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May 6, 2009 12:38 PM

Baltimore Seafood

Aloha Chowhounders. Traveling to Baltimore at the end of the month. Staying in the Inner Harbor area but willing to travel within a reasonable taxi fare. I have been tasked by my colleagues with finding the absolute, hands down, no questions seafood restaurant in town. We don't care about atmosphere or price, we just want the best that bay has to offer. Focus is on blue crabs, oysters, and softshells. Mahalo in advance for what I am sure will be fantabulous suggestions.

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  1. You aren't really going to find much at the Inner Harbor. My suggestions for local (or mostly local) seafood are Woodberry Kitchen or Dogwood. Neither is considered a seafood restaurant, but both offer lots of seafood choices.

    Koco's is probably 20 minutes away, but I think they have the best crab cakes.

    And here's the link for a recent Top 10 places to get a softshell crab. I'd put my bet on Chameleon Cafe...also about 20 minutes away right near Koco's.

    For steamed crabs, try Bo Brooks. Also, look up Nick's Fish House. I have never been there, but some people seem to really like it.

    Nicks Fish House
    2600 Insulator Dr # 1, Baltimore, MD

    Woodberry Kitchen
    2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

    The Dogwood Restaurant
    911 W. 36th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211

    Bo Brooks Restaurant
    2701 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21201

    1. Wherever you have dinner, go to Faidley's at the Lexington Market and have a crabcake on a cracker. The quintessential Baltimore experience....Gourmet-type folks may shout me down but I lived many years in Maryland and now am many years gone--- if I went to Bmo I would definitely go to the Inner Harbor and have the Phillips all-you-can-eat seafood buffet (see Phillips website). So call me a hick---I wish I were there now.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Querencia

        No offense Querencia, but yes you've probably been gone many years from Charm City. No current locals around here recommend Phillips in the Inner Harbor for anything, and there's even some question that the quality of Faidley's crabcakes have declined in the past few years. Still the Faidley's "experience" is worth watching!

        1. re: bordeauxfan

          Phillips, Dear God no!!!
          And also, the food at Nick's Fish House isn't very good at all and the crabs are reheated.
          Go to Dudas in Fells Point
          Henningers Tavern in Fells Point
          Mamas on the Half Shell in Canton
          Koco's Pub in Lauraville
          Ryleighs Oyster Bar in Federal HIll

          1. re: hon

            I agree with all those recs, although I have never been to Koco's. I'd also like to point out that a place for cracking crabs (as opposed to crabcakes) is unlikely to meet your other criteria. Most of the crab houses are not a reasonable taxi ride from the harbor, either.

            If you're dead set on crabs, Obrycki's and Bo Brooks are your best choices. I had decent crabs at Bo's last year, although it's not a much beloved place. I avoid L.P. Steamers since I've learned over the years to trust hon, and she says they're bad.

            For both oysters and crabcakes I'd recommend Duda's, which is basically a bar, or Mama's on the Half Shell. Ryleigh's is fantastic, but they specialize in oysters. On the other hand they have $2 crabs and $1 oysters on Tuesday nights -- they aren't the best crabs ever but they're well worth the price.

            1. re: JonParker

              To Jon Parker you listen! (gotta say it with a Yoda voice)

              1. re: JonParker

                Koko's crab cake is very solid, I'm curious to hear your opinion when you check it out. But, it was a little gummy and undercooked inside and sitting atop some pieces of torn lettuce which have a lovely wilted and slimy texture when all is said and done... no idea what that is all about!

                I agree, the best seafood you will probably do it as any of the bars Jon mentioned above. Oysters will not be at their peak towards the end of this month, but you should be in primo soft shell territory.

                Every piece of seafood I've had from Peter's Inn has been fantastic, and although it isn't a "seafood restaurant" as the OP had suggested, they always have a few seafood options on their weekly menu.

                1. re: wolf tickets

                  Bo Brooks is a tourist trap, the last time I had crabs there they had been reheated so many times that the claws were like crab jerky. Never again.

                  1. re: hon

                    Bo Brooks is nasty. I took my office staff for lunch during Christmas week. It took an hour and a half for our food to arrive. When it finally did, it was awful. The cocktails were not bad, but I would not bother with the food.

          2. Oceanaire - the best and probably most expensive seafood in Bmore

            Do not go to Phillips or Nick's Fish House if you even want decent food.

            For crabs, check out Canton Dockside or Bo Brooks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: abovethewaves

              Oceanaire may be the most expensive, but the best? In any event, do not go there if you are looking for a Baltimore experience. This chain has its strengths, but being from (or of) Baltimore is not oen of them.

              1. re: lawhound

                I agree with you on the Baltimore experience but the always put out stellar seafood.

                Although not in Baltimore...Catonsville Gourmet is great too.

            2. for an out of towner I rec:
              1. lexington market for lunch. Have an ice cold beer and some oysters on the half shell followed by a crab cake (get the most expensive one, it is full of crab meat and delicous) at Faidleys followed by some Berger's cookies (chocolate top- baltimore tradition) at their stand. if you want, get a muskrat for dinner (don't but they do have it)
              2. Obrycki's: get some of the jumbo hardshell steamed crabs, a pitcher of cold beer and get someone to show you how to properly open the crabs and then spend the next 2 hours chowing down on what Baltimoreans will argue is the best shellfish around! A very social evening and what Marylanders do over the summer for centuries!.
              3. Avoid Phillips in the inner harbor...not good! It is fun however to walk around the inner harbor, take a water taxi over to fells point and get some mussels at a Baltimore icon Bertha's. check out the funky shops and people (john waters types)
              4. Go to little Italy and get gelato and italian pastry's at Vaccarro's
              Welcome to the Land of Pleasant Living!.

              1. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Black Olive. It specializes in pristine grilled fish and seafood, with a Greek influence.

                If money is no object, that's where I'd head without hesitation.

                However, "the best the bay has to offer" would normally be oysters and crabs and May is not the season for either. Rockfish is the other "best of" (available at Black Olive) and would be your best bet if you want something pulled from the Chesapeake Bay right now.

                2 Replies
                1. re: crackers

                  most crabs sold in MD even in the summer are shipped in from north carolina, texas and louisianna. I had oysters at the market the first week of april and they were great. I think the oysters are farm raised these days anyway. I agree that Black Olive is excellent if you want a mediteranean style and I have had great fish there. However the rockfish is not as good as the 45 inch fish I caught in the bay on tuesday while fishing out of Solomons! If you want great rockfish, go to the Prime Rib and get the Rockfish filet stuffed with crab imperial.

                  1. re: dining with doc

                    The OP was asking where to go for the best seafood of the Chesapeake Bay at the end of May. I was merely pointing out that by then the oyster season is over, and the blue crab season has not yet begun around here. Yes, oysters can be had year round, but when the weather warms up the local oysters spawn and become thin and watery. There is only one full-service oyster farm in the Maryland part of the Chesapeake Bay: Choptank Oyster Company, which raises and sells Choptank Sweets There are more in Virginia.

                    The rockfish is no doubt stellar at the Prime Rib, but the query was for a seafood restaurant.