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Towson & Surrounds - Casual Dining?

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  • drfink May 16, 2002 09:46 AM
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Grew up in Balmer, been living in Atlanta (where great food abounds from mid-town to the northern 'burbs)just moved back to the Towson area. Having a hard time finding casual "neighborhood" fare that serves for a convenient weeknight out. Seems like the old haunts have tanked and new ones are weak. Specifically, Italian/Burgers/BBQ/Mex also any good breakfast spots. Help.

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  1. There are two places around there. One is Orchard Market Cafe, off of Joppa Road. Its none of the cuisines you describe--it's Persian. But if youve got some adventurous friends it is really good. Also, up north, I think in Timonium?, theres a place called JJs Cafe that is great. I never go there because it's so far up north, but they do wonderfully fresh American, great crabcakes, very friendly. I can't remember but it may be a BYOB.
    And speaking as a new convert: Andy Nelson's Barbeque in Cockeysville! Its not a night out (more like a pig out!), very informal, but its the best bbq your going to find around here!

    2 Replies
    1. re: peckish

      I agree on Orchard Market Cafe. Its never crowded..staff is professional but not overbearing.
      Food is unique ..fresh.. abundant. Prices are average.
      BYOB. Whodathunk Persian Food copuld be so good?

      1. re: peckish

        I agree on Orchard Market Cafe. Its never crowded..staff is professional but not overbearing.
        Food is unique ..fresh.. abundant. Prices are average.
        BYOB. Whodathunk Persian Food copuld be so good?

      2. For BBQ, try Andy Nelson's up on York Rd, about a mile and a half north of Warren Rd on the right. If you pass Valley View Farms (another bright spot for all your gardening needs), you have overshot Andy Nelson's by a quarter mile.

        Andy Sr. was on the Baltimore Colts championship team of '58 and serves up some really good 'Q.

        1. For Mexican, try El Salto in Parkville by Perring Parkway. It is cheap and good - located in a converted fast food restaurant. Haven't been to this location (off of Joppa Road?) for awhile, but I go to the original in Brooklyn Park frequently.

          For cheap casual Italian, you may want to check out Fazzini's in Cockeysville in the 2nd shopping center on Cranbrook road. Some on this board have some strong feelings against this place, but I've always really enjoyed it.

          BBQ - Andy Nelson's (period)

          2 Replies
          1. re: SlipperyR

            I can second El Salto. Enormous menu -- almost to the point of confusion. Excellent and friendly service. Cheap, too.

            1. re: SlipperyR

              I'm new to the board, so I don't know about the brouhaha surrounding Fazzini's, but I also have enjoyed everything I've had there. It does lack ambience, but it's cheap, and satisfying, and they have large portions. Their fra diavolo's are good (maybe not as spicy as some would like), and so are their calzones. They make their own pasta and sauces, which you can even buy to take home. I think they're a bargain.

            2. Please try Johnny Dee's Lounge at 1706 Joan Ave (behind the 7-11 on Loch Raven Blvd - between Taylor Ave and Joppa Rd). Phone number is: 665-7000.
              We've been regulars for over 20 years. They have
              great burgers, hot and cold sandwiches (shrimp salad is their specialty), soups, several Italian dishes, seafood platters and chile. The prices are very reasonable. Most dishes are under $10. They have a full bar and are open 7 days a week. (Casual)

              1. Please try Johnny Dee's Lounge at 1706 Joan Ave just off Loch Raven Blvd (between Taylor Ave and Joppa Rd). Phone number is: 665-7000.
                We've been regulars for over 20 years. They have
                great burgers, hot and cold sandwiches (shrimp salad is their specialty), soups, several Italian dishes, seafood platters and chile. The prices are very reasonable. Most dishes are under $10. They have a full bar and are open 7 days a week.

                1. k
                  Kristin Mears

                  I grew up in Towson and moved back a year and a half ago after living downtown for three years. It was quite depressing to return to the county restaurant scene. But my husband and I do have a few favorites in the heart of Towson and the surrounding area.
                  Frisco Burritos has great burritos and quesidillas. It's on Pennsylvania Ave (I think), a few doors down from Sunny's Surplus and next to a 7-Eleven. The Kabob Hut is a good, cheap place too. Great chicken suvlaki sandwiches and kabob platters. It's just down from Souris's on Allegheny Avenue. An Indian place just opened up inside the Days Inn Hotel on Loch Raven Boulevard. And if you really want a good burger, Alonso's, on Cold Spring Lane (in the city), isn't too far away and is worth the trip. There is also a mexican restaurant attached to Alonso's.
                  Cafe Troia (28 W. Allegheny Avenue)is a nice Italian place - not a super casual or cheap place, though.
                  Thai One On (10 W. Pennsylvania Ave) has great pad thai and is connected to a sushi place if you're into that.
                  Good breakfast places are a tough one. Bagel Works, on Joppa Road, is ok. Nothing fancy - bagels, eggs, pancakes, etc. There is also Perk Avenue (attached to another Bagel Works) on York Road in Lutherville. It looks a little bit more like a cute cafe but doesn't really do anything too fancy.
                  I haven't been there yet, but Courtney's on Padonia Road in Cockeysville is getting good press. It's predecessor, Rothwell's Grille, was always reliable. The former owner has stayed on as a manager, which could be a good sign!

