nomination.
Jasmine & Mother at The Urban Burger Bar — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Regardless of these accolades, Jasmine is one particular of the most humble people you can ever fulfill in the food stuff market. She’s just as very likely to communicate about her indigenous Baltimore as she is to boast of what she’s achieved in this sort of a quick period of time of time. From corner snowball stands to upscale eating establishments, these are her top rated ten favourite meals places in Charm City.
Crust by Mack
Crab pie from Crust by Mack — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Crust by Mack sells sweet and savory palm-sized pies out of the Whitehall Sector in Hampden. If you come in this article on Sunday, you can expect to probable see a line from the back again of the current market area to the major entrance (wherever Crust by Mack is positioned). People queue up for the crab pies, which frequently market out in 15 minutes or significantly less.
Jasmine enjoys the crust as a lot as the filling. The pies are smooth and warm like a biscuit and flaky like a croissant, and they provide the two sweet and savory alternatives. Just after crab, the rooster meatballs marinara is the second most well-known.
Co-proprietor Amanda Mack suggests having her pies with both hands. They reheat effectively, but it can be constantly very best to acquire edge of the dining region and take pleasure in them contemporary out of the oven.
Jasmine holding a tofu brah at Ekiben Fells Level — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Ekiben’s menu manages to include much of the globe with just 6 buns and bowls. The Community Chicken is a nod to co-owner Steve Chu’s Taiwanese heritage and present-day city of Baltimore. Jasmine prefers the Tofu Brah, with its spicy peanut sauce, which is a nod to Southeast Asian cooking.
The Deal with Box is southern-centric with crispy catfish and roasted garlic. When the menu promises that the slow-cooked lamb (Borrego) is the messiest, that’s variety of like asking what time of the year is the most popular in Bangkok.
Jasmine prefers the bowls, which have the very same elements as the buns, but without the bun. The Fells Position place is like a revolving doorway, to the issue exactly where it’s challenging to pose in entrance of the signal for an Instagram pic. If it really is your 1st time, take into consideration hanging all-around and inquiring the people in line what is good (other than anything!).
Ekiben also has a Hampden locale.
The Food stuff Sector
Maryland crab soup with added crab meat — Photograph courtesy of Brian Cicioni
The Food Industry is a person of the most popular meal and Sunday brunch places alongside the bustling Hampden thoroughfare, recognized regionally as “The Avenue.” 7 days a week, they serve modern-day American foodstuff out of a previous grocery store.
Jasmine will come in this article for the comfort and ease meals, which can make up the the vast majority of the menu. The French onion rings are her personal favored, but she also enjoys the lobster fingers and mozzarella sticks.
The hearty roasted beef brief rib meal is her go-to entrée. The sleek and silky cream of crab soup topped with Old Bay is also preferred. You can get it with additional crab meat.
Gunther & Co.
Jasmine loves the pineapple upside down cake at Gunther & Co. — Picture courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Gunther & Co. is the most upscale of Jasmine’s top rated ten tips. In accordance to Norton, “It doesn’t search like it belongs in Baltimore, but I’m glad it can be below.”
Though she loves their spicy Thai seafood scorching pot and the Alaskan cod with ramen, it is really the ambiance that pushes Gunther & Co. into her prime 10. She’s also nuts about their (seasonal) pineapple upside down cake.
The desserts are built in-home by their committed pastry chef, Jess, and every a single appears far more exquisite than the following. At any time tried using lemongrass ginger crème brûlée? Or blackberry and passion fruit pavlova?
Ice Queens Snowball Store
Jasmine with Ice Queens owner, Dasia Kavia — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
For Jasmine Norton, no Baltimore foods tour is complete without having a snowball. Ice Queens is her personal beloved.
They make New Orleans-design and style snowballs, which is what the Baltimore variation is most generally when compared to. In accordance to Jasmine, snowballs really should be clean you ought to not have to chew the ice.
Out of the 50 distinctive flavors, she prefers the egg custard, which is a area favorite. They also have a dozen diverse combo flavors like candyland, mango tango and mystery.
