Best Bawlmer Cheap Eats
- Jon Parker
Here's my favorites, in no particular order. What are your under $10 a person faves?
1. Andy Nelson's Barbecue, Cockeysville
What can be said that hasn't already? Simply perfect. Two people can stuff themselves silly on the combo platter" 1/2 chicken and 1/2 slab on ribs, two sides (best baked beans ever), and cornbread. With tax, it's still under $20.
2. Kabob Hut, Towson
For $9 you get two kabobs: I recommend the chicken, which has never been dry in my experience and the ground beef with spices and onions. It comes with a huge mound of saffron rice and a fresh baked flat bread as big as a medium pizza.
3. Ann's Dairy Creme, Severna Park
Hole in the wall in front of Marley Station Mall on Ritchie Highway. No seating, and you WILL stand in line for the double dog with chili, onions and mustard on a cornmeal dusted roll. No way to describe it: it has to be experienced. If blue collar folks aren't your style, stay away. You'll see at least one Jeff Gordon t-shirt, guaranteed. Those of us watching our weight and health need to visit sparingly, but it's a great occasional treat.
4. Eichenkrantz, Baltimore
So Hausner's is gone, but this German place fills the food, if not the decor, gap very nicely. Specials are always under $10, including steak night.
1) Matthew's Pizza (Eastern Ave.) since a large pie easily feeds 2.
2)Golden West Cafe (W. 36th Street) for both the Vietnamese salad with shrimp and the thai salad. Or the Frito pie, if waistline is no consideration.
3)Cambalou (Calvert) for their substantial sandwiches.
(2) and (3) are BYO so that helps out the wallet even more.
[homer simpson voice] Andy Nelson's......aghwhgwhgwhgwhgwghw [/homer simpson voice] *drool*
Some of mine are:
(1) Samos in Greektown (perhaps slightly over $10.00 but also BYOB);
(2) Bowl of Roast Duck/Pork noodle wonton soup from Golden Gate in Towson or a bowl of Pho from Saigon Restaurant;
(3) any of the salmon sandwiches at Greg's;
(4) the chicken salad sandwich and a bowl of chicken noodle soup from the Women's Industrial Exchange;
(5) the dim sum/noodles at Eastern Buffet; and
(6) a burger at Jimmy's in Fells Point, particularly on Saturday or Sunday morning.
I would add:
Ghion Cafe in Mt. Vernon--Homestyle Ethiopian food in a dive bar with country rock on the juke box. A lamb platter costs $10 and can serve as a light dinner for two.
A bowl of mussels at John Steven's, enough to feed two and just $8 or 9.
And the salads at Golden West, but someone allready mentioned that.
The light fare at Brewer's Art. The swankest you'll feel for $15 (you have to add extra for a beer or two).
I keep hearing about Andy Nelson's. I'm going to have to make a trip up there sometime soon!
Cypriot in the old News American Building downtown for a Falafel sandwich that could choke a horse...whoa, almost a spelling faux-pas there. Awesome, perfectly crisp on the outside, moist and spicy on the inside little green balls buried with a salad and tart tzatziki in a pita. Food court ambience, but so what.
Tim at Mastellone's Deli on Harford road will make you a fantastic Italian cold cut sub on good bread,and with the best quality cold cuts in Baltimore for about 6/7 bux.
Across the street at Muellers Deli you can get one of the best roast beef sandwiches in town for even less, and you can buy a single German beer to wash it down to boot!
El Salto - Brooklyn Park- It is my favorite Mexican restaurant in town regardless of price, but the fact that dinner with a soft drink and tip included is less than $10/person makes it unbeatable.
Fazini's Italian Restaurant- Cockeysville - A pound of homemade fresh pasta with delicious marinara sauce is $8.00. Add a salad with their incredible homemade dressing for $2.00, and you have a meal for $10 that puts Little Italy to shame. Wonderful calzones and sandwiches are even cheaper. BYOB.
How about the Helmand? Many entrees are just around $10. Granted, appetizers are a must but for sake of argument one could eat for $10 per.
Other favorites already mentioned are Samos and Matthews Pizza.
What is it about Fazzini's? The only time I was there the food was revolting... over cooked watery pasta in a place that stakes their reputation on pasta doesn't work for me. And the staff had a serious problem with customer service...which is a problem in a customer service sort of business. Nevertheless I still hear people going nutso over it. Cheap is fine as long as it isn't a waste of time. I'd spend an extra buck and go anywhere else.
THANK YOU! finally, someone else who doesn't worship at the fazzini's shrine. i think the food there is terrible. i sometimes stop in to buy their frozen fresh pasta when i don't have time to make my own, but that's it.
sauces are underseasoned and unimaginative, food in general is heavy and clumsily prepared. this is NOT what true italian food is like, at all! and yet there's a line out the door every saturday night. were there a gun to my head to choose an italian restaurant in timonium, i'd rather eat at the macaroni grill, also with a line out the door on saturday night...sigh.
Fazzini's is okay for take out or delivery but I don't think I would ever stand in line waiting for a table on any night of the week. The Macaroni Grill has a certain plastic Italian schmaltz appeal. When the moon is full I'm there. Sort of like a chowhound guilty pleasure. When they opened they actually had a tenor sing Volare and other semi-Italian classics during the dinner hour.
