HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >

Discussion

Help 2 Canadian Foodies Fall in Love with Baltimore this Memorial Day Weekend.

  • 90
  • Share

Hi Chowhounds,

My boyfriend and I will be visiting Baltimore for the first time this weekend (Fri-Mon) and I'd love to hear about your favourite places to chow. We love French, Italian (NOT Italian-American), and Contemporary American cuisine, but are pretty much open to anything. An ideal lunch for us is a couple of cheese and charcuterie boards washed down with wine; neither of us goes in much for beer. We lived in Paris for 3 years and loved the gastro-bistrot scene there, so anything similar to that (fine-dining quality food, casual/hectic ambiance) we'd love.

We are staying at the Sheraton on Fayette, but are willing to travel (no car) for great food.

We will surely check out Lexington Market on Fri or Sat for some of Faidley's fabled crab-cakes.

From checking out websites/menus, and the discussion around the list, we are thinking about checking out the following:

Salt
B&O Brasserie
Jack's Bistro
Clementines
Crush
Corks
Dogwood ( I love their mission, so I really want to go check it out )
The Wine Market

From this list, which are worth checking out? Or is there somewhere else we shouldn't miss?

Also, how organized do we have to be regarding reservations? We live in NYC now, and usually don't bother going somewhere unless we have a reservation, but we like to be a bit more spontaneous on vacation. Will it be impossible to get seated as walk-ins?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions. We're both super-excited to visit Baltimore.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Just to add:

    Also thinking about Bluegrass and Black Olive. What are your preferences between the two?

    And: Brewer's Art? Recommended or not?

    5 Replies
    1. re: DaphneDuck

      I would do Bluegrass over Wine Market. Actually I would do it over most places on your list. They've definitely got the best charcuterie in town, and while I personally prefer beer to wine, I hear that their wine director is very good.

      Corks may or may not be closed -- do Black Olive instead.

      I love B&O, and it's just a few steps from your hotel. Brewer's Art is highly recommended, but you really need to like beer to get the full experience of it.

      A lot of people love Salt -- I found it merely ok.

      I have not been to the others on your list.

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

      Wine Market
      921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

      Black Olive
      814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

      B&O American Brasserie - Hotel Monaco
      2 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

      BlueGrass Tavern
      1500 S Hanover St, Baltimore, MD 21230

      1. re: JonParker

        Thanks.

        Yeah we'll probably hit B&O when we arrive for lunch or Fri dinner.

        I think we will skip Brewer's Art and definitely try to hit Bluegrass for the charcuterie, maybe for a lunch.

        I know Black Olive comes highly recommended, for their whole fish preparations, I am assuming. If we weren't going to have the fish, would you still recommend Black Olive?

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

        Black Olive
        814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

        1. re: DaphneDuck

          They have some beef and lamb on the menu, but really, Black Olive is a seafood restaurant. I think you'd have a really good meal there regardless, but if you want it to be a great meal, go for the seafood. Grilled sardines and the octopus salad are must have appetizers, IMO. Other than that let your waiter guide you.

          -----
          Black Olive
          814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

          1. re: JonParker

            I've only gone to Black Olive for lunch, but even though I mean to try something different I always end up getting a whole fish (the Dorade Royale) preceded by the grilled sardines wrapped in grape leaves.

            At lunch they only half a couple of choices for whole fish. At dinner the fish list is very long.

            -----
            Black Olive
            814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

        2. re: JonParker

          I've had stellar things from Salt, and merely good things from Salt, but never anything bad.

      2. I have been to most on your list - not Wine Market & Jacks (though I am still trying to get there). Of those I have been to, B&O and Salt are those I would recommend. B&O's service left something to be desired, but it wasn't what I would call "Bad," just not at all knowledgeable about food in general or the menu. I loved the Lillet appertif. Cool setting.

        Two I think you should add to your list- - Chameleon and Cinghiale, French & Italian, respectively.

        Actually i havent been to Crush - but i think you should go to their restaurant within a restaurant in the basement. The name escapes me at the moment.

