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May 6, 2011 08:42 AM

Baltimore with an infant

My wife and I area heading up to Baltimore (staying at the Sheraton City Center) for a quick weekend retreat from DC, and are bringing along our generally sweet and quiet, but nevertheless always ready-to-shriek 3 month old daughter. We are looking for places that are local, fresh, and fun, and that are casual and/or boisterous enough that we won't bother other diners if our daughter cries or we need to walk her around a bit. We'll drive if it's truly worth the effort, but would prefer to walk or take short cab rides. May catch an O's game, ride the water taxi around, head to the aquarium, walk around federal hill, etc. Cost isn't really an issue, though generally I assume that anything high end is not going to work.

My research on the board has revealed some potential spots, but I was hoping to get some thoughts on a) whether these are suitable/worthwhile choices and b) whether there are other great options I'm missing. In particular, I'd love to hear creative ideas for a fun mother's day meal - I was thinking something like picking up assorted goodies from Lexington Market and finding a nice spot for a picnic (anywhere nearby that would be appropriate?).

Lunch: Faidley's (crab cakes), Attman's (deli), Gia's (casual italian)

Dinner: Obrycki's (crabs), Ryleigh's (seafood), La Scala/Rocco's/La Tavola (casual italian)

Breakfast/Brunch: ???

We'll report back for future visitors with similar questions. Thanks!

Lexington Market
400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

Gia's Cafe
410 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

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  1. Faidley's, Attman's and Obrycki's are not great to walk to. Though, no one will care if your kid gets upset at any of the places you listed. I like Faidley's, but you can get good crabcakes lots of places. You would be better off heading towards Mount Vernon or Fells Point. Federal Hill is a hike, but much more walkable.

    You could walk to Iggie's for pizza. Maybe lunch at Sotto Sopro?

    1. A picnic near Faidley's! a-hahahaha!!! I'm not sure where the nearest blade of grass is!

      Better options abound. For lunch try Tortilleria Sinaloa in/near Fells Point. Not only is the neighborhood actually very walkable (and right on the water) but Tortilleria Sinaloa, a countertop storefront joint with outstanding food, is an absolute GEM! Also worthwhile in the neighborhood: Kooper's Tavern, if you want terrific pub food, and Dudah's a CH-fave crabcake (although mine was too salty, but I could tell if was high quality). Fell's Point is probably your best bet if you want a strolling nabe. Mega bonus points if you're a fan of the show Homicide.

      Other places that would be kid friendly? For breakfast people will suggest Miss Shirley's in the Harbor, although I'm not the biggest fan (of their uptown location.) But they will be kid-friendly. If you want to drive north Paper Moon is a 24 hour diner with a very colorful interior and a solid, creative breakfast-heavy menu. Pete's Grill is another but seats at the counter can be hard to come by so I don't know if it's a place to take a young one. For lunch Attman's is a strong choice for lunch. Dinner is tougher for recs since this is a booze-heavy town and I don't often see tables with children when we go out. B&O Brasserie is a professional enough operation that I'd bet they could make it work. And the food and drinks are of a very high caliber.

      As for that picnic... Most of the parks are at least somewhat sketchy. Patterson Park is probably the best bet. I have one very out-of-the-way picnic spot but it's not near any food venues, so you'd be schlepping. Better to probably just pick a good lunch spot.

      Edit: Just to clarify, Faidley's and Lexington Market are a destination worth visiting for a lot of people, but not for an infant and not for a picnic. While Faidley's (in my opinion) has gone straight to hell (as Mink Stole might phrase it) in recent years, it is a classic Baltimore institution capable of good days. But let your kid stay innocent a few more years before taking her there. There will be plenty of time for eye-opening experiences later. ;)

      Kooper's Tavern
      1702 Thames St, Baltimore, MD 21231

      3 Replies
      1. re: kukubura

        Good post. I used to live in Fells. I love it there. Pintango is great. French Bakery is good. I like Jimmy's and Blue Moon. I don't know if she does it anymore, but brunch at Pierpont was great. If the OP really wants to walk, I think they should try to get a hotel closer to Fells and HaborEast. Also, Whole Foods is a great place to take kids, too.

        Blue Moon Cafe
        1621 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

        1. re: kukubura

          kuku: I ALWAYS appreciate a Mink Stole or Cookie Mueller reference. well done. that said, isn't the Lex Mkt. closed on Sundays? but the idea of picnicking in that part of Baltimore has a certain squalid charm to it I'd say. and yeah USAA a 3 month old isn't going to care much about the venue, go where you and your wife want. you have some good ideas and found good suggestions.

          1. re: kukubura

            you could buy your goodies at lexington market then walk or cab to the inner harbor and find somewhere to sit and eat by the water.

          2. Some thoughts on picknicking: there is Federal Hill, which overlooks the Harbor, so is near a lot of the places mentioned here. I would suggest getting sandwiches etc. from Trinacria, an old Italian deli that is immediately north of Lexington Market.

