September 12, 2018

Candy as Running Fuel? {My Top 4 Favorites}


Disclosure: The products from Goetzes were received complimentary to review and share. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.


As I mentioned in my last post (all about my favorite runner recovery tools!) I am just finishing up training for my 7th marathon. So many questions. How did this happen? I guess I really am a marathoner instead of a person who ran a couple marathons now? Don’t you get hungry on long run. The answer to that last question is definitely yes. I usually always eat a little something before long runs and practice fueling so my body is used to what’s going to be happening on race day. Typically I don’t eat during runs if my run is less than 75 minute-ish. I do fuel more on race day than I do in training runs too. I’m a fan of Honey Stinger Ginsting gels (like caffeinated honey in a packet), Huma gels, and GU gels. I do take some chews on middle distance runs or half marathons. In a pinch though, I always turn to adding some candy into my fueling. Or taking a Ziploc bag of Swedish Fish with me on a 13 mile run. It’s kind of an excuse to indulge my sweet tooth, but also is pure sugar running fuel.  


For marathoners, it is recommended to intake 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour, depending on his or her speed and size. Carbohydrate gels like the ones I mentioned I use or even Sports Beans contain between 20-25 grams of carbohydrate per packet. If you look at some of these candies, they contain 20-27 grams of carbohydrate per serving as well.

mini Cow Tales vs. Birthday Cake GU

This is really talking about marathon distance over other distances. Fully carb loaded, your body can only store about 60-90 minutes of carbohydrates. For more information on marathon fueling check out this awesome post via Charm City Run’s blog. Typically you only need to fuel. Anyways, you want some fast, pure sugar coursing through your veins fast so why not turn to candy. This article from Runner’s World does a nice job of explaining the pros and cons of using candy as fuel.  

Pros of Using Candy as a Fuel

-It is delicious
-Candy is cheaper than most running fuel.
-Candy can be bought at any convenience store, drug store, etc.
-It’s sugar.

Cons of Using Candy as Fuel

-Some studies show that taking in more than one type of sugar carbohydrate can speed absorption and lower chances of GI issues
-It doesn’t include any electrolytes or caffeine like many of the running fuels do.
-Most candy contains artificial colors and preservatives which aren’t the healthiest/best for you and may cause GI distress.

So I’d say try it for yourself. It’s a nice way to switch up fueling for a run or if you happen to find yourself without fancier running fuel on you. Again, I love candy as a supplement to my gels for longer distances, something to eat before an afternoon/evening run or to eat during a middle distance run. 


These 4 candies are my favorite running fuel candy options which are tried and true for me. Again, always test any new fueling out to see if your body tolerates it during a training run :) 

1 . Swedish Fish

First of all I love Swedish Fish period. They are a little chewy, with that delicious strawberryish flavor. They don’t take a lot of chew when I’m on the run and also don’t melt a ton. Unfortunately for any other time but fortunately for running, you only need a handful to make a serving so there isn’t a ton of candy you need to consume at once.

2. Gummy Bears

Another delicious candy. This option is great because you can bring one serving which is usually somewhere between 12-17 bears give or take (depending on brand) so you have lots of little bites of sugar. With gummy bears you also get a few different flavors in each handful.They can get gooey or involve a lot of chewing, so they aren’t always the best mid-run option.

3. Cow Tales

Caramels with a little creamy center. These do have some milk ingredients in the cream which can be iffy when choosing candy as fueling because the fat can cause GI issues plus is slower digesting-they are also wheat-based if you have any allergies. Popping a few of these in my mouth before a run hasn’t been a problem for me so far with my already very sensitive stomach (hasn’t made anything worse) so I’d say as with anything, try it and see how your body likes it.

These are individually wrapped and don’t melt which is a plus. I used to eat these all the time as a kid and love how chewy and delicious they are. Goetze's Candy , which I found out was a Maryland-based company, was nice enough to send me some Caramel Creams and mini Cow Tales since I’m such a sweet tooth. Let’s just saw these did not last very long, with and without running!

4. Twizzlers

Twizzlers are a weird strawberry chewy candy that I happen to like. They cemented themselves as a great running candy when I grabbed a few from a stranger during the Boston Marathon at one of the middle miles when I was freezing cold, soaking wet, and candy seemed like a good idea. Despite it being a monsoon, Twizzlers do not get gross when wet! It was also something that was easy to hold and take a few bites out with while running. I was actually snacking on a serving of them before a couple afternoon workouts last week!