        -----
        Cinghiale
        822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

        Wine Market
        921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

        8 Replies
        1. re: foster

          foster,

          Thanks for the Chameleon and Cinghiale rec's. The menu at Cinghiale looks fantastic, especially the chocolate tajarin with duck ragu and parmigiano. I think I want to go there just for that, and make my boyfriend order the cuttlefish pappardelle so I can eat from his plate.

          Do you have any specific rec's re: the Cinghiale menu?

          So now Chameleon and Cinghiale are definitely on my list, but Chameleon is only open for dinner and not open Sun or Mon, so we will have to keep that in mind. . .

          Is the basement resto at Crush run by Crush or someone else? There is no mention of it on the website.

          -----
          Cinghiale
          822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

          1. re: DaphneDuck

            I am sorry i didn't think of the distance, but both Crush/Demi & Chameleon and Clementine are on bus lines. I never take the bus either, but either route is a straight shot, no transferring necessary, from your hotel.

            I don't really have any dish recommendations for Cinghiale; it's been almost a year since I've been. I don't think you can go wrong. It is my plan to spend time in the Enoteca next time. The charcuterie was the most memorable part for me. ..

            Woodberry is also a great pick.

            I hope you enjoy your trip!

            1. re: foster

              My experience there is limited, but I'm just not a fan of Cingiale. Nothing I had there rise above the level of ok, with the exception of the drinks.

              1. re: JonParker

                I am a fan of Cinghiale for "non-Italian-American" Italian, but let me also suggest Sotto Sopra, which is actually within walking distance of your hotel (via a scenic walk up Charles Street). Check their menu on their website.

                Also, are you considering taxis to take you to the further places that are being recommended (i.e. Salt, Petit Louis, Crush, Clementines)? If relying solely on public transportation, unfortunately you'd be spending a lot of your limited time (Fri-Mon) just getting to and from your culinary destinations. Baltimore aint NYC metro-wise.

                -----
                Petit Louis
                4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

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

                Cinghiale
                822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                1. re: bordeauxfan

                  Of the places recommeded here so far they are within easy walking distance of Lexington Market and B&O. The free Circulator bus line would take them within easy walking distance (defined as no more than four or five blocks) of Black Olive, Pazo, Bluegrass, Sotto Sopra and Brewer's Art. The light rail would take them to Woodberry Kitchen.

                  The others would require hoofing it for a bit or taking a cab.

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

                  Lexington Market
                  400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

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

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

                  Black Olive
                  814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

                  Pazo Restaurant
                  1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                2. re: JonParker

                  I agree with Jon, my husband and I were completely underwhelmed by the food at Cinghiale. If you are inclined for Italian (not Italian/American), then you may want to consider Sotto Sopra.

                  The Dogwood concept is honorable, but the food doesn't impress me. You'd be better off going to Woodberry Kitchen or the B&O Brasserie.

                  If you are inclined to splurge, then Charleston is one of Baltimore's best restaurants and not half as expensive as the higher-end places in New York. FoiGras

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

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

                  Cinghiale
                  822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                  1. re: FoiGras

                    The mixed reviews of Cinghiale are interesting.

                    We will do one Italian for sure. The menu looks great at both Cinghiale and Sotto Sopra.

                    So which should we do?

                    For reference, in NYC we have been repeatedly disappointed by Mario Batali's restaurants (although we haven't been to Del Posto) and loved Michael White's Convivio, which has unfortunately closed.

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

                    Cinghiale
                    822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                    1. re: DaphneDuck

                      I stand firm with recommending Sotto Sopra. Chef Ricardo is very willing to accommodate any special requests. The wait staff is exceptional. The atmosphere isn't quite as elegant as Cinghiale, but the food rocks.

                      Just stay away from Little Italy as the restaurants therein are predominantly Italian-American red sauce oriented.

                      I'm curious to see if the Chowhounds back me up on suggesting Sotto Sopra.

