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List of Baltimore wants/questions

Hello all,

Now that moving to Baltimore is official and we have a place to live I can ask some more specific questions. I've searched through the boards (it's not easy -- post titles are pretty lax about identifying DC vs. Baltimore vs NoVA in posts, lol) and have been building a Google map from old posts, but I can always benefit from more advice. And for everyone's sanity, I won't ask about best pizza/burger/crab cake!

For the quick particulars, we'll be in the Hampden area and I'll be working north from there, so suggestions in that direction are a bonus. We're moving from Austin but we've lived in lots of different cities so have tried a lot.

So, in no particular order, any recommendations for:

Asian supermarkets? (Chinese and Japanese in particular)

Indian market?

For that matter, South Indian restaurants? (Any place specializing in chaat dishes is a bonus)

A bar that does serious cocktails (like makes their own bitters)?

A deli where I can get proscuitto shank ends at a discount?

Vegetarian restaurants?

A really good "throw it on the charcoal" steak place?

Sushi?

Brewpubs?

Wineries? (Are there wineries in MD?)

Any Czech bakeries?

German restaurants?

An honest Irish pub as opposed to a faux one? (bonus points for ceilhi)

Raw bar? (I only promised not crab cakes!)

Chinese? (Both good carryout and chinese-menu chinese)

Cheesemongers?

Wine bars?

Anyway, sorry for the long list. I hope this inspires you all and feel free to add anything you think we really should know about.

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  1. For brewpubs you have to start with The Brewer's Art, recently named to several "best bars in America" lists. They have great food, too. The Wharf Rat in Fells Point has some tasty house made ales. Brewer's Art does Belgian style, while Wharf Rat does British.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mobtown999

      The Wharf Rat in Fells Point doesn't brew beer. The downtown Wharf Rat on Pratt St. did, but was recently sold (I forget what its new name is).

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        it's now the Pratt Street Ale House.

    2. I'll tackle a couple.

      Agree with the Brewer's Art and Wharf Rat recommendations. Definitely check both of them out (they are quite different).

      The best true Irish pub in the city is J.Patrick's in Locus Point. No frills, just a real pub that looks like your grandmother's basement (if your grandmother grew up in county Loathe). Go soon because the owner and the heart n soul of the place is getting on in years.

      For the deli with proscuitto shanks, I would try Ceriello in Belvedere Square (bonus points for being north of Hampden!). I'm not sure if they would do what you request, but they would be my first guess for someone who would.

      I'm not familiar with of any bar that is known for serious drinks or makes their won mixers. Your best bet is the bar at Woodberry kitchen. I know they make alot of syrups and concoctions for their espresso based drinks, so they may do the same for their bar. Good food to boot, so the trip won't be wasted if they don't. (Woodberry is the neighborhood right next to Hampden).

      Hope that helps.

      1. Hey there, welcome to Hampden! I'll take a stab at a few of these:

        For Asian supermarkets, you want to go to H-Mart in Catonsville (a close suburb). They also have a terrific sushi bar in the store. It's super cheap, if atmosphere-free. Minato in Federal Hill has good sushi. There's also a Ra Sushi in Inner Harbor East, which is a) a chain and b) loud but has decent fish and is fun if you're in a scenester mood.

        The Tusk Bar, tucked away in the Brass Elephant in Mt. Vernon, has nice cocktails. And as mobtown999 said, Brewer's Art is terrific for beer and food. The Tusk Bar and the Brewer's Art are down the street from each other so you could have a delightfully boozy evening.

        There aren't a lot of full-on vegetarian restaurants that I can think of (vegan Yabba Pot is the only one that springs to mind), but there are plenty of veggie-friendly options.

        There are a few wineries in Maryland -- Boody and Linganore leap to mind -- that offer some nice festivals and stuff, but honestly the wine itself is average at best.

        For an Irish pub, I'd suggest J. Patrick in Locust Point. There's actually a pretty decent Irish music scene in Baltimore. If you're in Hampden, I don't care for the attached Cafe Hon (tourist trap), I do like the Hon Bar, especially on Wednesday nights when they have Irish music.

