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Best Inner Harbor Tourist Trap

I will be staying at the Inner Harbor for sat. 8/23 and sun. 8/24 and I am looking for some good seafood. After an extensive search I have come to find there are no good seafood restaurants in the Inner Harbor.

If you had to eat at one, which would it be? Also, what would be the best and closest seafood restaurant to the Inner Harbor. I am thinking Mama's on the Half Shell? I cannot find a menu online though. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. We've had decent meals at McCormick & Schmick's.

    8 Replies
    1. re: wookyluvr

      That place looked pretty decent, even for a chain. I will be going to the Yankees/Orioles games on both Sat. and Sun. so I am looking for a good restaurant on Sunday (game will be over around 4:30). On Sat. I am looking for a decent place to get some drinks and some bar food after the game (around 10:30).

      1. re: wookyluvr

        Agreed. You can get solid, if someone corporate-ized/sanitized seafood there, and they have an outdoor seating section that is on the water and quite lovely.

        Avoid the Rusty Scupper.

        If you're willing to walk to Harbor East, you can get much more amazing food at Cinghale or Lebanese Taverna.

        But if you're at the Inner Harbor, be prepared to wait with the masses. If you're a walk-in, you'll have at least a 90 minute wait during peak times. Save yourself the hassle and make a reservation. Then you can also specify you want outdoor seating.

        Johns Stevens is about a 10-15 min walk from the Inner Harbor (or quick cab ride), though there have been lamentations of thier decline in quality in recent years. Their steamed fare (shrimp, mussels, clams) is still great, so that is an option. The bar is very Bawlmer and slightly dive-y, the dining room and outdoor enclosed area are quaint. It's in the heart of Fells Point so you can walk around, get ice cream, duck into shops, have a great cuppa joe at the Daily Grind, see where they used to film Homicide, etc.

        You are better off wandering around Fells Point than the Inner Harbor, and it's within easy striking distance.

        1. re: venera

          Johns Stevens looks as if it may be worth the walk. Thanks for the info!

          1. re: spmurph

            Except for mussels, not worth the walk.

              1. re: ko1

                Wow, really? I guess I am still waxing nostalgic over some amazing meals I had there. But that is going on 10 years ago.

                The back patio of Johns Stevens is where I realized that I had met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with. We shared some great PEI mussels there, countless pounds of steamers, rockfish (with beurre blanc served on wilted spinach and a crisp sun-dried tomato polenta--it was my favorite), tuna, and even the occasional muffeletta. So sad that that place doesn't exist anymore. :(

                Did the owners change? It was on our "go-to" list for at least five years. With some moves and new jobs, we became less regular. I think the last time we were there was about two years ago, and it was obvious that the quality had changed. What happened?

                RIP, Johns Stevens. I did love you back in the day.

                  1. re: venera

                    It seemed like the tide turned around the time they stopped doing sushi. All the friendly waitstaff and bartenders seemed to make a mass exit.

          1. re: kelarry

            6 blocks west and 4 blocks north is Faidley's raw bar in scruffy Lexington Market. The best crabcake around, oysters, even steamed crabs. Not for the faint of heart and the seating isn't, it's standing up. Closes 5, closed Sunday. 410-727-4898

            1. re: chowsearch

              Thanks for the response, however, I need somewhere to sit down and eat on Sunday.

              How about a place to get some drinks and a quick bite after the game on Sat? I was looking at Edgar's. Has anyone ever been there?

              1. re: spmurph

                After the game on Saturday, a good solid, local and close destination would be the Wharf Rat (the one on Pratt is walkable) You'll find several Maryland specialties on the menu, even if they're not the absolute best: Maryland crab soup, crab cakes, etc. http://www.thewharfrat.com/wharf_rat_...

                Or walk to Ryleigh's Brew Pub and Oyster Bar on E. Cross St. in Federal Hill for oysters and seafood from all over. (easy cab and a big garage nearby if walking is hard for you.) Ryleigh's is open Sundays too, and would make a good dinner destination.

                  1. re: crackers

                    Ditto Ryleigh's- it's really close & has good food


            2. I second Ryleigh's...and hope the Yankees win even though it looks like this isn't their year.

              1 Reply
              1. re: michael4ny

                Hasn't been their century, has it? Shame they've wasted all that cash. I guess money can't buy everything.

              2. John Stevens was always the old favourite for me, but I haven't been there in years and have heard it's declined a bit. It's not a tourist trap, it's local. If your tastes lean towards cobblestone streats and pubs that probably haven't changed in a hundred years, hit Fells Point (there's also a pretty good music store there :) . If you prefer the known-factor of national chains, then the Inner Harbor is your place, and IIRC Phillips has a seafood buffet there that's pretty good. I've eaten at the McCormick in Vegas twice in 3 months now, and while that one has good fresh seafood the menu is remarkably bland and uninspired. I would imagine it's the same here (being a chain). I'm a much bigger fan of Legal.