Do you use any nontraditional or runner-specific fueling options?



September 10, 2018

My Favorite Recovery Tools for Runners


Disclosure: The products from The Stick, NOW Foods, and Moji were received complimentary to review and share. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s been 7 years since I started training for my first ever 5K, and now at the end of the week I will be running my 7th marathon. There’s a lot of miles in there which means a lot of sore muscles. Runners will try everything to get rid of soreness and prevent injury. While I don’t always use them as much as I should, I do have a whole basket full of various foam rollers and recovery devices that I have acquired over the years. If you have heard about foam rolling or maybe even purchased one but don’t know how to use it, I love this article on foam-rolling from Runner’s World showing you how to use a roller for different muscles with videos so you can see exactly what to do. Since we are entering the start of fall racing season, it is a good time to talk about my favorite recovery tools. Don’t be like me, and DO YOUR PREHAB and foam roll often! I have linked these products, but most of these can be found on Amazon or at your local running store.

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1 . The Stick, price varies

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The Stick is a classic massage tool that has been around since 1988. I bought a travel stick years ago and also received a full-size version when I was at the Runner’s World Half & Festival last year. It’s made of a flexible plastic and has a rod with spindles that roll over the muscles to release myofascial and inactivate trigger points. You can read more about how it works here.

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I really like using mine for my constantly tight calves, but it can be used all over the body. It also is waterproof and can be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning/sanitizing which is a cool feature. The only downside of The Stick is that some of the longer versions may be too big to fit into a bag for travel or taking places. I own the fuchsia Sprinter Stick which is a firmer, shorter stick that is great for legs (which is mainly what I use it for!) and retails for $34.95.

2. Moji Foot Massager Pro, $39.95

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Any photos with my foot looked weird, so this is all you get!
I have been using the Moji Foot Massager Pro since I received a complimentary one from Moji after trying it at the Chicago Marathon expo in 2016. These are also a hot item at Charm City Run, and I have sold many to people after they tried it out in store. Sure you can use a lacrosse or tennis ball to roll your feet, but the Moji Foot Massager Pro is a totally upgraded experience and worth the price. It has high-tech stainless steel balls which you roll your foot over to break up scar tissue and dig into your foot muscles. 

Having all the small spheres really massages your whole entire foot with you controlling the pressure. People suffering from Plantar Fasciitis or foot pain really like this tool! One of my favorite parts is that I keep mine in the freezer for an icy massage, and pop it out every so often to roll my feet over it while I’m sitting at my computer. It feels AMAZING. 

3. R8 from ROLL Recovery, $129.00

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The R8 is that thing that looks like a torture device. It is actually a magical recovery tool that gives your muscles a deep tissue massage. I can’t afford a massage every month so this was a good investment. It is expensive (ask for it as a gift, maybe?), but it WORKS. I love deep pressure, but if you are not a fan of that this may take some getting used to. It is TSA-approved (although you might get some questions) and a registered medical device made with stainless steel hardware and soft TPU. Again it can reduce inflammation and really provide myofascial release. I have the older version, but now there is a newer, updated version. 
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I place the R8 parallel to my legs and then flip it down so it gets pressure along all sides. You can use it sitting, standing, or laying down.  I like this because I am not rolling around on the floor doing work, rather the R8 is doing all the work, and I am just guiding it along my tight muscles. It hurts so good.

4. NOW® Solutions Joint & Muscle Cream, $14.99 (also available on Amazon!)

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This is a newer addition to my recovery arsenal. The NOW® Solutions Joint & Muscle Cream was in my goodie bag from my trip to the NOW Foods headquarters in May. It is made for active individuals to use topically around active joints and muscles. The cream is not super thick and contains Glucosamine (found in joint cartilage and used to keep joints healthy as a supplement) along with Boswellia, Capsacin, and natural Methyl Salicylate for skin care. 

My chemistry background comes out now because capsaicin is a chili pepper extract which has pain-relieving properties and makes this cream feel similar to icy hot. That being said, WARNING: do not apply this cream to your legs and then touch your eyes or face. The hot feeling does last a long time also so be warned, but it does make my sore legs feel nice. NOW® Solutions Joint & Muscle Cream is a great affordable and natural product for runners.

