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Feb 17, 2008 09:26 AM

Jessup/Columbia/Baltimore Recommendations

Hello Baltimore area Chowhounders! My husband is going to be making a lot of business trips to Baltimore in the upcoming months and he's looking for some good evening dining recommendations. His business will keep him primarily in the Jessup and Columbia areas, so recommendations nearby would be great. That's not to say he's not willing to drive a bit for good food but I don't know how much time he'll have to go into Baltimore itself. Any to die for places, preferably moderately priced? Seafood recommendations are highly welcome, but anything will do. The only real requirement is that the recommendations NOT be for chains. He doesn't want to eat somewhere he could eat at home (MN). Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

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  1. If you do a quick search on Columbia and Ellicott City, you'll find a number of threads that cover this topic pretty well, but here are my suggestions for places with good food and a creative touch:

    Cafe de Paris (French in Columbia; others prefer Tersiguel's in Ellicott City)
    Aida Bistro (Italian in Columbia)
    Johnny's Bistro on Main (Ellicott City for sandwiches, pizzas, and tapas; closed Mon-Tue)
    An Loi (Vietnamese in Columbia; I love the grill special)

    Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge is often recommended, but I haven't made it yet even though I play volleyball only a block away.

    You'll get mixed recommendations on Timbuktu in Hanover for crab cakes. They're different, mostly huge piles of crab meat with little breading and a mustard tang. It might be worth trying for an inexpensive lunch.

    You won't find Chinese to the standard of, say, the SF Bay area, but Hunan Manor and Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro in Columbia are decent. The Mongolian Grill in Columbia just off Dobbin Road is good.

    Bombay Peacock Grill in Columbia is usually where I go for Indian; their nan bread is good, but I'm told by aficionados they're just average overall among Indian restaurants.

    There are also some new restaurants in Maple Lawn just south of Columbia; I had a decent meal at Oz Chophouse. LeeLynn's in Ellicott City a little further north is good but I think a little pricey for what you get, though I'm willing to try them again.

    14 Replies
    1. re: 2stepper

      Thanks for the great recommendations! I should have also mentioned that the recommendations should be for places without strict dress codes - he and his colleague will most likely only be wearing jeans and khakis while there. No jacket required places, please. Thanks again! - Seige

      1. re: Seige

        There are a lot of chains in Columbia, but it is possible to avoid them if you try! Sushi King in Columbia if he likes sushi. Second the rec for Cafe de Paris...jeans ok for both. For Indian, I like Mango Grove. Also, the Dog Pub in Columbia for good beer and pizza. I don't know of any places in Jessup.

        1. re: sistereurope

          The central Maryland area is fairly casual, he mostly won't have trouble with dress codes until they go into DC or Baltimore.

          Some other places while I'm thinking about it:

          Red Hot and Blue (barbecue in Laurel; technically a chain but it was started in this area by a group including Lee Atwater. KBQ in Bowie is my favorite but probably 30-40 minutes away.)

          Mexican is pretty mundane, nothing really better than the chains (like Don Pablo's, Baja Fresh). Tampico Grill in Laurel is a place you can get carne asada, though nowhere near true Tex-Mex like you'd find in San Antonio. There are some Salvadoran places near there I haven't tried.

          There's a Five Guys burger place in Laurel too. It's a local chain that specializes in really greasy burgers, but it doesn't live up to the hype for me.

          I find the food at Ram's Head in Savage Mill uninspiring, but the beer is pretty good and other people like it a lot. The one in Annapolis specializes in live acoustic music.

          1. re: 2stepper

            El Nayar on Rt. 1 just south of 103 is particularly good Mexican and best of all, it's cheap! I've never been to dinner there, only lunch, but I think they are serving alcohol now as well.


            El Nayar
            6790 Business Pkwy, Elkridge, MD 21075

            1. re: locustpointgirl

              I'll have to try El Nayar, I don't think I would have found it on my own.

              Also, to the OP, Timbuktu is a little seedy but some people can't get enough of their crab cakes. Most of the other places are moderately casual with Tersiguel's and EFI toward the high end. An unbiased report on Greystone Grill would be interesting.

