Food & Drink

Snake Charmer

Snake Hill is a hit in its Highlandtown ’hood.

Snake Hill feels like it has been a Highlandtown staple forever. Perhaps it’s the vintage Baltimore corner-bar vibe; every time we’ve saddled up to its Scrabble-inspired triple-word score bar, we’ve shared laughs with our booze-and-swine-enthusiast neighbors. Or maybe it’s the warmth of the bartenders—Chelsea, Beth-Ann, Caleb—who greet each customer like they’re the most important one in the place. Then again, it could be the camaraderie that comes from this joint’s outlandish lineup of locally sourced sausages and beer.

But likely, it’s all of the above that have made this newcomer from the owners of nearby Johnny Rad’s a standout since it opened in November. Snake Hill, the neighborhood’s original name before it was annexed by the city at the turn of the 20th century, is a casual spot. Patrons order from a menu focused on sausage made from a Noah’s Ark of animals. Rabbit and rattlesnake might sound like roadkill to most, but here it’s dinner. And a tasty one at that. Wild boar? Alligator? Venison? Duck? Check, check, check, check. (There are even three kinds of vegan sausage.)

Ranging from $5 to $9, each of Snake Hill’s nearly 20 sausages are fresh, juicy, emit the requisite level of grease, and are grilled to perfection. They’re squeezed into a toasted brioche bun and served in a paper basket, then best consumed with one of the 12 craft brews on tap and some napkins nearby. In three visits, we never found a weak link.

Some, like the Polock Johnny’s Polish sausage, deliver the time-tested rich flavor that carnivores have been savoring for over a century. Others, like the Dead Elvis—a pork sausage with bacon and banana—or the chicken with basil and sun-dried tomatoes, form sweeter combinations. Each comes with up to two toppings from a selection of sauerkraut, peppers, and grilled onions.

Snake Hill also offers five signature sandwiches—essentially sausages with funkier toppings. The Curry Little Rabbit, a rabbit and rattlesnake sausage with mango curry chutney, channels Indian cuisine. The Pho Real, a pork sausage with sriracha, fennel, and Thai basil served with hoisin sauce, is an ode to the famous Vietnamese dish. Find room for at least a half order of hush puppies. So often delivered as tasteless, over-fried filler, these are moist and sinfully topped with powdered sugar. Like Snake Hill, they seem destined to become an instant classic.

›› Snake Hill: 418 S. Clinton St., 410-469-9003. Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. (food until 10 p.m.), Fri.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. (food until 11 p.m.). Prices: $5-10.