favor to ask all 'Hounds
As a person who uses the boards a lot for business trips and personal travel, can I ask that folks include the address -- especially the city name -- when recommending a place?
Right now, I'm looking for good places in Baltimore, but this board covers both Washington and Baltimore. Not being from the area, I have no idea if an interesting sounding restaurant is in Baltimore, Washington or somewhere in between unless the message includes this info. (Most threads do, but I have found a couple of places that sound good but the messages don't mention where the restaurant is.) Also, if the word Baltimore isn't in the post, the message won't come up during a search.
I know I've probably been as guilty as anyone, but this trip has taught me to include this info in the future.
PS -- Looking for a reasonable family place with good crabcakes near the Inner Harbor, wherever that is.
I live in Fells Point, so I'll be able to give you a few pointers about the good restaurants in this part of the harbor.
First, stay AWAY from Lista's and The Brown's Wharf Restaurant. These are the always-crowded two restaurants that are the first thing that you see when you step off the Water Taxi. They are geared toward tourists and I've never had a good meal at either.
Next, head over to Bonaparte Breads for pastries, bread or coffee. This is at the Ann St. Wharf and is the first thing that you see if you have taken the Seaport Taxi over to Fells Point. Take a right from there to head down Fell St. and you will see Margaret's Cafe Open on the left. This is a very good place to eat. They have good specials. Also, John Steven is in the area (at the corner of Ann and Thames st.), and is the best place to go for mussels (don't go to Bertha's- it's gone downhill) and a variety of other foods. I like their peanut sesame noodles.
My favorite restaurant in the area is located on Fleet St. and is called Ze Mean Bean. It's a little bit off the beaten tourist path (walk about two blocks up Ann St. away from the water and take a left on Fleet. You'll see it there on the left), but well worth it. Try the borsht and the pierogi platter. Not expensive and excellent!
My favorite pizza in the area is the tandoori chicken pizza (with mango chutney) from the Nile Cafe on Broadway.
If you want good crab cakes (get the sandwich for $11- it's plenty), go to Duda's Tavern at the corner of Bond and Thames St. If you want good Fish and Chips (and three half-pints of many varieties of Oliver's ale for $3) go to Wharf Rat on Ann St. If you want to spend a lot of $ for excellent and pristinely fresh seafood, make reservations well in advance at the Black Olive on Bond St.
Well, there's my dissertation on the culinary delights of Fells Point. There are quite a few good places to eat in this area that run the range from good pub food to fine dining. Hope that this helps!
The Inner Harbor is literally in the heart of the city of Baltimore. It's sort of a very hyped up tourist attraction. May I recommend that you check out Federal Hill which is a neighborhood that borders the southern side of the harbor (The large hill at the end of the harbor is actually Federal Hill - just below the hill is the American Visionary museum which might be a fun family place although I find a lot of the art kind of paranoid).
Anyway, if I was going for crabs in that area, I would go to the Cross Street Market which is one of the very old areas of town that farmers used to bring their produce. Eventually they built stalls and put roofs on them and voila a baltimore institution. anyway, there's a seafood place in there, (Cross Street Market seafood) which will serve crabs. It is not fine dining - in fact a lot of the tables are standing up adult size and they serve beer so you might want to preview it for appropriateness for your kids. Personally, I would think any kid worth their salt would totally love eating amidst the din of the market, with wierd seafood to look at and people washing squid down the drain at your feet with a hose. You can get a very very good micro-brew across the street from the Market at Sisson's which serves cajun. Also Banjara in Federal Hill used to serve an amazingly inexpensive Indian buffet for lunch and their Saag Paneer is tremendous.
If you need to sit down with the kids, you'd do better at Faidley's in Lexington Market, which is about 6 blocks into downtown and it can be a scary neighborhood for outsiders. Has some of the same advantages as Cross Street Market, plus it's larger - buy Berger's cookies for desert. I don't think either market is open on Sunday.
Another option for sitdown is Obrycki's which is kind of a Baltimore institution (in Fell's point - another fun neighborhood to explore) and although people are always proclaiming it's gone downhill it might not be a bad place for an introduction to crabs. (you might want to check out John Stevens limited for a great restaurant with incredible steamed shrimp) and I bet that they would have crabs too - ask if they have jumbos).
I'd skip both Phillips and also the crab boats moored at Pier 5(?) (which might now be a Bubba Gumps chain actually and if so wouldn't know the first thing about crabs) in the inner harbor cause they're very very touristy and expensive.
I alas, haven't lived in Baltimore for 5 years and so I'm not totally up to date on the latest crab scene but I hope that this is helpful. Let us know what you do and if it was any good. Where are the dang Baltimorons in this crab discussion which keeps coming up??? C'mon ya'll.