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Dinner near public transport from BWI?

A friend and I will be flying into BWI Friday evening and staying nearby. The immediate vicinity appears to be a culinary wasteland (mmm, Chili's). We won't have a car, but the hotel provides a shuttle to the MARC station.

There's tons of good info on this board, but most threads assume access to a car. So for us, the question is where we can get a great dinner that's easily accessible using public transportation. With an emphasis is on **easy** - we're talking about a couple of jet-lagged Californians trying to find their way around in the dark, so multiple bus transfers are probably a recipe for disaster.

We're both eclectic eaters. I like the idea of finding some iconic regional food (a mess o' crabs, some pit beef, etc.), but that's not an absolute requirement. Pub grub, food from exotic places, comfort food, innovative New American stuff - it's all fair game. We're not looking for anything fancy, and want to keep the price moderate - $20pp would be perfect, more than $50pp is probably a deal breaker.

Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance for the input.

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  1. Lemme get back to you on that one. We're also crashing in Bawlmer (but will have a car or cab it, depending on where we end up eating), unfortunately with a non-chowish friend who'd be perfectly fine subsisting on hard-boiled egg sammies for the rest of her life.

    Paper Moon is a local fave, and not too far of a ride from the station (is MARC the train station?) - burgers, mostly, and good sandwiches.

    1 Reply
    1. re: linguafood

      Yep, MARC is the train station. It's also apparently a hub for the bus lines.

    2. Alan, check tthe MARC schedules. I'm not sure how late they run. They are really more of a work commuter train. If you want crabs, I would suggest Gunnings Seafood in Hanover. Would be a quick cab ride from your hotel. Try the crab fluff, good stuff.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cb1

        GACK! Not only do the MARC trains stop running at 9, they don't run on the weekend at all. Amtrak's expensive, and most of Saturday's trains are already sold out. Suddenly a rental car is beginning to sound like a much better idea.

        Thank you so much for the heads up. That could've been a mess.

        And with a car, Gunnings Seafood is easy.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          I agree you're probably better off with a car - but you don't absolutely need one.

          Amtrak doesn't look sold out (except for 1 or 2 morning trains), and most Saturday trains are reasonably priced. Are you sure you were looking at the right day?

          If you're not short on time, Baltimore's light rail runs to the lower level of the airport. You could take the light rail up to, say, Woodberry Kitchen. It's on the higher end of what you're looking for, but you can always sit at the bar, and the light rail is under $2 (and no cab ride or transfers).

          There is also an express bus (Metrobus B30) to the Greenbelt Metro, even on weekends. Not really suitable for dinner, but it'll work if you're spending the whole weekend in D.C.

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

      2. Thanks to those who replied, but the question is now officially moot. We're renting a car, which opens up lots of options for dinner. Back to the search function.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          be sure to let me know if you find anything interesting (of course, i'll be looking as well).

          and good to know about the trains! glad we're taking the car to DC. now let's just hope those millions aren't ALL driving there '-D

          1. re: alanbarnes

            ahh but instead of buying a ticket you could have just hide in the bathroom of the Amtrak car for the short trip into town which works in the DC direction as well, hop off at New Carrollton and switch to Metro or hold out one more stop until Union Station...

            you're better off, the trains don't run very often (but MARC is really handy for weekday commuters)

          2. Try the traditional chinese menu at Grace Garden in Odenton a few miles south off the BW parkway on Rt 175 for what many in the area consider the best Chinese in the Baltimore/Washington corridor.
            Probably a cheap cab ride.

            http://www.gracegardenchinese.com/

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            Grace Garden
            1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

            1. Hi alan. I've seen your posts on the SF boards and would love to be able to help you find great chow on our side of the country. I know you say you'll be near BWI and will have a car, and $50 is pushing the budget, but are there any other guidelines you can give us? Will you be heading into DC or Baltimore at any point, and will any of your meals be eaten in those cities?

              With the exception of Grace Garden, mentioned above, there is no truly chowhound worthy place near BWI. It is, as you said, a culinary wasteland.

