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Jun 14, 2010 07:34 PM

ex-DC chowhound returns. to Baltimore.

Hi chowhounds. I'm a longtime poster who used to be fairly active on this board, mainly on DC-related topics. Then I moved to another city that had never heard of chowhound, or for that matter decent Asian food.

Later this year I'm moving to Baltimore, and as it happens I've got a few weeks over the summer to look around and check out various neighborhoods. So: what are your choices for the best neighborhoods for chow in Baltimore? Where should I eat? And where should I shop? I'll most likely be in the city, and in any case for the few weeks I'm here in the summer I won't have a car.

To make things more concrete, in DC I greatly enjoyed the profusion of Ethiopian (in the city), Korean (in Annandale) and Vietnamese (in Falls Church). But I'm not looking to replicate that experience and I'm generally open to any type of cuisine, though fresh and local is a plus. I haven't spent a great deal of time in Baltimore, but I've been impressed with the markets I've been to (JFX, Lexington, Cross Street). I don't know much about restaurants, though. I'm looking forward to learning about the city, though, so let me know what you've got!

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  1. I believe MARCDC used to live in DC but now lives in Baltimore.
    Here's a thread on a day trip to Baltimore he posted on.

    best neighborhoods (though I live in the burbs) are probably Mt. Vernon and Fells Point for chow. the inner harbor is considered somewhat of a chow wasteland.

    I belive there was a thread on this board where Baltimore's compared to dc fared much better in good, cheap American food (bar?).

    Do a search and you will find plenty of Baltimore threads.

    3 restaurants to start you off:

    1. Helmand (Afghan), owned by Hamid Karzai's Brother in Mt. Vernon
    806 N Charles St


    2. a neighborhood or two away from Johns Hopkins University a farm to table restaurant called Woodberry Kitchen
    2010 Clipper Park Rd #126


    3. Duda's in Fells Point (bar with great food


    1600 Thames St

    4. oops I said 3 but here's a 4th

    Mama's on the Half Shell in Canton for Seafood
    2901 O'Donnell St http://maps.google.com/maps/place?rls...

    Woodberry Kitchen
    2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

    1. If you wanted to replicate those three cuisines you should stay in or near Mt. Vernon. There are two Ethiopian places (that I've found). Dukem II on Maryland Ave and Elfegne Cafe in Pigtown. There used to be a pretty big Korean population in Baltimore, but walking in that neighborhood might mean taking your life into your hands (maybe). But there is Nam Kang, Joung Kak, Ajumma, and Nak Won. Vietnamese you have Mekong Delta on Cathedral and Saratoga as well as Baltimore Pho in Pigtown.

      Baltimore has plenty to offer in a diverse set of neighborhoods. After you spend some time here and get to know where you'd want to live it will be easier to throw out some restaurants for you to visit.

      Good luck!

      Mekong Delta Cafe
      105 W Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21201

      Nam Kang
      2126 Maryland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21218

      Nak Won Restaurant
      12 W 20th St, Baltimore, MD 21218

      Baltimore Pho
      1114 Hollins St, Baltimore, MD 21223

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotel

        I agree with hotel.

        Jong Kak, Ajumma, and others are named in this write up I did for AOL.


        Even though Ajumma is kind of a college dive, the bulgogi was tasty. The aloe drink that they sell goes very well with it. So would a beer, if you do takeout.

        Jong Kak is totally worth a visit, even though the neighborhood is rough looking. Lots of interesting sounding stuff on their lunch menu for less than $10.

        Baltimore Pho is gone, however.

        Baltimore Pho
        1114 Hollins St, Baltimore, MD 21223

      2. Once you have a car, you should look for Korean out Rte 40 in Ellicott City for Shin Chon Garden, Honey Pig, Rainpia (for fried chicken), and other joints.

        You should definitely try Woodberry Kitchen. That is really great fun.

        Shin Chon
        8801 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD

        Woodberry Kitchen
        2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

        1. Go to Jack's Bistro, Annabel Lee Tavern, or Peter's Inn if you are in the Fells, Canton, Highlandtown area. Go to Abbey Burger Bistro, Bluegrass, or Centro Tapas Bar if you are in Federal Hill. Go to Dukem, Brewer's Art, Sotto Sopra or Iggies (Pizza) if you are in Mount Vernon. Go to Dogwood or Woodberry Kitchen (although food is very inconsistent there) if you are in Hampden.

          Brewer's Art
          1106 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

          Jack's Bistro
          3123 Elliott St, Baltimore, MD 21224

          Peter's Inn
          504 S Ann St, Baltimore, MD 21231

          Sotto Sopra Restaurant
          405 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

          Woodberry Kitchen
          2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

          Abbey Burger Bistro
          1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

          4838 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

          Annabel Lee Tavern
          601 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD 21224

          2 Replies
          1. re: docnutz

            A few more observations.

