Baltimore - two nights in June - what not to miss ?
I will be in Baltimore from the UK for two nights as part of a 10 day baseball tour.
Am looking for quintessential Baltimore chow and recs on best areas for a beer for two both pre and post the game. There will be two blokes in or late 30's early 40's - on a veggie and we both love to eat at locals places which are not touristy but equally if somewhere is so kitsch and touristy it must not be missed that's cool too !
From the reading I have done so far Fells Point gets most mentions in terms of bars so I am thinking of staying that side of the inner habour- or is the city so compact that it makes no difference ?
Am wondering specifically about
- 'only in Baltimore' chow experiences - whether the chow itself or the establishment
- is it correct that the best Italian places are not in Little Italy ? any top recs ?
- where is best for pizza - thin crust and good basic margherita
- is anywhere great for squid ?
- where serves the best cocktails with the best view?
- are there any streets or neighbourhoods which combine great chow and great bars which will be lively til late on a Monday and Tuesday night or are we best staying near to the ballpark ?
- is the chow at the ball park in the 'unique ...you have to try...x, y or z ' variety or the 'overpriced crap- avoid category '?
Sorry so many questions....hope you can help !
Ok, here are my thoughts. Besides Fells Point, Baltimore has several other bar districts, including Canton and Federal Hill. Federal Hill is the closest to Camden Yards, so I would probably recommend this area. If you go to Federal Hill, Cross Street Market is a great place to start. There are also a number of very good bars/restaurants in the neighborhood, including Ryleigh’s Oyster, Corks, Metropolitan and Sobo Café. You are not going to have any problems finding good eats in this neighborhood, and you are a 10 minute walk to Camden Yards.
Probably the quintessential Baltimore dining experience involves crabs. I would skip actually cracking crabs and stick with crab cakes. However, if you are feeling adventurous, have at ‘em. If you decide to go with crab cakes, I think Faidley’s in Lexington Market is generally considered the city’s most famous. Personally, I think they are very good, but they are not my favorite (this is an ongoing debate that will never be settled). If you do go, definitely spend the extra to get the jumbo lump. In any event, spending an afternoon at Lexington Market would be a great way to see real Baltimore. You are definitely going to be off the tourist track.
Beer-wise, the Wharf Rat near Camden Yards specializes in British style ales and the brewmaster is a limey. I believe they are renovating now, but I am sure they will be open by baseball season. They are a stone’s throw from Camden Yards. I would also highly recommend the Brewer’s Art in Mount Vernon (half hour walk). Great beer and food. The best beer bar in the city is Max’s in Fells Point (great beer selection, food-not so much).
As to other specific questions:
I think most people would say Little Italy is a bit of a tourist trap, with some exceptions. Not a huge Iti fan, so I will let others make recommendations.
I think Matthew’s is deservedly regarded as the best pizza in town. Not thin crust, but unique and excellent pizza that should not be missed.
Ryleigh’s Oyster has a kick ass grilled calamari.
Best cocktails/best view? Hmmmmm? The Rusty Scupper has a great view, but it kinda sucks. But I guess if you are not eating and just getting a drink, they probably won’t screw that up. That is in Federal Hill. Other than that, I am drawing a blank. Maybe the 13th floor in the Belvedere, near the Brewer’s Art.
OK, here is the thing. You are going to be in town on a Monday and Tuesday, which are generally slow to begin with. Combine that with the fact that the Orioles stink. I don’t know that you are going to find much enthusiasm other that from the Red Sawx fans which will infest the city. I assume that is the series you are attending since those were the only June M-T home games I saw. One other thought is see if you can get yourself up to the Camden Club in the Warehouse. Generally, I think you need a ticket, but the place is always empty. Try to sweet talk one of the ushers guarding the elevator. Americans are pushovers for Brit accents. This gives you a very cool view of the game from the old B&O warehouse building. You will be overcharged for drinks and food, but that will happen anywhere in the stadium. I wish I could be more positive, but the team stinks and has been hapless for years. So basically, unless some miracle happens, I think the O’s will be firmly entrenched in the cellar by late June, and most people are not going to give a damn, especially on a Monday or Tuesday.
Yes, the Camden Yards food is crap and overpriced. You might hear people talk about Boog’s BBQ, but it is institutional garbage. If you are going to eat at the ballpark, your best bet is getting something from a vendor outside the stadium.
Have fun. Baltimore is a wacky city, but I love it.
where should you go?
1. Obrycki's: well known crab house, sit down with a table a hot steamed Maryland Jumbo crabs and some spiced steamed shrimp and a couple of pitchers of beer. great before a game
2, Lexington Market. Get chocolate top cookies at the Bergers stand, bags of hot freshly roasted nuts, corned beef sandwhiches at Mary Mervis or perhaps the worlds best crab cake at Faidley's along with raw clams and oysters on the half shell. you can spend hours grazing here!
3. Tio Pepe's: long standing Spanish Restaurant that is a Baltimore Icon. Food is excellent, large portions, big menu
4. Ikaro's" another Baltimore Icon- greek restaurant, great fried calamari and other greek appetizers such as fried flamed cheese, eggplant salad, fish roe dip, spinach pies etc.
5. Walk around Fells Point. Lots of great bars and restaurants and quaint and at times bizarre sites and shops. Brick Oven Pizza is good. Max's for great draft beer selection. Bertha's is another Icon known for "Eat Bertha's Mussels" bumper sticker
6. Vaccarro's: italian pastry and gelato shop. worth a stop after the game
7. Cross Street Market: smaller version of Lexington Market in South Baltimore/Federal hill area
8. Attmans on Lombard Street. another icon, go for lunch and get pretty good jewish style deli in a ancient run down crummy but good ...bad neighborhood therfore stay away after dark, not a real safe place after sunset
good luck and enjoy camden yards...the best baseball stadium around! if hungry during the game, try boogs barbeque and get a turkey or pit beef sandwich. not bad for stadium food. carry in your own nuts (from lexington market or from the street vendors outside of the stadium), they are fresher and half the price of what they sell inside. Take your picture in front of the babe ruth statue in front of the stadium as well as the Johnny Unitas statue in front of Ravens Stadium
9. Take a water taxi from the inner harbor over to fells point and enjoy the sites and 10 minute cruise each way.