5. The Original Worm, $24.00 or $32.00 based on size

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The Original Worm is a portable massager that is a mash up between a foam roller and therapy balls. It’s a neoprene case surrounding 4 rubber balls (and looks like a worm!). This also release trigger points and can give you full-body therapeutic relief. 

While the Original Worm is great for legs and feet as well, I mostly use this for my back pain and neck pain. It’s similar to using lacrosse balls but more stable if I use it against a wall for my shoulders and low back. It also is a great release if I place it under my neck with a yoga block or pillow for my head. The biggest plus to this is that it’s super portable and smaller so it’s great for travel and is what I find throwing into my bag most for a weekend trip.

6. MojiHeat Massage Roller, $69.99

moji-heat-massager-run-recovery-1

Moji makes another appearance on this list with my most recent recovery tool addition of the MojiHeat massage Roller. When Moji reached out about me reviewing this I was excited because of how much I like the Moji Foot Massager Pro, but was skeptical that this would be another unnecessary variation on a roller. This roller is denser, weighing 3 lbs and 13" long, with a textured outside and combines massage therapy with heat therapy. 

moji-heat-massager-run-recovery-2

This roller comes apart into two pieces which then are popped into your microwave for 3 minutes. Once your massage roller is heated you twist it back together into one piece and use like a regular massage roller except you are receiving the therapeutic benefits of heat (which is great for recovery). It's made for larger muscle relief but just half could be used for ease when travelling. When I first used this and took it out of the microwave it didn’t feel very warm, but once I started using it I realized it was heating a little bit more after the microwave and felt AMAZING on my legs. The MojiHeat massage roller will hold heat for up to 30 minutes. Especially in the winter, I see myself reaching for the MojiHeat Massage Roller more often for recovery or even as a way to warm up my muscles before a chilly run!

What is your favorite recovery tool? Do you use a foam roller or massage roller?

This post was linked up with the Weekly Wrap hosted by Hoho Runs and Taking the Long Way Home

August 15, 2018

Copper Mug Cocktails feat. the Dockside Mule Recipe

Disclosure: I was sent 2 mugs complimentary of Moscow Muled in exchange for a review without any other compensation. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Summertime for me is sunshine, hanging out on someones rooftop deck or patio, my toes in the sand, ice cream on a hot day, sweaty runs, and a cold drink in my hand. Between Moscow Mules and Palomas, I am set for summer. Moscow Mules are the perfect summer drink with refreshing ginger beer and lime juice, and my boyfriend makes them all the time.  I even drink them with a little club soda instead of vodka for a delicious mocktail version. You can even make a hydrating Moscow mule version with Nuun Hydration! The one thing missing from my summer cocktails was a fancy copper mug set. 

That's why I was really excited when Jessica from Moscow Muled reached out about trying out their copper mugs. Besides being a fan a of cocktails, I am a fan of small businesses and especially ones involving ladies! Jessica and her partner couldn't find any high-quality nickel-lined copper mugs that they liked so they made their own as part of a side passion project. 

These beautiful 16 ounce copper mugs  (which retail for $12.50 each) are made of 100% pure high-grade and food-safe copper and are lined with nickel. This provides important health and functional benefits because copper is a heavy metal that can react with acidic fluids (such as citrus juices such as lime juice in a Moscow Mule) and can cause copper to leach into the the drink. This is sometime I never would have thought about when buying my own mugs! The nickel lining not only prevents unintentional copper ingestion, but also increases the strength and durability of the mug because copper is a soft metal than can be damaged with repeated use.



Copper mugs are traditional for mules and similar cocktails in bars which not only look nice but also actually keep drinks cold because the copper transfers for the temperature of the drink to the mug itself. I don't really have time for cleaning, but these mugs are easy to clean by just gently hand-washing and drying right away. Like any copper, these mugs will develop a patina over time, but Moscow Muled also includes directions for keeping their mugs shiny and removing any patina, if that is what you prefer. 


As I mentioned previously, I love a cold Moscow Mule on a summer afternoon or evening. Here is a classic Moscow Mule recipe that came with the copper mugs that I tested out.  It's easy and delicious to make! 

