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The Ultimate Baltimore Tip Sheet

  • m

Hello hounds,
I've been culling the Baltimore/DC message boards with the goal of creating the Ultimate Baltimore Tip sheet for my own future reference, and yours too. Please take a few moments to read through and let me know if I have missed anything that you feel is important. Thanks!
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The Ultimate Baltimore Restaurant Tip Sheet

Crabs

· Obrycki's - 1727 Pratt St., 410-732-6399 "Crabs by the dozen"- Peter "For a true Baltimore experience try Obrycki's for either crab cakes or in season steamed crabs. They just dump them on the table and you start whacking away." Adam Stoler "I think their crabs are the best in town. While the black pepper coating is not traditional, the crabs I've gotten there havealways been nice and heavy, fully of big lumps." -Bob W.

· Gunning's- "(Obrycki's is)so overpriced, and the crabs aren't any better then other crab houses. If you want true Baltimore, blue collar atmosphere & great crabs (& good prices), try Gunnings in Brooklyn."-Amy

· Bo Brooks (recently moved to Canton waterfront area) "serving great steamed crab and Maryland seafood"- Andy "In Balwmore: Bo Brooks on Bel Air Rd can't be beat."-Ivan Stoler . "I went to Bo Brooks for crabs and they were enormous, sweet, meaty andtender. They also have very large, deep-fried onion rings that are somewhat over-breaded but greasy and finger-lickin' good."- Kate

· Kelly's "Right now (the best crabhouse in Baltimore) its Kelly's on Eastern Ave. Bo Brooks is not even close."- Steve

· Link to reviews of Baltimore crab houses on Epinions web site (posted by Andy) http://travel.epinions.com/trvl-revie...

Crabcakes

· Faidley's -In Lexington Market "I called Gertrude's, normally open Monday, but that day they were closed for a private party. I asked the guy about the best crabcakes and he said: Gertrude's are great, but the crabcakes at Faidley's in the market in the market are fabulous. So we walked back inside and wound up sitting at formica tables in the market's noisy mezzanine eating huge, tender crabcakes out of foam boxes and loved every bite. It was far from fancy, but so good and fresh. Faidley's is at 200 N Paca St in Baltimore; hours are Mon Tues Wed 9-5, Thurs Fri Sat 9-5:30. All lump crab cake is $11.95 (no bread, just a tomato slice and lettuce); backfin crabcake is 7.95, regular is 4.50. They have shrimp, steakfish, lake trout, catfish, flounder, coddie, oysters, clams, calamari, mussels, and six seafood soups. You can get platters too. And they ship UPS overnight. The market's website is 222.lexingtonmarket.com."- Cap Hill | "For crabcakes Faidleys in the Lexington Mkt, B'more is great and they pack in dry ice to bring home!"-Ivan Stoler

· Duda's (Fells Point) See Duda's "Pub Food" entry below.

Sushi

· Shogun- Charles St. (Mt. Vernon) All you can eat 23.95. Decent (not earth-shattering) sushi. (from Jim Zurer and Christine Bridges
)
· Kawasaki -Charles St. (Mt. Vernon) Good. (from Christine Bridges)

Italian

· Marconi's- famous Italian Baltimore establishment on a bad street but great food (Carolyn)

· Vacarro's (Little Italy)- Desserts. "Unfortunately, we couldn't manage a second dessert, but I did have their house cappucino (decaf) -- the best I've tasted in a long while, a dessert in itself, We took away some amaretto tiramizu and a half pound of Italian cookies, which we sampled today: all wonderful."- Sailor "Vaccaro's: Fabulous pastry. The cannoli kit is a great deal. You get enough shells and cream to make six cannoli for $8.95 or so, as opposed to the $15 six cannoli would set you back, and you can make them at your leisure. Also, they give you enough cream to really stuff those bad boys, and still have some left over to lick off the spoon."- Bob W.

· La Tesso Tano (Mt. Vernon) "One of the restaurants she suggested was the seafood/Italian La Tesso Tano, 58 W Biddle St, only 4 blocks away from the B and B, and very close to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Simply, it was one of the best meals I have had from beginning to end. While it wasn't cheap (about $80 per couple including drinks, tax and tip), you got a lot of excellent, interesting food for the money."- Steve

French

· Brass Elephant (Mt. Vernon) "a secret incidentally of the B.E. for chowhounds is that you can go upstairs to the bar and order the same food being served downstairs in slightly smaller portions for much less cost"- Carolyn

Greek

· The Black Olive (Fells Point) "I absolutely loved the ambience as well as the emphasis on seafood cooked healthily."- Sailor "the Black Olive (on Bond St.) is wonderful, but you have to make reservations in advance. The fish that they serve there is very fresh- the owners have it brought in every single day. After you are seated Mr. Spiliadis (one of the owners) will walk you to a glass display case where the fish and lovingly describe each one in detail. Most are served simply grilled (no covering up any of the flavor with sauces). This restaurant has received rave reviews in a lot of different papers, and I think that they are deserved.