                      Since JonParker confirmed that Charleston doesn't impose a dress code, then you'd really get a great dinner. Most people do dress up a bit when they dine there. We go at least once or twice a month, and we tend to put on our finery, but now that it's getting hot we go more casually. FoiGras

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

                      Cinghiale
                      822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

          2. Mr Rain's Funhouse is great fun for dinner or brunch in the American Visionary Museum which is also worth your time. All of your selections are great and would not disappoint.
            Agree with Bluegrass. I find Wine Market to be so so and not the food but the service can be snooty and in Bmore that is just not the way. Brewer's Art is great for Happy Hour - fab beers.

            Pazo does tapas which gets a good amt of press if you like that sort of thing. Same owners as Cinghiale.
            Lebanese Taverna has good small plate options as well.
            The Helmand does fab Afghani food.
            Black Olive is good for seafood- the whole fish.

            Enjoy B-more

            Jack's doesn't take reservations and is great to eat at the bar on a weekend - get there at 5 and enjoy an hour of half off any bottle of wine.
            You should consider Alchemy in Hampden -newish place.
            I think Corks can be hit or miss.

            I think weekend brunch you could also consider:
            Bistro RX
            YellowDog Tavern
            Goldwest Cafe
            Captain Larry's (Fed Hill cash only)

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

            Captain Larry's
            601 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

            Cinghiale
            822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

            Wine Market
            921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

            Black Olive
            814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

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

            Pazo Restaurant
            1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201

            1. some of these places suggested require a car from where you are staying. or it would be a very expensive cab ride. If you have access to car/cab then for very good charcuterie or brunch I would recommend Clementine on Harford Rd. Also Woodberry Kitchen is another great place for dinner but not walking distance. It's an amazing space w/ farm to table food.
              Places mentioned that you can walk to (or short cab ride) that I def. concur w/ are Bluegrass (although I haven't been since the orig. chef left), Salt, and B&O (again I was there when before the orig. chef left)
              The restaurant in Crush is called Demi. Also very good. but you can't walk there. Sit at the bar if you can for a great view of the kitchen.
              the last place I would suggest for a casual lunch/dinner is Iggie's pizza on Calvert St. (which some people on this board have strong negative feelings about). It's not far from you. I think their Funghi pizza is amazing. ask for it well done if you want an extra crispy crust.
              Enjoy your weekend!

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

              12 Replies
              1. re: amaebi

                amaebi,

                Thanks for this.

                You bring up a good point about transportation. I had just assumed that most of these places would be accessible by public transportation. Is that not a safe assumption? We are willing to cab it if necessary, but for some reason I had thought it'd be possible to walk/bus it around.

                1. re: DaphneDuck

                  Daphne- I really don't have any experience w/ public transportation in Baltimore other than the free Charm City Circulator which doesn't go to that many places. I probably wouldn't go to either Clementine or Woodberry w/ out a car or cab. Maybe you can rent a zipcar that is now available in Baltimore. That being said, I cannot say enough about Clementine's charcuterie. the chef/owner does it all himself!

                  -----
                  Charm City Cafe
                  Baltimore, MD, Baltimore, MD

                  1. re: amaebi

                    The light rail goes practically to Woodberry Kitchen's front door.

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

                    1. re: amaebi

                      Other than the Charm City Circulator I would avoid public transportation. This is a car town for sure. The bus is not for tourists. The light rail is marginally better. There's no subway to speak of (there is one but it doesn't go anywhere you want to go.)

                      Luckily you do have a lot of options nearby or a short cab ride away. Bluegrass is DEFINITELY a place for you. B&O is also fabulous. (There have been a couple of unenthusiastic posts about it lately but I don't buy it. Every time I've been there it's been outstanding. The cocktails are tremendous.) Jack's is awesome and has a very quirky menu. Lexington Market is a great place to visit, even though it's not as good as it used to be. Trinacria is a very cool little italian deli near Lexington Market. The Brewer's Art is another very worthy destination.

                      Our one experience at Salt was hit and miss. There was a boar-pasta dish that was a brilliant knockout but there was also a veal cheek dish or something that was really underseasoned. But that pasta dish... Oh mama...

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

                      Lexington Market
                      400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                      1. re: kukubura

                        Two of the restos discussed here (Crush/Demi and Petit Louis) are easily accessible by bus. Crush is about a 5 minute walk from the #11's stop on Bellona Avenue/Northern Parkway, and Petit Louis is right off the #61 on Roland Avenue. Both lines are safe, easy to figure out (route maps are online) and easy to navigate, at least for an English-speaker. The 61 runs weekdays only.

