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Apr 1, 2011 07:17 AM

Best Baltimore neighborhood

So, I am starting this post to find out which Baltimore neighborhood has the better/best food scene. Better in the sense that it's reliable and consistent. Doesn't have to be high end, just good. Keep in mind that it's the whole neighborhood, so this will be a balance of an outlier or two, but where can people go and randomly walk into a place and get good, consistent food.

Context - I just had a really bad experience at Abbey Burger Bistro and am really frustrated at Fed Hill. Yes, I'm expanding my frustration on the whole neighborhood, it was that bad that it was the tipping point. How can you call yourself a burger place when you can't even cook the meat to the correct temperature?!! The cow is already dead, you don't have to kill it again. Anyway, I'm just not impressed with what Fed Hill has to offer and it is hardly consistent. Sure there are diamonds in the rough (outliers) like Mr. Rain's, Porters, and Spoon's...and on a stretch of location, Captain Larry's, but the other places are frustrating.

I'll go first and say the Hampden area (Remington and Clipper Mill included). I have had very few frustrating meals and many great meals. Up and down the Avenue and around, it's got the high and low ends. The Dizz, Golden West, and Dogwood are solid. Spro, 13.5, and Wine Source cover the drink end. Even American Pizza and Wings on 29th is solid for a late night snack.

Look forward to your thoughts!

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  1. I don't think Baltimore has a neighborhood where you can randomly just walk into a place and expect good food. If you can preselect, you can get good food in many neighborhoods. That said, I lean toward Hamilton/Lauraville. Clementines, Chamilion, Bad Wolf, Red Canoe, Zekes etc.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jfish

      I don't think I'd ever say Hamilton, and that's not a knock on any of the restaurants. It's just impossible to get to without driving. If you want to just wander into a random place and get a bite, you'd be hard pressed to do anything other than Fells Point. Most of the little tortillerias and taco shops serve pretty great stuff for not much money. Couple that with it's central location in the city between Harbor East and Canton and you're going to be able to walk to a lot of different places grazing for a long period of time. There are pricer options: All four of the Kali's group restaurants, Louisiana, and Pierpoint. Good sushi at Asahi. Good bar food at Duda's, One Eyed Mike's, Red Star, etc. Good beer bars. And a hundred different taco joints.

      It's hard to compete with that volume and location.

      Pierpoint Restaurants
      1822 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

      1. re: hotel

        I would have to agree with Fells Point/Canton

        1. re: hon

          I'd have to agree with that too. I'm disappointed to learn of your bad experience at Abbey though. I'd had the same kinds of problems when they first opened, but my last few visits were pretty darned good.

          1. re: hon

            I'd also pick the SE quadrant, sort of stretching from Harbor East to Greektown.

        2. re: jfish

          I, too, am partial to Hamilton.

        3. Baltimore is a small city, quite small compared to, say, New York, and it's very easy to get around Baltimore by car. I could get from a Federal Hill restaurant to my house in Roland Park before my friends made it back to their house in the same neighborhood on foot.

          Second, the dining scene in Baltimore is not huge, its good restaurants are scattered across the city and suburbs and not concentrated in one or two key areas.

          If pressed to answer your question, I would have to vote for Mount Vernon for having the largest number and range of restaurants in one neighborhood.

          1 Reply
          1. Agreed. For the cost, Federal Hill has a lot of fancy-sounding and (sometimes) nice-looking restaurants, but a lot of mediocre food. I like Bluegrass. I've always thought that Spoons was too expensive, and have not had a nice meal at Porter's in a long time.

            Hampden and Hamilton are my food neighborhoods.

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

            1 Reply
            1. Have to agree that a lot of the food in Federal hill is disappointing. I think the Kali's group restaurants are IMPRESSIVELY bad, and I think the food in Canton is about the same level as Fed Hill, but otherwise I agree with what most others have said. The taco shops on Eastern Ave are almost all good. Ideal if you want cheap, fast, and fresh, but not big on ambiance. Hampden, Charles Village, and Mount Vernon seem to have generally better food than fed hill, though I still wouldn't go out to eat without a little bit of research, if I could help it. I've had some awful meals in all of those neighborhoods.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jvanderh

                personally I just go to whatever I feel like in whatever neighborhood that happens to be in.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  Curious as to why you think the Kali's group restaurants are IMPRESSIVELY bad. I've had fantastic meals at the 3 not named Kali's Court (which I'm not a big fan of).

                  Kali's Court
                  1606 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 22231

                  1. re: hotel

                    Well, I guess I shouldn't say they're all bad. I had a pretty good meal at Mezze. The bouillabaisse at Kali's was just awful. Flavorless, unsalted broth, mushy fish, with some canned tomatoes and a big pile of boiled onions slapped on top. My coffee drink was served lukewarm in a wine glass. The bread was stale at both Kali's and Meli. The entree I ordered at Meli turned out to be the bouillabaisse from Kali's thrown on top of visibly dried-out pasta. I could have punched myself for accidentally ordering it twice. It was a horrible waste of money. The service was terrible at both places. At Kali's, the waiter insisted that we both order off the restaurant week menu and that we couldn't order anything from the regular menu, which my boyfriend wanted to do. 10 minutes later, another waiter told the table next to us that they could sub any entree from the regular menu for a small surcharge. At Meli, the waitress was extremely rude to the table next to us. The girl asked whether they had a gluten-free menu and received a lecture about how she didn't really have Celiac disease, because if she did, she wouldn't be ordering anything with dairy. I don't know whether I'll ever bring myself to give either place another chance or try Adela. The whole chain seemed to present itself pretty clearly to me as crappy food, terrible service, and relatively high prices.

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      Sounds pretty bad, but to be fair seems like you got screwed with a bad entree.

                      Poor service is inexcusable and I would have definitely mentioned it to a manager on my way out, probably AFTER paying the bill and leaving a poor tip.

                      I've been to Adela probably 5 times, but not very recently. They used to have a squid ink risotto that was fantastic.