Ultimate Moscow Mule Recipe




Of course I was excited to come up with my own copper mug cocktail. I wanted to keep it refreshing so I decided to make a version of a mule with one of my favorite juices from Gundalow Juice. Their Dockside Sunrise juice is a blend of juices including pineapple, ginger, and even a touch of jalapeno which gives this drink some tartness and a little kick! I also happen to be a fan of Tito's vodka but you can substitute whatever your vodka of choice is. If you do not have any Dockside Sunrise on hand using regular pineapple juice with the ginger beer instead of club soda would be a close match.  

dockside mule recipe



I think I know what my new drink of choice will be as the summer winds down! 



Moscow Muled can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @moscowmuled. More information on their copper mugs and ordering information is available on their website

What is your favorite summertime cocktail or mocktail? 

August 14, 2018

Berlin Marathon Training Recap #2 (Weeks #6-9)

Summer has been flying by which means so has marathon training. Like I mentioned in my first Berlin Marathon training recap, my mileage has still been lower than my 2015 and 2016 training cycles. I've gotten all of my hotels booked and figured out all my travel for getting to Berlin for the race as well as a return flight home out of Munich. I think my mileage has moved up safely and steadily, but having a nice base for marathon training since Boston has helped too. Here's how the past few weeks of training have been going for the 2018 Berlin Marathon. 


berlin-marathon-training-2018-recap-2

Week 6
Week 6 was a lower mileage week than I wanted, but I was able to get in a solid 12 mile long run with 3 miles at marathon race pace which felt good. However on that long run I had some GI issues so I had to take a bathroom break and had some miles that were a struggle. Because of my schedule I ended up doing my long run on Thursday which felt weird. I have been really trying this cycle to make my easy miles at an easy pace, keeping it nice and slow. 

Post-long run acai bowls are always a good idea

Week 7
This week I hit over 40 miles for the first time during training.  I did another long run this week with my friend Lizzy who is training for her first full marathon so that made many of the miles on my 17 mile long run fly by! I also got in a solid tempo run on the treadmill this week along with a HIIT class. I actually have done at least one run a week on the treadmill if it's shorter because of thunderstorms or humidity and heat. I don't mind getting through a tempo run on the treadmill if I can watch Netflix on my phone!

Netflix and treadmill. 
Because of coaching I ended up doing over 9 slow miles the day after my long run which adds some extra training on tired legs for sure. 

Week 8
Week 8 included another over 9 mile run on Saturday, the day after my long run. It was nice to get in another Friday long run with Lizzy while I still was not working full-time yet. This week was really humid so my long run and Saturday run felt swampy and rough.

Drenched post-run feels
I was happy to also get in some true cross-training this week including some lifting as well as a jumping fitness class that uses small trampolines at Movement Lab. It's kind of like dancing and jumping to the beat of music on trampolines and is SO much fun!   

Week 9
Week 9 was just under 40 miles agin. I had to cut my speed workout short this week due to dehydration and feeling really overheated. I'd rather be safe than sorry. I also got in another tempo treadmill workout and some recovery miles while coaching my training group on Saturday. 
Post-drenched foot selfie, because my selfie of me looking like a wet dog no one needs to see! 
Friday I did my long run but because I had a race at night I decided to do it in 2 parts with a 25 minute drive in between. I ran 9 on the treadmill at ~9:14/mi which was mentally tough and then literally changed my shirt and drove to the Sneaks Come Out at Night 15K sponsored by Back on my Feet Baltimore. I started the race too fast throwing in some sub-8 miles and slowed down to just over 8 minutes/mile by the end because on my 3rd 5K loop (for the 15K runners did 3 loops), there was a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. The rain got into my eyes and messed up my contacts plus was just some driving rain. Luckily my mantra for rain that isn't cold is, "at least it's not like the 2018 Boston Marathon"! After the race and 18 total miles I was toast so I came home to a hot shower, cold beer, and pizza for dinner. 

Highs
For most of my long runs I have been using my Ultimate Directions Hydration Vesta (full review here). It has been a great hydration pack choice after I was getting frustrated with my waist hydration belt and my other options for carrying water which is a necessity during long runs in Baltimore in the summer.


