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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

                          1. One of the treats at Lexington Market is fresh Berger cookies. The perfect dessert after Faidley's crabcakes, then get some packed to go. Lex Mkt is definitely worth a visit.

                            1. I really think that a must for an out of town visitor is Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry is reasonably priced, in a great rehabbed Baltimore area, close enough to downtown, and has good to great food. They also have good oysters and lots of local stuff that is worth trying. I really think it's a must.

                              With regard to the rest of the comments, Black Olive, Jordan's and several others are just as or more expensive than Cinghiale. Gertrude's is good at times, but has never been great for me. Clementine, Abacrombie, Helmand, Lebanese Taverna, Petit Louis, are a few others that off the top of my head I might consider.

                              Have fun!

                              1. might want to consider Tio Pepe's which is a baltimore institution and serves high end excellent Spanish cuisine. I think they have an entire roasted pig on thursday nights but you should confirm this with the restaurant.

                                5 Replies
                                  1. re: chicken kabob

                                    I wouldn't sayb "i love Tio Pepe's." but at least it is truly a Baltimore institution--one of the few that is remaining. Additionally, the cuisine isn't trendy, or attempting to be something else in keeping with the food trends that sweep the country.

                                    Now, I don't have an issue with unique dining environments. I am champing at the bit to dine at minibar. But, I'd prefer good, basic, quality food and atmosphere instead of pomposity and cuisine that is trying to be different just for the sake of being "unique." FoiGras

                                    1. re: chicken kabob

                                      I guess it's too late for the traveler to entertain my opinion on this. However for the record, I will never return to Tio Pepe. I tried it out during RW because the CH boards recommend it. It was awful!! The food was not worth eating and the placed smelled dusty/dirty. It was like eating in a dark room in someone you dont know's house! eewww

                                      1. re: jerseygirldawn

                                        dawn, are you sure you weren't at Martick's? :)

                                        1. re: jerseygirldawn

                                          Never gauge a restaurant during Restaurant Week. I've been consistently disappointed dining out during RW.

                                          I agree with "crackers," that maybe you mistook Martick's for Tio Pepe's. FoiGras

                                    2. Hi Disneyfreak,

                                      Looks like you have a really good list to choose from along with the suggestions from Chowhounders. Given that you only have three nights for dinners, I recommend the following:

                                      1) Charleston over Pazo or Cinghiale. Get the prix fixe to stay within your $60 budget.

                                      2) Bicycle - you'll get a good feel of a local favorite and head out into the Federal Hill neighborhood without venturing too far off the beaten path.

                                      3) Brewer's Art - awesome food and beer in a cool space. It gives you a different perspective of Baltimore and another neighborhood that is still easy to access from Baltimore proper.

                                      If you really are up for heading outside the city, Jordan's is in a really great area. I think both the food and service are outstanding but caution that it may be too far for a business dinner after a long day of meetings. If you're hankering for a steak in a steak house atmosphere within the city, head to the Prime Rib.

                                      1. I think your choices are good ones. I would merely suggest swapping out Ryleigh's and instead going to Mama's on the Half Shell in Canton.

                                        You could easily go to Lexington Market each day for lunch and not be disappointed.

                                        1. We just took family to Sunday brunch at Woodberry Kitchen (because we didn't plan ahead to get Saturday night reservations...d'oh!) and all of the out of towners loved it and thought it was a very special place.
                                          We recently had a lovely celebration dinner at Cinghale, and the food was wonderful. My only criticism is that it does look a bit like a hotel restaurant. They could use a little more personalized dining environment for the quality of the food they serve.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: locustpointgirl

                                            Go to lexington market, specifically to Faidley's for crabcakes. i heard Jordan's closed, or is closing. Gertrude's is best for brunch, not dinner. sit in the sculpture garden if the weather is nice. if you want authentic northern italian cooking, go to Cinghiale. I heartily disagree with foigras'(correct spelling-foisgras) comments about several of said "institutions". neither is about"pomposity" or "uniqueness", especially if you know anything about food. i go to both places twice a month when i'm in the area. Fleming's is owned by outback steakhouse, spend your money if you want uninspired food thrown together by linecooks. brewer's art is my fave eclectic beer bar-the staff is lovely as well. Woodberry Kitchen for a comfortable, relaxed yet stylish atmosphere. If you go to attman's; you must have something with corned beef, and the green/rare pickles. miss shirley's for breakfast is great-try the french toast or one of the omelettes. be prepared to wait for a table if you go on the weekend. I haven't been to Bicycle in a bit.
                                            you may also want to try Salt in butcher's hill is you are staying in the inner harbor area. stay far away from obrycki's-strictly a tourist trap.

                                            1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

                                              Hey LuLu---it's FoiE Gras--not FoiS. FoiGras

                                              My moniker's spelling was an oversight in typing, not ignorance in spelling.

                                              1. re: FoiGras

                                                since you're so serious, and particular-thought you should know.

                                          2. Disneyfreak -- since your post inspired both culinary and sociological debate, we will be interested to see where you ate and what you thought of the food in our fine city (and whether you had lunch at Lexington Market with Roland Parker!).