                        -----
                        Petit Louis
                        4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

                        1. re: lawhound

                          > The 61 runs weekdays only.

                          And the OP is visiting on a weekend.

                  2. re: amaebi

                    I have also not been to B&O since the original chef left, but the new chef at Blue Grass is a very worthy successor to Patrick Morrow. I live a block away, and Ray Klumm has made it a nearly seamless transition. His lamb tartare (sadly no longer on the menu) was one of the finest dishes I ever had.

                    1. re: amaebi

                      I live in the Canton side of town. I walk to all the places I listed minus anything in Hampden and Woodberry. From Jack's on caton side to Bluegrass on Hanover in Fed Hill you are looking at an 1:15 hours's walk or $15 cab fare restaurant to restaurant 1 way. By staying on Fayette - you are in between fells/canton, federal hill and north Charles/Mt Vernon area. You have cab access to all of these likely looking at $10 far 1 way any directions. Our public transport is awful really. Cabs are easy to get in your hotel area but just are not cheap and many act like they don't take credit.
                      Zipcar is a great option for anything northbound. Can rent by the hour.

                      Walking is great - though I would not walk to Lexington Market as a tourist. We often take the 1 hour stroll in early evening along the water (will add some time) from caton to fed hill - stop along the way grab a drink then walk to dinner location - cab home. That way you earn those showstring fried w/mat vinegar mayo at Bluegrass or the Cold Saison at Ale Mary's or Bacon happy hour at Bad Decisions in Fells. You can always reverse it cab it to dinner early in Canton and walk back to hotel area through Fells and grab a Gelato or Fro Yo there, grab a beer or cocktail in Harbor East then cab to hotel from there- this cuts your cab fare in half.

                      Best of luck

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

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

                      Ale Marys
                      1939 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                      1. re: hammocc

                        Well, at least you can walk off the calories you ingest!!!

                        What is your take on Jack's? It's on my "go to" list, but recently have seen some less then positive reviews.

                        I hesitate venturing into Federal Hill on account of the lack of parking. There are several restaurants therein I'd love to try, but don't want to contend with no parking. Unlike you, I am not within walking distance, despite the fact that I live in Baltimore City--near the County line. Besides, I run over 5 miles a day on a treadmill, and don't need any more exercise then that.

                        Have you tried the "C" Restaurant up on Charles Street in Mount Vernon? It is in the location of where Ixia used to be. And, have you tried Waterstone in the Maryland General Hospital area (it's a nice little grill/pub--very good lamb chops, beet salad and small veal chop at very affordable prices and perhaps somewhat in your walking distance (a stretch though and not favorable neighborhood).

                        Sounds as though you have a great plan with regards to dining and exercise. FoiGras

                        1. re: FoiGras

                          FG: Jack's is great. With as much dining out as you do you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Everything we've had there was wonderful and some of it had a definitely original twist, like the crispy pork belly with a little dollop of ranch ice cream. The cold, creaminess with the hot, salty crispiness was amazing and not something you'll find elsewhere.

                          1. re: kukubura

                            kukubura--thanks for the heads up re Jack's. Everytime I view their menu on their website I am intrigued. I like to try unusual foods.

                            I've eaten rattlesnake at a restaurant in the Denver area--cockscomb in a L.A. restaurant, frogs legs, rabbit, etc. So, although I'm not as adventuresome as Tony Bourdain, I am very willing to experiment with various foods.

                            Tonight would be a great dining out night as it is way too hot to cook. But, hubby and I ate out Friday, Saturday and Sunday and brought in take-out last night from Snyder's. I may make some shrimp salad subs tonight and maybe try Jack's tomorrow or Thursday.

                            Thanks for your input and stay cool. FoiGras

                        2. re: hammocc

                          The Circulator is fast, free, safe, and has unnaturally friendly and helpful drivers.