 It is hard to do my own marathon training when I am coaching at Charm City Run, my local running store, especially because my group meets on Saturday mornings. It was nice to get in most of my long runs done before the weekend so that they didn't have to be interrupted or broken up. 

Lows
I have been slacking on doing my glute and hip exercises as well as foam-rolling more (story of every runner's life?) . I think instead of nebulously saying that I should do recovery work that I need to pick an actual day and make it part of my schedule. I am thinking maybe Mondays. I also need to keep drinking water because of this heat and humidity. Being dehydrated for runs already sets me up for a terrible run. 

You can follow along with my marathon training on social media with my hashtag #breathedeeplyandrunberlin . 

Are you training for any races or events? How do you deal with training during the summer? 

July 31, 2018

Gear Review: Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0


Disclaimer: I purchased this Ultimate Directions vest on my own-this is not a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

As a running coach and marathoner, I often am asked about hydration belts, bottles, and vests. I trained for and ran my first two marathons with a Fuelbelt hydration belt with 2 small bottles (that I picked up at a Marshalls on sale). I was never a fan of it, but it seemed to be an okay solution to carrying water on the course. My 3rd marathon, I ran with a handheld water bottle. For my 4th through 6th marathons I haven’t carried water on the course, but have relied on the on-course water stations. With big marathons such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston there are so many water stations that it is easy to not carry any hydration gear with me if the weather is not hot.

The problem has been training in Baltimore hot & humid summers for long distance races. I have been using a Flipbelt with a water bottle or this Peak Hydration Nathan pack for training. I tried a Camelbak on a couple runs a few summers ago and did not like all the sloshing as well as cleaning out the bladder. This summer anything on my waist has been really annoying me. That fact, plus toying around with the idea of running a 50K later this Fall, I decided to start looking into purchasing a hydration vest with bottles.

After much deliberation, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0 which I found on sale for under $80 (it retails for $114.95). This isn't a sponsored post, I am just sharing my thoughts on the vest because I've gotten a some questions about it. I chose it because it has two bottles that sit up front on the chest, it’s lightweight, and it had good reviews. I ran with the Race Vesta for the first time and had not properly watched the videos on how to adjust it so it bounced a lot. Since properly adjusting it, it has minimal bounce and is my new go-to long run gear.  Here’s an overview and my thoughts on the Ultimate Direction Race Vesta 4.0.
gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4

Overall

(All information via Ultimate Direction
-Available in two sizes: XS/SM, MD/LG (I bought the XS/SM version)
-Available in two colors: pink or blue
-MSRP: $114.95
-Materials: 4-way stretch woven mesh, 30D coated nylon ripstop, micromono mesh, and 150g flex mono mesh.
-Includes (2) BodyBottles 500s (500 mL soft bottles)
-Volume Capacity: 494.29 in/ 8.1 L
-Weight: With Bottles-9.56 oz. / 271 g ; Without Bottles-6.1 oz. / 173 g

gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4_1
According to Ultimate Direction, the women’s Vesta differs from the men’s Vesta in that it has a different configuration for pole attachment, is compatible with a 2L hydration bladder, includes two zippered pockets instead of stash pockets on the bottle pockets.  
This vest is one of the more lightweight hydration vests from Ultimate Direction, with larger vests including the Ultra and Adventure Vestas.

Features

-Sliding Rail Sternum Straps (adjustable!)
-Extensive Front Storage (2 zippered and 2 bottle pockets)
-Trekking pole holders
-Comfort Cinch TM Technology

gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4_back

The Good

I love how lightweight the vest is. It doesn’t add a lot of bulk and feels really breathable on the run. The fabric is really stretchy too so the vest fits well to my body and feels like it moves with me. I have never used soft bottles before but like them so far. From the placement of the bottle pockets on the front, I am able to use the bite valve on the bottles to drink easily without removing the bottles from the vest.  The bottles in the bottle pockets sit right above “the girls” and feel comfortable and aren’t right up in my face when I’m running either.
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I have been using the zippered storage pockets for my gels and fuel as well as my debit card.  I love that the zippers mean everything is nice and secure. The fabric of the vest is stretchy so I can even fit my Samsung Galaxy S9 phone in one of the zippered pockets, but prefer to have it more easily accessible in one of the bottle pockets. I’ve been running with one of the bottles filled with water and Nuun Hydration in one of the bottle pockets along with an extra bottle filled with plain water in the large back compartment that I can switch out. Since I have been using this for running, I cannot speak to the trekking pole holders.

