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Dinner near public transport from BWI?

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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/

            -----
            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.

              -----
              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.

                -----
                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.

                  -----
                  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.

                      -----
                      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.

                      -----
                      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)

                  2. Wow, alanbarnes AND linguafood coming into town, real Chowhound celebrities.

                    The more popular steamed crab places usually have long waits. At least 45 minutes (wishful thinking) to be seated and another 45 minutes to get your crabs. With so many people coming into town, those places are going to be packed. Just so you know. In Baltimore, Bill's Terrace Inn is my favorite place for crabs. Nothing like it anywhere else, but you'd need wheels and a good deal of patience.

                    In DC, Ethiopian is the most commonly cited nationality that has a huge community. Some others are Bolivian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Lebanese - but they are mostly located in the suburbs.

                    Me Jana is probably the best Lebanese place right now, located near Courthouse metro. Also Chez Manelle is an excellent tiny Tunisian place near Courthouse. My favorite place in DC is a miniscule soul food spot, Oohhs and Aahhs.

                    When do you get in to BWI?

                    -----
                    Me Jana
                    2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 140, Arlington, VA 22201

                    Bill's Terrace Inn
                    200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: Steve

                      Tee hee. 'Celebrities.' You make me giggle.

                      I just heard from a Bawlmer buddy that crabs are not in season right now and thus rather expensive? Is that true? Any opinion on Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden?

                      Or places in Federal Hill or Mt. Vernon (other than Helmand and Brewer's Art)?

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

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

                      1. re: linguafood

                        I found Mt. Vernon pickings a bit spare, but if you're there Monday through Saturday the Lexington Market is fascinating in a shabby cool sort of way. Cross Street Market is cool too down on Federal Hill (fresh Utz chips!)

                        -----
                        Lexington Market
                        400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                        1. re: linguafood

                          This is the best time of year for local crabs -- they've been fattening up all summer. They're always expensive though.

                          1. re: JonParker

                            Ah, ok.... maybe i misunderstood my friend, or she doesn't know what she's talking about.

                            1. re: JonParker

                              When you say "expensive," what would you expect the damage to be for ample but not excessive quantities of crabs and beer?

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I second that question. Totally unselfishly, of course...

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  A dozen XL will set you back about $75-85. A half dozen is usually enough for me. Beer depends on what you drink. Generally I drink Natty Boh, a dirt cheap beer that really goes well with crabs, even though I'm usually a microbrew king of guy.

                                  Mmmmm, cr0bs. Now I want some.

                                  1. re: JonParker

                                    Marli's Dockside Grill & Crabhouse in Essex had XLs for $52 and jumbos for $60 last Sunday.

                              2. re: linguafood

                                your source is mistaken. this is the best time to get crabs. they are abundant, fat and big with less of a demand thus prices are down. This is the end of the season for crabs but if you look on the MD DNR website you will see that the crabbing in the chesapeake bay is the best it has been in a long time

                                1. re: linguafood

                                  For Federal Hill, I recommend Corks and Matsuri (sushi). By the time you get in on Friday, a lot of Cross St Market will be shut down--if you can stop by during the day on Saturday it's worth it.

                                  Nearby in Locust Point, I'd also recommend The Wine Market and Pazo Luna. Hope you enjoy your trip!

                                  -----
                                  Wine Market
                                  921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

                                  Matsuri
                                  1105 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                                  1. re: shorty40cdm

                                    I love Matsuri for what it is, but I don't think I'd recommend it to someone from SF.

                                    -----
                                    Matsuri
                                    1105 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                                2. re: Steve

                                  Those recs are right up my alley. Now we have lots of choices.

                                  Our flight's scheduled to land around 5:30. Once we get the rental car, check into the hotel, ditch our bags, etc. it'll probably be 6:30. Driving into DC probably isn't in the cards, but Baltimore's within reasonable striking distance. As noted above, I'm a little concerned that a crab house would be a budget buster. So now the question shifts to Baltimore recommendations. Grace Garden's still on the table, but if we were to drive into the city...

                                  -----
                                  Grace Garden
                                  1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    What do you think of the place I mentioned a bit further upthread?

                                    http://www.woodberrykitchen.com/

                                    PS: there's beef heart on tonight's menu!!!!

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      WK is a great place to eat. Beautiful space, innovative menu, terrific wine list and inventive cocktails. It does fill up quick though -- if you are interested, look at reservations ASAP.

                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                      It'll be 6:30 before you get your bags. Welcome to Baltimore. I would also recommend Peter's Inn in Fells Point. Menu changes every week. Great food, great atmosphere, drinks are large. I recommend the short ribs if they're on the menu this week.

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

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        alan: a dozen jumbo crabs should run about $70 right now. a dozen jumbo crabs along with some crab soup and a side should feed 2 people.

                                    3. Just on the northside of either Harbor Tunnel,(Harbor Tunnel or Ft. MsHenry tunnel)
                                      SAMOS and/or ZORBA"S, both Great Greek reastaurants that won't kill a budget but serve terrific food..and both are local favorites of many on the board. They are in two blocks of each other.
                                      Caveat SAMOS is BYOB and they don't take plastic...ZORBA"s is a bar/restaurant and does take plastic..

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Hue

                                        Zorba's is one of my favorite restaurants on earth. Get the lamb chops. Ignore the sides.

                                        -----
                                        Zorba's
                                        4710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

                                        1. re: JonParker

                                          oooh! Greek food!!!! that sounds nice, too!

                                      2. Reporting back...

                                        Friday dinner at Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn in Essex. The atmosphere is exactly what I like - a little gritty and definitely not geared toward tourists. Steamed crabs were outstanding. The server recommended 18 for four of us, and it was plenty. She didn't seem to think we needed sides, but when we insisted she brought out hush puppies, fried clams, and onion rings. The rings were pretty good, but we could have done fine with just the crabs.

                                        Saturday night half a dozen of us went for Ethiopian food. Based on recommendations found here, we ended up at Zenebech Injera. Again, a place that's a little off the beaten path for visitors, but the food was the best Ethiopian I've ever had. We had a double helping of the vegetarian sampler, derek tibs, awaze tibs, and doro wat, and almost managed to finish it all. Huge amounts of very tasty food for cheap prices - what's not to like?

                                        I ended up solo with some time to kill on Sunday and went back to Baltimore. Remembering the whole Laketrout thing from The Wire and Bourdain's visit, I hit The Roost. They served me a massive helping of fried fish, greens, and coleslaw plus a half-and-half (iced tea and lemonade) for six bucks. Pretty good stuff.

                                        Thanks to all you DC and Baltimore hounds for your recommendations. We ate far better than we could ever have hoped to without your input. My friend was in awe of the power of Chowhound.

                                        -----
                                        Bill's Terrace Inn
                                        200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

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

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          Thanks for reporting back. We're glad you had a good time.

                                          1. re: JonParker

                                            +1 on the crabs. Delightful.

                                            I managed to stop at Chap's pit beef on the way out, which was certainly tasty - not sure whether I'd drive out there *just* for the beef sandwich again. OK, maybe next time I'll try the chicken and ribs. The BBQ sauce was pretty excellent.

                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                            Yeah, Bill's is pretty much the true Chowhound experience. Zenebech Injera puts it over the top. You win the award, my friend.

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