Lobster Regina is Jasmine’s go-to dish at La Scala — Picture courtesy of Brian Cicioni
There are much more than a dozen diverse Italian restaurants and cafes in Tiny Italy, but Jasmine keeps likely again to La Scala. As a Baltimore native, she’s been checking out the place considering that childhood.
Even though the lobster Regina is her favored dish, it truly is not the initially matter she mentions when you carry up La Scala. From the welcoming bartenders to the bocce courtroom and overall ambiance, even the most jaded of diners has to value this spot. The overall ambiance is festive and welcoming. They even have a communal desk, which is a rarity among the present day Italian dining places.
You should not get also fixated on the menu. They have day-to-day specials. Try the branzino, which they fillet at your desk. This is also a restaurant exactly where you will not want to skip dessert. Their cannoli cream is lighter than you are going to find at most places.
Mi & Yu Noodle Bar
Fried Thai curry shrimp with ramen at Mi & Yu — Picture courtesy of Brian Cicioni
This no-frills, speedy-casual neighborhood chain is Jasmine’s favourite noodle bar in Attraction City. She prefers the compact, quaint Federal Hill spot. Grab a seat by the window and view the goings-on in one particular of Baltimore’s most fascinating neighborhoods though you slurp your bowl of ramen or devour a messy bao.
Every noodle bowl is created to get with your preferred noodles, protein and broth. Jasmine goes for the fried Thai curry shrimp with ramen noodles in the savory Filipino adobo duck broth. Mi & Yu also has noodle bowls with out broth (mazemen), as perfectly as a fifty percent-dozen diverse bao options.
Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn
Jasmine keeping a hard shell crab at Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn — Photograph courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn has been serving Maryland’s messiest and most popular seafood dish because 1956. They keep on to prosper in an area replete with crab houses. Jasmine makes the journey listed here (from Baltimore city to county) frequently to appreciate her preferred tricky shell crabs.
She normally orders at the very least a dozen for herself. In accordance to Jasmine, “Maryland crabs need to have a trace of sweetness. And they have to be cooked just ideal, with the appropriate seasoning. If they are mushy, that usually means they are overcooked.”
Even with Mr. Bill’s comprehensive, two-sided menu, most patrons come right here for the tricky shell crabs. It can be apparent when you enter, as the within smells like a mix of ocean and Outdated Bay. Crabs are not shown on the menu. Your server comes to your table and tells you the offered measurement(s) and the day’s current market price tag for every pound.
Jasmine prefers the larger sized types, but is keen to settle for medium and higher than. According to her, “Their little is extra like medium, and medium is a lot more like the big types you obtain somewhere else.”
The crabs are served with generous helpings of seasoning to the issue wherever you is not going to require to talk to for excess. But you can get seasoning to go. The salty, smoky and peppery blend also goes properly with guacamole, peanuts, popcorn or potatoes.
Tandav Indian Cuisine
Jasmine usually orders the salmon tikka masala with garlic naan — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Jasmine suggests any of Tandav‘s tikka masala dishes, but she prefers the salmon, which she enjoys combining with the garlic naan (kulcha on their menu)
Whilst you is not going to locate the salmon edition of Tandav’s most popular dish in India, there’s no denying how properly the creamy curry goes with their somewhat crispy, contemporary-out-of-the-oven naan. Lamb roganjosh is their next most well known dish.
The City Oyster
Jasmine with her father at The Urban Oyster — Picture courtesy of Beck Stavely
This was Jasmine Norton’s initial eatery. She begun taking in raw oysters around age seven, but uncovered that properly into adulthood, most of her friends and family have been nonetheless concerned to consider them. So she determined to meet them in which they ended up – with chargrilled oysters. And in 2016, The Urban Oyster was born.
Although they do in some cases sell uncooked oysters, the menu is centered all-around quirky oyster combos like Cheese Louise, Volcano Oy, and BBC (which stands for bacon, BBQ, cheddar). They also serve fried oysters, oyster tacos and other seafood combos.
And then there are the Maryland-centric burgers, which ended up Jasmine’s inspiration for her most up-to-date business enterprise enterprise, The City Burger Bar. There is some overlap among the two menus.