tell me your secrets!
Ok, I know Baltimore isn't Queens, or LA, or even Northern VA. We don't have a Tyler Cowan to produce a guide to let us know the best ethnic eats in the area. So, I'm turning to you all here.
What I'm looking for is the best of the non-traditional ethnic (for want of a better phrase), i.e., not too interested in Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, most Central American, Italian, etc. I'm wondering if there's some pizza place in some strip mall in Rosedale that actually serves Azeri food, or some supermarket on Liberty Road that dishes up Ghananian specialities. You get the picture.
So, any undiscovered places out there. They don't have to be gems, but wouldn't mind finding a diamond in the rough. And, for the sake of my carbon footrprint, I'd like to keep these in the Baltimore metro area.
Thanks for anything you all can dig up!
I was searching for harissa paste, and remembered a little Indian (I thought) store on Harford Road just inside the Beltway called Pavan Foods Indo-pak grocery...I stopped in Saturday. The store is jammed with all kinds of Indian foods, lots of curries and stuff...I was looking for someone to ask about the harissa so went toward the back. Lo and behold...an Indian buffet, and a small room off the back lit by fluorescent bulbs, filled will tables of Indian people enjoying lunch! The two women in the kitchen had not a speck of English, but a young relative translated...ps...no harissa. An older, white haired Baltimore couple were in the buffet line and the youngster told them what all the choices were. There is a large Gatorade cooler with a spigot on the counter...don't know what was in it, and a cooler with bottled drinks. I didn't stay, but the wonderful smell lingered on my clothes for about 15-minutes after I got in the car. Bet there is good stuff to be had there!
Thanks for these responses so far.
As some of you know, a group of us recently managed to go to Rosedale since we heard that there was a bar frequented by Kenyan expats, and that grilled up goat and served other Kenyan dishes. While the food was far from outstanding, the sense of discovery was amazing. So, I'm looking pretty much for that sort of thing.
I'm really searching for the unknown. A bakery that might serve up dishes some dishes eaten by Syrian Jews, or a convenience store that serves up Burkino Fasoian delights. I'm thinking that, as happens in many cities, that these places are probably in the 'burbs somewhere, since a little place in a strip mall is generally less expensive than a place in the city.
I realize that it's hard to find something when you're not exact about what you're looking for, but that's all part of the discovery!
I don't know about undiscovered, but there are two Korean restaurants (can't tell you the names - sorry) next door to each other on Maryland and 20th. Both serve Korean BBQ and bibimbop (my two personal faves) and both are great.
Trinacria's Italian Market on Eutaw Street (just north of Lexington Mkt) was a wonderful find for me. I drove past once because I thought it wasn't opened, but the second time I stopped and realized that even when it looks closed on the outside it's bustling and crowded inside.
I'll second Dukem. Always a treat!
Sorry if you're already familiar with these places, I always find that when I think I've discovered something it already has a pretty big fan base.
This probably isn't exactly what you are looking for, but I want to bump up the thread and get people thinking about this. Great topic!
I was thinking of Dukem, only because the owner asked me "Do you want some homemade something-or-other" and opened up a tupperware of some samosa-like things that his wife had made earlier that day. I don't think I would have gotten them had I not been sitting at the bar that day, since the other tables were full. They were tasty treats, not on the menu.
Also, I don't know if people know that Punjabi Dhaba---the Indian grocery on Broadway in Fells Point---had great food. The owner's wife can cook up anything you want in the back. I have some great memories of their take out chicken tikka masala, and yummy pakoras. I also remember looking for black mustard seeds in the shop one day. They were out. Twirling his mustache as he spoke to me (it's such a machismo thing in some parts of the world), he asked me what I was looking for. He went into the kitchen, grabbed a bunch from her cooking supply, and gave me what I needed.
Am I right in thinking these are the types of places you are looking for? Homemade stuff in the most unsuspecting places.
[I remember once road-tripping from Champaign-Urbana to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We stopped at a gas station to fuel up, somewhere in Arkansas. Imagine our surprise when the steam table had Indian food along with fried chicken and collard greens. How those folks got there from Hyderabad, I'll never know, but it was such an unexpected treat....]