        12 Replies
        1. re: pomme de terre

          Irish music at the Hon Bar is great and something I didn't know about. Will definitely have to check out the Brewers Art (and there's nothing wrong with a boozy evening so long as it involves taxis!).

          All these suggestions have been great (keep them coming)!

          I've been pinning places on a Goggle map. If there's interest, I'll share it with folks.

          (Apologize in advance if this is a double post).

          1. re: pomme de terre

            H Mart is great but you don't need to go nearly that far for lots of Asian basics (and some not so basics). Asia Foos is located on York Road, north of Cold Spring Lane and south of Nothern Parkway -- about 4-5 mins by car from Hampden. Last I was there, they were renovating, which may mean the place is now heated. Incredibly cheap, and nice people.

            I think there may still be an Indian market at the intersection of York Road (called Greenmount at that point) and 33rd street in Waverly, but I have not been there in at least a year. Again, that is almost walking distance from you.

            Wine bars, I am partial to Grand Cru in Belvedere Square -- just a little ways north from the aforementioned Asia Food

            German restaurant -- nothing worth eating in Baltimore proper, I'm afraid. Not counting DC and the burbs, the best I've seen in the area is in Hagerstown, the Schmankerl Stube.

            Czech bakeries . . . sorry, wrong neck of the woods.

            You haven't mentioned it, but because your post suggests a catholic (small c) taste, there are a ton of Latino/Hispanic restaurants and markets in Fells Point/upper Broadway if you are looking fo fresh tortillas and the like.

            Welcome to Baltimore -- our culinary motto should be, "There is a lot of great food here, but the Chinese is terrible."

            1. re: lawhound

              "Welcome to Baltimore -- our culinary motto should be, 'There is a lot of great food here, but the Chinese is terrible.'"

              Unless you include Odenton, of course :-)

              (Search for Grace Garden, zebcook)

              1. re: lawhound

                "catholic" -- that's a good description.

                I didn't ask about Hispanic markets or tortillarias because coming from the Southwest, I figured I'd just be in for disappointment. But if I'm wrong, that's great.

                1. re: zebcook

                  Tortilleria on Eastern Avenue in Fells Point is great. There is a large Hispanic community in Upper Fells Point complete with Taco trucks and such and a few markets. You may not be disappointed.

                2. re: lawhound

                  Asia Food is gone. As is Bangkok Place in the same stretch of York. Thai-Phillipine groceries on Gorsuch is still there but is a shadow of its former self. Ditto for Big Boy's worldwide near Lexington Market.

                  Anyone been to the new Asian Supermarket on Rt 40 West (about a mile inside the beltway)?

                  1. re: aubzamzam

                    Aubzamzam -- You had me worried there, so I called Asia Food. They assure me that they are still open. I will swing by for some dumplings later in the week, but I believe North Baltimore's pan-Asian sundries are safe for now.

                    1. re: lawhound

                      Thank God!

                      1. re: hon

                        I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Asia Food is on its way out. I've attached some photos below. Where the old storefront used to be is the new "York Market". Not open yet and I have no idea if their groceries will be similar to Asia Food. If you face the storefront and look to the right side, you'll see a sign that reads "Asia Food". This leads you down a long driveway to a warehouse in the back. Here you will find what's left of the Asia Food we knew and loved. There is still a small section for walk-in customers, but I get the feeling they won't be restocking. I recall only one fridge/freezer unit. They were out of Thai tea mix and it sounded like they were not planning to order any more. When we asked why they were closing, the owner told us simply that he wants to "get out" and hopes to close by December. Very sad. :(

                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: bmorecupcake

                          You think that's sad? Those ugly, vacant houses in the middle picture sit on what used to be Bangkok Place.

                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                            Thanks for the info. I spent part of a day driving that area trying to find the place. Saw York Market but didn't know for sure if it was open or not.

                            Does anyone know anything about the Oriental market on Beaver Dam Rd. near the Timonium rail stop?

