Pit Beef, Crabcakes, and Berger’s Cookies: Things I Ate in Baltimore This Weekend


Located underneath Interstate 70, Pioneer Pit Beef has a reputation of being the best pit beef joint in town.

This weekend I went to Baltimore to visit friends and relatives, but what started out as a quiet mini-vacation ended up as a full-scale eating binge. Here are some of the highlights…

The gravy fries by themselves justify a visit to Pioneer Pit Beef, which is located on the far west side of town.

Pit Beef is a Baltimore specialty that’s like a cross between Texas barbecue and Arby’s. Beef is roasted over a pit fueled by either oak or charcoal, and sliced to your order anything from rare to well-done. Pioneer, at your request, will slather on the Tiger Sauce, which is like a thin horseradish mayo.

The perfect Baltimore pit beef sandwich: juicy pink with a smoky, caramelized rim.

Even though he’s using an electric slicer, this guy’s slicing the beef thick.


The more commodious pit at Chap’s Pit Beef–which lies right next to a strip club on the East side of town–is also used for things like pork ribs, corned beef, and chicken breast, in addition to pit beef.

Chap’s pit beef sandwich is good, but not as good as Pioneer’s.

Mama’s on the Half Shell’s crab soup is another Baltimore specialty. The soup is loaded with crabmeat, and the broth is a fiery one chunked with tomatoes–suggesting the soup may be of Southern Italian origin. The oyster service is also superb, featuring meaty Chicoteague oysters from Virginia.

The 32nd Street Farmers’ Market in Baltimore is one of the best–though I found the sale of oranges, watermelons, and other produce not from around there to be a questionable feature.


Faidley’s anchors the Lexington Avenue Market on the west side of downtown, and is famous for its crabcakes, raw oysters, and chowders.

The raw oyster service at Faidley’s features optional sliced eggs.

The crabcake at Faidley’s is a huge dome of lump crabmeat deep fried.

Also in the Lexington Market–excellent large-bore garlic sausages from Polock Johnny’s.

For sale at Lexington Market: skinned “marsh rabbit” (translation, “musk rat”).

Hunan Taste is a new, reasonably authentic Hunan restaurant in Catonville, just to the west of Baltimore.

Garlic-gobbed cold cuke salad makes a superb appetizer.


Braised pork belly with preserved vegetables.

Baltimore row houses.


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