BWI and Inner Harbor rec's needed
I am bringing a group of about 16 to Baltimore at the end of May to see a game at Camden Yards. Several in the group are physically challenged and may be in wheelchairs or walkers.
We are staying a couple nights at the Westin BWI. We are going to a Red Sox Orioles game on Saturday night. I was wondering...since there is a Red Sox-Orioles game on Friday, is the Inner Harbor pretty much empty during the game? If so, that might be a good time for our group to explore it, while everyone is at the game.
What casual but good dining options are in that area? Don't need anything fancy, but since no one in our party has ever been to Baltimore before, I am sure some would like to sample the crabcakes. (Though some of us also do not eat seafood - allergies.).
Also, if we want to cap our night off with some drinks...any other thoughts? Also, do you know if the Renaissance Hotel has a good bar? I understand the Sox stay there when they are in town...
If we decide to dine nearer to our hotel, do you have any rec's? We may have lunch there before the game on Saturday.
Also, I figure on Saturday night we can eat dinner at Camden Yards. I figure on making a grand dash to Boog's BBQ as soon as the gates open. Any advice on Camden Yards' food?
Thanks for any help! This is a once in a lifetime trip for some of these people.
I don't know how helpful I can be with recs, but I just wanted you to know that the inner harbor will not be any less crowded during the game. When you go to the game Saturday, you will most likely see more Sox fans then Orioles fans.
I really like La Tasca, but you won't find any glowing reviews for it on this board. The sangria is good (there are betters in the city, but they aren't in the inner harbor). Just don't get the paella, cause its just blah. The tapas are good. If you are interested I can dig up a post I wrote about which tapas I think are the best ones there.
Some people have been recommending Blue Sea Grill. I have never been there, but you should be able to see their menu online. Stay away from Phillips Seafood. I can vouch for its horribleness. I think the best crabcakes in the city are Faidley's in Lexington Market, but with physically challenged people that might be a nightmare to get in and out of. Standing only there.
In Harborplace there is a Five Guys. Good burgers, and a quick lunch. All they serve is burgers though, but it is across the street. It seems you are from up north, so that should be something new.
You won't need to make a dash for BBQ in Camden Yards. There will be a line, but it will move fast. I think the BBQ is the best thing to eat in the stadium, but I'm not a big hot dog fan.
Most Baltimore residents don't venture to the inner harbor very often because it is so touristy and there are so many amazing restaurants aways from the inner harbor. Which is why you won't find a lot of glowing reviews for any places in the inner harbor. Most posts generally urge people to venture outward. But I understand with your physically challenged group members, staying close by is probably the easiest thing to do. Here is a previous posting for inner harbor recs http://www.chowhound.com/topics/464035.
Thanks Eng for your thoughtful comments. I did not know the inner harbor area was bereft of good dining options. We are definitely willing to expand our horizons.
So, not limiting ourselves to the inner harbor area, are there any other recommendations out there- good for a group and casual? Someplace that will give us a real taste of Baltimore?
It's great that you're willing to go beyond the harbor. That opens up so much more to you. But just to be sure that I'm clear, you want:
1. Something great and uniquely Baltimore.
2. Hopefully crab cakes but other options important.
3. Accessible to people with some physical limitations.
One last question -- you said you wanted casual, which I assumed referred to attire, but are there budgetary limitations as well?
HI Jon Parker,
Thanks for responding. I will need two lunch spots, one dinner spot, and possibly one breakfast spot for the day we leave.
As it is our first time in Baltimore we would like to soak up a little local flavor. Of our group there may be 5 or 6 interested in crabcakes, the rest aren't, and I am allergic to seafood.
Price is not really a factor, but the people are going to be dressed casually, and something with not too many steps would be appreciated.
Also, as we are atying at the Westin at BWI, if there is anything in that area, that would be nice to know.
Thanks for any rec's.
Baltimore is a very casual town. There might be 5 restaurants, if that, you need to dress for. Faidley's is in Lexington Market, a wonderful but decidely un-touristy place. If you want to get a slice of the real Baltimore, this is it. It ain't Harborplace, though. Quite close to Faidley's there is upstairs seating on the second floor of the south annex of the market. I believe there is a handicapped elevator. The market has a lot of other great stalls, Jewish deli, bakeries, potato chips, Korean, fried chicken, and much, much more..
As far as ballpark food goes, Camden Yards is pretty good and Boog's is the best stall. The "dirty water" EssKay hot dogs they sell in the stands are also a treat, but we don't call them dirty water here.
