One of the great things about Baltimore is its variety of culture. It's a mini melting pot. As a result, there are tons of different ethnic restaurants, as well as foreign groceries, available for every Baltimoreans' enjoyment.
A great way to sample all that Baltimore has to offer is to pick one day each month, and go to a different ethnic restaurant to sample their food. This is not only a great way to find new foods to enjoy, but also a way to choose new recipes to add to a to-do list.
Some of the most popular ethnic foods in Baltimore are Greek, Italian, Polish, Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian (especially Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese). There are several more of course, but they have not yet been sampled by the Baltimore Ethnic Foods Examiner, so the focus will be on these.
1. Greek- Prima Foods in Greektown. The only place where one can be overwhelmed by the variety of olives. From spices (like Greek seasoning to make souvlaki), to lamb, to filo and pita, this place has everything one needs to make delicious Greek food. There are also some products for the local Bosnian and Croatian residents, as well as Turkish coffee. And don't forget that Prima has some of the best (and cheapest) mozzarella in the city, which can be used to make tasty burgers.
2. Italian- Di Pasquale's in Highlandtown. All the Italian meat and cheese you could ever need. A go-to spot for many Highlandtowners craving an awesome deli sandwich.
3. Polish- Krakus (Fells Point), Ostrowski's (Highlandtown), and My Polish Food Mart (Greektown). The choice between Krakus and Ostrowski's sausage seems to depend on where one grew up, but both have a great selection. Krakus also offers various Polish goods, handy for making non-sausage recipes. My Polish Food Mart is better for those who don't want to deal with Fell's Point parking, and also has a nice little selection of snacks.
4. Hispanic- Great Valu in Highlandtown. Due to Baltimore's growing Hispanic population, the Hispanic foods section of Great Valu has become one of the best places to buy ingredients, or even just great produce and snack foods. Pick up some Mexican cinnamon to make horchata or churros. Craving guacamole? The avocados are usually pretty great. Also, Great Valu is always expanding their miscellaneous foreign foods section, making it a great place to buy Greek, Turkish, and Indian ingredients as well. Look out for the sales on huge tins of olive oil, and the 2-for-1 sales on giant sacks of basmati rice.
5. Indian- Pavan Foods in Parkville. Voted one of the best Indian restaurants in Baltimore, Pavan foods is also a terrific place to buy Indian food ingredients. The amount of spices is overwhelming, and makes the market smell heavenly. So many flavors that the average American has never tasted. Definitely worth a try!
6. Middle Eastern- Koko Market in Greektown. This tiny little corner store is the Baltimore Ethnic Foods Examiner's favorite place to buy pita. It's super cheap and tasty. There's also a great variety of drinks, spices, frozen foods, snacks (like halva, which the manager introduced this Examiner to), and chickpeas for homemade hummus. It's also definitely worth mentioning that the people who work there are usually very smiley and friendly.
7. Miscellaneous Asian- H-Mart in Catonsville. A mecca for Asian food lovers. Ever wanted to get lost in a sea of soy sauce, kimchi, and rice choices? How about taste fruit that smells like stinky feet (a specialty in China and other parts of eastern Asia)? If so, this is a great place to visit. One can find Korean, Chinese (try making some won ton soup!), Japanese, and even some Indian and Thai ingredients here. Also, the snack food aisle is great for a giggle or for those with brave taste buds (shrimp chips, anyone?) For those with a sweet tooth, Kyoshin mochi are a great sugary snack.
Make the most of living in Baltimore and check out these (and the other) ethnic grocery stores to earn the bragging rights of being able to cook foreign foods!
Guacamole made from Great Valu avacados. Great Valu is one of the best places to buy produce in Baltimore. Don't forget to leave the pit in to keep it from turning brown!
Mochi is a common snack in many Asian countries. It's made with (sometimes flavored) rice flour, with a bean paste filling. This brand has a variety of flavors, such as strawberry and blueberry (both pictured here).
Souvlaki is the most typical street food in Greece. It is made with seasoned meat (chicken, pork, or lamb) stuffed into pita bread, and usually topped with onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki.
Beef burgers with a delcious caprese topping. Made with tomato and basil from Great Valu in Highlandtown, and mozzarella from Prima Foods.