                      2. re: aubzamzam

                        bluepig1 has a post about Asia Supermarket below. Also, I recently posted about their baked goods that come from Manhattan's Chinatown. Call to see when their delivery day is. The good stuff runs out quick. My only problem with this place is the smell. Whatever they spray to battle the fish counter smell really gets to me.

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618856

                  2. A Wine Bar is opening on the Avenue in Hampden probably in the next month or 2.
                    For Vegetarian, the One World Cafe is right around the corner from Hampden.

                    1. Mehek in Fells Point does chaat along with a nice Iunchtime buffet. There is a Pakistani/Indian grocery in Waverly (name escapes me) that sells wonderful spices, produce and other sundries. They always have homemade samosas by the cash register as well.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ktracy

                        Mehek closed a while ago.

                        1. re: mobtown999

                          Mehek closed?!?! Wow, I'm surprised. It was usually quite busy. Huh.

                      2. Mango Grove in Columbia (just a little ways down 95 from Baltimore) is South Indian and all vegetarian. They even distinguish Vegan meals on their menu. Its been a family favorite for several years.

                        http://www.themangogrove.com

                        Wineries: Boordy and Linganore. Boordy has a nice concert series during the Summer.

                        Atwaters in Belvedere Square has a nice cheese shop.

                        1. For raw bar, check out Mamas on the Half Shell in Canton, Ryleighs Oyster House in Federal Hill and the Cross Street and Lexington markets. The Hon Bar also does oysters every first friday of the month for really cheap, $.50 a piece

                          1. for serious cocktails I would go to the Tusk Lounge above the Brass Elephant, Woodberry Kitchen, The Dogwood, Heningers Tavern, Red Maple...

                            1. there's a newish restaurant with south indian food that opened in the same shopping ctr as patel bros (indian store) in catonsville west of bmore. called the spicy garden http://thespicygarden.com/
                              not sure how good it is
                              thought there was south indian around parkville but can't find it.
                              supposedly there's some great indian deliery place i think on falls rd. don't think it's si though.
                              oh trader joe's is in towson.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: vivinator

                                ah mt everest in parkville has dosa and uthappam. has a good rep on this board. probably the most convenient for you to get to.

                                http://www.mt-everestrestaurant.com/s...

                                also i believe harford rd from hamilton to pville is a nascent foodie corridor

                                1. re: vivinator

                                  I went to Spicey Garden last week and it was excellent. Also, the Carlyle Club on University Parkway, which formerly served Lebanese food, now has a south Indian menu. It's owned by the brothers who own the Ambassador, and some of the dishes are similar.
                                  The great Indian delivery place on Falls Road is in the large apartment building on the Northeast corner of Falls and Northern Parkway (I think it's called the Belvedere). It's wonderful, and inexpensive to boot. It serves Nepalese cuisine as well as Indian. Though it is primary delivery and take-out, you can eat there. Not much atmosphere, but the food is so good, you won't care.
                                  Also, ditto to the One World Cafe (on University Parkway) as a good veggie option near Hampden.
                                  There are several other Asian super markets on Route 40 near H-Mart. But H-Mart has everything and offers great prices on produce and other items.
                                  As stated by others, Baltimore has little of note to offer for either Japanese or Chinese cuisine. The Asian market on York road has moved around back, so you have to keep your eye peeled for it.

                                  - lassithi

                                2. The poster who suggested One World for vegetarian restaurants is right, it's pretty much totally veg and the food is pretty decent. Golden West in Hampden is also really good for vegetarians and vegans. Plus a number of outstanding restaurants have great veggie options, like the Helmand in Mt. Vernon.

                                  As for cheese, there are cheesemongers at both farmer's markets, especially the Sunday market under the Jones Falls Expressway (there's a thread re. 2009 vendors). Also a good spot to buy pretty much anything, from meat to fruits/veggies to plants to wonderful prepared foods.