Mexican/Spanish/ S. American

· Blue Agave (Federal Hill) "We dined at this establishment (1032 Light Street in Federal Hill) on 1/27 and were most impressed. The menu focuses on items from Yucutan, Baja California and more generalized SW/Tex Mex. All dishes (esp. the appetizers) were judged to be outstanding, as were the margaritas. I am not aware of any place in the DC area that prepares this kind of cusine at this high level. (FYI: The decor and food is similar to that of the famed Border Grill in Santa Monica, CA.)"- Greg

· El Taquito Mexicano (Upper Fells Point)"I used to eat at El Taquito Mexicano regularly when I lived in Baltimore (about 4 years ago). I always thought that their tacos al carbon were the real deal." Cap Hill
Afghan

· The Helmand (Mt. Vernon) "We went to the Helmund last night for my birthday, and it was just as wonderful as everyone says, a perfect spot for a special occasion. Elegant decor, warm atmosphere -- romantic, too, because of the candles at each table. But what really makes the place is the food: absolutely delicious from start to finish. For the main course, we tried the rack of lamb, which is a special on Fri. and Sat. nights: tender and flavorful. Starters, veggie dishes and salads also good. For dessert, we had the Afghan equivalent of baklava -- not as sweet as baklava (seems to lack the honey) and came in a raspberry sauce: inspired."- Sailor. "The Helmand really is as good as the reviewers say- and it doesn't cost a fortune. I would recommend getting reservations if you plan to go on a weekend or Friday night. It gets crowded there. "- Melissa

Markets

· Lexington Market- great seafood, fried gizzards and livers, fresh potato chips, etc. (from Jim Zurer)

· Cross St. Market (federal Hill) "Berger's Bakery is reknowned for their cookies - sort of a fat sugar cookie with dollop of chocolate fudge on top. They are just delicious - worth going out of the way for. Also you can get really good fried chicken livers in the market."- Cap Hill

· Trinacrea (sp?), (federal Hill)an italian goods store is also in that area - about a block up the street from the (Cross St.)market - be forewarned this is a frightening neighborhood, but safe enough during the day. It's got provolone balls hanging from the ceiling, pesce wine in fish bottles, probably 15 kinds of pasta sold by the pound. People come from all over Baltimore to shop there. I was in there once during passover. Maybe a five year old girl and her mom in front of me were sort of surveying the contents of the store, when the little girl pointed up at the provolone, and very sweetly said, "Mom, look, they have matzoh balls just like us."- Cap Hill

· DiPasquale's (Highlandtown)- This is a great Italian market. They bake their own bread, have wonderful ricotta, AND they cut my Reggiano off the wheel, which to me is the true test of an Italian market. BTW, I had a guy working at the Chesapeake Wine company in Canton try to tell me that Reggiano got better as it aged cut from the wheel (as he was trying to sell me a chalky-rinded, plastic wrapped piece of Reggiano.) I laughed in his face. He did not know with whom he was dealing. They are open on Sundays for a short while- Melissa

Federal Hill (Miscellaneous)

· Joy America Café "If you are going (to Baltimore) now I wholeheartedly recommend the cafe in the American Visionary Musuem. Fantastic view of the inner harbor and truly interesting and conceived food. A great wine list and very knowledgable staff."- Adam Stoler

Fells Point (Miscellaneous)

· Pierpoint- Good, but not as impressive as expected (from Christine Bridges)
· Peter's Inn- "BTW - Peter's Inn - kitty corner across the street from ETM (with the bright red door) used to be the greatest little bar in Fells Point. Harley riders and students and everyone in between went there - occasionally the food is stunningly good and there were lots of little niches and alcoves to sort of hang out in."- Cap Hill

Hampden (Miscellaneous)

· Frazier's Taproom"I do like Frazier's Taproom in Hampden. Questionable steaks, but atmosphere only found in Baltimore or a John Waters film." Cap Hill

Brew Pubs

· Baltimore Brewing Company (Little Italy)- "great German-style suds"- Jim Dorsch "Baltimore Brewing Company (called BBC by many Baltimoreans) does have good food. Also very, very good beer- called DeGroen's, which is made at BBC- a Baltimore legend. My favorite (being a dark beer lover) is the Dunkels. Try the beer sampler if you go there. It has about 6 smaller glasses so that you get to taste the many offerings of DeGroen's. Marzen is also good.

