HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Baltimore birthday dinner with ethnic and vegetarian food

Six of us want to celebrate my daughter's 21st birthday at a somewhat "fancy" place. There are two vegetarians in the group. My daughter likes ethnic food (other than Japanese), however one member of the group won't eat Thai or Indian food. Isn't that always the way? The larger the group, the harder it is to suit everyone.
Anyway, any suggestions for us?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Helmand on Charles St. in Mt. Vernon. Afghan food. really good, lots of veggie choices.


    3 Replies
    1. re: jes

      That was my first thought, too. There are lots of vegetarian options and several fairly plain dishes, plus some more interesting fare for adventurous diners.

      Somewhat 'fancy,' but definitely not pretentious and I've always had excellent service.

      1. re: asiege2

        I've found the dishes at Helmand to be similar in character to Indian food. Not exactly the same of course (definitely less heat in the seasonings), but in the same general area. If the person in your party who won't eat Indian food is particularly picky, that might be an issue. That said, I like Helmand a lot and think it would be a nice choice for a birthday dinner.

        1. re: ark

          I agree with asiege2. Afghan food and Indian food are sort of 'cousins' to me. depending on how picky the reject of Indian food is, s/he might find this rejectable as well. (Although, I do like Helmand.)

    2. If you don't mind a more casual atmosphere, Ras Doobie's might also be a good choice, and you might even get Nzinga leading the entire restaurant in singing Happy Birthday.

      213 Penn Street

      410 752 3896

      I also concur with the recommendation of The Helmand.

      1. Depending on where most attendees are coming from, The Orchard Market in Towson off of Joppa Road could be a nice choice. The setting is fairly elegant yet cozy, and the Persian food is "exotic" (in that it's a cuisine most Americans aren't familiar with, much like the Afghan at The Helmand), and yet there's plenty on the menu for both the vegetarians in your party, and there are enough "tame" options that any less-adventurous diners will still find something enjoyable.

        1. If the vegetarians eat fish, I'd recommend La Cazuela on Eastern.

          The other place you might want to consider is Zodiac up by the Charles Theatre. New Orleans kind of food, but they have veggie and vegan dishes.

          1. Another option that might provide a good variety for the vegetarians and meet the "ethnic" criteria would be to try one of the tapas/mezze/"small plates" places in town - do a search on any of those words or phrases for past Chowhound recommendations. I've not personally tried any of them in Baltimore, but perhaps other 'hounds can make specific suggestions. When I've tried this style of meal in other cities, though, I've generally found the variety and the ratio of vegetarian to non-vegetarian options to be better than most "regular" restaurants. Besides that, the sharing of many dishes makes for a convivial atmosphere, which is nice for a celebration.

            1. The tapas sounds like a good idea. Any place you'd recommend besides Tapas Teatro?

              Thanks for all the suggestions so far. We have been to the Helmand before and it was great, really fit the bill. We're just looking for something different this time.

              1. Pazo and Kali's Mezze are excellent tapas choices. Pazo is larger and fancier - to fit your needs.

                1. pazo is too scenester...it is the place to see and be seen...too loud, too pretentious, and the food was only fair (we will never go back..once is enough)IMHO...mezze is fantastic...good food, good service, good wine. i like tapas' environment better, but mezze's food is top notch. and just for the record, my parents, who REFUSE to eat anything ethnic including mexican and italian, and especially indian...LOVE the helmand.

                  1. yes Pazo's bar/lounge area is as hip as it gets in B-more, but the table areas are fine if you dine on the early side

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Sop

                      Don't forget- the dinner is a celebration for a 21st birthday. "Scenester", a little pretentious, might be what the daughter would like for this occaision. We had some very nice dishes at Pazo and enjoyed ourselves when my husband and I took my college daughter and a friend there for dinner.With the small plates, everyone should be able to find several dishes to suit themselves. The Helmand is very nice and has the food is fantastic, but 21st birthday might call for a a little different atmosphere.

                    2. We did go to Pazo's at 9:30 p.m. and LOVED it. Loved the decor, loved the background music, loved the food. We ordered three portions of the bruschetta, it was so good. Slow-cooked lamb was great, so was the goat cheese. Thanks to all for their suggestions.