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Sunday dinner in Baltimore

While we live in DC we don't spend much time in Baltimore, but in a few weeks my parents will be in town for a conference and we'll spend Sunday afternoon and evening with them.
Please provide suggestions for a fun moderately priced dinner for my husband, my parents, and I. One suggestion my father received from his office manager was Tio Pepe, but the menu doesn't look incredibly appealing to me. I'd be up for it if people have rave reviews, but I haven't really had much Spanish food.
We aren't picky with cuisine, and have been to Little Italy the few times we've been to Baltimore and enjoyed it (although I can't remember the name of the place we've returned to each time--it's a bistro-y type of place which is known for their foccacia bread served with shrimp on top in a cream sauce...any help you can provide on the name of this place in particular would be appreciated as well!). We also liked Vaccaro's for their cannolis.
Places I'd compare to in DC (as far as price and types of food we and my folks like) include Tosca, Zengo, Poste, Ten Penh, or DC Coast.
Thanks for your help.

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  1. I think the place in Little Italy you are referring to is Amicci's on South High Street.

    Tio Pepe is great, but haven't been there in about two years. But it is a Baltimore landmark and is reviewed consistantly well. The Baltimore Sun review....


    2 Replies
    1. re: tennisgal1206

      Yes, Amicci's is it! Thanks.
      And thanks for the article on Tio Pepe. I'll read it in a sec...

      Any other suggestions?

      1. re: tennisgal1206

        I agree with both places. Pazo is also good. Another place is Gertrude's at the BMA.

      2. this may not be what you're looking for, but...my parents were just in baltimore last night, and we met them for dinner. We took them to Dizzy Izzies for burgers and they really loved it. It was laid back, really inexpensive, and they got to see Charm City Cakes, too (my boyfriend saw Duff but said nothing!).

        For a good baltimore experience, I'd have liked to finish dinner with a walk for gelato from Pitigano in Fells, but they had to get back.

        For dessert, my boyfriend and I grabbed two slices of pie at Dangerously Delicious. Fabulous.

        So while it may not be what you're looking for, my folks loved the bugers and atmosphere at Dizzies.

        1. I'd recommend Kali's Mezze for this. They're generally not swamped on Sundays, which makes for a stress-free experience. Lots of great small plates for sharing, nice wines, not very pricey. And if it's nice weather, you may even score a table outside.

          1. One other request...my dad asked for something near the harbor since that's where they'll be staying. We'll have our car but now they say they'd ideally like to walk...

            1. You can definitely walk to Little Italy from the Inner Harbor if you decide to go there.

              How old are your parents and how far can they walk? I walk all over the city, so I think pretty much everything "downtown" is walkable from the Inner Harbor.

              I don't normally suggest Pazo, but on a Sunday night, it might be nice and quiet. They have tapas and other stuff, all good. And if you haven't been it's very visually appealing. Also there's the new place by the same owners, Cinghiale - you can search the board for reviews, I haven't been yet.

              If you think Federal Hill is walkable - depending what side of the harbor you're staying on, it's maybe 15-30 minutes - there are lots of options. Thai Arroy on Light St. is on that is great and byob. And there's an ice cream place (Beach Bums) and a pie place (Dangerously Delicious) across the street where you could grab dessert for the walk back. Although I don't know how late BB or DD are open on Sundays.

              Thai Arroy
              1019 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230

              2 Replies
              1. re: pigtowner

                They're in their mid-50's and have no problem walking, although my mom does love to wear high heels! :) Really though, I would say no more than a 10-15 minute walk ideally.

                1. re: KWynn

                  If you're staying in one of the hotels on the west side of the harbor, you can totally walk to Fed Hill in that time. If you're staying on the other side, it would be pretty far.

                  The east side is obviously closer to Little Italy and Harbor East (Pazo, Cinghiale, Lebanese Taverna, etc)

              2. I'd would recomend John Shield's restaurant Gertrude's at the BMA. The restaurant has a beautiful courtyard that overlooks the sculpture garden and the menu is accessible. It's quintessential Baltimore as Shields is one of our premier chefs. I'd place it as a high-recommend if you're considering brunch but it's also good for dinner. Maybe even consider a stroll through the BMA which is now free. Lastly, there's something about it that's perfect for visiting families...particularly parents. It's where we always take out of town guests. Whatever you do, skip Tip Pepe. I'm not sure what area you will be in, but you may also want to consider The Bicycle, Brewers Art, The Carlyle Club, Tusk Lounge (not the dining room att the Brass Elephant), etc. They all offer something different.

                1. We ended up going to Tio Pepe after two of my parents' friends insisted that they would love it. And we did!
                  There were no starters that jumped out at us so we ordered some Sangria to kick off the evening. Man, that was good sangria. And it was strong!! My mom and I were pretty buzzed after the first 1/2 glass! :) The "small pitcher" portion size was more than enough for the 4 of us--we each were able toget a refill.
                  For entrees we all enjoyed what we ordered. Mine was my favorite--the tournedos of beef in a mushroom wine sauce. The portion was huge--there were 3 pieces of meat--more like about 3 6 oz filets than the tournedos I'm used to (I ended up bringing 2 of the 3 pieces home!). The meat was cooked medium-rare, to my specification. It was served with a generous side plate with two different veggies: green beans and zuchinni. Both were fresh and tasty.
                  My husband ordered the brochette of beef in a black truffle sauce. The beef was great but the sauce wasn't as rich and flavorful as we would've hoped. Nonetheless, he enjoyed and finished about half of his large portion.
                  Mom had a chicken dish which was served in a red sauce with peppers. It kind of reminded me of chicken caccitore (but maybe with a little bit of a spanish flare). She requested all white meat chicken, and the waiter obliged. The chicken was tender and moist and very flavorful.
                  Dad got a chicken and lobster dish. The sauce was a bit creamy for my taste, but the proteins were tasty.
                  We also ordered a side of their spinach with pinenuts and grapes. It was excellent!
                  Again, we had leftovers from all of the entrees, and for the spinach. My husband and I should be able to get 2-3 dinners out of the leftovers--there was that much food!
                  Despite feeling full, we had read a good bit online about the pinenut roll cake. So we got an order (with 4 forks) to share. The cake was unique--it was a white cake rolled with an orangy-custard, topped with a generous serving of pinenuts. I liked the taste but will try something different when we return.
                  And that we will--we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and plan to return when we make it up to Baltimore again.

                  Oh, and we went to Gertrude's at the BMA for lunch. Service was iffy and we sat outside in the "covered heated tent" but there were no heating lamps and it was actually quite chilly. The coffee certainly helped! Eggs Gertrude (like eggs benedict but over crabcakes) were great. I would return for the crabcakes alone. The stuffed french toast was a bit too sweet, but we shared the two entrees and ate the french toast as our "dessert". We also got an order of the special duck and apple sausage which was smoky and delicious, although I would've liked a little bit more of the apple flavor.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KWynn

                    I like Tio's more than most people on the board. I think it has improved over the last few years. Good dishes to try are the appetizers of shrimp in garlic sauce and the "mushrooms from the caves of segovia" and entrees of suckling pig and the flounder with hollandaise and bananas. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reporting back.

                    1. re: ko1

                      I have always enjoyed Tio's too!!! They used to have a tendency to overbook and the waiting ruined an otherwise experience...but I must confess that that has not happened in a long time.