Okay everyone here is a run down of the places i have tried so far. Also my preferences lean towards ethnic places with vegetarian options.
Thairish- lame lame excuse for thai food also last time i went there it reaked so badly of old oil that i had to leave.
Holy Fijoles- generic, glorified taco bell, over priced
Nacho Mama's- possibly the worst meal i have eaten, i don't even what to get into it
Frisco Burritos- yuck
Zodiac- i like the concept but yuck
Tapas Teatro- mediocre, how hard is it to mess up paella
Niwana- i have been there on several occasions and have tried many different menu options, left every time fifteen dollars poorer and unsatisfied
Al Pacino's- uninspired middle eastern, bad greasy falafel, curly fries?
Those are just a few, although i do feel compelled to mention that i have been pleasently suprised by the Korean places on 20th.
Can i take a moment to stay that Eddie's market on St. Paul is the worst, the prices are highway robbery and the selection is pitiful.
Can someone please tell me if my reaction is normal or is it just that i moved here from new york?
Jesus, has anyone else eaten at Al Pacino's in the last decade?!
What Dave said, ditto. trust me...he KNOWS. Helmand a must. Matthew's Pizza also. Your Tapas Teatro trip may have been an anomaly, but I have only been once, so I can't really say. Agree with the rest, though. Must ask...what diving rod of gastronomic hell are you using to guide you to such a consistent list of also-rans? ;-) I mean I know your from Brooklyn and all, but.......Nacho Mamas?! I wretched for 2 straight days after I ate there. So, I guess there's a first time for everyone. Bleach.
Helmand should set you right. So will the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Ambassador. Or anything off the "chef's specials" menu at Golden Gate Noodle House. Try L.P. Steamers for crabs and such. Vespa for yummy trattoria fare. Petit Louis for the Gallic version. Charleston for upscale bliss. If anyone disses it, ignore them. Well, if you have the cash, anyways. Susi's Soba for great Japanese a few blocks over in Hampden. Only approach Cafe Hon for downhome breakfast and lunch; dinner prices are delusional. Golden West is also very good. Sotto Sopra is prolly the best Italian in town, but if you think Charleston is pricey...... well, it is all about allocation of disposable income, now isn't it? :)
AND look up Mastellone Italian Grocery on Harford Road. Ask for Tim...he'll set you up right.
As a non-native Baltimorean, I can sympathize with you. It took me awhile to figure it out, but Baltimore is a "joint" place. While there are some good high-end places, what is best about Baltimore is the corner restaurant that just tries to have good food at good prices.
Along these lines, I'd recommend the following places (that haven't already been mentioned) for food that is worth the money you spend: Mamie's in Hampden; Jimmy's in Fells Point; Peter's Inn on Ann Street; Thai Landing on Charles; Matthew's Pizza; Simon's in Butchers Hill, Claddagh Pub in Canton; and Samos in Greektown, for starters.
If you need to go upscale, try Karabelas on Broadway, Petit Louis in Roland Park, and Sotto Sopra on Charles.
Baltimore food is quite idiosyncratic. Don't give up yet; I'm sure you'll find out that Baltimore has some great places to eat that don't cost an arm and a leg!
The more interesting imported cuisines don't have much of an imported audience in Baltimore, so their food is either toned down for us Baltimorons, or just plain pathetic echoes of what was once good. There are exceptions. Everybody knows about Helmand (which could use all the support it can get right now). Also check out Cypriana in the food court at the old Baltimore-American building for really good falafel. And House of Kebab, on white bread, blue collar Harford road has killer Gormehzabzi...something I haven't had since an ill-fated Iranian couple opened and closed their beautiful restaurant in Denton, Texas in the same Summer nearly twenty years ago. Let me know what you think. DB.