While I think that Lexington Market and Faidley's are wonderful Baltimore experiences, I can't imagine getting a group of people with walkers through Lexington Market. I fear if you may go there, you will have to get everyone up to the seating section and then all the able bodied people go and collect the food. I'm not trying to say you shouldn't go there, I just don't really think of it as very accessible. Its doable, but certainly not your easiest option. Definitely the best crabcake in my opinion.
DuClaw brewing company is in Arundel Mills Mall. About a 15 minute drive from BWI. I really like their food, very casual. Open for lunch and dinner.
I love the breakfast/brunch at Mama's on the Half Shell (in Canton on O'Donnell St). Large variety with seafood options. With a group of 16, I would make a reservation.
The Helmand is a great place for dinner. Afghan food, but it is a nice place (exposed brick, tablecloths, updated look) but you can go there in jeans. I find even picky eaters can get something here because they have a lot of kabob options (who doesn't like spiced meat?). You absolutely have to make a reservation for a large group. It is in Mt. Vernon.
Most of the other places I frequent aren't good for big groups because they don't take recs and/or they are tiny inside.
Little Italy is a great place for groups. My favorites are Cafe Gia and Sabatinos. Chiapparellis is also good. Here is a post about Little Italy places. Most of these places have stairs and no elevator, but they do have downstairs seating, so just make sure you ask for a table downstairs. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/476826
Want to thank you first of all for organizing the trip. Sounds like quite an experience for some in your group, and I hope it works out the best for them.
I've given your post some thought and here's what I would recommend.
I assume that you're coming in Friday afternoon. If that's the case and you want to see the Inner Harbor, it should be a little less crowded on Friday night during the game so your instinct is right. As for dinner, while nothing is spectacular, La Tasca, Tir Na Nog, Edo Sushi, Five Guys, and M&S Grill are all decent. I've been to all of them with groups of people and have had a good time.
On Saturday, if you want some local flavor, I'm going to direct you to either Dockside or Della Rosa's on Boston Street just outside of Canton. I'm doing this for four reasons: (1) there's parking, (2) they are both one level, (3) they have experience with groups (Dockside has outdoor dining and Della Rosa's is a big joint), and (4) they are both more local joints.
It doesn't sound like you want a fancier place, but if you do, the best restaurant downtown is in the Renaissance - it's called Watertable and it's really quite good if not pricey. Watertable also has a nice bar, but I'm not sure how late it's open.
Finally, for your second lunch, there's not much out by the Westin. If you search on this board for "BWI," you'll find a bunch of recommendations.
Hope this helps. If it doesn't, I'm sure we'd all be happy to give two more cents.
Not far from the stadium and the Inner Harbor is a neighborhood called Federal Hill. While I think that all visitors to Baltimore should get to Lexington Market, it is a bit of a challenge for those physically challenged. A good alternative would be to go to Cross Street Market. For those who want seafood, there is Nick's seafood and raw bar on the Charles St side of the market. For those who don't eat seafood, you can get fried chicken or sandwiches, or anything else. Although you're supposed to eat where you buy food, if most people are getting seafood, I'm sure they won't mind a few people getting food from other vendors.
I would also suggest going to Fells Point for dinner one night at One Eyed Mike's. They have a diverse menu in terms of price and items, and I've never had anything that wasn't really good. You have to go through a pretty narrow bar to get to the nautical-themed dining room in the back, but I'm sure that won't be too much of a problem. For a group that size, I would definitely make reservations.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dont go to Blue Sea Grill- you couldnt get any further away from true Maryland seafood there and the food is awful. I gave it a second (and last try) this weekend and I will never be back. If you want an authentic crab cake you'd be better off grabbing one at the ballpark- they actually are pretty good!
If you want your friends to see the inner harbor area but not have to walk a lot there is a "back" entrance that we use when we go so the kids don't have to walk as much. If you take the street that passes the shops directly on the harbor around, over the bridge, past the ESPN zone on the right, and then take the next right(sorry I don't know the street name), and then the next right, you will be on a little street that ends right at the back entrance to the aquarium and on the far end of the inner harbor horseshoe. Your friends can get out and walk only a little way to see the harbor and go into the Hard Rock Cafe, Barnes and Noble bookshop and several other restaurants. There is a parking structure right there but if you go straight back down that little street and across the intersection there is a parking lot with the best prices in town(I hope not too many people read this! :) ) Cheers!
If I'm following PJ4's post correctly, you want to be heading east on Pratt street (it's one way, so that's the only way you can go! ;> ) and then take a right onto President street. Then you can take another right, across a bridge and near Pier Six restaurants (Ruth's Chris, McCormick and Shmick's) parking lot. That's a great suggestion, PJ4!