                                  1. Sorry for the CAPS...thought this would be easiest way to answer...

                                    Asian supermarkets? (Chinese and Japanese in particular)- HMART ON ROLLING RD IN CATONSVILLE...THE FRESH SEAFOOD IN THE BACK OF THE STORE IS REASON ALONE TO MAKE THE TRIP

                                    For that matter, South Indian restaurants? (Any place specializing in chaat dishes is a bonus) IN YOUR AREA, AMBASSADOR DINING ROOM (ACROSS THE STREET FROM ONE WORLD CAFE, AND THE CARLYLE CLUB A SHORT DISTANCE AWAY RECENTLY REOPENED WITH INDIAN FARE, ALTHOUGH i DON'T BELIEVE IT'S SOUTH INDIAN

                                    A bar that does serious cocktails (like makes their own bitters)? I'D SECOND THE WOODBERRY RECS

                                    Vegetarian restaurants? ONE WORLD IS NEAR YOU, GREAT SAGE IN COLUMBIA, LIQUID EARTH IN FELLS PT (MORE OF A CAFE/JUICE BAR THAN RESTO)

                                    Sushi? MATSURI IN FEDERAL HILL (MINATO IS IN MT VERNON REF'D IN AN EARLIER POST AND IS GOOD TOO)

                                    Brewpubs? BREWER'S ART! AND NOT A BREWPUB, BUT IF YOU LIKE YOUR BEER, HEAD TO MAX'S IN FELLS PT OR MAHAFFEY'S IN CANTON. ABBEY BURGER AND METROPOLITAN IN FED'L HILL HAVE DECENT BEER SELECTIONS TOO.

                                    Raw bar? (I only promised not crab cakes!) RYLEIGH'S IN FEDERAL HILL, MAMA'S ON THE HALF SHELL IN CANTON, NICK'S IN THE CROSS ST MARKET

                                    Cheesemongers? YOU HAVE A GREAT CHEESE RESOURCE CLOSE TO YOU AT THE WINE SOURCE IN HAMPDEN, GREAT BEER, WINE AND SNACK SELECTIONS AS WELL. IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHEESE, IT'S WORTH IT TO SIT AT THE BAR AT CHARLESTON AND HAVE SOME WINE AND A FEW OF THEIR CHEESE SELECTIONS.

                                    Wine bars? GRAND CRU IN BEL SQUARE CLOSE TO YOU, CHESAPEAKE WINE COMPANY IN CANTON (SHOP WITH A BAR FOR FLIGHTS) OTHERS THAT DON'T NECESSARILY FIT THE 'WINE BAR' DESCRIP BUT ARE GOOD TO STOP IN FOR A GLASS: FED HILL-CORKS, WINE MARKET, AND TAVERNA CORVINO; HARBOR EAST/FELLS- CINGHIALE, PAZO, CHARLESTON; CANTON- MAYBE HELEN'S GARDEN?

                                    1. I'll add to the Asian supermarket request - most of the recs below recommend H Mart, which is a Korean supermarket that has general Asian groceries, but is decidedly not the same as a Chinese supermarket (bigger than Asia Foods on York Rd).

                                      I finally found a Chinese supermarket -- see my post about Asia Supermarket at:
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/605901
                                      Also, not sure if AA Supermarket has finally closed (they were supposed to a few months ago).

                                      1. Welcome to Baltimore!

                                        Plenty of people have given you good recommendations for places to eat and to buy groceries. However, if you're not familiar with the metro area, you will find that some of these recommendations are quite far from you. The Mango Grove is in Columbia, a solid half hour from you. The H-Mart is in Catonsville, which is about 20-25 minutes from Hampden.

                                        I would not expect too much from Baltimore's Indian food scene. There's nothing comparable to the Indian (and South Indian, or Lucknow, or Rajasthan cuisines, as I can find in Dubai, where I currently live). Unless things have noticeably changed since I left Baltimore two years ago, the Ambassador Restaurant near the Hopkins-Homewood campus is considered the finest Indian restaurant in the city. It certainly has one of the best setting, with a beautiful outdoor seating area overlooking an attractive garden and is evocative of a British club in India during the Raj. The food, however, is very Northern Indian.

