From a young age, chef and cafe owner Jasmine Norton was the adventurous eater in her loved ones. The almost lifelong Baltimore, Maryland resident commenced having raw oysters at 7 yrs aged, and she credits her father for often encouraging her to attempt new things.
By the time Jasmine was previous enough to get started earning dinner ideas with pals, it was clear to her that most of her pals ended up not up for sushi, uncooked oysters or any other kind of uncooked fish or seafood. Like any excellent visionary, Jasmine observed an possibility.
The thought for The Urban Oyster grew out of her appreciate of seafood, as well as a drive to stimulate African Americans to expand their palates. Jasmine understood that her good friends and family members were open to ingesting cooked seafood (a staple of any Marylander’s food plan), so she made the decision to satisfy them the place they were.
In 2016, she opened The Urban Oyster with the intention of marketing meals that the nearby community will consume. It really is the to start with female- and black-owned oyster bar in the United States. The principle took off swiftly, to the level that The Baltimore Sunshine nominated their cream of crab for Best Crab Soup. When Jasmine and her mom (and company lover) opened The Urban Burger Bar, they promptly received the Greatest Burger nomination.
Jasmine & Mom at The City Burger Bar — Photograph courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Irrespective of these accolades, Jasmine is a single of the most humble individuals you can expect to ever meet in the foods field. She’s just as likely to converse about her indigenous Baltimore as she is to boast of what she’s obtained in such a quick interval of time. From corner snowball stands to upscale eating establishments, these are her prime 10 most loved food stuff spots in Charm Metropolis.
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 arrive below on Sunday, you can probable see a line from the back of the market place area to the major entrance (where by Crust by Mack is situated). Individuals queue up for the crab pies, which usually promote out in 15 minutes or fewer.
Jasmine enjoys the crust as significantly as the filling. The pies are smooth and warm like a biscuit and flaky like a croissant, and they provide each sweet and savory solutions. Just after crab, the chicken meatballs marinara is the next most well known.
Co-proprietor Amanda Mack suggests feeding on her pies with both of those fingers. They reheat properly, but it’s generally very best to acquire advantage of the dining place and delight in them clean out of the oven.
Jasmine keeping a tofu brah at Ekiben Fells Point — Photograph courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Ekiben’s menu manages to go over a lot of the globe with just six buns and bowls. The Community Chicken is a nod to co-operator 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. Although the menu promises that the gradual-cooked lamb (Borrego) is the messiest, that’s sort of like asking what time of the calendar year is the most popular in Bangkok.
Jasmine prefers the bowls, which have the identical ingredients as the buns, but without the bun. The Fells Position location is like a revolving door, to the point wherever it’s tough to pose in entrance of the indication for an Instagram pic. If it’s your very first time, take into account hanging around and inquiring the people today in line what is superior (other than all the things!).
Ekiben also has a Hampden location.
The Food items Market place
Maryland crab soup with extra crab meat — Picture courtesy of Brian Cicioni
The Food Market place is 1 of the most popular dinner and Sunday brunch places together the bustling Hampden thoroughfare, known domestically as “The Avenue.” Seven times a 7 days, they serve contemporary American food items out of a former grocery store.
Jasmine will come below for the consolation food stuff, which can make up the the greater part of the menu. The French onion rings are her own preferred, but she also enjoys the lobster fingers and mozzarella sticks.
The hearty roasted beef shorter rib dinner is her go-to entrée. The easy and silky cream of crab soup topped with Outdated Bay is also well known. You can buy it with extra crab meat.
Gunther & Co.
Jasmine enjoys the pineapple upside down cake at Gunther & Co. — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Gunther & Co. is the most upscale of Jasmine’s best ten tips. In accordance to Norton, “It won’t appear like it belongs in Baltimore, but I am glad it is really below.”
Whilst she loves their spicy Thai seafood incredibly hot pot and the Alaskan cod with ramen, it is really the ambiance that pushes Gunther & Co. into her major 10. She’s also nuts about their (seasonal) pineapple upside down cake.
The desserts are manufactured in-residence by their devoted pastry chef, Jess, and each and every a single sounds more beautiful than the up coming. At any time tried out lemongrass ginger crème brûlée? Or blackberry and enthusiasm fruit pavlova?