                You may also want to check out Nick's over on Insulator Drive. That's my family's current seafood digs..

                1. What do people think about the Rusty Scupper, I've had a good meal every time I've been there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MrIncognito1

                    I agree that the Rusty Scupper has nice food and fantastic atmosphere. It seems as though the Chowhounds are holding a negative attitude towards the place and I don't understand. The food is not sensational or trendy, but quite delicious. I haven't been there in quite some time, but remember that I had a salmon dish that was excellent.

                    As far as ""MattF" suggested, Legal Seafoods is no longer in downtown Baltimore (correct me if I've mistaken).

                    Another lovely restaurant is Pisces in the Hyatt. The cuisine is very good, and the view is wonderful. Very pricey, but worth it. I'm certain that I'll be debated strongly against my opinions. But, hey, it's only food. FoiGras

                    1. re: FoiGras

                      Unfortunately I think you're right about Legal ... was just in downtown Bmore a few weeks ago for a conference, and we couldn't find a Legal so we ate at MS Grill instead. I was disappointed in their fish and chips :( I got my fix last week in Crystal City though; boy oh boy I love the Rhode Island style Calamari there :)

                  2. Despite it being a chain, Cheesecake Factory doesn't disappoint, but a few blocks walk to Harbor East offers more options. Oceanaire (though also a chain) delivers nice seafood happy hour specials at the bar.

                    1. I think that the OP answered his own question: "After an extensive search I have come to find there are no good seafood restaurants in the Inner Harbor."
                      I don't presume to speak for every Baltimore Chowhound, but for a rather large numer of us, the answer to the question "If you had to eat at one, which would it be? would be zero... and make that ALL restaurants in the Inner Harbor...
                      (You are on the right track with Mama's)

                      1. I think you asked two questions.

                        To answer the first, there is no place in the Inner Harbor that I would consider eating, but I would take a quick walk over a couple of foot bridges to Harbor East and probably eat at Lebanese Taverna (a small, regional chain) or Chui's for sushi.

                        Regarding your second question: I think you've found your answer with Mama's on the Half Shell, and the suggestion of Ryleigh's here is a good one.

                        1. Blue Sea Grill is very close to the Inner Harbor --it's a sit down restaurant owned and operated by the local Ruth's Chris group. Gorgeous place, and I have had good luck there. More upscale/pricey than Mamas, etc -- depends on what you are looking for.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: offutt

                            Totally agree--Blue Sea Grill is delightful. Very fresh seafood, lovely atmosphere, impeccable service.

                            Ironically, some of the best beef shortribs I've eaten were served at
                            Blue Sea. In the event someone in your party isn't interested in seafood.

                            The tuna tartare is fantastic as well as the fried oyster app. FoiGras

                          2. Oceanaire- Nice Up-Scale National Chain located Inner Harbor East

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: WVMountaineer

                              Try Blue Sea Grill instead "WVMountaineer." Much more sophisticated with quality food. Not a touristy, chain type of place. It's not bad, but when ordering a fried seafood dinner entree and are served "2 pounds of french fries," well need I say more. Foi Gras

                            2. spmurph,
                              i'm a yankees fan and like to visit oriole park at camden yards at the end of the season because it's one of the coolest ballparks in all of baseball.
                              deb and i like to stay at the harbor court hotel, walk to the stadium for the game then march over to regi's (light street) for drinks and dinner. a little neighborhood nourishment so to speak.
                              beats the hell out of tourist traps.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: steve h.

                                My husband and I stopped by Regi's last night, based on some great Chowhound reviews. The meal was familiar, but extremely well done! And the service was friendly and efficient. We're looking forward to going again the next time we're in town.

                              2. If you're looking for good seafood, then you really need to escape the Inner Harbor/Harbor East area. Those are filled with mostly national chains and just basic, run of the mill seafood eateries - Phillips especially.

                                Take a stroll over to Cross Street Market in Federal Hill and the raw bar there has great offerings. Plus, if you go there during the day, you'll get a chance to really see a slice of Baltimore. The raw bar is owned by Nick's and you can visit their flagship restaurant, Nick's Fish House on the water by the Hanover Street Bridge (take a cab).

                                If you want to head east, many people grew up eating crabs at Obrycki's on Pratt Street. In Fell's Point, many people love John Stevens and Bertha's - although I thought Bertha's famous mussels were just elementary, they do have live jazz on weekends.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: onocoffee

                                  "onocoffee"--seems as though your response was about a month too late. The CH was coming to Baltimore on August 23rd.

                                  But, I did appreciate your input. I'd all but forgotten about John Stevens and have never tried Nick's Fish House. What is your opinion re Nick's--I've seen mixed opinions on this topic. FoiGras

                                  1. re: FoiGras

                                    Nick's has a great location on the water, and is a fun place to eat crabs. They also have live music at sunset- though I am not sure how reguarly. I loved the oyster stew there, but haven't had it since last fall. Nothing else in the way of food there has ever blown me a way, but it's a fun place to go with friends.