· Sisson's (Federal Hill)- "a good restaurant, and MD's first brewpub"- Jim Dorsch

· The Brewer's Art (Mt. Vernon)- "specializes in Belgian-style beers"- Jim Dorsch

· Wharf Rat (Across from Camden Yards and in Fells Point) "does British styles and has some hand pumps."- Jim Dorsch. "Olvier's Wharf Rat, my favorite East Coast brewpub (now that Bardo Rodeo is no more...sniff). It'd been a while, so I forgot to order beer from the hand-pumped casks (regular tap beers are fizzy and simple), but I finally scored a half pint of cask pale ale with all the intoxicating softness and easy depth that I love in British-style ale. They have a pretty good kitchen, so I ordered a weird noveau club sandwich with lump crab meat, shrimp salad, bacon and lettuce, which was tasty but hardly the square meal my stomach deserved." From Chowhound's Articles & Special Reports (http://www.chowhound.com/writing/balt...). This is also the home of the excellent Oliver's Ale. If you like dark beer try the Black Friar Stout (heavy, dark, chocolatey). There is a fireplace toward the back of the pub located in Fells Point. It's not apparent if you walk in the front of the pub, and if you don't walk to the back you may not even realize that it's there. They have roaring fires in the winter and there are tables right in front of the fireplace (if you like that sort of thing). At the Fells Point location try the fish and chips- they are very good.-Melissa

Pub Food

· Roman's (Butcher's Hill) "Romans has very good food in a nice neighborhood bar nobody is likely to stumble across by accident. Roman's is on the 100 block of S. Decker Ave, both East and North of Patterson Park (it's in that little notch which prevents the park from being a perfect square). The crab cakes are made by a woman down the street. The Turkey is top notch. And Roman, the owner and cook, makes the best cole slaw I've ever had. As a bar, it's a friendly neighborhood place, catering to the old locals of the neighborhood and more than a few young cops. There's Bass on tap, but the bottled beers are colder. Natty Bo is $1."- Peter

· Duda's (Fells Point) "Other good bar food can be had at Duda's Tavern in Fells Point. This is one of my favorites and I live in the neighborhood. So far it's not overrun by tourists, being ever so slightly off the beaten path. It's at the corner of Thames and Bond streets. Do yourself a favor and try the crab cake sandwich (about $11) on a kaiser roll. These crab cakes are wonderful. They are unfortunately served with potato chips (rather lackluster potato chips at that) The good news is that the crab cake itself is more than enough to eat and you probably won't even need to eat the chips. Also, on another bad note, a Guinness costs $4, which is pretty steep. Save your beer money for BBC."- Melissa

· Kooper's Tavern (Fells Point) -"On Tuesdays Koopers Tavern on Thames has 1/2 price burgers. Beer is also 1/2 price. Two people can eat a full meal with beer for around $13. Not bad, and the burgers are very good. Try the "Elvis" with bleu cheese. (all of the burgers here are named after staff members' dogs. Cute) Very good."- Melissa

· Wharf Rat (Camden Yards and Fells Point)- "Wharf Rat Camden Yards has British-style beers and good food. I like the fish & chips. Bill Oliver, the owner, explained to me that it's necessary to splash on plenty of malt vinegar on the entire plate of food."- Peter. Also see above Brew Pub entry for Wharf Rat.

· Lithuanian Hall (Pigtown) "I also used to like to go to the Lithuanian Hall in Pigtown. $0.50 cent beers, (of course it's miller or something), cheap pool, Pierogi dinners on Friday nights, polka's on the jukebox. What more could you ask for. Take a couple of tough guys with you tho."- Cap Hill

"Do not go" and/or Downhill alerts

· Louie's Bookstore café (Mt. Vernon)- Louie's has a new owner. "Returned to Balto after years away and went to an old favorite-Louie's Cafe f/k/a/ Louie's Bookstore Cafe. What a disappointment. The bookstore, which made the place cute and different, is gone. Now there are a lot more tables, but I thought the food was pretty bad. Went there for Sunday brunch. First, they brought the orange juice in a big glass with ice and a straw. Once we got rid of the ice, it was obviously not even Tropicana. The turkey BLT I ordered (sans the cheese) was terrible. The turkey was salty, the bacon was not quite crisp, the "T" was blah and there was very little "L". And this was not cheap."- Valerie

· Lista's (Fells Point) This place is a tourist trap of the worst kind and it somehow always manages to pack them in (Must be the flashy packaging because the place looks nice and it's the first thing that you see when you step off the water taxi in Fells Point). I have never had a good meal there. Their tortilla chips are stale and taste as if they are straight out of a bag. Their margaritas are horrendous. Nice view of the waterfront though.- Melissa

· Bertha's (Fells Point)- "The other place we ate in was completely forgettable. I think it was called Bertha's and it was in the Fells Point section. The food was very mediocre; the paella had an iodine taste from the shrimp."- Steve. "Bertha's is terrible...........their famous mussels actually smelled bad the last time we were there. We were unable to eat them and would never go there again."- Kay "Oh, dear, sorry you wound up at Bertha's. FWIW, it was GREAT once, but has fallen about as far as a restaurant can fall."- Jim Leff. Tiny, dessicated mussels. Abysmal service.- Melissa. Enough said.