              1. re: 2stepper

                He went to Timbuktu the last time he was out there and liked it, but he wanted to try some new places. I checked out the website for Cafe de Paris and it looks fabulous. He definitely likes good pubs, so I'll let him know about Ram's Head and the Dog Pub. I'll have him report back about Greystone Grill and let you know what he thought... although I tend to be a bit more critical about dining than he is. :)

                1. re: Seige

                  Cafe de Paris is great. Dog Pub makes their own beer and has good pizza. I haven't been to the Columbia location but I live near the Federal Hill one and go there frequently.

                  Greystone is a local chain aimed at a corporate clientele. I haven't eaten at any of them, but the Hunt Valley location is not well thought of by those of my coworkers who do a lot of business entertaining. It's not horrible, but not exciting in their view.

                  1. re: JonParker

                    Jon, the Columbia Dog Pub is basically the Fed Hill location on steroids (meaning that thr bar is huge compared to FH :)
                    Food and beer (love their beer) are just as good, however!

                    1. re: JonParker

                      I still have no word on the food at the Greystone (this would be the Columbia location), as he wasn't actually able to eat there on Sunday night. Despite allowing me to make a reservation there past 8pm, they apparently close at 8pm on Sunday. I received a call at my home in MN, from the hostess apologizing profusely for the mix-up in the system. But even more suprising was the call I got from the manager, Evan, a few minutes later apologizing further and offering to keep his kitchen staff late so my husband and his colleague to come in for dinner anyway. My husband declined, as his colleague was running late, but that's what I call customer service! Hopefully they'll get a chance to try the place at a later date and I'll let you all know how it goes.

          2. re: Seige

            In Jessup, Frank's Diner has really good breakfasts and diner food. The biscuits, pancakes and waffles can't be beat.

            As for pubs, Frisco Grill & Cantina in Columbia is supposed to have a humongous tap selection (caveat, I haven't been there in years).

            1. re: little audrey

              Another vote for Frank's Diner. Waffles, pancakes, and chicken-fried steak are the best I have ever had anywhere. Took my dad there on a Sunday morning and he agreed that it is excellent.

          3. re: 2stepper

            Elkridge Furnace Inn is excellent, but it is definitely not moderately priced. However, if you happen to visit him, it IS very, very romantic and the service is top notch.

            1. re: diablo

              Thanks for the suggestion. I will, hopefully, be joining him on some trips there later this year, so I'll file that suggestion away! He's going to the Greystone Grill in EC tonight since it's close to his hotel... hopefully that was a good choice on short notice.

              1. re: Seige

                If it was a business dinner, it's fine. Otherwise, pricey and not impressive. The suggestions are good, as are those in another recent thread, but keep in mind that I consider there to currently be 0 "to die for" restaurants in Howard County.

          4. Pasta Plus in Laurel on Rte 1 near Rte 198 good casual pasta place. Also very very casual, there is a Kebab place on Rte 198 heading east towards Ft Meade, good Persian food in a old fast food building inexpensive but quite tasty. Also try Gunnings which is about 1/2 mile past Timbuktu's,good crab cakes and try the green pepper rings for the experience.Alos remember that RTe 95 can get you into the city(sans traffic) in around 15-20 minutes..choices there expand your opportunities greatly

            1. Cafe de Paris
              Pasta Plus in Laurel
              Sushi King
              Ironbridge Wine Co (food is ok, wine options are better/fun)
              Aida Bistro
              G&M is near BW Parkway/Balto Beltway, makes similar crabcakes to Timbuktu, too


              1. Just checking back in with an update: Hubby was able to try Red Hot and Blue (loved it!), Frank's Diner (said it was good, but didn't seem overly excited about it - I'm not sure what he tried), El Nayar (again, loved it - he said it was very authentic), Hunan Legend (again - a great suggestion from these boards... you people rock!) and Greystone Grill (which he said was good, but high priced for what you get). There's lots more on the list of suggestions I gave him and he's determined to make it through them all over the course of the next few months. Thanks again everyone!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Seige

                  I just had to come back and recant a bit about what I said about Frank's Diner. Hubby must have been a little exhausted when he told me about it the first time because he now adores the place and is probably becoming a regular! He and his colleague have had sandwiches and omelets and cakes, oh my! :) They've loved everything. Thanks again everyone... you guys rock!