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Visiting Baltimore--recs?

I've only done a bit of research on the neighborhood where I'll be staying, Roland Park off Falls Rd. I found a few places I'm curious about--Ethel and Ramone's, Kabob Stop (new?), Donna's in Cross Keys, Rocket to Venus near JHU, and Egyptian Pizza for middle eastern food. Do any hounds have comments? I will likely have my 90 something step grandad with me for some meals, but not all. I expect to poke around the Visionary Art Museum in the Inner Harbor (Key Hwy.) so any info on food in that area would be welcome as well. 5 days over a weekend at the end of the month, so lots of chances to try great food! Thanks.

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  1. Do you have some specifics? What sort of food are you looking for? What's your ideal price point?

    Most of the stuff around the inner harbor is touristy stuff, so in order to get some suggestions out of this crew, you will most likely need to elaborate.

    9 Replies
    1. re: gregb

      I like all cuisines, except that I avoid Vietnamese because fish sauce gives me migraines. I particularly like Japanese food of all types (izakaya esp.) though one of our party avoids raw fish, so a strictly sushi restaurant would not be so likely. Any place that executes well, from hole in the wall to a more upscale, but somewhat casual atmosphere, would be welcome. I kind of doubt we'll do much fine dining, though I came across a place called Brewer's Art, for instance, that might be of interest. Most of my family loves a good draft. I want to avoid touristy places and the overrated local joints that are crowded with tourists looking for "local atmosphere." So, recs as well as advice on what to avoid is welcome. I suppose for evening meals $25-30 pp would be our limit, excluding tip and alchohol, and cheaper eats are good, too.

      1. re: amyzan

        in Hampden, next to Roland Park, check out:
        Rocket to Venus
        www.rockettovenus.com

        The Dogwood
        www.dogwoodbaltimore.com

        Woodberry Kitchen
        www.woodberrykitchen.com

        The Golden West
        www.goldenwestcafe.com

          1. re: hon

            Woodberry Kitchen is very good and the whole building/complex is interesting. IMHO, Rocket to Venus is mediocre--far better in concept than execution. Golden West is good in the home-cooking way I used to cook when I first graduated from college and used cheese in everything, but hardly a place I'd go out of my way to try from out of town. For something unusual, you'd be better off at Dangerously Delicious Pies (www.dangerouspies.com), both sweet and savory. Donna's is fine if you're in the neighborhood, but not a go-out-of-your way kind of place. Ethel & Ramone's has a great everyone-is-welcome vibe that I really enjoy.

            In Roland Park, the best place is Petit Louis, which is French bistro.

            In Federal Hill, the Bicycle is very good. I haven't been to Cork's since they redid the menu, but it's had good reviews. I'd avoid Junior's Wine Bar, which we went to with friends after we heard raves and had an embarrassingly bad meal.

            1. re: indcgirl

              Junior's is now Taverna Corvino

                1. re: indcgirl

                  Went to Corvino a couple of months ago and had a nice meal. I thought their fried oysters were really good. The balance of the meal was good. Walked by there a week ago to overhear a customer sitting at an outside table telling the hostess that no one has come to take their order in 45 minutes.

              1. re: indcgirl

                Dangerously Delicious Pies in Hampden is closing and probably already has.

                1. re: hon

                  thanks. good to know. it would be very disappointing to go all the way over there expecting pie. :-(

        1. Taharka Brothers (Sylvan Beach) ice cream in Mt Washington Mill off Falls Road

          2 Replies
          1. re: KAZ

            I didn't find the Taharka Bros. website helpful, except for locations and hours. Can you tell me more about what they're doing that's special? Flavors? Ingredients? Their marketing is remarkably uniformative for all it's style...

            1. re: amyzan

              I agree, the website could use more information. If you're on twitter, they post updates and info at:

              http://twitter.com/TaharkaBros

              For the ice cream, they use a 14% butterfat mix from a local dairy company. I really like their "standard" flavors. Their vanilla and strawberry are both excellent. Some of their better unique flavors are key lime pie and Jack Daniels chocolate.

              The thing that really sets them apart is their social mission. They are a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of inner city youth. They do great work in the community.

              Check them out and post back with your thoughts.

