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Jun 5, 2009 11:14 AM

Baltimore -- what do you think of my choices? Or can you suggest something else?

Hi helpful folks of Chowhound!

I am heading to Baltimore on business the middle of next week -- from Wednesday to Saturday (heading home Saturday late afternoon.)

I will be on my company's dime while I am there. Since I am a foodie I have been researching restaurants for dinner. Some of the ones I am considering are:

Cinghiale (but I'm not sure if they are too expensive. Dinner should be around $60 per person. We can go over 1 night without too much fuss.)
The Black Olive
Blue Sea Grill
Jordan's Steakhouse

and for breakfast 1 day I want to go to Miss Shirley's. I'm also thinking about visiting Lexington Market on Saturday before I leave town.

What do you think? Any other suggestions?

Thanks for your help.

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  1. Obrycki's is overpriced for crabs although I understand price is not an object. But you might have more fun outside at Nick's Fishmarket.
    I would say Black Olive is at least as expensive as Cinghiale.
    You can't go wrong with your choices. Pazo is bigger and hipper than your other choices...half-restaurant, half-Meatpacking district lounge.

    Miss Shirley's is a must for breakfast. The other standout breakfast in town is Blue Moon Cafe, which has unbelievable lines on weekends.

    Lexington Market is a, um, interesting place. It has some amazing foods and will be an unforgettable experience, but it is not Baltimore at it's finest. It's safe, but you won't feel safe. Too much of "the other Baltimore" for my taste. Go to the smaller Cross St Market in Federal Hill, enjoy your oysters, and you won't have to clutch your bags and look behind you constantly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dcopeland

      I found both markets utterly fascinating (grocery geek here) Lexington is massive and I dug the seedy vibe of the area and where else can one buy fresh Muskrat in season?, Cross Street I found a little claustrophobic by comparison (folks tended to park themselves at the counter longer making it harder to order) but also a worthwhile stop

      both definitely grazing destinations..

    2. Seems like your sticking close to the harbor, but I would suggest one night to (drive/taxi) to Greektown and hit either Samos on Oldham Street or Zorba's on Eastern Ave. They are about three blocks from each other!
      Also you may want to try Attmans for a lunch..great corned beef!!!

      1. For Crabs- LP Steamers on the harbor off Key Highway on Fort Avenue. Delicious and reasonably priced,
        Excellent Bar Food- Annabelle Lee off of Fleet in Canton. Really Yummy!
        Bar- The Brewers Art. Baltimore staple. Brews on Belgium beer (i recommend Resurrection) Two floors. Diverse atmosphere something for everyone. Just won best bar in U.S. according to Esquire magazine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: eelz

          Just to second Lexington Market (I've lived in Baltimore my whole life, and the only restaurant I've been to on your list is Gertrude's - which I highly recommend, and make sure to check out the Baltimore Museum of Art while you're there).

          To me, Lexington Market is Baltimore - I'm also a college professor and have taken several groups of very suburbanized students to the market, and they love it. The fact that the market has been in continuous use since the late 1700's is pretty amazing. Lexington Market is people from all walks of life in Baltimore buying and selling food, and it's much more real than Harborplace, and it's one of the few places that you can actually get to on the subway or light rail.

          If you go to the market, make sure to grab a couple of fresh Berger's cookies and a hot bag of peanuts from Konstant.

          And Trinacria, just down the street, as mentioned by haldi is a sight to see (with great food too). It looks like a hole in the wall from the outside, and it seems about the width of a rowhouse, but the sandwiches and subs are delicious and gigantic.

        2. I have to disagree with dcopeland about Lexington Market. I live a few blocks from Cross St Market and it is no where near as interesting as Lexington Market. Personally I find the clientele at Nick's seafood to be more frustrating then anyone you would find at Lexington Market. I don't know what "the other Baltimore" is either. I wouldn't recommend the Lexington Market area at night especially when you're not familiar with the city--but its perfect safe during the day. Faidley's for crabcakes is a fun experience and the market itself is an interesting place to look around. I'm a college professor and took a group of students there with no problem--but if you're with people who share the attitudes (or euphemisms) of other posters on Lexington Market you may not want to go.

          17 Replies
          1. re: haldi

            I second haldi's comments on Lexington Market. I go there frequently for lunch from my office on the harbor and its completely safe during the day (and not even open at night). The variety of food is only about 10x greater than Cross Street, plus it's a block or two from Trinacria, a great, great Italian deli preserved in aspic from the 1950s. I too am mystified at dcopeland's reference to "the other Baltimore" -- but if it means what I think, then the kindest thing I can say is that it's ill-informed.

            1. re: lawhound

              We're all being polite here and I agree that being polite is important to a friendly discourse on this board. That said, there's no denying that Lexington Market is in a less than salubrious part of town and sells certain kinds of foodstuff that most chowhounders wouldn't go out of their way to eat. There are some stalls that have interesting food, but there are also others that do sell the standard greasy fare.

