Hampden overwhelms with choices. It’s almost unnerving, like, do I really have this much power? How can I decide between buying this adorable felted cactus or this artisanal, hand-carved wooden spoon? Should we stop into the gluten-free vegan bakery, or the vegan bakery that’s only partially gluten-free? Do I have time for a $60 haircut? And which cat toy will my cat like the most? If you’re anything like me, you have to talk yourself down from these thoughts, and try to be practical, economical.
Since most of the shops and restaurants in Hampden are clustered together, I’d recommend starting on one end, like Chestnut Avenue. Cafe Cito (3500 Chestnut Ave.,  682-9701, cafecitobmore.com) has a pretty drool-worthy menu, but there’s also Harmony Bakery (3446 Chestnut Ave., harmonybakery.net), Paulie Gee’s (3535 Chestnut Ave., pauliegee.com/hampden), and Rocket to Venus (3360 Chestnut Ave.,  235-7887, rockettovenus.com) that can all give you a good start on your excursion. On this stretch of the road, too, are shops like Bazaar (3534 Chestnut Ave.,  844-3015, bazaarbaltimore.com), where you can pick up something cute, like an air plant housed in a cow skull; Wholly Terra (3406 Chestnut Ave.,  446-1093), which sells handmade glass artwork; and In Watermelon Sugar (3555 Chestnut Ave.,  662-9090, inwatermelonsugarshop.com), which doesn’t seem to sell anything by Richard Brautigan but does sell fine home goods and bath treats.
Then work your way down the Avenue, pop into any/all of the shops, like Charlotte Elliott (837 W. 36th St.), for antique goods and books; Milk and Ice Vintage (833 W. 36th St.,  889-1009); Ma Petite Shoe (832 W. 36th St.,  235-3442, mapetiteshoe.com) which sells not only shoes but amazing chocolates, too; and Millbrook Antiques (859 W. 36th St.,  235-7655, millbrookantiques.com) which has an interesting selection of old art and posters, as well as antique furniture and trinkets. Right off of Roland Avenue and 36th, Crystals, Candles, and Cauldrons (927 W. 36th St.,  467-4111, wiccancrystal.com) sells a beautiful array of gems, crystals, stones, essential oils, candles—and can maybe help you if you’re trying to put a hex on someone. Find “globally inspired” jewelry, clothes, pottery, and more at the Milagro boutique (1005 W. 36th St.,  235-3800, facebook.com/shopmilagro); skull-and-flame-emblazoned smoking apparatuses at Voodoo Glass Company (1013 W. 36th St.,  235-2848, voodooglasscompany.com); and the perfect butt plug, vibrator, or lube (which are all pretty great stocking stuffers) at Sugar (1001 36th St.,  467-2632, sugartheshop.com).
As you approach Falls Road, indulge your comic book nerd friends/fam with something from The Nerdporium (3600 Hickory Ave.,  469-9912, facebook.com/TheNerdporium); or Atomic Books (3620 Falls Road,  662-4444, atomicbooks.com), which also has a good selection of not-comic-books and zines. And you can’t go wrong digging around True Vine (3544 Hickory Ave.,  235-4500, thetruevinerecordshop.com) or Celebrated Summer’s (3616 Falls Road,  866-9988, celebratedsummerrecords.com) record selection. Head down Falls a bit further for vintage goodies and locally made ceramics and home decor at the Hunting Ground (3649 Falls Road,  243-0789, shophuntingground.com).
As far as food goes, well, you’re in a good spot for that, too. Perennial favorites for us include fancy fries at Le Garage (911 W. 36th St.,  243-6300, legaragebaltimore.com); the chorizo burrito at Golden West Cafe (1105 W. 36th St.,  889-8891, goldenwestcafe.com); sushi at Asian Taste (916 W. 36th St.,  467-0100, asiantastebaltimore.com); the “meatball chub” at Luigi’s (846 W. 36th St.,  438-4195, luigisdeli.net); and the savory crepes at Ma Petite Shoe Café. (Rebekah Kirkman)
Poe board ($35), Baltimore board ($35), Vu Skateboard Shop, 3608 Falls Road, (410) 532-6113, vuskateboardshop.com
“The Post Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book” ($12.95), “The American Association of Patriots Presents: How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety” ($12), Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, atomicbooks.com
Studs from the quarter machine ($0.25), Celebrated Summer Records, 3616 Falls Road,  866-9988, celebratedsummerrecords.com
“Baltimore Graffiti” by Michael Sachse ($45), “Dokkiri! Japanese Indies Music 1976-1989” by Kato David Hopkins ($26), Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, (410) 662-4444, atomicbooks.com
Namaste Blessing & Divination Cards ($22.95), Crystals, Candles, and Cauldrons, 927 W. 36th St., (410) 467-4111, wiccancrystal.com
Amethyst (from $7.95), Mini White Sage ($3.95), Fluorite ($29.95), Crystals, Candles, and Cauldrons, 927 W. 36th St., (410) 467-4111, wiccancrystal.com
Under Aurora Women We Love Organic Hand Lotion ($22 each), Hunting Ground, 3649 Falls Road, (410) 243-0789, shophuntingground.com
Close Call Studio Cat Nip Toys ($8 each), Hunting Ground, 3649 Falls Road, (410) 243-0789, shophuntingground.com
Friends Records T Shirt ($15), True Vine Records, 3544 Hickory Ave., (410) 235-4500, thetruevinerecordshop.com
Lace choker ($18), In the Details, 813 W. 36th St., (410) 889-0380, facebook.com/InTheDetailsShop
Westerly “The Dude” Sweater ($239), Hunting Ground, 3649 Falls Road, (410) 243-0789, shophuntingground.com
L’Artiste Dark Red Boot ($209.99), Ma Petite Shoe, 832 W. 36th St., (410) 235-3442, mapetiteshoe.com
Creative King hat ($40), 16 Tons, 1021 W. 36th St., (410) 554-0101, shop16tons.com
My Lil Pony Tail Plug in Pastel Rainbow ($130) Sugar, 001 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211, (410) 467-2632, sugartheshop.com
Nova Vibrator Pink ($149) Frisky Bunny Cock Ring Purple ($30) Sugar, 001 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211, (410) 467-2632, sugartheshop.com