I love that the vest is easily cinched with the shock cords on the top and bottom in the back. On my first run with it, I did not pull the bottom shock cords tight enough and really tighten up the cords in the back to stop most of the bouncing. Once I adjusted it properly, the vest and bottles bounced barely at all.

gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4-cinch


The fact that you can move the placement of the sternum straps up and down is awesome. I am 5’4” and bought the XS/SM size based on the sizing chart and did not adjust the sternum straps from their original placement.

gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4-straps

The Bad

I love the light pink and blue color options, generally speaking but always worry about gear getting dirty. After a handful of runs, I already have a dirt spot on the front of my vest. Sure, it’s easy enough to just throw the vest in the wash to clean it, but I would appreciate a gray color option as well.

As I mentioned, the pack is really stretchy. I haven’t tried to use a hydration bladder in it yet, but have been putting a filled water bottle, extra gels, or something like a light rain coat in the large back compartment. The large compartment doesn’t have any extra support on the bottom so I’m not sure how heavy it would feel if I loaded up the back compartment for a longer race and am worried it might wear out the fabric quickly due to the sagging strain on it.

gear-review-ultimate-direction-race-vesta-4-back-pocket

One last nit-picky detail is that in the right side bottle pocket there is also an emergency whistle which has its own little pocket. It sometimes comes out of the pocket and bounces around which can be annoying. I wish it was just a bit more securely fastened in the pocket.

Takeaway

I think the Ultimate Direction RaceVesta 4.0  is a great, lightweight option for marathoners or ultra marathoners who want a hands-free way to carry a smaller amount of fuel and gear during training runs or for a race. It’s a great option for ladies like me who need to do some longer runs with just the essentials-phone, fuel, and hydration.

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Do you use any sort of hydration belt or vest? How do you carry your gear with you on longer runs? 

July 19, 2018

Your Definitive Guide to Baltimore’s Foodie Scene Gems

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Lemonade or any of the aforementioned establishments. I collaborated on the article with Lemonade, and as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When Lemonade insurance company reached out to me asking for my foodie recommendations for an article, of course I said yes! I love eating my way through Baltimore, trying new restaurants, and sharing my recommendations with others. I not only stand by my recommendations, but also agree with all the other recommendations from the other bloggers in the article so I thought I would share. There is a great mix of types of food, parts of the city, as well as price ranges in the article. Let me which of these spots is your favorite or you want to check out!

Your Definitive Guide to Baltimore’s Foodie Scene
We go beyond the crab to help you discover local foodie gems


Baltimore, or “Bawlmer,” (if you’re a true local) is standing up to its nickname, Charm City. So charming, that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner after he witnessed the British defeat at the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814. That charming.


The city is a hotbed of history and as it’s perfectly located between DC and Philly, it’s not to be missed. Next time you’re driving down the I-95 consider stopping for a walk around the Inner Harbor, or a trip to the Fort McHenry National Monument (aka, where Francis Scott Key wrote the U.S. national anthem).


But we’re here to prioritize the real reason you should get yourself to Baltimore: the food.


Here are the best of the best spots to grab some grub in Charm City, fit for your every craving.


Breakfast for champions:
Baltimore blogger Lauren of “Breathe Deeply And Smile” points us to Blue Moon Cafe. With two locations in the city, it couldn’t be easier to get your hands on, wait for it, the Captain Crunch French Toast. This is the definition of comfort food, American style, and it’s brought in travelers from around the nation. Other notable mentions on the menu: ginormous cinnamon buns and “Sweet Baby Jesus,” made up of fried hash browns, chunky crab-meat, cheese, tomatoes, and eggs all covered in hollandaise sauce.  Food coma, anyone?
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The giant cinnamon roll at Blue Moon Cafe are made for sharing! (photo by me)
Brunch for late risers:
Baltimore entrepreneur and fitness guru Kate Rowe steers us to Sobo Cafe, a cozy, intimate neighborhood restaurant in Federal Hill. All of their food, breads, and desserts are prepared fresh, from scratch, using seasonal ingredients. Local is the name of the game. It’s a great break from the Inner Harbor area, so go for their everyday specials - from chicken pot pie to mac and cheese and some great vegan dishes!