                                        I do not know too much about Austin and what Austin offers in the way of Korean food, but Korean is one of Baltimore's lesser known secrets. There are several excellent Korean barbecue joints not far from Hampden (others will provide the names, as I cannot remember them). Southwest of Baltimore is Howard County, home of the aforementioned Columbia, which has a large Korean community and the H-Mart has a good Korean food court next door to the supermarket, and there are other Korean places, including Korean style Chinese food. It's well worth the trek from Hampden.

                                        Hampden is well-situated for groceries. There are two large generic supermarkets in the neighborhood, which you will quickly discover. Slightly further afield is Eddies' in neighboring Roland Park (but a world away in atmosphere). Eddies' is an old Baltimore institution and has one of the best meat counters in the city. A bit further away is a Whole Foods. The Baltimore's Farmer's Market operates at Waverly on Saturday and is five minutes' drive from Hampden. The downtown Farmer's Market is on Sundays and is larger, but I have always preferred the Waverly Market. I miss it more than anything else about Baltimore, as the quality of produce in Dubai is simply not comparable with the exception of exotic fruits from Asia.

                                        There's a small shopping complex at the corner of Northern Parkway and York Road called Belvedere Square. IF it hasn't already succumbed to the recession, you will find an excellent bread bakery there. Atwaters also had a stall at the farmers' markets. Somewhere in downtown Baltimore is Bonjour, the best French bakery in the city and the place to go for pastries.

                                        Although Baltimore once had a large and prominent German community, most of the old-style German bakeries have closed. There may be one or two left somewhere in Northeast Baltimore, along the Harford Road corridor, but I never ventured that far afield. If you are looking for excellent German sausages, and are willing to drive a half hour, then there's a German sausage-maker in Rosedale on the city's eastern side. The name is Binkert's, and they supply the German embassy in Washington.

                                        Last but not least: you will find that everyone claims to know who has the best crabcakes. None of them will be correct. The best crabcakes will be yours. Learn how to make them!

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Roland Parker

                                          This is a reply to all of you to thank you for your fantastic responses (don't stop, please!). You've all been very helpful and supportive and I starting to feel well armed for our latest adventure.

                                          BTW, does anyone know how the Helmand here compares to the one in Boston?

                                          1. re: zebcook

                                            I've never been to the one in Boston, but it's owned by the same family, so I expect they are comparable.

                                            I'm a big spoil sport, but I don't like our Helmand as well as I used to. It's hella loud, and I've never seen waiters who are so blatant about rushing you through your meal. I am generally not a service fussbudget at all, but the Helmand really rubbed me the wrong way.

                                            1. re: zebcook

                                              I second the poster above me who mentioned that it's very loud. It's so loud that it's almost uncomfortable to dine there, but the food is excellent and the bill does leave you thinking that somehow you should be paying a bit more.

                                            2. re: Roland Parker

                                              Slight correction to Roland Parker on French bakeries. Bonjour is excellent, but it is not in the same league (at least with respect to pastries) as Pattiserie Poupon, which is downtown at the foot of the JFX -- on Baltimore Street I believe.

                                              1. re: lawhound

                                                Actually, I had meant Patisserie Poupon! Thanks for correcting me. It's time for a visit to Baltimore.

                                            3. Okay, you folks have been top-notch, but here's a real stumper --

                                              Any fresh tofu to be found, either through supermarkets or factories? Got spoiled by this when we lived on the west coast.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: zebcook

                                                I'm not a big tofu person, but there was a thread about this a while back, although it's skewed towards College Park. But apparently you can get it at supermarkets:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/336506

                                                1. re: zebcook

                                                  MOM Organic Market in Jessup has fresh tofu in a bucket below their packaged tofu.

                                                  Also, for prosciutto ends, DiPasquale's in Highlandtown always has them. The place blows up on Saturday, so your best bet for a good selection is on Monday. They are about $5-6 per.

                                                  Eichenkranz is a German restaurant, also in Highlandtown, but I have never been there and haven't seen many comments about the place, either.

                                                  1. re: zebcook

                                                    I remember seeing blocks of tofu in buckets of water for sale at H-mart, the Korean supermarket in Catonsville.

