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One great meal in Baltimore

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I'm visiting my son in college this weekend and would like to go to take him to one great place in Baltimore. Seafood is okay, but don't want a typical crab house with all that fried food. We're staying in the Inner Harbor, but have a car, so could drive anywhere. Any ideas?

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  1. My husband and I just went to Saffron at 802 N. charles St. last night. He had the lamb... it was delicious and I had the asopao...seafood and rice...spicy and outstanding. Of course, it was rainy and sleeting and our service was exceptional because there were only 2 tables occupied. check out their website www.saffronbaltimore.com and see if you like the menu.

    1. I like Crazy Lil's at 27 East Cross St. Downstairs is a fairly typical bar, but go upstairs to find a quiet, smoke-free dining room. The menu is varied, mostly grilled (burgers, fish, chicken). The crab dip is the best I've ever had. All the food is very tasty and not at all expesive. The servers are friendly and attentive. It would probably take you less than 1/2 hour to get down there and if you go eaerly enough, you can check cross street market and the view from Federal Hill Park.

      1. I asked my daughter who also goes to college in Baltimore. We have taken her out to many places. We all liked Pazo. It is a trendy place with very good food, but he wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen there with his parents. Another place we all liked was The Helmond,with Afghan food. But her - and my - first choice would be Mama's on the Half-Shell in Canton. It offers a nice selection of seafood, but has a varied menu- in selection and price. It's close to the Inner Harbor, and far enough away from campus that he won't run into everyone he knows.

        1. For a "Great " meal I would recommend "Charleston"...i think it's the best in Baltimore

          1. For trendy, Mediterranean inspired (Spain and Sicily) small pates, Pazo is good.For a great, high-end meal, Charleston is the place. Mama's and Saffron are good suggestions. For something homey, fairly reasonable but with outstanding food, try The Chameleon Cafe.
            www.thechameleoncafe.com

            1. Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art http://www.johnshields.com/restaurant...

              Kali's Court in Fells Point http://www.kaliscourt.net/home.html

              Or one of the restaurants in Little Italy (I like the old standard Chiapparelli's but others might beg to differ.
              http://www.chiapparellis.com/

              Da'Mimmo has a nice menue but it's pretty pricey and it might be a little stuffy for a college student. http://damimmo.com/

              If you want to go for dessert some place besides where you eat your meal I'd recommend Vaccaro's if you still have room. http://www.vaccarospastry.com/index.jsp

              1. Charleston if you can afford it, Pazo if you can't (or merely want something a bit more downscale. If you want old-fashioned elegance, try the Prime Rib (but order steaks or crab, not the rib).

                2 Replies
                1. re: tartuffe

                  Really? I love the rib, incredibly tender and flavorful, IMHO.

                  1. re: ko1

                    Nothing wrong with the rib; it is certainly good. It's just that the carnivores that I go with and I much prefer the steaks.

                2. what do you mean by "one great meal"

                  IMO, the five top restaurants in B'more are (not in order): Charleston; Black Olive, Abercrombie, Saffron, Hampton's.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: BmoreHound

                    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. BmoreHound, by "one great meal," I mean that since I'll only be there one night, I want to make sure my one meal is a great one. Thanks again, everyone.

                    1. re: niia

                      Be sure to report back on where you go. TIA.

                      1. re: niia

                        if i understand you correctly, i'd recommend charleston as the IMO best, most consistent and accessible, world-class-type of restaurant in baltimore. it also has consistently great service. it's the kind of place that you mention to people for years afterwards, and i doubt there will be any missteps at all.

                        if you would like something a little more adventuresome, saffron or nasu blanca might be more appropriate. however, both of those restaurants have their critics for various things about the experience.

                    2. For my money....Tio Pepe's is outstanding and not a typical restaurant...fabulous Spanish style food...has been a Baltimore landmark for over 30 years....I reccommend their Shrimp in Garlic sauce, Rockfish stuffed with crab with champagne sauce and their desserts ( Spanish style roll cakes) have no equal!

                      1. I would second Saffron and Pazo. My suggestions would be Samos, which is a great greek restaurant and The Bicycle, which is quite trendy. Samos is on eastern ave and Bicycle is in Federal Hill.

                        1. For "Great" as in "best available", I'd say that many of the prior recs for Charleston, Pazo, Saffron, etc. are probably pretty good.

                          If you want "unlikely to find something like this elsewhere" meals, I'd steer more toward the following. Each is in it's own way a unique dining experience.
                          Helmand (good value - Afghan food, run by the brother of the President of Afghanistan), Martick's (Quirky "French influenced" food in a very anonymous and unmarked location, cooked by a septugenarian who was born in the bulding that now serves as his restaurant)
                          Ras Doobie's (fantastic Jamaican food, very laid back and casual)
                          La Cozuela (Equadorian - unusual cuisine, but there's something on the menu to please almost any eater, and a terrific value for the money)

                          1. I'll throw in Aldo's to the mix. I've never had a bad meal there. It's in Little Italy.

                            Pazo, Tio Pepe and Charleston are the two others that strike me out of this mix as being great examples of what Baltimore has to offer.

                            If you want to drive a little north out of the city, the Milton Inn and the Oregon Grill are great.