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Foodie from LA in Baltimore

Its only for one dinner but, I wanted to eat something different and cheap and maybe see an interesting part of Baltimore at the same time. I'm not actually "from LA" just living there right now, and I've been eating a lot of delicious Mexican, Korean, Japanese & Persian food. I've never been to Baltimore and I'm gonna be there alone but I'll have my tomtom so pretty sure I'll be able to get around. I'd appreciate any ideas. I'm a relatively adventurous diner and spicy is great for me.

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  1. For a solid Baltimore meal, I would suggest Duda's in Fells Point. Great local atmosphere and a good place to sit at the bar by yourself to enjoy some food. On Fridays, they have a $0.40 steamed shrimp which makes for a nice starter (10 will do). Saddle up with a fantastic crab cake and a half dozen $1 boh cans. You can be out of there for $25!

    2 Replies
    1. re: gregb

      With all of the really good beers at Duda's (they have a great selection), it would be a shame to drink Natty Boh, even if they are only $1.

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        For heymary's specific request. I thought I would give her the "cheap" option. Also, there's nothing wrong with sitting down to a crabcake and a can of Boh. What can be more of a Baltimore meal than that?

    2. The Helmand on Charles street is has fantastic food at a great price. I believe it is Afagani food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maddogg280

        it is afghani and it's fabulous. pumpkin app is a must.

        1. re: rudmansjmu

          I'm going to third this suggestion- if you eat in only one place in Baltimore, this is the best! And it's not expensive. If you are going on a weekend night be sure to make a reservation.

      2. Please eat at Pazo. It is at Harbor East, which is a hip new area right downtown. It has gorgeous decor and delicious food and is not expensive. You can get Tapas or a Meal. We usually split 7-8 Tapas between the two of us. It's amazing :) Have fun!


        4 Replies
        1. re: Emacita

          I couldn't disagree more, Pazo is overpriced and underwelming.

          1. re: hon

            I agree with your disagreement.

            1. re: baltoellen

              I agree with that agreement...unless you WANT Baltimore's kinda LA kinda like place...
              I still say Helmand, but also agree with both Duda's and Fells Point in general...how about Peter's Inn? It's a great place to dine alone since you can sit at the bar and the people are usually very friendly.

              1. re: baltoellen

                Pazo is merely OK, and it's gone downhill lately IMHO.

          2. Agree with Helmand for what you're after...

            1. I like the Duda's rec. It's a great Baltimore corner bar. It fits your description of cheap and in an interesting part of town. It's also very good for eating alone.

              1. You could try Tapas Teatro on N. Charles for some good tapas and atmosphere. A great place for a dinner and movie combo, as next door is The Charles, a wonderful historic cinema that tends to show more independent films than wide-release movies.

                1 Reply
                1. For different and cheap, search for "Baltimore pit beef." A local speciality.

                  1. While I love the Helmand, if you've been eating a lot of Persian, you may think the cuisine is similar. And, if you only have one dinner to have in town, I think Duda's is a fantastic suggestion. It's different than what you've been having, inexpensive, and will give you a glimpse into some local food. About a block away from Duda, and a place that doesn't get mentioned too much around here is One-Eyed Mike's, which I think has terrific food and the dining room is all cute and nautical.

                    1. Seriously, go to Lexington Market during the day if you can and get a crab cake at Faidleys.

                      1. What about Bertha's in Fells Point? Has anyone been there recently, and is it worthwhile? It certainly is "cheap" enough and located in an "interesting" part of Baltimore. FoiGras

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: FoiGras

                          Bertha's wouldn't be my first choice to send someone to for dinner, but I like the bar there a lot. If this was for lunch, I'd suggest sitting at the bar and having mussels or a crabcake or a salami and onion sandwich or something.

                          If it's a night when Bertha's has live music in the bar, it would also be a good place to stop after dinner at Duda's. They're easy walking distance from each other, so no moving of car would be required.

                          1. re: FoiGras

                            I don't think anyone from L.A or most from Baltimore would be impressed by the food at Bertha's. The menu is boring- hasn't changed in 30 yrs. The bar is fine if you like dusty dark bars, but Max's across the street has the best beer selection in the city.

                            1. re: kelarry

                              Bertha's bar has character and soul (and, yes, darkness and dustiness). Max's bar (unless it's changed in the last few years) didn't have nearly as much of that.

                              Max's does have a more extensive beer selection, but there are plenty of good beers to drink at Bertha's.

                          2. Ditto on the avoid Pazo - unless you want to see what Baltimore looks like when it thinks it's in L.A.: in a word: Ugly. You probably get enough pretense and pomp at home, but if you're feeling nostalgic...

                            And while I too really like The Helmand, I don't see it as an "authentic" Baltimore dining experience. It's good, but Afghanistan is not Baltimore. And Spanish tapas are not Baltimore either.

                            Unfortunately, the restaurant I eat at the most and the one I would recommend for locally sourced foods (a true taste of our region) is the one place I'm forbidden from recommending because the "powers that be" here think I have a conflict of interest. it's a shame too since the sourcing is quality, local ingredients and the cooking is simple, down home and rustic.

