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Best of Baltimore needed

Planning a weekend in Baltimore for our anniversary. My husband is a former chef, and we are both serious foodies. Looking for:

- The best place to go for crabs
- The best Baltimore has to offer in fine, gourmet dining
- Any other best of Baltimore we should not miss- does not have to be elegant but something we should not miss
- Best places for brunch, casual breakfast, and weekend lunch
- Something fun we should do during day

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  1. For Dinner Sotto Sopra, is an excellent Italian Restaurant, very romantic place. Great place to celebrate your anniversary.

    Make sure you go to Lexington Market and have some Burger Cookies, and a Faidleys Crabcake.

    Attmans Deli has the best corned beef sandwiches, This place is an insitution that has been in Baltimore since 1915.

    Good place for Brunch is Miss Shirley's Cafe.

    Something fun to do during the day is take the water taxi to Fells Point.
    Hope this helps Enjoy.

    1. best restaurant: Charleston with award winning chef Cindy Wolf

      old baltimore standby's: Tio Pepe for excellent Spanish cuisine and The Prime Rib for prime meats and seafoods

      breakfast: Abercrombie for french toast coated with captain crunch then cooked

      fun and lunch: although attmans is an institution and is good for lunch, Lexington market should be a foodie field trip. This inner city market with stands is fun to walk, look, smell and taste. Go to Faidleys raw bar and chow down a dozen fresh shucked oysters on the half shell and the premium crabcake and then wash them down with a cold beer. follow that with the local Berger Bakery famous chocolate top cookies (a glass of cold milk is perfect to wash that down) If you go to attmans, in addition to a corned beef or pastrami sandwich, try a coddie on a cracker with mustard....also a baltimore tradition and it tastes great

      Camden Yards: if orioles are in town take in an orioles game in the nicest baseball stadium anywhere, if not in town, take a tour of the stadium including the press box, visitors dugout, and computor/communications room

      Fells Point : take a water taxi from the inner harbor to fells point and take in the funky stores, boutiques, stop at a couple of bars for cocktails, eat some mussels at Bertha's

      Little Italy: Vaccarro's bakery for great italian pastrys and gelato

      Inner Harbor: touristy but fun. outside performers, people watching, boats, sun, water plus the National Aquarium is outstanding. Might want to buy timed tickets on the internet in advance!

      have fun

      2 Replies
      1. re: dining with doc

        I forgot to mention Vaccarro's, wow what was I thinking, Defintely go to Vaccarro's for incredible cannoli's and ice cream

        1. re: Jeremy303

          Better cannoli than Vaccaro's to be found at Piedigrotta. And save the ice cream calories for Pitango gelato at 802 S Broadway (www.pitangogelato.com). While at Pitango, get the coffee or affogato.

          Piedigrotta Bakery
          1300 Bank Street Suite 140, Baltimore, MD 21231

      2. Sorry to interrupt, but Chowhound has a very narrow mission--where to find deliciousness. General travel planning questions, like where to stay or what else to do while visiting a town, are off topic for our boards. Please keep your replies focused on helping the poster find great chow, as off topic replies will be removed.

        1. Piettagrotta (sp?) in Fells Point puts Vaccaro's to shame.

          1. Not open Sundays, but Pioneer Pit Beef is literally a shack under the highway. The kind of find Chowhounds dream about. Get the roast beef, ordered rare or medium rare, haunts me still, months after I had it. Very good with the Tiger Sauce. Don't bother with their other meats.

            Bill's Terrace Inn for crabs, opens at 4pm, and that's when you should get there or you'll have a long wait.

            Neither is in a convenient location for visiting downtown Baltimore. But both are experiences you cannot get anywhere else.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Steve

              Agree with Bill's. But don't get ahead of me in line on Sunday.
              Where is Pioneer Pit Beef? Please?

              1. re: crowsonguy

                Pioneer Pit Beef
                1600 N. Rolling Rd.
                (Rolling Rd. and Johnnycake Rd. right underneath I-70 just west of 695.)
                Windsor Mill, MD (410) 455-0415

            2. sotto sopra is a good recommendation for dinner. donna's has great coffee. XS is good for brunch and casual breakfast. if you're big on salad don't miss chiapparelli's in little italy...best house salad ever ever.

              1. oh, forgot to mention gertrude's in the art museum for yummy, simple, fresh new american food....one of my friday night favorites.

                1. Best in fine, gourmet dining- Charleston.

                  1. The Ambassador up by Johns Hopkins is one of the finest indian restaurants in the country. Unbelievable Chicken Tikka Masala. No air conditioning, though.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: com

                      I like the Ambassador, but I wouldn't classify it as "one of the finest Indian restaurants in the country." It's good, basic Indian in a lovely setting, not travel-out-of-your way Indian. I've had better. For example, have you been to Rasika in DC? That's a notch or two up, but I haven't hit enough of the major Indian food centers in the US to put even it as best-in-country.

                    2. OK- so it sounds like it will be Charleston vs. Sotto Sopra for nice dinner. Still trying to figure out best place for casual crab dinner on night one. My husband likes the places where they throw the crabs right on the table and he can get right to work. I prefer to order something with less work. So Lexington Market for one of our lunches? we live in Philly- does this placew even compare to Reading Terminal or are we wasting our time. Still trying to figure out breakfast and brunch. Will check out your recommendations for Miss shirley's and XS for brunch/breakfast. Any other places we should explore?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: lillotis

                        Strongly rec'mend woodberry Kitchen--really good New American. If you go to Camden Yards, dont miss Boog's Barbeque. Maybe not the best food, but a really good experience.