            Hampden is a good neighborhood, but dining options are limited, although it does have The Dogwood and Woodberry Kitchen as headliners, and places like King's Grilled Kabob, Golden West, Grano, (which is said to be adding a saluminari), and 13.5 adding. Plus there are at least two more places that are set to open in the next few months. (Unfortunately haven't seen anything happening at the rumored Belgian bistro that was supposed to open.)

            Certainly Fell's Point has a good mix of small ethnic places and trendy(?) tavern/bistros, especially away from the touristy areas. I like Annabelle Lee's for their fries and late night food. Nobody mentioned Tortilleria Sinola. There's plenty of other hispanic choices in the area too.

            As for where to shop -- Waverly Farmer's Market (Sat.), JKX Market under 83 (Sunday, but go early), Whole Foods (downtown and Mount Washington), Lexington Market (lots of pig -- all parts -- and local flavor), Sophie's and Krakus (Polish delis, Fell's Point), Tortilleria Sinola (fresh tortillas), Di Pasquale's and Trinacria (Italian), Ceriello's (Belvedere Square, meat and Italian). There's more but these are the ones I know off the top of my head.

            Golden West Cafe
            1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

            Lexington Market
            400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

            Woodberry Kitchen
            2010 Clipper Park Rd # 126, Baltimore, MD

            Hampden Cafe
            4800 Hampden Ln Ste 103, Bethesda, MD 20814

            1. re: docnutz

              For delicious cheap eats in Mount Vernon, try the $4.99 special, schawarma served over french fries and topped with lettuce and a delicious white sauce at Shiraz on North Charles Street, just north of Read Street. The dinners platters are quite fine also, the rice is prepared in the authentic Persian manner, the side salad is very nice and the Persian yogurt sauce is definitely first-rate.

            2. Hello chowhound, it's been a while. I spent the summer in Baltimore and returned for good a few weeks ago. Some highlights so far:

              -Andy Nelson's in Cockeysville: As a displaced North Carolinian by birth, I thought the pulled pork was delicious, but I was underwhelmed by the sauces. Brisket was not bad either, though I am still new to the concept of pit beef. What else should I check out?

              -Phở Nam in Catonsville: phở is a major comfort food for me (I had some interesting experiences trying to obtain it while living in a small city with no Viet population), so I was really happy to find this place, and have already been back. I tried Mekong Delta a couple of years ago and was underwhelmed -- is there anything in the city on the level of Phở Nam?

              -Belvedere Square has already become a favorite. I know Atwater's is well-regarded, and I think they're decent, although the baguettes leave something to be desired (Is there anyplace that makes decent baguettes or am I out of luck? Major points for decent pain aux cereales). But I also like Neopol and Grand Cru. btw, Neopol had smoked scallops yesterday (they tell me they only have them on holidays or by advance request) -- if you happen to be there when they have them, they're very tasty.

              -I've known about JFX for years, and although I haven't fully explored it, over the summer I ventured there several times just to eat the oyster mushroom fritters. They are seriously addictive.

              -Between Trinacria, Ceriello's, and DiPasquale's, I'd rate DiPasquale's higher, although it's a matter of degree. They also have the best pizza in a comparison between them, Isabella's, Iggie's, and Joe Squared, although there must be better. Where is it?

              -I'll be living and working in Hampden. Spro has seriously excellent coffee, but the rest of the places I've tried in the neighborhood (Hon, Dogwood, Grana, 13.5, McCabe's) have been decent but not amazing. Is there anything I've overlooked?

              What else should I check out? As this list hopefully indicates, I'm not opposed to traveling a good distance in search of food, although I'd be delighted to find things that are close to home.

              I'd also be interested if someone could fill me in on Lake Trout and other local specialties. Finally -- are there local chow meals like the ones organized by Steve in the DC area?

              Grand Cru
              Arlington, VA, Arlington, VA

              Mekong Delta Cafe
              105 W Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD 21201

              3845 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211

              15 Replies
              1. re: alopez

                I am a fan of Pho #1, although I have no idea what Pho Nam is like.Within the city limits is not the place for pho IMO.

                We went to McCabe's a couple of weeks ago and loved it -- I think they have the best burger in town. If that wasn't what you had there, you should.

                Pizza is such a personal taste that it's really hard to give recs for it. I'm a huge fan of Matthews, although I can see where people who are fans of another style wouldn't care for it too much.

                I like Andy's ribs (no sauce) and pulled pork (Carolina sauce). I've had other things there, but those are the ones that keep me coming back.

                Pho Nam
                15942 Shady Grove Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20877

                3845 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211

                1. re: JonParker

                  Thanks for the tip on McCabe's. I will almost certainly go back since we'll be nearby, but it helps to know what they do best. I also haven't been to Matthews yet, but it's on my list.

