Hot Spots: Street Smart

By Brian Michael Lawrence

La Calle (Spanish for “The Street”) opened a year ago on an unassuming stretch of South Street downtown. It joined Chez Hugo and later The Alexander Brown within a two-block stretch that now comprise a nice mini-district of cuisine choices in the old financial district.

Opened by chef Valentino Sandoval, formerly of The Corner in Hampden, it offers an unpretentious menu of solid traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Sandoval is a native of Mexico City, and has a flair for elevating even the most basic dish into something special.
In his words, La Calle brings “Deep rooted Mexican traditions smacked with modern culinary fundamentals. Everything from the masa to the sauces has a special attention to detail, using the freshest local Maryland and indigenous Mexican ingredients…”
“…Ancient chocolate mole, crossed with exotic chiles, slow cooked barbacoa stuffed into fresh tortilla, savory sauces such as truffle cuitlacoche aioli and poblano peppers ala crema, all made with love in an open-style Baltimore kitchen.”
The happy hour specials are especially enticing. Excellent guacamole, tasty pork, chorizo or chicken tacos (choose seared or deep-fried; trust me go for the deep-fried), ceviche and more—all go for $5 and are a treat.
As expected, Mexican beers such as Tecate and Dos Equis are on offer…
…as are excellent margaritas and other Mexican specialty cocktails.
The sedate interiors are sparked with pops of vibrant color and arresting artwork that add a playful note.
An open kitchen at the back is framed by a lounge space that adjoins the bar. 
At lunchtime the place hums with business people…
…and at dinnertime, the quiet street out front belies the lively groups of diners who flock here for the authentic – yet affordable – cuisine.
{La Calle, 10 South Street, Downtown}
Brian Michael Lawrence

Brian Michael Lawrence is one of THE Baltimore style experts. After all, he was the longtime editor-in-chief at STYLE Magazine, which specialized in covering everything stylish around the Baltimore area. Brian also served as editorial director for the digital division at Sinclair Broadcasting, and creative director at Blue Sky Design. Currently, he oversees communications & marketing for the department of Tourism, Film & the Arts at Maryland’s Commerce Department.  In his bi-weekly column, you’ll get to see what cool hotspots are piquing the interest of this Baltimore style maven and why - whether it's the fabulous food, cool cocktails or elegant environs.