Ice Queens Snowball Shop
Jasmine with Ice Queens owner, Dasia Kavia — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
For Jasmine Norton, no Baltimore food tour is comprehensive with no a snowball. Ice Queens is her particular most loved.
They make New Orleans-model snowballs, which is what the Baltimore variation is most normally compared to. According to Jasmine, snowballs really should be smooth you really should not have to chew the ice.
Out of the 50 diverse flavors, she prefers the egg custard, which is a community favored. They also have a dozen distinct combo flavors like candyland, mango tango and secret.
Lobster Regina is Jasmine’s go-to dish at La Scala — Photo courtesy of Brian Cicioni
There are a lot more than a dozen unique Italian restaurants and cafes in Small Italy, but Jasmine retains likely back again to La Scala. As a Baltimore indigenous, she’s been checking out the region because childhood.
Although the lobster Regina is her favourite dish, it’s not the to start with point she mentions when you deliver up La Scala. From the pleasant bartenders to the bocce court docket and total ambiance, even the most jaded of diners has to value this location. The overall ambiance is festive and welcoming. They even have a communal table, which is a rarity amongst present day Italian places to eat.
Never get as well fixated on the menu. They have everyday specials. Try out the branzino, which they fillet at your table. This is also a restaurant wherever you will not want to skip dessert. Their cannoli product is lighter than you can expect to find at most places.
Mi & Yu Noodle Bar
Fried Thai curry shrimp with ramen at Mi & Yu — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
This no-frills, quick-everyday local chain is Jasmine’s beloved noodle bar in Charm Town. She prefers the little, quaint Federal Hill place. Seize a seat by the window and enjoy the goings-on in one particular of Baltimore’s most appealing neighborhoods whilst you slurp your bowl of ramen or devour a messy bao.
Every noodle bowl is manufactured to order with your chosen 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 without the need of broth (mazemen), as properly as a 50 %-dozen various bao choices.
Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn
Jasmine holding a tricky shell crab at Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn — Image courtesy of Brian Cicioni
Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn has been serving Maryland’s messiest and most preferred seafood dish since 1956. They go on to thrive in an area replete with crab properties. Jasmine helps make the journey below (from Baltimore town to county) regularly to love her preferred difficult shell crabs.
She typically orders at the very least a dozen for herself. In accordance to Jasmine, “Maryland crabs ought to have a hint of sweetness. And they have to be cooked just right, with the suitable seasoning. If they are mushy, that usually means they are overcooked.”
In spite of Mr. Bill’s considerable, two-sided menu, most patrons appear right here for the difficult shell crabs. It truly is obvious when you enter, as the within smells like a mix of ocean and Outdated Bay. Crabs are not listed on the menu. Your server will come to your table and tells you the offered measurement(s) and the day’s marketplace rate for each pound.
Jasmine prefers the much larger types, but is prepared to settle for medium and earlier mentioned. According to her, “Their compact is much more like medium, and medium is far more like the significant ones you find in other places.”
The crabs are served with generous helpings of seasoning to the issue where you will not want to inquire for additional. But you can invest in seasoning to go. The salty, smoky and peppery blend also goes properly with guacamole, peanuts, popcorn or potatoes.
Tandav Indian Cuisine
Jasmine normally orders the salmon tikka masala with garlic naan — Photograph 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)
Although you is not going to obtain the salmon edition of Tandav’s most well-known dish in India, you can find no denying how effectively the creamy curry goes with their a bit crispy, clean-out-of-the-oven naan. Lamb roganjosh is their 2nd most well known dish.
The City Oyster
Jasmine with her father at The Urban Oyster — Photograph courtesy of Beck Stavely
This was Jasmine Norton’s to start with eatery. She commenced feeding on raw oysters all-around age seven, but located that perfectly into adulthood, most of her pals and household were continue to frightened to try out them. So she made the decision to meet them the place they were – with chargrilled oysters. And in 2016, The City Oyster was born.
Even though they do from time to time offer raw oysters, the menu is centered close to 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 have been Jasmine’s inspiration for her most current company venture, The Urban Burger Bar. There is some overlap among the two menus.