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Jun 5, 2009 10:31 AM

Have done a board search, still have a few assorted questions re: College Park, Baltimore....

Hi all:

Quick in and out trip, and am trying to research the best places to eat, have searched the boards and have a few questions, could use some help....

1. Going to the National Aquarium, where should I have lunch?, given time will be limited. The Aquarium website is absolutely wonderful in all respects except one: no mention of food whatsoever! (that I can find). Are they trying to tell me something? If there is a cafe in the Aquarium how crowded is it likely to be on a Monday in June?

2. Dinner one night is a work/group event at Siri's Chef Secret in Greenbelt. I see mixed opinions, and not many of those, on the boards. Are there any items I should order there to maximize my chances of something good? I love Thai food, and will eat almost anything.

3. Where should I go for my one free dinner, (preferably in College Park/Greenbelt area, but will have a car and would definitely consider going further afield for something great, though I am not crazy about going into DC this trip) on a Tuesday evening? Would particularly love seafood, and something I couldn't get in California. crab perhaps? Cost matters much less than flavor!

Thanks for any suggestions, and I promise to report back!

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  1. Re: Aquarium
    There is a very low-end cafe in the aquarium that probably won't be packed on a non-weekend.
    If you want to upgrade even slightly, directly outside the aquarium is ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe, Potbelly's (fast food), Blu Bambu (oriental stir-fry ff), Chipotle (ff), and Houhlihan's. Perhaps another 100y is the Harborplace buildings with even more fast food. I promise you: you will not starve.

    5 Replies
    1. re: dcopeland

      thanks....wasn't worried about starving, was more worried about alternatives to those chains. But, I have to admit, sounds like the choices last time I was at the Inner Harbor....(all I found that time were chains and fastfood).

      1. re: susancinsf

        For a non-chain lunch alternative in the Inner Harbor, you may want to consider Rosina Gourmet ( Interesting sandwiches on very decent bread. About half a take-out crowd, but they have about a dozen tables there at which to eat.

      2. re: dcopeland

        Only a few hundred feet past that is Little Italy, and Isabella's offers great, great sandwiches and pizza for lunch. It's maybe 5 mins walk from the Aquarium.

        1. re: lawhound

          Isabella's is great --Italian deli and excellent pizza. Attman's Deli is an old time place with fantastic pastrami and corned beef that's not known to disappoint even fard core deli fans.

          Those are probably the two best lunch options within easy walking distance of the aquarium, but both serve up a fine lunch that's way above what you could get in the harbor proper. Forget the chains and pick one of those two.

        2. re: dcopeland

          You could also make your way to Boheme Cafe on Pratt St for lunch. Or Miss Shirley's!

        3. A non-chain place near the Aquarium is The Wharf Rat on Pratt St.

          The menu has crab dishes. I have not eaten there so I don't know the quality of the food. I can attest to the high quality of the beer.

          I'm not aware of any fine dining near College Park/Greenbelt. There are several good medium priced ethnic places (Korean, Indian, Peruvian, etc.). You can search this board for those two cities as well as for Hyattsville and Langley Park.

          A sentimental favorite for me is the original Ledo's Pizza near the U of Md.

          Enjoy your stay.

          3 Replies
          1. re: OldSchool

            The former Wharf Rat on Pratt is now the Pratt Street Ale House ( Haven't tried nor have I heard anything about it.

            1. re: OldSchool

              In Greenbelt, which is basically a wasteland, perhaps the New Deal Cafe.

              1. re: OldSchool

                thanks to all of you for the suggestions so far...just to clarify one thing in case my reference to price not being important gave the wrong impression: Tuesday night dinner does *not* need to be fine dining, in fact probably better that it isn't. Just looking for something delicious and perhaps local, regardless of price...

              2. The only place I like to eat in College Park is the Food Factory (


                Nothing fancy and does not fit your seafood request, but as I say, it's the only place I like to eat in College Park

                1. With a car, you have many options in Maryland for Tuesday night, but you have to leave Greenbelt and College Park. I am not sure about hours of operation for all these places, so you may want to call.

                  SIlver Spring:
                  Ray's The Classics. American food. Nice ambience, but casual nonetheless. Crab bisque is sensational. If you are calorie counting, you might want to bring a calculator.

                  Cubano's. Bandeja (sampling platter) more food than you can eat, so be it. They have two dippping sauces here which are killer: a mojo and a cilantro aioli. Make sure you get both.

                  General Store Post Office Tavern: American, counter service. the chef here is finicky and has a deft hand with fried food. But I think the menu changes often enough so I can't say what will be there on Tuesday. If you see fried catfish, get it!

                  Wheaton (but may have a Silver Spring address):
                  Ruan Thai. I think it's the best Thai in the area. Boneless crispy duck, watercess appetizer, whole fish, eggplant appetizer, tofu with basil and chilis, so many good orders. If you like your food spicy, you do have to really convince them, unfortunately.

                  Nava Thai: Recent downhill reports, but the main reason to go here is the Floating Market Noodle Soup which is searing hot and has tremendous depth.

                  Jerry's Seafood. The firecracker crab bomb. Very casual, the bomb will be expensive though.

                  Langley Park:
                  Woodlands, strictly vegetarian South Indian. I go for the paper dhosa, served plain and mutter paneer, but they have a long menu of many favorites.

                  Samantha's: Salvadoran. Small place, very casual, but nice (the waiters wear ties!). probably the best Salvadoran in the area. Various cuts of marinated beef are a specialty.

                  Beltsville: Da Rae Won. Ethnically Chinese Korean food. I have not eaten here, but is considered to be a best bet for the genre. So if you like your ja jiang myun, etc, this is probably a good place to go.

                  Not all that far into DC down Georgia Avenue:
                  Chez Auntie Libe. Senegalese. Manioc (cassava leaf stew) is great, maybe an acquired taste if you've never had it. Yassa chicken, whole fish, maffe lamb. You'll need to over order here, though, to get a range of flavors.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Steve

                    great list, thanks!

                    What is a firecracker crab bomb? or are you trying to talk like my kids? (you know, 'the crab is tha' bomb' :-))

                    The South Indian definitely has my eye if I don't go for seafood...I do love crab bisque. Calorie counting, what is that?

                    1. re: susancinsf

                      For your aquarium lunch go to Miss Shirley's. it's just across Pratt St. fr. the Aquarium. it's slightly pricy for Brunch/lunch but very decadent. There are 2 locations so technically it is a chain but the food is very worth checking out, Enjoy!

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Firecracker =spicy. Bomb = bombe. Like one of those huge round desserts. Twice as much crab as a crabcake.

                        After having eaten spicy crabcakes in a few places, I have come under the realization that it's the way to go.

                        1. re: Steve

                          i f you want food you cannot get in California, you should go to a crab house and get some steamed (hard) crabs. They are blue crabs and much better than Dungeness crabs. I have no idea where you could get crabs in CP, but balto has many crab houses and there are lots of threads on this board.

                          1. re: tartuffe

                            better than Dungeness? Sounds like fighting words to me! :-) seriously, might have to go for this. I've visited the area several times, but not when they've been in season. or something, because I don't think I've yet tried them,

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              Try them in late summer. Also must try soft shells. Cracking the crabs open and drinking beer is a great group activity.

                    2. wow no mention of marathon deli in college park for Greek. it's just a casual sit down place not too nice ??? dont remember. so you may not en up eating there
                      I myself love the Pork Souvlaki though it;s been a while.

                      seems to be a lot of love for the gyro

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: vivinator

                        Marathon, though a decent lunch place, is not somewhere to go with an expense account and a desire for a great dinner.