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Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse

  • Vegetarian
    ( 10 reviews )
Contact 410-230-0450
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30 W North Ave, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 21201

Re-open Nov 2013 after move from 800 St Paul St. Worker-owned and collectively-managed bookstore and coffeehouse located in Baltimore's Station North neighborhood. Includes a coffee shop with a food menu consisting of sandwiches, soups, salads, and vegan baked goods. Many items can be made vegan if requested.

Category: Vegan-friendly, American, Take-out

Reviews (10)

First Review by kwanza

Lousy food, overpriced - Edit

I wish I could give 1 star, but 2 is the minimum hc will allow. I paid $14 for a crappy little vegan "bacon cheeseburger". It should have cost like $5, and BTW it tasted lousy. [edit by staff- see ToS]

Cons: Expensive, tastes bad


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Worker-owned and very veg-friendly - Edit

Red Emma's used to be a tiny sub-street level coffee shop and bookstore on St. Paul Street. It was mostly frequented by activists and occasional office workers in need of a caffeine fix. Now it is a cavernous cafe, bookshop, classroom, and performance space in the rapidly growing Station North Arts District. There are still a lot of young activists and artists frequenting the place, but the service population has definitely expanded to encompass a broader swath of city residents. This is definitely a good thing, as Emma's has a lot to offer. As a worker-owned collective, Red Emma's is a shining example of how things can be done differently and better even within a broken capitalist system. Relevant to this Happy Cow review are, of course, their food choices. They are making an effort to provide low-cost fresh, healthy food to everyone in a city where this kind of desperately needed food is often off-limits to lower income folks.

The menu at Emma's has expanded significantly since their St. Paul days. They still offer a full array of fair trade coffee (now roasted in-house) and tea, but now also sell local (all vegan) beer. Their food continues to be all vegetarian, and much of it is vegan. The menu holds a good mix of sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as some heartier meals. They also make various breakfast bagels as well as serving a weekend brunch. They always have a selection of delicious baked goods, including such rare delicacies as vegan whoopie pies and cinnamon buns.

The atmosphere is modern industrial. It is cool to see how they reclaimed this building. The bones were left intact and enhance the worker-focused aesthetic of the place. The original ceramic floor is stunning. Huge windows ensure that the space is always full of light, making it an ideal place to sit and read while enjoying a hot beverage and one of those delicious baked goods.

Pros: economical, diverse menu, beautiful space

Cons: seating sometimes limited


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Delicious, economical vegan/vegetarian food - Edit

Red Emma's has delicious vegan and vegetarian food, as well as very tempting hot and cold beverages — including beer and wine (a more recent development). Their prices are pretty economical, ranging from a hearty $3 side dish to $7 sandwiches and salads. They also include a daily $5 special. My personal recommendation for a cheap, filling snack is the Black Bean Bomb (their bagels are perfect — chewy and flavorful). For a $7 meal, I recommend pairing their weirdly good vegan Mac & Cheese with the vegan BLT. For coffee, start with their "Red Emma's Roast." The only improvements to the food/drinks I'd suggest is to double the amount of tofu in the Bánh Mì Salad/Sandwich… and perhaps offer a nondairy espresso Affogato in the summer time!

This newer version of Red Emma's is kid-friendly and wheelchair accessible. A lot of people seem to use Red Emma's for small meetings, study sessions, and quiet hang outs. Red Emma's is also the home of the Baltimore Free School, so you might want to check out if a class session of interest to you is going on while you're there. Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Red Emma's is home to Thread Coffee, an ethical coffee collective that roasts coffee right in the cafe!

Pros: excellent food, good value, friendly staff

Cons: more tofu in the Banh Mi, please!


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Awesome place! - Edit

very cool place with a lot of vegan options.
The nachos were great, as the grilled cheese and the cinnamon roll. They also have a lot of lattes to drink and you can add VEGAN MARSHMALLOWS. They also have a lot of political books to sell.


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vegan-tastic - Edit

It's hard to find a place that isn't just "vegan friendly" and actually wants to feed you great food without taking ya broke!!! Delicious food, comfy coffee house atmosphere, and Baltimore-istic beauty and charm. Don't pass it up. Make a special trip. If you need to...I know we are sure glad we did!!!

Pros: whoopie pie, key lime soda


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Great place - Edit

Food: 8. In general the food is sort of heavy on the mock meats and mock cheeses, which I'm sort of "over" at this point in my veganism, but they still have some pretty darn good stuff. I've now been there twice and got the tofurkey melt sandwich both times, and I have to say that while it's a pretty simple sandwich it is really quite tasty. I had some of their desserts, and those were good but not thrilling. Everyone else I know who's had their vegan food has liked it a lot, too.

Price: 8. Reasonable.

Atmosphere: 8. Cozy space. It feels very airy. I like their selection of books. I don't adore the neighborhood and feel a bit nervous walking there alone at night, but it could be worse. Luckily parking seems pretty easy to find around it.

Staff: 9. Very friendly and helpful.

Pros: Tasty food, Mostly vegan, Cozy

Cons: Not a great neighborhood, Could benefit from more healthy options


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Vegan gold mine - Edit

Went here because I was new in town it was close and I needed some damn vegan cake. Staff was nice, place was packed, did get a little bit of a stare from patrons. Food is good I have had two different vegan sandwiches, the bagels with cream cheese, and the nachos. The nachos were so surprisingly awesome! Good prices to a point but the dirty carrots vegan baked goods are very expensive I understand they are more expensive to make but they are double what you would pay if you bought them from her yourself. Still I will buy them when I have a craving mid week.

Pros: Yummy, Baked goods, Good coffee

Cons: Little awkward at first


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Interesting Scene, Impressive Lattes - Edit

I try to find the best lattes in town, wherever I go. After trying 6 different local coffeehouses, I landed on Emma's.

+ the best soy latte I've had in B-more (perfect foam). Also, they don't charge extra for soymilk!
+ interesting characters there. I find the baristas to be my favorite thus far -- one woman was singing Radiohead and dancing behind the counter, which is refreshing.
+ sell Dirty Carrots vegan cupcakes, cookies, etc. plus have vegan sandwiches and cream "cheese" for your bagel.
+ fantastic music
+ lots of reading material. I bought a coloring book titled, "Sometimes the spoon runs away with the spoon."
+ friendly vibe...always.

Pros: Food + drink is amaze., Cool place to hang out., Definitely on the inexpensive side.


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nice find - Edit

I stumbled across this place by accident, and am glad that I did. It's a bookshop / coffeeshop, and also serves sandwiches, soups, muffins and cookies. Plenty of vegan options, including mock-meat sandwich fillings. Good value for money.

The bookshop itself has got a bit of a radical left wing feel to it. The staff and customers were very friendly, and were happy to give me advice about where else in Baltimore I could find vegan food.

Pros: value for money, good for vegans


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