              1. re: Roland Parker

                couldn't disagree more. chowhounds are looking for food, even if the location is less than great or the ambiance poor. That being said, I love the following at lexington market: a jumbo deluxe backfin crabcake, a dozen oysters on the half shell and a couple cans of ice cold Heineken at Faidleys, a polack johnny's polish sausage with the works, some great fried chicken wings, fresh berger cookies, a corn beef sandwich at Mary Mervis, some fresh roasted peanuts in shell, some fresh cut fruit salad, and some weird pickled vegetable at the stand in the front of the market, and of course the walking up and down looking at all the different stands and all the different foods......excellent activity for a foodie!

                1. re: dining with doc

                  if we're talking 3 or 4 visits, I'm on Doc's rounds.

                2. re: Roland Parker

                  Lexington Market is a lot more interesting chow-wise than Roland Park is.

                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                    I think the most adventurous Roland Park gets is Petit Louis. Or maybe Loco Hombre - and that's truly for the adventurous because it's some of the worst "Mexican" I've had on Planet Earth.

                    1. re: onocoffee

                      ono: you've obviously never been to Browning's in Little Rock... (/smirk)

                    2. re: Hal Laurent

                      I can't say I agree. Roland Park has Eddies, whose deli counter is regarded enough to attract construction workers from afar, plus one of the best meat counters in the city. There's the aforementioned Petit Louis, even if I may have only dined there once or twice. The Roland Park deli makes excellent chicken salad sandwiches.

                      Sam's Bagel on Cold Spring was one of the first proper bagel shop in Baltimore outside of Pikesville. Some people may not care for Loco Hombre, but it does offer straightforward Tex-Mex of reasonable quality. Miss Shirley's is packed for brunch for good reasons.

                      A bit further afield takes you to the Ambassador and the Carlyle Club along University Parkway. Bonjour bakery is on Fall's Road near Boy's Latin. Of course there's Whole Foods, which is a hop, jump and skip away from Roland Park.

                      I have taken various people to the Lexington Market over the years, primarily to eat at Faidleys. Some people enjoyed the place, others did not, and none of them ever asked to go back on repeat visits to Baltimore. That is all I have to say and I would thank people to keep this discussion as civil as possible.

                      1. re: Roland Parker

                        Eddie's in Roland Park has some of the best shrimp salad in the city!

                        1. re: Roland Parker

                          Sam's Bagel on Cold Spring closed. There is now a bagel place that is part of the Loco Hombre/Miss Shirley's empire. I visited once and had a decent bagel and matza ball soup.

                      2. re: Roland Parker

                        try the possum lately? lol
                        did all the weird food come from the southern/appalachian migrants to baltimore?

                        1. re: vivinator

                          viv: I would guess that's part (B+O canal and later railroad) but also the proximity to the relatively remote areas of the Chesapeake. MD and PA do have extensive rural areas as well. I-95 is the obvious through route, but not the only one.

                          interesting question how food migrates and morphs. but I supposse that's one for the "General" board.

                          1. re: vivinator

                            I've never seen possum at Lexington Market. Are you thinking of muskrat, perhaps?

                            1. re: Hal Laurent

                              perhaps they don't have possum.
                              lol I bet they have muskrat too.
                              don't they sell raccoon?

                            2. re: vivinator

                              No. People have been eating muskrat in Maryland for a long, long time.

                              Duck would be more popular. My father used to go on duck hunting trips, and one year back in the 1950s he had some out of town guests from Kansas who were shocked at being served duck.

                              1. re: Roland Parker

                                ah, duck doesn't sound like one of the "weird" foods.
                                lol muskrat for a long time. even in Baltimore?

                                1. re: Roland Parker

                                  I love duck, but not common in KS (I lived there a while once - few wetlands)

                        2. If your budget allows, I would recommend Charleston for a Friday night, end of week, celebration dinner. Skimp a bit dollar-wise elsewhere.

                          Cinghiale was most unimpressive for me, but there are many Chowhounds who will praise it to the hilt.

                          Blue Sea Grill is excellent, but has a very limited menu. What they do offer is a lovely atmosphere and the prepared dishes are very well executed.

                          Pazo is very trendy. If you like to "see and be seen," then go for it. If you enjoy being scrunched into a table, so close that you can be virtually dining with your "neighbors," go for it.

                          Jordan's Steakhouse is, at least, a non-chain steakhouse. It's not in the downtown area and probably not worth your efforts to take a drive to Ellicott City, MD. Baltimore offers all of the standard chain steakhouses, Fleming's being my favorite.

                          Since the markets aren't my thing, you should go with the recs from the other Chowhounds. Lexington Market is probably the most impressive due to volume, size, and of course, the famous (infamous) Faidley's crabcakes. At least give them a try.

                          Gertrude's is a lovely restaurant, but not worthy of someone coming from out of town. The cuisine is appreciable, but nothing outstanding.

                          Well, welcome to Baltimore. Hope you dine well and have a wonderful experience. FoiGras