                      2. love your choices of Black Olive, Chingale and Lexington Market- while in Faidley's slurp down some oysters on the half shell and a cold bear in addition to the most expensive crab cake choice they have. Go to the Berger Bakery stand and get a box of Berger Chocolate top cookies. Also go to the fresh nut guy and get some warm roasted nuts
                        Someone mentioned The Helmond and I highly rec that for foodies. Afghan very nice restaurant with great food. One other consideration might be Tio Pepe, an iconic Baltimore institution which still can very strongly bring it with their huge selection of Spanish cooked dishes.

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

                        Black Olive
                        814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dining with doc

                          Thanks for the rec's for the market. This sounds perfect! Will definitely follow your advice and suck back some oysters when we're there.

                          Any other not-to-be-missed stands in the market?

                          1. re: DaphneDuck

                            A large Polish sausage w/sauce from Polock Johnny's. Dark chocolate turtles from Rheb's.

                        2. i can't believe that no one has mentioned petit louis. if you like authentic french food, then you DEFINITELY need to go here. it's in the north of the city, so you would need a cab but it's not far...and worth the trip. i went there with my mom for her birthday and she was amazed by the beef bourguignon.

                          also, the black olive is excellent...but you should really only go there if you want seafood. and i definitely agree that the octopus salad appetizer is a must. i live a block from salt and have been there many times. i, too have had many wonderful things there, and also several pedestrian items. the tuna is always a safe bet, and it is really excellent. you should skip crush, in my opinion. i've been there twice, and was not impressed either time...plus it's rather pricey. dogwood is pretty good, but if you want something better with the same mission, definitely try woodberry kitchen. it's farm to table and mostly local ingredients. it has a casual atmosphere and the food is always excellent. you definitely need reservations at woodberry. the wine market is good, but not too exciting. one of my favorite restaurants in the city is pazo. it's a tapas place, but they also have entrees and paella. i always take my out-of-town guests here and they are always impressed. i've been to pazo many times, and the meal was never even good, it was always great.

                          i hope you enjoy your trip here, baltimore is a great city!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: bmorecharmer

                            I think we'd definitely check out petit louis if we had more time. As it is, I feel like we aren't going to have enough time to eat everywhere we want to in the city.

                          2. I liked Cinghiale, but it was not utterly memorable. I prefer Charleston myself, but it is quite pricey. That said, they *really* know their sauces there.

                            I have heard nothing but amazing things about Woodberry Kitchen from friends, too. Good luck!

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

                            Cinghiale
                            822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Pool Boy

                              Yeah, we thought about Charleston, but my boyfriend doesn't want to pack a suit.

                              But I know it is considered Baltimore's best.

                              Anybody else? Is Charleston not to be missed?

                              1. re: DaphneDuck

                                Charleston is really worthwhile. You may want to call and see if the restaurant will accept dressy/casual. I believe they lighten up on the dress code during the hotter months of late Spring and Summer.
                                FoiGras

                                1. re: FoiGras

                                  Charleston doesn't have a dress code. Never has.

                                  1. re: JonParker

                                    I guess I used the wrong term when suggesting that Charleston has a "dress code." I was just attempting to suggest to DaphneDuck that most people do tend to dress more formally when dining at Charleston. I've never seen jeans or the like when dining there as I have when dining at Fleming's, Capitol Grill, even Tio Pepe's.

                                    Last week when I dined at the Prime Rib, most of the gentlemen weren't wearing sportscoats. I recall those many years ago when the guys had to wear a jacket. We've become a very casual society.

                                    FoiGras

                                    1. re: FoiGras

                                      Most people wouldn't wear jeans there, no. But slacks and a sports jacket would be fine. And regardless, they don't need to call, because there's no code to be relaxed.

                                      The Prime Rib used to require jackets, but they dropped that a couple of years ago when the economy went south.

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        Yes-as I said--the "dress code" doesn't exist anymore. Charleston and the Prime Rib are gems in the Baltimore dining arena. It's NOT ABOUT the way one dresses. It's about the fine dining experience one can enjoy at either of the suggested restaurants.

                                        In addition, many of the other Chowhounder's suggestions are worthwhile. I am anxious to hear the response of the choices that DaphneDuck considered after the visit to our fair city.