                  3845 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211

                2. re: alopez

                  I usually make my own baguettes, but recently had to buy one due to time constraints. I was very pleasantly surprised by the baguette from Whole Foods in Harbor East.

                  1. re: Hal Laurent

                    Their artisan baguette is not bad. I forget the bakery it comes from.

                  2. re: alopez

                    If you're willing to drive to Catonsville, definitely check out Pioneer Pit Beef.

                    Then drive a little farther out Rte 40 and try the Korean places in Ellicott City. Shin Chon Garden for a huge feast. Honey Pig for a quick, casual, 24-hour BBQ. And Lighthouse Tofu for soon doo boo. Annandale is a unique experience, but the Korean places along Rte 40 are delicious and compete with the best ethnic places in Baltimore.

                    Shin Chon
                    8801 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD

                    1. re: HowChowBlog

                      Canton is one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city (also one of the most expensive) and has a pretty good mix of stuff going on for it. There's your standard pub grub, some decent take out places, Eastern Ave (an easy walk from anywhere in the neighborhood) is a hodgepodge of various Latin American places, we've got one or two fancier places (Jacks Bistro as previously mentioned, Blue Hill Tavern is another). The only draw back to the place is the influx of idiots every Friday and Saturday night that head this way for the bars (of which there is plenty; both people and bars).

                      If you're looking for easier access to a larger variety of places then I then Mt. Vernon is probably the place to be. Charles St is as close as Baltimore gets to a Restaurant Alley. There's a ton of great ones along that road.

                      Blue Hill Tavern
                      938 S Conkling Street, Baltimore, MD 21087

                    2. re: alopez

                      On the issue of amazing food in Hampde, IMO the baba ghanouj and freshly baked pita at King's Kabob are both amazing. The chicken is excellent and the lamb schawarma very good. King's Kabob is one of the ten best restaurants in Baltimore.

                      1. re: elgringoviejo

                        What are the other nine?

                        OP, we've actually got pretty good Ethiopian! We've got a Dukem, and Tabor is good too-- good yellow split peas. When I say good, I mean the food is good. The ambiance, not so much. I haven't tried Elfegne yet, but it's got good reviews. In case no one gave it to you yet, here's the group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/charmci...

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          In the greater Baltimore metropolitan area, some of the top ten IMO include, Honey Pig and Tere's Market on 40 west in Ellicott City, Hunan Taste on 40 West in Baltimore county for Chairman' Mao's braised pork and double-cooked pork (ask fo authentic style with lotsa hot peppers), Grace Garden in Odenton, Lilly's Market in Columbia, Thairish in Mount Vernon on a budget, The Helmand in the same area is excellent too but IMO has gotten pricey, Rallo's and Kirby's Szechuan in south Baltimore, Rallo's for sauerbraten on Thursdays and waffles or a western omelette for breakfast, and David's on Falls road in Hampden for a hamburger topped with chile con carne, and Shiraz in Midtown/Mount Vernon. Honorable mentions for the tas kebab luunch special at Ikaros and tthe pastitsio at Samos in Greektown. as well as the Tortilleria Sinaloa in southeast Baltimore. These are chowhound cheap eats selections for the most part.

                          Grace Garden
                          1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                          Rallo's Restaurant
                          838 E Fort Ave Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21230

                          806 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                          Hunan Taste
                          718 N Rolling Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228

                          1. re: elgringoviejo

                            Thanks for the list! :-)

                            I say this with the utmost respect, but . . . KIRBY'S?!?!?!

                            1. re: jvanderh

                              Kirby's has gotten a lot of love on this board in the past, but I didn't find it noteworthy at all. I don't think it had changed either. I don't think it ever changes I think that if you want to live forever stay inside Kirby's, where normal time has stopped

                                1. re: JonParker

                                  Some folks seem to worship merely for the sake of change. Things that I like at Kirby's include the stir-fried whole fish , and Kirby sets a price on the menu, others places inflict the "market price" jive on the diner, and I know enough about the wholesale seafood biz to state with uassurance that whole prices do not very to such a great extent as to preclude listing a set price. I also enjoy Kirby's hot and sour soup, fried wontons stuffed with cream cheese and crabmeat, pork with hardened bean curd, chicken with peanuts and mushu pork. Of those I personally enjoy the pork with hardened bean curd in particular. De gustibus non disputandum.

                                  1. re: elgringoviejo

                                    Well, the pork with hardened bean curd was what I had read the raves about, so that's what I ordered, and I was pretty underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, but I haven't bothered to go back either.

                                    1. re: JonParker

                                      Individual tastes vary. For example, I have yet to develop a taste for pho. I respect the fact that Kirby lists a price for his whole stir-fried fish, which I have always enjoyed, and reiterate that to my experience whole fish prices are sufficiently stable that I fail to understand the "market price jive".