                            But I can recommend the "Baltimore Seafood Experience" and my favorite place for steamed crabs and seafood is the Magothy Seafood Crab Deck and Tiki Bar. It's a bit out of the way in Anne Arundel County but worth the trip. The crabs are typically heavy, steamed correctly with all sorts of side dishes, beer and situated on the banks of the Magothy River where you eat on wooden picnic tables. A Maryland classic.

                            But, if that's too far, there's always Nick's Raw Bar in the Cross Street Market or Nick's Fish House near the Hanover Street Bridge.

                            Also, I wouldn't recommend Bertha's after eating there. The mussels are truly wretched and cooked without respect. Served plain and with "side" sauces. Truly uninspired and not worth the time.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: onocoffee

                              Bertha's is a bar with a dining room, not a fine-dining establishment. I've had plenty of mussels there that weren't "wretched" (the term was used without definition), and I'm not even sure what "cooked without respect" means.

                              I don't understand what's so terrible about plain-cooked mussels with sauces on the side.

                              1. re: Hal Laurent

                                thanks hal & others regarding Bertha's. I only mentioned it for the out of towner as a "real" Baltimore experience. But, since I haven't been to Bertha's in way too many years, now from what you Chowhounds have written, I won't be going back anytime soon. Yes, Mezze is a terrific place forout-of-towners or local yocals. Never have I been disappointed.
                                So, the L.A. visitor should consider Mezze, and the ambiance of Fells Point to get the gist of a Baltimore "experience." FoiGras

                                1. re: FoiGras

                                  I must point out here that traditionally, the "ambiance of Fells Point" had nothing upscale about it at all. Duda's and Bertha's are much more "traditional Fells Point" than Kali's Court or Mezze. Similarly, in the bar department the Cat's Eye Pub is much more traditional Fells Point in feel than say, Max's. Sure, there will be a lot more dust on things at the Cat's Eye. That's part of the character.

                                2. re: Hal Laurent

                                  "Wretched" as in: steamed plain to the point of being overcooked and rubbery, which is also the same as "cooked without respect" meaning that it takes no skill or need for thought to cook the mussels in the manner of Bertha's.

                                  Beyond that, the sauces are unappealing and how difficult is it to simply ladle sauce from a bain marie into a cup? Not much at all, sad to say.

                                  That said, I prefer French-style mussels cooked to order, like a moules mariniere or moules mouclade - simple mussels cooked with butter, shallots, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper, and sometimes with curry.

                                3. re: onocoffee

                                  I would have to disagree with onocoffee about Bertha's mussels. We ate there a few weeks ago and found the mussels big, fresh and scrumptious. Of course had the garlic/caper butter sauce. What's wrong with plain mussels? It gives one the option of dressing them however one wants - plain if necessary, and that is good in itself. I've never had mussels better elsewhere, including fancy joints. OK, so the place and waiters' attitudes are a bit threadbare, but I reckon that's part of the charm. Maybe they apprenticed in Durgan Park in Boston. People pay good money there to be treated like smelly sailors - it's all part of the experience.

                                  1. re: onocoffee

                                    I have always enjoyed Bertha's rendition of paella...

                                  2. Definitely Fells Point or Canton, and if Duda's (never been because it used to have too much smoking, but we'll change that) doesn't do it for you try Red Star, Helen's Garden, Peter's, or Kali's Court Meze. You can bounce around two or three of these places in two or three hours.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: jkosnett

                                      I wouldn't recommend Helen's Garden. Food & service there are very uneven. Try Abacrombie for brunch!

                                      1. re: kelarry

                                        you guys (and women) have been great...i will be in baltimore from sunday through tuesday, also alone...i dined at helmand last time and loved it. also at the black olive in fells point, ditto loved. but i am staying in the inner harbor area this time, so duda's will be a good choice...can anyone tell me where the best crabs are? and close by?

                                        1. re: Hilary C

                                          If you are staying in the inner harbor, you can walk to Lexington Market for lunch. Get crab cakes at Faidley's and Berger Cookies from the bakery stand mid market.

                                          1. re: Hilary C

                                            Best close crabs are Obrycki's on Pratt St. Touristy but good with the old-fashioned black pepper seasoning.

                                        2. re: jkosnett

                                          I second Peter Inn (www.petersinn.com). Friendly service, excellent food and a bit of Baltimore quirkiness. The scallops there are excellent.

                                          1. re: cprofit

                                            you are 100% right about the scallops. Peter's is one of my favorites in Baltimore too. Just went there a couple of weeks ago and had--- the scallops! my husband calls the bread that they serve w/ their salad "The God Bread".

                                            1. re: mgarland

                                              One of the menu items this week is the scallops w/ mango coulis and cheese grits. The cheese grits are kind of AMAZING. :-)

                                        3. hit up little italy. all the restaurants there are great. if you're a salad lover chiaparrello's has the best house salad i've had on this coast. rocco's is fantastic. da mimmo's is expensive but if you feel like splurging wonderful.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: littlew1ng

                                            Avoid Little Italy, please! The majority of the restaurants are underwhelming and overpriced

                                            Nothing special there, especially for what information heymary provided us with.