Fast Food – South Baltimore Style!

| August 7, 2012 | 12 Comments

I guess when you live in a place like South Baltimore, you tend to forget how cookie-cutter the rest of the country can be.  When reading the Baltimore Magazine Reader’s Poll results, I was taken aback to learn that Panera Bread won best bread and soup, Five Guys won best burger, Cold Stone Creamery won best ice cream, and Dunkin Donuts won best coffee.  I mean, these are all quality establishments, but they are national chains (…is the best burger really at a place where they don’t even ask you how you’d like it cooked?) Baltimore is known for its cuisine and enormous amount of restaurants and small businesses, so are we really voting national chains as the best of anything?  Come on people!

Another eyeopener is when I work a few times a year with a group in Canton and every time for lunch the decision seems to come down to Five Guys and Subway.  In a place like Canton with restaurants like Pasta Mista, Tutti Gusti, Canton Market,  nearby Chicken Rico, and more, it’s almost a sin to eat at either chain.

I have no choice, the people need me more than ever to give them recommendations on some of the great places to grab “fast food” – not traditional fast food that people are way to familiar with but local food that’s fast!


Ronnies Sub Shop: Ronnies is one of the few places that has survived the transition of South Baltimore.  Most old businesses have been replaced by shinier new ones, but Ronnies is not one of them.  If you’ve ever lived near Charles and Barney St., you know the legend of Ronnies’ breakfast.  Ronnies offers delicious platters and sandwiches that are hot, fresh, inexpensive and will melt in your mouth.  Last time I went I got the sausage, egg, cheese and hash browns sandwich. It was huge, it was good, and it was $3.16!

Sam’s Bagel Shop:  Sam’s offers bagels, muffins, sandwiches, fresh fruit and more as well as coffees, teas, fresh fruit drinks and more.  Sam’s is also a great place for lunch as you can add a variety of meats to their bagels, bread and pretzel rolls.  I recommend trying their jalapeno cheddar bagel or their turkey sandwich on the bagel of your choice.  As far as iced black tea, I think theirs is the best in the area.

Metropolitan:  By no means would I characterize Metropolitan as fast food, but you certainly can get out of there quickly for breakfast.  Metropolitan offers the same quality and variety in coffees and teas as they do with their extensive beer and wine lists.  You can grab a quick muffin or croissant, but definitely try one of their breakfast sandwiches with chorizo and their breakfast potatoes… yum!

Other Favorites:

Spoons Cafe: A delicious place to get coffee as well as breakfast and lunch.

Shoppers Food Warehouse:  Their colossal doughnuts are SO good.

Koba Cafe:  A great variety of coffee and smoothies as well as sandwiches and more.

Whetstone Grill: Open for many meals, but definitely try their breakfast sandwiches and potatoes.


HarborQue: HarborQue on Lawrence St. is one of those places that’s always on my mind.  Their Carolina-style pulled pork is so good that it melts in your mouth and you can taste it for the rest of the day.  This is one of my favorite spots for a lunch meeting because there is plenty of space, the food is quick, and you pay right away (avoiding the check song and dance at the end!)  You can make it a platter when you go there by adding two sides to one of their great sandwiches.  Corn bread, hush puppies, onion rings, cole slaw, fries… oh my!

Luckies:  If you love over-stuffed deli sandwiches than you have to try Luckies on Fort Ave.  Their subs are sliced right in front of you and come on a very fresh roll.  If you think a Five Dollar Footlong is a good deal then you have to try one of the subs at Luckies.  For less than $5 you can get a turkey sub with your choice of cajun, peppered, sun-dried tomato, or oven roasted cuts.  The quality and freshness is something you won’t ever get at a national chain, in my opinion.  Also try their american cold cut for less than $4 and don’t forget to get one of their large dill pickles for $.99.

Elvis: If you like Chipotle and Qdoba then pull it in for the real thing and try Elvis.  Elvis offers Tex-Mex style burritos, tacos, enchiladas, bowls, nachos and more.  Their meats, cheeses and tortillas are fresh, perfectly cooked and spiced just right.  Read more in our recent article.

Other Favorites: 

Cockey’s:  This Hollins Market restaurant offers great fresh sandwiches highlighted by the cheesesteaks and shrimp salad.  Read more in our recent article.

Lucky Fortune:  Their lunch specials come with a dish, rice, soup and choice of crab rangoon or egg roll.  It’s a lot of food and really good!  Also, make sure to say hello to the kids if they’re in there.

Sun Hing:  Another favorite Chinese place also on Light St.  Great lunch combos and they’ll toss it up right in front of you.

Baba’s: Great and quick Mediteranean food featuring kabobs, pitas, and hummus to die for. Also, don’t forget to BYOB for dinner!

Pop Taco:  Another great option for fresh Mexican tacos, burritos and more located in the Cross Street Market.

Beach Bums:  Started by the famous Taneytown Deli in Catonsville, this deli and ice cream shop offers enormous deli sandwich combinations and you can even put in on a pretzel roll (I’m obsessed – I know!)

Big Jim’s Deli:  There is always a crowd at this Cross Street Market favorite.  Overstuffed subs, corn beef and more offered at this deli with seating in the market.

Federal Hill Carryout:  A great variety of pizza, subs, salads, and platters.  Their Greek salad will fill you for days.

I hope that this list helps to highlight some of the great “fast food” in SoBo. Let us know some of your favorites!

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About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.