Where to begin... The Brewer's Art is a beautiful restaurant with upscale, seasonal food in an 1800s mansion. Not your typical brewpub and absolutely worth getting a reservation.
Alewife is close to the convention center and has a big draft list and pretty good food, too.
You can take the light rail up from the convention center to the Woodberry stop to visit Union Craft Brewing and Waverly Brewing. They have food trucks many Fridays and Saturdays, and Blue Pit BBQ and Birotecca are nearby for good casual food. Or, make a reservation at Woodberry Kitchen if you're ready to spend a lot at one of the best restaurants in the city. It's only a short walk over to Hampden after the breweries and there are a ton of other good restaurants there. I especially like the Food Market, Grano, and Corner Charcuterie (BYOB with an amazing liquor store next to it).
For some unique lunch spots around the city, try:
- Faidley's Crabcakes at Lexington Market
- Di Pasquale's Italian Deli, Highlandtown
- Taqueria Sinaloa in Fells Point (fresh made corn tortillas on a giant antique machine)
- Gypsy Queen Food Truck (https://facebook.com/GypsyQueenCafe/
, downtown Thurs and Fri for lunch)
Captain James Crab Deck in Canton (also a water taxi stop) has good steamed crabs. There are other spots that are good but you'll pay more. You'll be able to get a good crab cake at lots of places, but I really like Mama's on the Half Shell, also in Canton, for all kinds of seafood.
If you go to little Italy, I like Ammici's for casual, or La Scala for a nicer dinner. Joe Benny's is a great little place that does foccacia.
The Helmand in Mt Vernon is a nice Afghan restaurant, which isn't too far north of downtown. Sammy's Trattoria is another great Italian place up that way. There's also good Sushi, Thai, and Indian food on Charles St. And, see the (original) Washington monument. Best to check Yelp once you decide what you're in the mood for.
In Federal Hill, which is south of the convention center a bit, Abbey Burger Bistro is the place to go if you want to build your own burger and drink good beer, and like exotic meats (kangaroo and ostrich have been the special of the month in the past). Metropolitan is a European style cafe with good food and beer (and a firkin every Thursday). Reggie's is good for brunch, and the Blue Moon Cafe (called Blue Moon Too, their second location, other is in Fells) is a big breakfast spot.