                  1. i sympathize: my husband and i live in the towson area and are both avid chowhounds. the only place we eat regularly is thai one on/san sushi (thai consistently excellent, we go elsewhere for sushi -- sushi hana isn't bad if you don't feel like leaving greater towson).

                    we find everywhere else to be just so ho-hum, even though i like a couple of storefront places for lunch or takeout: frisco burritos isn't bad, kebab place is ok, fresh fresh seafood is terrific.

                    i've had mixed experiences at golden gate noodle house -- it can be quite good if you know what to order, asun has specific suggestions (which i actually could stand to hear again...asun?)

                    we have just learned to accept that we must drive 20-30 minutes for good food, dinner-wise. places we go often:

                    great, relatively undiscovered mexican is los amigos on harford road -- imho it's much better than el salto, and without the wait on weekends; the owner makes the sangria herself, and it packs a wallop! ceviche also very good, fantastic refritos, good beef dishes.

                    burgers at dougherty's (mount vernon) or empty pockets (south baltimore), both are bars.

                    i'm one of the ones who refuses to join the cult of fazzini's. it's fine, even very good, for a strip mall italian restaurant, but i continually fail to have the sublime dining experience there that so many others rave about. same goes for jj's: the food is fresh and homemade but unimaginatively, sometimes even poorly, prepared. they're cheap, i'll give 'em that!

                    and bbq is always andy nelson, andy nelson, andy nelson!!!!

                    breakfast at the ashland cafe on york road in old cockeysville, a quick jaunt from towson, or the wyman park grill in charles village (near jhu), or the blue moon in fells point (fantastic food, worth the drive & the wait, and i won't willingly wait for a seat in very many restaurants!).

                    hope this helps -- please enjoy, and let us know where you end up and how it goes!

                    cheers,
                    trix

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: trix

                      Thanks for the plug Trix. By the way, do you ever go to An Poitin Stil?

                      At Golden Gate, the best thing on the menu is the wonton noodle soup, which they do SF style. Either the roast duck or roast pork wonton noodle soup is great. They also make really good whole steamed fish if you're in the mood; I have ordered this and the chinese vegetables with oyster sauce. Finally, every so often during the winter, the owner makes Low Bak Gow (turnip cake); you can ask her if she has it. The dumplings are fairly ordinary. In short, if you stick with the Chinese dishes (as opposed to the "american chinese dishes," I think you'll really enjoy it.

                      I also like Pappas restaurant for the typical Maryland crab cake/crab soup/etc. food. It's near Taylor and Loch Raven.

                      Finally, one other neat place is Sheperd's Pies of Scotland in the Padonia Shopping Center--they have ready-to-be cooked sheperd's pies and can even make haggis with 48 hours notice!

                      1. re: asun

                        Wow, another fan of wonton mein! The last time I was at Golden Gate, I had the noodle soup with fishballs. It was satisfying (hadn't had it in a long time, since I moved from home), but the fish balls were the frozen kind you can buy at Lotte. If you go there I also suggest getting a dish of stir-fried chinese vegetables (whatever they have in season-choy sum, gai lan, shanghai bok choy, etc.) to round out the meal.

                        I was at the An Poitin Stil once. It was on a Thursday night. Parking was impossible. Beer selection was good. Crowd was overwhelming. They also happened to have a live band that night. We were seated right behind the speakers. Completely impossible to have a conversation. In our party, we had the shepard's pie (decent, but strangely flavored with cloves, and somewhat small in size), a soup of the day (can't remember what kind, which leads me to believe it was unimpressive), pork chops (dry). Dinners are a little pricey for what you get. Lunches are a slightly better deal. We went in for a quiet lunch one Sunday afternoon: Bookmaker, Banger and burger. All satisfying, especially with a Boddington's Cream Ale.

                    2. When it comes to bar food near Towson, my list starts and ends with Swallow at the Hollow on York at Northern. It's a little smoky, but it's worth it for their burgers, club sandwiches, chef's salads... damn, I'm hungry now!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BobbyD

                        Get out of town! I can't believe the Swallow is still open. When I was a starving college student back in the early 70s that was my restaurant of choice and budget. It was the only place I could afford to bring a date.

                        One sandwich from the Swallow was so big that I would take half home for the next day's main meal. I once saw Boog Powell eat three roast beef sandwiches and two ptichers of beer, BEFORE A GAME!

                        This place had a great neighborhood feel, nice folks, cheap beer and eats, and the O's game on TV. I am glad to hear it is still around.

                      2. I live in Towson (presently), and eat there or get carry-out at least once a week. Thai One On has great Thai; I especially like Nur Nom Thok (sp?); sushi is OK next door at Sans Sushi (I think they co-own Thai-One-On, because my wife goes for the sushi while I eat the Thai - carry-out - and she orders both in either one). Both are small, but you can eat in. If pizza is your favorite, the Italian Gardens in Kenilworth Mall makes a good pie, decent cheese steaks, kids eat free Mon - Wed with an adult entree purchase. Ocean Pride, just up York Road (past Seminary Ave.) does great steamed seafood; crabs are passable. Purim Oak has good Korean buffet Fri - Sun, individual meals rest of week. AVOID: Melting Pot, Rigatoni's, Rainforest Cafe - overpriced and just not so good.

                        Seeya',

                        Andy