When I was a child my parents forbade me to put maple syrup on my pancakes. But I loved the taste of the sweet, sugary syrup mixed with the crunchy, salty bacon. Maybe my parents saw the mixing of the two as a crude, or maybe they never tried it and didn’t know how delectable it really was. I would disobey their strict orders and pour so much syrup onto my pancakes that it would run off them and stream down onto the bacon. Of course this was just a simple childhood rebellion, but at a young age I realized something quite important. Bacon tastes great with practically anything. Paired with sweet or savory, bacon holds its own. Its salty, smoky taste and crispy texture yearns for a union with all sorts of conventional and unconventional flavors. Luckily, here in Baltimore, there is never a dearth of those willing to push convention…even when it comes to bacon.
If you, too, are looking for that childhood fantasy of bacon and syrup as I had so missed, head over to Golden West Café in Hampden. Order the “Elvis and Lisa Marie Pancakes.” The Lisa Marie is one pancake and the Elvis is two – make sure you’ve got a real big appetite if you’re going for the Elvis. You’ll receive a massive, plate-sized buttermilk pancake, drenched in honey. There’s maple syrup on the side but there’s really no need for it at all. On top are pieces of sautéed banana and a spoonful of melting peanut butter. You must cut into this mess of a pancake to find the real treasure, though: cooked in with batter is the bacon. Long strips of crunchy bacon hidden in the honey sodden pancake. This meal is so sweet that I found myself searching for these bacon pieces to counteract the sugariness of everything else. This was good, but definitely more suited for sweet tooth enthusiasts.
For a milder, more traditional bacon experience, try The Lanvale sandwich from On the Hill Café in Bolton Hill. It’s basically a BLT with a fancy name. It’s a filling sandwich with a hefty amount of applewood smoked bacon, and is served on a sourdough roll. I found the sourdough complimented the bacon’s saltiness well and set it apart from a typical BLT.
If you crave just a straight-up savory dish, there’s nothing better than the BATS crepe from Sophie’s Crepes. This was absolutely my favorite meal on my Baltimore bacon exploration. BATS stands for bacon, avocado, tomato, and sour cream – and when it’s all put into the light, sweet homemade crepe and served hot, there is no denying it. Though the sour cream threatens to be too heavy or overbearing, it blends nicely with the already creamy avocado, and the crunchiness of the bacon bits counteracts this smoothness from being too much. Luckily Sophie’s realized it’s better to crumble the bacon than use whole slices, so you get the bacon flavor with much less mess. The whole crepe is folded into a neat triangle and prepared in a foil packaging so you can get your fix even on the go.
My last two bacon-y dishes fall far into the indulgence category. First we have Vosges Haute Chocolat’s Mo’s Bacon Bar. A bacon chocolate bar – what could be better? It appears as any normal milk chocolate bar but inside is applewood smoked bacon and alderwood smoked salt. Unfortunately, this bar doesn’t live up to its standards. Instead of a smoky bacon taste, you get a salt overload. The chocolate is a bit too rich at 45% cacao to be paired with other strong tastes. Just one piece is enough to stave off your initial curiosity. Luckily, the Big Head Fries from Charles Village Pub can never be disappointing. The ingredients are just too simple and too good to dissatisfy: fries, cheese, and bacon. Pour some ketchup on the plate and you’ve got the perfect late-night munchie. Just be warned that there’s no keeping these to yourself – everyone at the table will want a bite.
Golden West Café
1105 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211
On the Hill Cafe
1431 John St, Baltimore, MD 21217
Corner of John & Mosher Streets
Vosges Haute Chocolate available at
Ma Petite Shoe
832 West 36th Street
Baltimore, MD 21211-2507
Charles Village Pub
3107 Saint Paul St
Baltimore, MD 21218
723 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-5801
333 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Check http://www.sofiscrepes.com/ for hours