Something-for-everyone food court
Putting a food court on a foodie guide is painful, but when it’s good, it’s good. And R House is a smorgasbord of cuisines that is simply delicious. The surroundings set the tone: an industrial-chic food hall in a former body shop with roll-up garage doors will greet your hungry faces. Seating 350, the hall is spacious and offers 10 chef-run stalls, serving everything from Hawaiian poké to Venezuelan arepas and barbecue-flavored ice cream. You’ll want to try ‘em all, and with doors opening at 7am, we can see how one would want to stay there all day.


Superior takeout
Driving through Charm City? Picnicking? Stop everything and order takeout from Ekiben, a consensus among all the Baltimore bloggers. Rachel Lipton notes they serve the best steamed buns in the city, calling ‘em a “party in my mouth.” The small menu means you can’t go wrong: choose among four protein options and then choose either a steamed bun (bao) or a rice bowl. Yum.
ekiben-baltimore-bun
Ekiben also has a stand at the Baltimore Farmers Market! (photo by me)
Under the sea
We’ve waited long enough to mention seafood, but here it is, folks! Lauren chose the ultimate seafood destination for us: Thames Oyster House, serving self-proclaimed “traditional and modern Maryland, Mid-Atlantic, and New England seafood with a spectacular à la carte raw bar.” But it’s the lobster roll that everyone’s raving about, so we say, go for that. You can get your grub (and cocktail!) downstairs next to the main bar or upstairs, and enjoy a quintessential Baltimore view of the water. If it’s nice out, head out to the lovely courtyard.
thames-st-oyster-house-baltimore-lobster-roll
The lobster roll at Thames St Oyster House is not to be missed (photo by me) 
Back to Basics
New York and Chicago are world-renowned, but how ‘bout some Baltimore pizza? Hersh’s is your place, with ingredients that are as farm-to-table as they get. Besides the delicious pies in their wood-burning oven, you’ll find homemade Italian cooking: breads, cheeses, fresh pasta, and sausages.


Another mouth-watering recommendation is Di Pasquale’s. The gourmet specialty deli and market lets you stock up on imported Italian classics and homemade dishes, or take a seat at the adjacent cafe and order away.


Fancy shmancy
The name kinda gives away the vibe, but Charleston is your pick for New American and French plates in a white-tablecloth setting. Rachel tells us to go for the tasting menu: you have the option to order as many courses as you like and dessert is complimentary. Bonus? The chef Cindy Wolf makes her rounds around the restaurant to hear firsthand your foodie feedback. Notable dishes: Artichoke Soup with a Gruyere Pastry and Local Sweet Corn Flan.


South of the border
Leah sends us to Clavel, a family run mezcaleria and taqueria located in Remington, the heart of Baltimore. Clavel means means 'carnation' in Spanish, and boy, is it blooming! Beyond the delicious tacos, handmade tortillas and other Mexican-inspired cuisine, Clavel is a mecca for mezcal (the spirit made from different types of agave plants).


Next to your drink
Bar food can be, well, terrible, but it also can be, well, dreamy. Kate sends us to Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, to Lobo - a fun, small spot to get a specialty cocktail and small bite with the locals. Grab a meat and cheese plate, some raw oysters and clams, and pair with an oak-aged cocktail for the win.


Lauren sends us off to another destination - Bar Liquorice, a Locust Point bar that has friendly people, great drinks, and jars of candy at the bar - perfect for the sweet tooth in all of us. The bartender hands out free rosemary garlic popcorn, and we’re told there’s a signature nutella bread pudding. No time for shots at this joint.


Get munching
Now that you're equipped with knowledge from Baltimore’s experts, you're ready explore this glorious city. Whether you call Baltimore home, or are just popping in to explore, don’t forget to get your stuff protected while you’re out on the town. Take Lemonade for a spin, so you can focus on eating, relaxing, and adventuring your way through Maryland, worry-free.

*This Baltimore City Guide was originally published on Lemonade.com



Have you visited any of these restaurants-what is your favorite? If you haven't visited Baltimore, what spot do you want to check out?