102 Clay St., (410) 244-8837
When Puerto 511 opened up on Clay Street late in 2013, it was a revelation. The “micro” restaurant, with only about seven two-tops, mixed high and low in an environment that was extremely intimate and homey but also white table-cloth and fancy. Chef Jose Victorio Alarcon and his wife Connie de Victorio moved from Chicago to the space above the restaurant, where she served food as he worked in the kitchen. The dishes are all spectacular. The ceviche is the best we’ve ever had and we love that Connie approves of us slurping the leche de tigre sauce from the plate. But Alacron is the best chef not only because of the quality of his food and of the experience of dining in his restaurant, but also his commitment to the neighborhood. On the same block as the space shared by the Baltimore Annex Theater and Psychic Readings, Puerto 511 is set to be the go-to restaurant in the growing Bromo Arts District. But when Alacron recently bought the building the restaurant occupied, it wasn’t in some cynical attempt to cash in, but rather a commitment to the neighborhood, and to slow and smart growth as a business—start super small and invest and expand as you can. Puerto 511’s expansion should at least double the number of seats, so you may not always need a reservation.