                                                    1. re: zebcook

                                                      I know that this is an older thread, but Asia Food on York Road (already mentioned) has fresh tofu. You have to ask them for it at the counter. It's wonderful - much better than packaged tofu, and it's reasonable too.

                                                      Also, about vegetarian restaurants - I agree with all the posts so far - One World, Great Sage (vegetarian only), Golden West (in Hampden). Mr. Chan's on Reiserstown in Pikesville has a bunch of vegetarian dishes and great sushi too (I've only tried the veggie sushi).

                                                      1. re: zebcook

                                                        H-Mart probably has the best selection of tofu in the Baltimore area. I think some of it is freshly made.

                                                      2. I used to live on Falls road and 37 th street. Made the trip north to Cockeysville daily to work.
                                                        Wegmans- Hunt Valley has good cheese.
                                                        Andy Nelsons-on York Rd in Cockeysville has good bbq pig meat.
                                                        Fassini's on Cranbrook Road in Cockeysville has decent fresh pasta
                                                        Rose of Sharon on Loch Raven, east of Towson has good Caribbean carry-out, but no
                                                        working phone number
                                                        Compared to other large east-coast cities, Baltimore has a very disappointing ethnic food culture. No German, no Polish or Ukrainian. Bad italian, ghetto Chinese etc.
                                                        Good luck in Balto.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: ponhaus gal

                                                          Um, for Polish you have the Krakus Deli in Fells Point, Sophia's Stand in the Fells Point market, both have great sausages, cheeses, etc. There is also the store Polish Treasures in Fells Point, they sell homemade Pierogies from time to time. The big Ukrainian church on Eastern Avenue across from Patterson Park also sells homemade pierogies at certain times of the year. For sit down Polish/Ukrainian there is the restaurant/wine bar in Fells Point Ze Mean Bean cafe.

                                                          1. re: ponhaus gal

                                                            also for house made German weiners, brats etc. There is Binkerts on the east side of Baltimore County near Golden Ring. This shop has supplied the White House and various consulates in DC, the products are great.
                                                            http://www.binkerts.com/

                                                          2. A few answers from my experience:
                                                            Asian supermarkets? (Chinese and Japanese in particular)
                                                            HMart is good but Korean. Don't know about others but HMart is pretty good.

                                                            Indian market?
                                                            Patel bros on Route 40 is good. Also, further West by the Safeway in Ellicott City is another good Indian Market.

                                                            For that matter, South Indian restaurants? (Any place specializing in chaat dishes is a bonus)
                                                            Mango Grove is just OK and vegetarian in Columbia. For the truly best Indian in the are go down to College Park area(about 40 minutes S towards DC but worth it!) and go to Woodlands. Also Udupi Palace is good. Woodlands is the best Indian food I've ever eaten.

                                                            Vegetarian restaurants?
                                                            One World, Yabba Pot are almost totally veg

                                                            Dukem(ethiopian has good stuff), Woodberry Kitchen is also great, Golden West Cafe, Dogwood, Rocket to Venus, Helman, Lebanese Taverna, Pazo, Clementine, B
                                                            (these are all personal favorites that have a good veg selection---the wife is veg--- but also serve meat)

                                                            really good "throw it on the charcoal" steak place?
                                                            Prime Rib--$$$, Capitol Grille

                                                            Sushi?
                                                            Sushi Hana in Towson is decent, Sushi Sono or Sushi King in Columbia are not bad, Chiyo is OK, there is pretty good sushi in DC as well. The rest of the places that people have mentioned are pretty meager by my experience.

                                                            Brewpubs?
                                                            Max's in Fells, Brewer's Art

                                                            German restaurants?
                                                            There are a couple good ones in DC. None that I know of in Balti.

                                                            Chinese? (Both good carryout and chinese-menu chinese)
                                                            Grace Garden is Odenton is the best but is a 30 minute drive from Hampden
                                                            Mr. Chans is OK but has good veg options in PIkesville
                                                            Asian Court in Ellicott City is also not bad and serves Dim Sum that is OK.