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  1. Melissa: An absolutely fabulous resource! Thank you so much! pat

    1. Great great job, Melissa. Thanks and congrats! Hopefully some people will chime in with corroborating or dissenting opinions and maybe some new finds (if the latter, please start a new thread with an appropriate subject title...don't worry, I'm sure Melissa will see it!).

      I really like the corn chowder at Baltimore Brewing company, though it's been quite a while.

      Annapolis is probably off this map, but, FWIW, Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn (458 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, (410) 757-1467) is a fave of mine for crabs and such. Right on the water. Great. For more crab info in Annapolis, see the thread (on this board) titled "What is the best Crab House near Annapolis?"

      also...you've done a thorough job on this message board, but there are a number of baltimore threads on other boards. Here's how to find them...go to our search page (link below), choose "boolean" and enter this search term:

      baltimore NOT Washington

      and you'll find baltimore postings on boards other than this Washington DC & Baltimore Area Message Board (though it will also cut off some messages that just happened to contain the word "washington", but you should still find relevent threads). I'd suggest you back up to the "starter message" for each thread and then work down again....there might be postings to the threads that don't specifically contain the word "baltimore" (and so didn't show in the search) yet contain tips for there.

      This search tip applies for other searches, too, folks...

      ciao

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/htdig/chowti...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jim Leff

        I want to add my endorsement for Cantler's. Not Baltimore but worth the trip from Baltimore and D.C. Great crabs, great location - right on the water.

        1. re: Jim Leff
          m
          Melissa Garland

          Thanks for the advice, Jim. Hopefully other people will chime in and I'll gather some more pointers for my tip sheet.

        2. Great job!

          Note that Sisson's has changed hands and, while I expect it to be good, it's going to be different.

          1. Great list! You might consider adding the Milton Inn in Sparks (10 miles north of the Beltway just off I-83). This is a romantic place housed in an (I think) 18th century house serving very good American/continental fare. When we visited there last summer from DC, it appeared to be a "special event"-type place and was full of families and couples. It reminded me in a way of the Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, VA, which is an "event" restaurant much beloved by Washingtonians.

            1. m
              Melissa Garland

              How could I have forgotten breakfast restaurants!? Due to the fact that I live in Fells Point I am only familiar with those places that I can stumble hungrily to from my house. If you know of any other good places please let me know.
              ----------------------
              Breakfast (Fells Point)

              Jimmy's (S. Broadway, on the square in Fells Point)- Jimmy's is a well-known diner in Fells Point that serves breakfast all day. The food can be inconsistant, so be forewarned. Also, if you go there during peak breakfast hours, be prepared to wait about 15 minutes for a table. Breakfast can range from sublime to merely OK. You never know which it will be, which is a shame because when it is good it is very good. The good news is that you won't pay much for breakfast at Jimmy's. The breakfast special consisting of 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and coffee is around $3.95. Add 75 cents or so if you want bacon or sausage. Jimmy's does serve grits, which I am glad to report.

              Blue Moon Café- (Corner of S. Bethel and Aliceanna in Fells Point) A funkier (and more expensive) place to get breakfast in Baltimore is the Blue Moon Café. If you arrive around 10 am in the morning you *will* wait for a while. The restaurant is tiny, with around 10 tables crammed into the front room of a rowhouse, and lines can be out the door. I've never had a bad meal at the Blue Moon. I love their crepes. The last one that I tasted was made with fresh raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries in a light syrup poured over a fluffy crepe filled with some sort of cream cheese concoction. It was sublime. Their potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream are also very good. You can also order a vegetarian version of the potato pancakes sans bacon smothered in sauteed vegetables. I'm not an omlette fan (and I've never tried them), but their omlettes look beautiful and others have told me that they are very good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Melissa Garland

                The Blue Moon sounds a lot like the holy grail for omelet lovers, the Morning Edition on Patterson Park Ave. just a couple blocks north of where Pratt St. runs into Patterson Park Ave. (near the pagoda, not too far from Fells Point).

                It's a tiny, funky place, with oddball service and tables that wobble, but the food draws mobs for their weekend brunch. Reservations are a must for Sunday, and by now may be for Saturday as well.

                The brunch menu is extensive, including 8-10 omelets, french toast concoctions, waffles, etc. The coffee is really good.