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              Grace Garden
              1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

              7 Replies
              1. re: JonParker

                Thanks for the kind words. It's going to be a bit of a whirlwind trip - fly in Friday evening, fly out Sunday. We'll be near the Capitol on Saturday, but I have no idea what the schedule's going to look like. So we definitely need a place for Friday dinner and may need someplace on Saturday.

                Friday dinner should be reasonably close to the hotel in Linthicum Heights. We'll be fresh off a ridiculously long flight, and probably won't want to be cooped up in the car for any significant amount of time. Grace Garden sounds like one great option, but I'm more inclined to go for something we don't have on the left coast. My mental image of the quintessential Maryland meal is a steamed blue crabs, so right now I'm leaning toward Gunning's. But feel free to chime in with other options - crab houses or otherwise.

                Saturday dinner is now the bigger question. If we don't end up in a group that goes for the lowest common denominator, we'll probably want someplace casual and interesting. The "interesting" factor may come from a less well-known national cuisine (DC has lots of them that are un- or under-represented in NorCal), the history of the place (never been to Ben's Chili Bowl), or just general funkiness at some random dive or catering truck that serves great food.

                I wish I knew more about the food scene there; I'll spend some time on the board and try to come up with better questions. Meanwhile, any input is welcome.

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                Grace Garden
                1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  2 choices near BWI are clear:
                  1. Gunnings: if you want steamed hard shell crabs, crab soup, crab cake, steamed spiced shrimp, pitcher beer then this is a good choice and it is nearby. Have a Baltimore style crab feast!
                  2. Grace Garden Chinese: Some have called it the best chinese restaurant outside of China. Any place that has over 200 posts on a chowhound entry is special and this place surely is. Problem is that without a large group you are unable to order too many items and will miss out on some unbelievable dishes. Also you need to almost study the menu and read all the posts to figure out what to order and some dishes require 72 hour notice to prepare. From a ambience standpoint it is best described as a crummy place whose food is off the charts. By the way, if you need to grab a beer and are hungry inside BWI, Bill Batemans tavern is a good place and I love the pulled pork sandwich with their homemade sweet and garlicy bbq sauce. That and a jumbo blue moon on draft and it starts my trip off on a positive note.

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                  Grace Garden
                  1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                  1. re: dining with doc

                    "best described as a crummy place whose food is off the chart"

                    holy shit, (sorry) but that is about the highest praise which I care to pay attention. I MUST try this place next time I"m in the area.

                    1. re: dining with doc

                      Just side by side comparisons, I'd easily put Joe's Noodle House and Hong Kong Palace over Grace Garden. I love GG, but I easily love the other two more.

                      Also, for this thread, since the OP is from SF, I agree that he should go for things less common in his area.

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                      Hong Kong Palace
                      6387 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044

                      Grace Garden
                      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                      Joe's Noodle House
                      1488 Rockville Pike Ste C, Rockville, MD 20852

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      I absolutely agree with DwDoc that Grace Garden is the best choice right next to BWI. I recommend it without reservation -- especially if you look at the prior posts so that you pick items that really appeal to you. I love the fish noodles.

                      But you have more choices if you're renting a car and going to be at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday. You can drive back to your hotel by way of a bunch of neighborhoods where you can get lots of ethnic cuisines that are more DC than SF. Search here for posts about food in DC's U Street corridor, Silver Spring or College Park. Personally, I'd recommend Ethiopian as a DC cuisine, although I would pick my place based on Chowhound posts.

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                      Grace Garden
                      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                      1. re: HowChowBlog

                        We've got Ethiopian, but you folks in DC seem to be especially proud of yours. And Zenebech Injera sounds like my kind of place - friendly, divey, cheap, and traditional. That may just be a winner.

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                        Zenebech Injera
                        608 T St NW, Washington D.C., DC 20001

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I used to hit Axum cafe in the Lower Haight when I leved there and thought it was pretty good. then I moved to DC. and well, while SF has outstanding food (which I will always miss) the Ethiopian in DC is by far better than anywhere I've ever had it. (but don't get us started on whose is best, there are already multiple threads on that topic)