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Baltimore: A Tale of Three Crabcakes

After asking about “best crabcakes, etc’ in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/620940
, here’s the report back:

I ate crabcakes at three places: Duda’s, Obrycki’s, and Faidley’s.

Duda’s was number one by a considerable margin -- possibly the best crabcake I've ever had. Plentiful large chunks of sweet and tasty crab meat; minimal filler; good seasoning. Pan-fried rather than deep-fried at my request. Very nice location in the good part of Fell’s Point. I noticed that you don’t have to walk more than a few blocks north before the neighborhood gets ratty. Which brings us to #2:

Obrycki’s: Again, great quality crab meat; just not as tasty a cake as what I had at Duda’s. It was fun watching the people at neighboring tables cracking piles of crabs, but that’s too much work for me. Incredibly crummy neighborhood – half a block from the projects. Guard standing outside is probably a necessary fixture. Speaking of crummy neighborhoods………

Faidley’s: This was on my last day, before a late afternoon flight (which turned into evening, but that’s another story). Definitely the poorest of the three -- I’ve had better crabcakes on the west coast. Too much crumb filler; WAY too much mayo; just-OK flavor. The crab itself was good quality. Also had the cream of crab soup, which was mediocre. Having seen some reports of inconsistency, I’m wondering if I just hit them on a bad day. I had been pretty excited about going to Lexington Market, but it turned out to be a disappointment overall. Lots of fried things I didn’t want to eat, plus mediocre produce. Didn’t care for Berger’s cookies, either. Atmosphere was by far the worst of any public market I’ve been to. Pike Place or St. Lawrence Market this is not.

I ended up wishing I had gone back to Duda’s that day instead of trying out Faidley’s (especially considering my delayed flight!) On the other hand, while standing at the Faidley’s “eating table”, I did meet a fellow ‘hound who had attended the same convention I was in town for. We took a walk around the west market (more of the same fried-food stands) and had a very interesting chat about the difficulties of dining out with non-hounds.

BTW, Duda's were panfried on request; Obrycki's were broiled on request, and Faidley's were done in their usual fried method. Apologies for having started eating the Duda's cakes before taking the photo.

 
 
 
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  1. I couldn't agree more about Duda's and have never understood the fascination with Faidley's at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hon

      Faidley's crabcakes are about 100 times better than Duda's. You can get a Duda's style crabcake virtually anywhere in Maryland...or even Delaware. Faidley's crabcake's taste is unique and exquisite. A true classic.

    2. I've always found Faidley's to be too gummy from the mashed up saltines. But I understand the fascination because of the Baltimore ambience. I guess I have a different notion of what constitutes a crummy neighborhood.

      Though I must admit that I look at real estate listings differently than in my pre-Chowhound days. Before I used to say to myself "Who would want to live there?" Now I say, "Wow, that's near Little Ethiopia!"

      1. Agreed on Duda's being fantastic. I haven't been in about a year due to being treated like a dirty bum who had come in off the street looking for free food, but this thread has convinced me to give them my business once again!

        1. Great review. Just wondering: Did you have the expensive, jumbo lump crabcake at Faidley's?

          1 Reply
          1. re: baltoellen

            Thanks. Yes, that was the jumbo lump crabcake.

          2. Were you the guy that ducked into Broadway Liquors to ask for directions to Obrycki's?

            I live walking distance from Obrycki's, and am having trouble figuring out where these projects are half a block away.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Hal Laurent

              West of Broadway on Pratt, los projectos are within a block! If the OP were walking from Harbor East, I could understand how one would take a poor route to Obrycki's.

              1. re: Hal Laurent

                Not me -- I was in a cab. IIRC the projects were about half a block west on the south side of Pratt. I could be wrong -- maybe it was an Eastern Bloc-styled apartment complex that just _looked_ like projects.

                1. re: Steve Green

                  Yes, there are projects on the other side of Broadway. That's hardly half a block from Obrycki's.

                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                    ...and, not to get too bogged down in a discussion of demographics and geography in Baltimore, but one block from Obrycki's, there are $750k townhouses!

                    And, after reading the post again, I'm sort of amazed that Lexington Mkt would be compared to Pike Place Market. Two very different places serving very different type of people. But, give me Lexington any day!

                    1. re: Hal Laurent

                      I know what he is talking about and they are 2 blocks west on Pratt Street, go several blocks east on Pratt Street and you get into a much nicer neighborhood.

                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                        Doesn't Faidley broil their crabcakes?

                        Everyone is entitled to their opinon and no one says you must like Faidley's, or even the type of food or atmosphere offered at Lexington Market, but I feel to call the market "total trash" is a little over the top. We can tear down the harbor, harbor east, fells point, canton, etc. and put up new buidlings, but this is not the face of the majority of the city. Some might be afraid of the realities of Baltimore, but I find it inspiring that so many good establishments are able to prosper in their respective environments around the city. In my opinion, Lexington Market is far more representative of Baltimore than, say, south Fells Point.

                        I was just at St. Lawrence Market this past Thursday and Saturday and there were things I missed from Lexington Market and the JFX Market, although they did have many other different things to offer there. Just like most markets, the average stand at St Lawrence was mediocre and overpriced, with some gems scattered about.

                          1. re: bmorecupcake

                            Bmorecupcake said:

                            “….Just like most markets, the average stand at St Lawrence was mediocre and overpriced, with some gems scattered about.”

                            Sorry, but I don’t agree. When I was in Toronto last fall, I wished there had been a fridge in my hotel room – I would hardly have needed to go out to eat all week, with the huge variety of excellent food I could have collected at SLM. There was a fridge in my room in Baltimore, but I really didn’t find anything being offered at Lexington that looked appealing enough to buy and eat later. Like I first said, mostly fried foods, and not very appetizing ones at that. Sure, all markets have some mediocre stands, but mediocre seemed to me to be the norm at Lexington.

                            Maybe Pike Place wasn’t such a good example, as it seems to attract mostly tourists these days. So let’s take another example: Farmers Market in Los Angeles (Fairfax district).: It’s not just for tourists -- many locals go there for the large variety of excellent food stands, offering everything from pizza to fresh-squeezed juices, to Mexican, Brazilian BBQ, Cajun food, great English toffee, and on and on. Or if that’s too “upscale” for you (it isn’t upscale at all, really), how about Grand Central Market, also in L.A. More like Lexington in that it’s uh, less upscale, for lack of a better phrase. Still, lots more diverse and interesting things to eat and buy there than at Lexington. Far better produce stands as well.

                            BTW, I could have ordered the crabcake broiled at Faidley’s, or ordered a backfin cake, but I doubt that either option would have been much better, in that it would probably still have had too much mayo and filler.