                                        Baltimore has much to offer in food, culture, atmosphere, shopping, entertainment,etc.

                                        Since I dine out about 5 or so nights per week, I enjoy many aspects of the Baltimore dining scene. I don't always expect a 4 star restaurant on a Monday night after dining out at the best places on Saturday and Sunday.

                                        Hey--it's only food. And, Baltimore shouldn't be compared to other major cities with regards to restaurants. We have some wonderful contenders. But, maybe not comparable to the French Laundry (I swooned), and others I've had the pleasure to experience.

                                        But, I live here, in this gracious city, and enjoy the many lovely, restaurants that are available. FoiGras

                                        -----
                                        Prime Rib
                                        1101 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                                    2. re: JonParker

                                      Correct. I have been there dressed nice, but also with nice pants and a tasteful Hawaiian shirt.

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        The only time in my life that I got the sneering up and down from a Maitre D' was at Charleston, about 8 tears ago. I was wearing a fairly conservative tie with a V-neck sweater and slacks. I had also requested a quieter remote table and got plopped into the middle of the room under what were practically spotlights. When we requested a reseating we were pretty much labelled as troublemakers and treated accordingly. While I accept that it may have been an off night, we have never gone back. Largely thanks to that Maitre D', who was fawning all over the expensive suits.

                                2. OK this is where we're at now:

                                  Fri Lunch: B&O
                                  Fri Dinner: Salt

                                  Sat Lunch: Lexington Market
                                  Sat Dinner: Charleston (we were fortunate enough to get a late reservation)

                                  Sun Lunch: ?
                                  Sun Dinner: Jack's Bistro

                                  Mon Lunch: Bluegrass...I am assuming they'll be open on Memorial Day...Is this a safe assumption?

                                  Any ideas for Sunday lunch?

                                  Sotto Sopra and Cinghiale are out because they don't serve lunch on Sundays, as is Clementine (we were only interested in the dinner menu).

                                  So where should we eat on Sunday?

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

                                  Lexington Market
                                  400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

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

                                  Cinghiale
                                  822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                                  31 Replies
                                  1. re: DaphneDuck

                                    I wouldn't assume any restaurant to be open on Memorial Day without checking with them. Most restaurants are closed.

                                    1. re: DaphneDuck

                                      Bluegrass is always closed on Monday.

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        Ok, so then it looks like Bluegrass for Sunday lunch...

                                        So...any ideas for Monday lunch?

                                        1. re: DaphneDuck

                                          If it were me, I'd replace Jack's with Bluegrass for Sunday dinner, and make Sunday lunch grazing at the JFX farmer's market. While the lunch menu at Bluegrass is very good, their strengths really show at dinner. Walking around the farmer's market is a true Baltimore experience that is not to be missed.

                                          1. re: JonParker

                                            Fair enough. So let me ask you:

                                            Mainly we were considering Bluegrass for cheese/charcuterie, which is available at lunch. Is there something we'd be specifically missing out on the dinner menu?

                                            Also, do you not recommend Jack's? The menu seems creative (and perhaps overly ambitious) and I expect it to be hit and miss, but it seems unique and worth trying.

                                            I think we are starting to realize we need more than a weekend to adequately eat our way through Baltimore!

                                            1. re: DaphneDuck

                                              Jack's is great, Bluegrass is great, Salt is ok. I'd choose the first two over Salt. If you do go to Salt and they have the wild boar pasta, however, get it.

                                              JFX Farmers Market is definitely your sunday lunch, although you might want to plan it to be an early lunch. Fried fish guy is a real treat. Gary's burgers are good too. As is the mexican booth.

                                              Oh! I don't think anyone mentioned a real gem in Fell's Point: Tortilleria Sinaloa. It's a tiny storefront mexican place that I love deeply. Great, great, great!

                                              1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                The charcuterie is not on the lunch menu, although I'm sure they'd be happy to do it for you on request. And as I've said before, they make all their charcuterie in house and it's very very good. In fact, tonight I had a charcuterie/cheese plate for dinner at home that was all items that I picked up at their Saturday market, including a lamb pepperoni, bacon jam, fennel goat cheese and Pleasant Ridge cheddar.