          2. I've only been to Egyptian Pizza once and managed to convince the wife to try the Giza pizza -- lamb, olives, feta, and roasted tomates served with a spice tomato-coriander dipping sauce. Can't speak to their middle eastern food, but the pizza was much better than it might sound.

            Also, just across the street is the Belvedere Market -- there's a nice Italian deli, Neopol Smokery (try the smoked bluefish) and a number of other stalls that look interesting. Grand Cru is adjacent and has a good place for a glass of wine. They have light food, but I haven't tried it.

            1. Petit Louis with your grandad
              Woodberry Kitchen (with your grandad if he is up for something hip and trendy)
              Eddie's of Roland Park has nice sandwiches for lunch (the key here is to go to their website, check out their take out menu, and call ahead with your order; you can then swoop in, pick up your order on the deli counter, and avoid the hungry lunchtime crowd that will be thinking to themselves "why didn't I do that?")
              Hope you have a great visit

              1. When you are visiting the AVAM, Tabirizi's is a great mediterranean place with a deck to sit out by the water. Also Little Havana is right next to the Museum of Industry and has delicious mojitos and water views. Also, Gertrude's at the Baltimore Museum of Art (next to Hopkins and closer to Charles Village) serves several types of crabcakes, and has outdoor dining overlooking the sculpture garden. You may to check if they still have Tuesdays with Gertie where they have several dinner entrees for $12...I would highly recommend reservations though.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ravenchic

                  How is the food at Little Havana? I see they serve Cubano sandwiches, which I adore when they're good. When they're bad, well, they can be horrifying. Thanks for the recs!

                  1. re: amyzan

                    Little Havana is awful. They don't know what they're doing there regarding food.

                    1. re: kukubura

                      Little havana must be commended on it's consistency.....the food there has been downright horrible from day 1......no local EVER eats there...it is a drinking place.

                2. I'm back from Balto, and wanted to share, and thank you all for the replies. My first evening there we had dinner at The Dogwood. It was Friday ngiht and the place was loud! Somehow we got a table with uncomfortable plastic chairs, near the bar, probably should have made res. earlier for a Friday night. Our waiter was a little harried it seemed, as questions required a couple mentions to obtain info from the kitchen. All that said, my trout was delicious, as were my dining companions chicken breasts, lamb shank, and duck. The duck in particular was fantastic--silky and juicy without any greasiness from the skin. Desserts were a bit unusual, perhaps because the menu descriptions didn't quite fit on a couple, but they were still good, just not what we expected.. We would go again, we decided.

                  By far, though, the big find of the trip, thanks to hon, was Woodberry Kitchen. My father and stepmom plan to return for dinner this week, because we had such a great experience at Sunday brunch. They are blessed by a talented barista. The patio is pleasant. The dining rooms looked promising, too. I had a fantastic dish of shirred eggs with crab and chard. The waiter explained that the wood burning oven was running hot that morning, and had cooked my eggs beyond the runny description I was looking forward to dipping toast. Still, that detail aside, the eggs were so tasty, the crab sweet and the chard made a good combo. Their hash browns are just a little spicy, and crusty on the edges, so good. There were some lovely buckwheat pancakes with cherries and french toast and ricotta pancakes, which my grandad finished off all plates with great gusto. Him being 93, we encourage the hearty appetite and communal table! We also shared a cheese plate with tasty pairings, the highlight for me was Firefly Farms goat cheese with cardamom apricots, or was it thyme honey and blueberries, I don't recall. Anyway, great atmosphere, informed and attentive service, excellent food.

                  I want to mention that my parents and grandad had eaten takeout from Kabob Stop the night before I arrived, and enjoyed it. They said it was fairly standard Indian fare, but done well.

                  I had a nice tea from Dee Dee's Bakery, a little shop on Federal Hill, while walking around after viewing the exhibit at AVAM. Her cookies looked tempting, but I didn't try one, even the little green tea shortbread. What willpower. The owner was very sweet and accomodating, offering free refills. She just opened her shop this past August, so I hope she will make a go of it.

                  Although we ate many meals at home, I want to thank you all for the recs. I will have a list for next visit now. I also want to say how impressed I was with the friendliness of Baltimoreans. Everywhere we went people were pleasant, even when we were rooting for the Sox at Camden Yards on Monday night. You all have a great city!