cheap eats and the best fine dining.
im a chef from the boston area and my girlfriend and i will be in baltimore for a weekend getaway in november. as we dont have a ton of extra spending money we'll be looking for some inexpensive bites that are must trys when in town. i.e...the infamous maryland crabcake...
if our budget allows for it...i would also like to get a reservation for one dinner at a fine dining restaurant. any cuisine...as long as the food and service kick serious ass. please help! im ashamed to say i really know nothing about food in baltimore. except maybe charm city cakes!
Are you looking for good examples of Baltimore food or good food in Baltimore? If the latter, I'd try Jack's Bistro, Salt, and Three, which are great examples of trying to take bar food a couple notches beyond the norm. If the former, One Eyed Mikes, Red Star, Henningers, and Peter's Inn are all good examples of that particular Baltimore creature - bars that serve good food.
I'd also recommend La Cazuela because it's a great restaurant.
Finally, you should stop by Birches. Run by a former Boston chef who has moved down here, you might want to get his take on things. Plus, it's really really good.
Another good option is Petit Louis in Roland Park, which is owned by the same people who own Charleston.
As for cheap eats, check out the Golden West in Hampden. The service is not great and expect to wait a while, but the food is really good.
In regards to crab cakes, my advice is to steer clear of the Inner Harbor. You're certain to get "filler cakes" there. Honestly, the best crab cakes are the ones you make at home.
My favorite foodie things to do in baltimore....sunday farmers market - good for breakfast (just remember to bring cash!), Dizzy Issies for burgers and the chance to see the charm city cake crew, Blue Moon brunch/late night dining - apple bacon pancakes and fabulous coffee, and I'm sure Lexington Market is fun but I have yet to go.
Rocket to Venus is also very inexpensive, and is a good place to get a feel for balmer's scenester crowd (though I thought the service was bad, the food was fine).
I'd try and take in the Farmer's Market under the JFX on Sunday morning. You can get good cheap food ranging from Pit Beef sandwiches, locally ground coffee, crepes with market fresh ingredients, kettle corn, fresh sausage and biscuits, falafel, soups etc...to produce. It's also a great place to people watch.
Pick up a copy of the City Paper (out on Wednesdays) there are lots of bar/restaurant ads in there which will give you an indication of happy hours or any specials that may be going one both food and entertainment wise. And, BaltoEllen suggested, the more info you can give us about what you're looking for, the more direction we can give you.
If you don't mind driving around for good food, try the Fenwick bakery up in NE Baltimore (Parkville) as well as Mastellone's just down the street (Italian deli & wine shop). I'd suggets ANgelina's near there too, but it was sold a few years ago and I heard it is for sale again. For crabcakes you could try G&M in Halethorpe just south of Baltimore-proper, but I'm told Faidley's in town makes very good crabcakes, too.
re: Pool Boy
Why are the crabcakes "infamous?" ;-)
Anyway, a good start would be to search through posts on crab cakes and cheap eats in Baltimore. There are always quite a few threads on them.
Also, if you want to narrow down the types of cuisines your looking for, and where you're staying, and if you'll have a car, etc., you can get very specific suggestions.
Anyway, what I tell EVERYONE though, is get thee to Lexington Market!
re: Pool Boy
G&M has also changed hands. I wouldn't go there or to Angelina's for crabcakes now. The place to go on Harford Rd for crabcakes is Koco's. BaltoEllen's suggestion of Faidley's is excellent but keep in mind that it is only open during the day and is closed Sundays. Speaking of Harford Rd., The Chameleon Cafe ( www.thechameleoncafe.com ) will give you the most bang for your gourmet buck. As previuosly stated, Charleston is the best and most expensive restaurant in the city. Others worth considering: Timothy Dean ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427991 ) in Fells Point (used to have horrible service, now has some of the best in the city), Bicycle in South Baltimore and Salt ( http://www.chowhound.com/topics/444592 ) in the Patterson Park area.
For cheap eats there are plenty. I am not sre where you are staying, but Baltimore has some fun places.
For Greek head to Samos for great food and BYOB makes it reasonable.
The Helmand is Afgan and very good
The crab cake request will lead to some very opinionated responses, but you can't get more Baltimore than Faidley's at Lexington Market.
Brewers Art gets some good press
Iggies seems to be the spot for pizza, another Byob
In Federal Hill you can do happy hour at the Cross Street market and down some oysters.
If you have specific areas you want to hang out in I am sure people will chime in with those neighborhood finds.