                                                That said, their most inventive food is on the dinner menu. Right now there's a soft shell crab served with a romaine salad with chipotle dressing, avocado butter and hot pepper relish that's really good, but not on the lunch menu. The staff is enthusiastic about the menu in a genuine way and not just trying to upsell you -- they take a lot of pride in their chef's capability.

                                                For my money the best places in Baltimore for creative dining are Bluegrass and B&O, with Bluegrass winning out largely because I go there pretty often. It's close to my house, and I haven't made it back to B&O since the chef change.

                                                I have never been to Jack's, so I can't honestly say one way or the other how they are. So full disclosure, part of my opinion is due to familiarity. My suggestions above were made because 1) I do recommend Bluegrass wholeheartedly and 2. I really think if you want to get into the spirit of our city, the JFX farmer's market is not to be missed.

                                                As for Charleston, get the sweetbreads and the foie gras. The oysters are good but not that much better than you can get elsewhere.

                                                1. re: JonParker

                                                  Where do they announce the dates of the Saturday market? We loved their first one but I didn't realize they were having one this weekend.

                                                  1. re: kukubura

                                                    On their Facebook page. Add Bacon Jam.

                                                  2. re: JonParker

                                                    I see you caved on the softshell crab, Jon :-D

                                                    I secon (or is it fifth?) the recommendation that you eat at the JFX market. The only place I'd avoid is the Thai on the endcap. I'm not crazy about the fish, but a lot of people are. Everything else is awesome. The Thai along the long walkway is great. The curry shack is great, the parathas are great, the burritos are great, the pastries are great. The wood fired pizzas are great. Almost everything is cooked right in front of you.

                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                      I can't resist them. As I write this I'm on my droid at Ryleigh's having just finished a softshell sandwich and cream of crab soup. Yum.

                                                      1. re: JonParker

                                                        drool....
                                                        deep fried, pan fried or broiled?

                                                        1. re: crackers

                                                          Breaded in panko and fried.

                                                        2. re: JonParker

                                                          Mmmm. I ordered a softshell wrap from MaGerks last night. It looked delicious; it had spinach and avocado, but they put nasty, awful wasabi sauce all over it. It was so sad.

                                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                                            I like Magerks cheesesteak but can't imagine ordering anything else there.

                                                2. re: DaphneDuck

                                                  you could go to the dogwood for lunch on monday. also, if you like thai food, thai arroy on light street is really good (it's also cheap and BYOB). or as someone else said, iggie's pizza is always a good choice (also BYOB).

                                                  1. re: bmorecharmer

                                                    If everything else stays the same, then Dogwood actually might be our perfect solution for Monday lunch.

                                                    Regardless of food, I wanted to check them out anyway, so this might work,

                                                    1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                      let us know what you thought of the places you went.

                                                      1. re: bmorecharmer

                                                        Dogwood is a waste of a meal. Forget it.

                                                    2. re: bmorecharmer

                                                      I would not recommend any Baltimore pizza to someone who lives in NYC.

                                                      And I'm not familiar with NYC Thai, but there must be a ton of places better than the mediocre Thai Arroy.

                                                      DaphneDuck, I think you should try to squeeze in some crabs. There are suggestions all over this board. This might work for Monday lunch since I would assume most of the crab houses would be open on Memorial Day.

                                                      1. re: Chowtimore

                                                        Yes, definitely! We have the crab cakes covered at Faidley's, but you are right: we can't go to Baltimore and not eat steamed crabs.

                                                        Since we don't have a car, we'll have to cab it, so I'm thinking LP Steamers or Obrycki's.

                                                        I have never picked a crab before, so this will be interesting.

                                                        1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                          Do not go to LP Steamers, awful place.

                                                          1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                            If the weather is conducive to outdoor dining (not a given this time of year), then the crab deck at Captain James Landing might be a thought. It's on the water kind of between Fells Point and Canton.