Besides when I really want to chow I go to Andy Nelson's for the BBQ. His food is really good. The brisket, the pit beef, the ribs. So good, I stopped using any kind of sauce. Just doesn't need it.
i'm acquainted with laura reilly, who used to do some of the sun's food writing before she moved to san francisco (foodie heaven!). she's great, enthusiastic, extremely knowledgeable about food and restaurants and all the small and large details important therein. she was also very effective at communicting these qualities when she wrote. (she still appears in the food section -- she has the surreal gig of being the recipe tester for that 'reader's request' recipe column where people write in looking for recipes like sauerkraut cake!)
so when i read the sun's reviews i bear in mind something she once told me, that the editorial approach demanded at the paper is that a review must be either mostly good or mostly bad: they want a definite slant, one way or the other, and strongly prefer a good review to a bad one. they think it 'confuses' the readers to have a so-so review. (which is absurd, how many truly terrific restaurants are there where every menu item is a gem? even the most banal restaurant usually has one especially good thing -- part of being a chowhound is having that second, third, or sixth sense when reading the menu and knowing how to spot the good stuff! but i digress).
anyway, i try to keep that in mind, but the sun's thursday reviewer is just so incredibly inept. her reviews are so generalized, bland and uninformed i've never once thought to myself, wow, i gotta eat THERE! when reading one. she really seems to know damned little about food, especially anything the slightest bit 'ethnic' -- and i won't even go into my opinion of her writing abilities.
sorry for the mini-rant. i'm just so disgusted every time i read one of her reviews! i did get a chuckle out of the fazzini's review, though. you could tell even she didn't like the place and was trying to say so without really saying so.
anyone else got opinions on local food writing? i hardly ever agree with stuff i read, but i think it's often good for amusement purposes and occasionally leads to new food finds. i do like cynthia glover's stuff for baltimore magazine on the rare occasion (dentist's office, usually) when i read it. she seems to know about food, and has a little style to her writing.
but i'd much rather just go out and eat, than read about eating! except for beloved chowhound message board, of course!
oh, now i feel sorta guilty that i ragged on that reviewer on chowhound -- it just occurred to me that any local food writer worth their salt would at least lurk on their local chowhound chat board. she might read it and get her feelings hurt sigh. i stand by my opinion, but never meant to flame anyone personally. so, sorry in advance if anyone's delicate feelings have been stomped upon by my combat boot-clad opinions...
I write food and wine things for Baltimore Mag. which supports us incredibly well in terms of what we feel we need to write, despite the effect that may have on their advertising revenue. This is an intensely personal business, and if you can't put your REAL opinions down on paper, you just have to do something else. Not everyone will agree with your opinions of course, but life is tough. As a consumer, you should be frank and tough with your own opinions of those who profit from the privilege of dining out for fun and profit. I write about what I like, but without naming names, there are others at whose opinions my wife and I laugh out loud. E-mail me directly if you want stuff that I can't post here. Best.
I shouldn't equate the large Baltimore paper reviews to the Gazette paper here in the DC burbs, but I'm going to for the sake of argument. This paper has a huge circulation so it deserves a better quality restaurant reviewer(s). Nothing about these reviews is intended to be an true culinary evaluation. I feel that reviews are basically intended as future advertising revenue, if all goes well.
The byline on the weekly review is "MJ Pleasure" which is bad enough, and it appears that the column isn't written by the same critics every week. There is one lone voice (not printed often enough, IMO) that seems to know food and tries to be real, but almost every other "review" seems to be only a regurgitation of the exact language on the restaurant's menu. They are often completely ignorant of a cuisine (a favorite was the person who mentioned that pickles seemed to be a "silly" item on the Cuban sub they sampled).
The integrity of a "review" is often compromised when a paper is banking on advertising revenue (or other factors). We would all hope for informed knowledge and integrity from our news sources. It doesn't always happen that way, though.
I like reading the reviews, but then again, I also like reading the Sun paper, and I think many of the articles in the Sun paper are as accurate about their subject matter as the food reviews are to the restaurant. I get a particular kick out of the regular Sun reviewer, who seems to have a thing for Steve DeCastro since she has given all of his restaurants four stars (to my knowledge).
Having said all that, the one good thing about the review is that they do inform me of restaurants that otherwise might not hit my radar screen, and by at least describing the dishes and the prices, I can get some idea of whether or not I'd want to go there. Probably the most recent example of this is Britton's, of which I'm sure I would have never heard if not for the food reviewer in whatever paper I saw.
Interesting hearing other opinions on Fazzini's.
I went there for lunch last weekend for the first time in about two years, and thought it was great. The pasta was well prepared and the marinara sauce was the same as I had always enjoyed in the past. If you don't like their sauce, you won't like the place. If people didn't have different tastes, there wouldn't be 5 million varieties of Ragu for sale. Service is pretty poor, but the place isn't exactly Boccacio's.
For a cheap plate of pasta - I'm still a fan of Fazzini's.