                        1. re: lillotis

                          I think Charleston is a no-brainer over Sotto Sopra for dinner! Not even in the same league.

                          If you are coming from Philly and expecting a RTM scene at Lexington, I would skip it. People will tell you it's a "must-try", but I would rather go to RTM any day of the week. You can get a good crab cake there, but good crab cakes are pretty much all over the city. A crab cake from Dudas or Koco's might make a really solid lunch option.

                          For "throw the crabs right on the table" your best bet is to leave the city and head to Mr. Bill's or Costa's, but I know that is never very convenient for people visiting. Instead I would tell you to check out Riptide By the Bay in Fells Point, where they serve steamed crabs on the table, and other bar/seafood fare. Not the best in the world, but the crabs will be locals and they have cool atmosphere that'll give you a sense of Fells Point at night.

                          1. re: gregb

                            Agree that Lexington Market is not a Reading Terminal, foodie heaven experience, but it is a unique slice of Baltimore life, so if you're interested in the vernacular, it's quite a visit. However, I do think that Faidley's crab cake is far superior to Duda's (haven't been to Koco's). And the Faidley's crab cake visit is experience in it's own right, separate from the Lexington Market one, whereas Duda's is just eating in a bar.

                          2. re: lillotis

                            For crabs, I'd vote for Bo Brooks in Canton. It's right on the water. Great crabs that you can get down and dirty with, and also great crab cakes, crab soup etc. for the less adventerous.
                            Another fun breakfast/brunch place is Ze Mean Bean Cafe in Fell's Point. They have live jazz on Sunday and the food is always fresh and delicious.
                            And I don't think Lexington Market is a must, although I know other chow hounders would disagree. Miss Shirley's is also a wonderful lunch place!
                            Have fun is our city!!!!!

                            1. re: stephanieg

                              If you were to travel down to Canton for crabs I would skip Bo Brooks and head 3 blocks further down Boston Street to Dockside. I steam my own but know many neighborhood folks who would call that their go to. I've had Bo Brooks catered at a few events and didn't find their crabs to be anything special but also overcooked and dry.

                              1. re: stephanieg

                                Our last visit to Bo Brooks (August 2008) was with friends down from Philly and it was embarrassingly poor service. We sat out on on the floating deck, which was very pleasant, but getting someone's attention (it wasn't crowded) was a major effort. We ran into someone we knew a couple of weeks later who had had a similar experience recently. We will not be back.

                              2. re: lillotis

                                I'm a native Baltimoreon, so I found Reading Terminal in Philly to be more unique. than Lexington Market. I would try Lexington Market so you can make your own comparisions. Now, I wouldn't reccommend our cheesesteak in Lexingtown market compared to what you are used to but we should have a better crab cake than Phily. Personally, I think Berger's Cookies are very over rated....the bakery stuff I had at Reading Terminal was far superior...IMHO

                                1. re: MDicecreamguy

                                  I am a native Balt. who went to college both downtown Balt and Philly. I have been to both RTM and LM many times. I think that they are very comparable. "When in rome, do as the romans". RTM get a cheesesteak, sticky buns and have a great amish breakfast, roast pork sandwich, italian water ice. LM get fresh hot roasted peanuts, corn beef at Mary Mervis, crab cake and raw oysters at Faidleys, polish sausage with the works at Pollack Johnny and Berger Cookies at Berger Bakery. Its fun to roam the isles smelling, tasting and seeing all the venders with their goods at either market.

                                  1. re: dining with doc

                                    I spent several years in Philadelphia and went to the RTM almost weekly and I have to disagree with you. RTM and Lexington are not comparable places. They have very different vibes, very different clientele and a very different food scene.

                                    Where one is assured that almost all the stalls at RTM will deliver tasty, chow-worthy food, that can't be said for Lexington. There are a few interesting stalls, such as the ones you mentioned, but to be frank, none of them are particularly impressive in their own rights. Tasty, sure, but worth going out of your way? Not necessarily.

                                    The one exception would be Faidley's, but even there I wouldn't describe Faidley's crabcake as a true Baltimore crabcake, although it is a tasty item!

                                    Back to the original poster: if you are looking for a good crabhouse with a good atmosphere, do consider LP Steamers on Fort Avenue in Locust Point, near Fort McHenry. If the weather is good, there is a rooftop dining area with views of the harbor. The crabs have never failed to satisfy me, and you can also order delicious steamed shrimp, as well as one of the best coconut cakes I have ever been privileged to taste!

                                    1. re: Roland Parker

                                      If you want chow worthy crabs, please please do not go to LP Steamers. Their location and atmoshere are great, the service is Baltimore type friendly, but you just cannot depend on their crabs. I have wanted to like this place and gave them about six chances, the crabs were good three of the times. If you have one shot and you want seriously good crabs go to Bill's. I have also faired well at Obrycki's and really like their seasoning, but others have reported less than stellar experiences. I have never been dissapointedat Bill's and never have seen a negative report.

                              3. The Woodberry Kitchen is very good and The Black Olive for Greek food and very large fish selection. Both pretty expensive.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: facecandyblog

                                  Woodberry kitchen is worth the price. Amazing food, great area. Reter's in Reisterstown for Crab's, good prices lot's of othe good stuff with it and home made Potato Chips.
                                  Brunch--Little Havana, Downtown great good and lot's of drinks.