            Patterson Park, as mentioned by another poster, is a possibility too. If you went there (it is probably two miles from the Harbor), I would pick up Italian food from another great, old deli, DiPasquales, which is just east of Patterson Park.

            Fort McHenry is a third possibility, again a mile or two south of the Harbor. Food from Lex or Trinacria, or maybe from the Wine Market on Fort Avenue.

            The last possibility is about 6 miles north of downtown -- Robert E. Lee Park, on the lake and near Lake Avenue. You could get food downtown, or at Banksy's (on Falls Road, near the park), or at Eddie's supermarket (either on Roland Avenue or on North Charles Street), or at Whole Foods (Mt. Washington location, about half a mile from the park).

            Of all these, I think Federal Hill is best. Great vistas.

            Lexington Market
            400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

            Wine Market
            921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

            1 Reply
            1. re: lawhound

              Not sure where the Sheraton City Center is but usaa13, you must be getting the idea that Fells Point and Federal Hill are the places to go...both are less pricey than the Inner Harbor, less crowded and the parking is better. When we go to Fells Pt, we always park in the parking lot across from where DuClaw used to be (at the end of Thames St.). Have a great get-away...this is the best weather for it!

            2. Thanks so much to you all for your recommendations. We had a great time, and managed to find three very satisfying meals on the trip (in addition to showing our little girl the bright colors in the aquarium and enjoying a beautiful Sunday ballgame).

              We decided to stop by DiPasquale's on the way into town for lunch, and we were more than pleased with the choice. Outstanding cold cuts and vintage charm, easy enough to tend to the baby in her car seat next to our table. Best meal we had, well worth a stop. If you branch off onto 695 on your way into town, you can easily swing by DiPasquale's for lunch and then cut back through the city for a few miles to get downtown.

              After walking down to the aquarium, we had a quick beer at the harborside patio in the Uno's next door. They didn't seem to mind that we just hung out and enjoyed the weather rather than ordering food.

              We were torn on dinner, but ultimately decided on driving down to Ryleigh's. Dropped the wife and baby at the door and drove down a few blocks to find free parking. Very easy. By the time I walked up, my wife had found us two barstools and a nice nook for our daughter to nap in. They have plenty of space around their tables, so when we were seated it was easy to manage the little one, and the place is loud enough that the occasional squeal isn't bothering anybody. Though we had the only child there, it was a good choice. I did realize that I had been there before, though, when it was much busier/more bar-like, so I would certainly recommend getting in early. As for the food, I would say it was enjoyable but not spectacular. Grilled oysters had a nice charred flavor and were tasty, though combined with heavy cheese there wasn't much room for the oyster to come through. Calamari was forgettable but not problematic. Crab cakes were large and hearty, not the tastiest I've had but satisfying. The best thing we ate was the grilled corn, topped with feta and old bay (or something like that). Make sure to add that on the side. Beer selection was disappointing.

              We decided to make the pilgrimage to Vaccaro's that evening rather than waiting until the morning. Take-out service was obscenely slow -- took maybe 35 minutes to move a line of 5-6 people in front of me while the fam waited in the car. But of course it was well worth it when I emerged with a canoli 3-pack to enjoy over a movie in our hotel room and 5 lbs of cookies to stash in the freezer at home. Vaccaro's is my favorite childhood food memory, and it continues to be outstanding, so I definitely recommend it. (Just be prepared to wait.)

              We decided to go to the O's game on Sunday afternoon, so were in need of a brunch spot within range of the stadium. Thanks to the above recommendation, we chose B&O Brasserie, which turned out to be just two blocks from our hotel and 3/4 mile from the stadium. This place is worth going for the beautiful decorating alone -- just an incredibly efficient layout and appealing aesthetic in there. Brunch was good but not spectacular. For instance, the braised short rib omelette that my wife ordered sounded incredible on paper and was merely tasty on the plate. My own egg white omelette was good but not memorable. The side order of grits was delicious. Mamosas were reasonably priced and were very well-balanced; I was left with the realization that most of the other mamosas I've had were just haphazard mixes of whatever champagne and juice happened to be lying around -- this one may have been as well, but it tasted like someone had put some thought into it. Staff was very professional, as promised; the greeter swiftly moved a chair away from our table to make room for our stroller rather. Though I can't really speak to how they'd handle children on a normal day (it was Mother's Day), we certainly felt welcome.

              Finally, though we didn't ultimately picnic in the alleys next to Lexington Market, I vow to return and find its "squalid charm." (Hats off to poster "hill food" for that memorable phrase.)

              Lexington Market
              400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

              2 Replies
                1. re: usaa13

                  heh,I was just thinking about that.

                  one could easily p/u the goods and take the streetcar down to the waterfront for a more picturesque experience