In recent years, Baltimore has become a not-so-secret culinary destination. Neighborhoods such as Remington, Hampden, Fells Point and Canton have become foodie hot spots with restaurants spanning international flavors. In 2015, Zagat named Baltimore the United States’ No. 2 food city.
So it’s only natural that the kosher food scene would mirror what’s happening in the nonkosher food scene. As you’ll read in this week’s cover story, a more diverse, gourmet crop of kosher restaurants has popped up in recent years.
With places like Serengeti and the Van Gough Café, among others, caterers such as Bracha Shor that cook up an eclectic selection of international foods, kosher “bacon” from Chaim Silverburg and kosher beef jerky from Aufschnitt Meats, kosher members of Baltimore’s Jewish community certainly have more varied options than they used to.
Local mashgiach Pesachya Neuman says the change is due to a younger, more modern group of professionals who came to Baltimore for education and jobs and stayed. And they don’t mind spending a little more on a good bite to eat. “The scene in Pikesville used to be a yeshiva town,” he said.
Another mashgiach, Michael Glaser, asks why kosher food can’t be as good an nonkosher food.
“Until recently, no one had any desire to make the kosher food any better because everything was good enough. But with the huge amount of people coming here from other cities, people’s tastes have changed. People moving in here who are professionals — doctors, lawyers, CPAs — are saying, ‘I want to eat good, I want something special,’” he told the JT.
And something special they’ve gotten. As the community has evolved, it’s only natural that the businesses in it, including the restaurants, have evolved to serve that ever-growing population. This new trend represents not only an opportunity for businesses, but also an opportunity for Baltimore to retain this new population of professionals.
It speaks highly of Baltimore and the Jewish community that it can adapt to the demands of its changing population. You see this reflected not only in the food scene, but also in synagogues, which cater to all levels of observance, philanthropic and charitable organizations and educational opportunities.
All of these things are critical to maintaining a vibrant community that grows more vibrant by the day. While a large community, Baltimore is a small town in the way everyone seems to know everyone else. It’s that connectivity that ensures that the expanding population’s needs are met. Purveyors of kosher food have clearly responded.
And to that I say, let’s eat!