                                                            -----
                                                            Captain James Landing
                                                            2127 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                            1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                              just read this thread. some thoughts. definitely go to the Sunday outdoor Farmers Market. You will love it. There are some great foodie eating opportunities and it is a blast. I would go to Obrycki's for a crab feast. There is a lot if controversy regarding crab houses in Baltimore but I have always had great and large crabs when there and it is downtown and easy to get to by a very short cab drive. When at Lexington Mkt only get the most expensive crab cake they offer. but it is fantastic. also the oysters on the half shell at the raw bar are always great. The roasted nut salesman outside in front of the market is great. not far from faidley is Berger famous for Berger's Cookies a sort of yellow cookie with a big piece of almost a fudge topping. The best with a cold milk and addictive.. If you love fresh fish go to Black Olive for dinner. Have a great time eating

                                                              -----
                                                              Black Olive
                                                              814 S. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21231

                                                              1. re: dining with doc

                                                                just curious foster, how do the missions of dogwood and WK differ when they both rely on local, mostly sustainable and organic ingredients?

                                                                anyway, do NOT go to obrycki's. it is overpriced and is not a good place to have a true maryland crabs experience (which consists of paper on the table, beers, and being outside). LP steamers is good, and captain james is good as well. canton dockside is pretty good as well, but i prefer the other two.

                                                                and i also want to emphasize that you go to the farmers' market under the JFX for the true baltimore feel. get the mini doughnuts and the steamed buns from the chinese food stand. crepes are always a great choice too, but sometimes the line is too long.

                                                                1. re: bmorecharmer

                                                                  I thought Dogwood's "mission" was more about providing training in the food industry for people who have had a rough life and need a second chance. It's a laudable goal. I just wish the food were better.

                                                                  1. re: kukubura

                                                                    Yes, this is what I meant about Dogwood's mission.

                                                              2. re: DaphneDuck

                                                                I have had much better luck with crabs at Obrycki's then LP Steamers. LP does have more of the old Baltimore ambience, but they have failed me too often on the crabs.

                                                      2. re: DaphneDuck

                                                        Definitely definitely go to the Sunday farmer's market for lunch. Not to be missed when you are in Baltimore. walk around sampling stuff then get some donuts or a crepe or the mushroom sandwich to munch on. the thai food stand by the omelet place is great too. I think you should go to Bluegrass for dinner as opposed to lunch also.

                                                        1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                          I like the brunch (offered both sat & sun) at Woodberry Kitchen. Please be aware, WK is a standout in the farm to table scene- but certainly does NOT have the same mission as Dogwood. Sitting at the bar eating oysters & flatbreads is another less time consuming option for WK.

                                                          And, I do like shopping and eating at the Farmer's Markets, but i wouldn't go out of my way to get there while on vacation. It will be super crowded & the areas aren't really desirable for much else in the way of city exploring. If you ARE in the area, crackers' idea really sounds like a much better plan (than sitting on a curb staring at a chain link fence eating a paper container of fried mushrooms from your lap with a plastic fork).

                                                          As for your Sunday or Monday lunch questions - I think the hard crabs are your answer.

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

                                                          1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                            Petit Louis serves a nice lunch or brunch, again assuming they are open this Sunday as is likely.

                                                            -----
                                                            Petit Louis
                                                            4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

                                                          2. This may be a bit off topic, but consider going to the JFX Farmers Market on Sunday morning and putting together a picnic lunch. Then go to Ft. McHenry or some other nice spot and have a nice relaxed picnic with a view!

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: crackers

                                                              This is an excellent suggestion. Another possible source of picnic food would be Trinacria, a great, great old Italian deli right that is a block from Lexington Market. Another picnic venue would be Federal Hill, which was impressive views of town and harbor, and is right smack downtown.

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

                                                              1. re: lawhound

                                                                The Sunday market is not great when compared with markets in many other cities; interesting but not special. I have been eating at Trinacria for 50 years and never thought it special either--good, cheap sandwiches and ordinary produce. Do go to Cingiale, WK, Bluegrass, and Blue Hill--they are special. And try a crab place--it really does not matter which one; they are uniquely Baltimore

                                                                1. re: tartuffe

                                                                  No-one would ever go to Trinacria for the produce, unless a natural disaster had wiped out most alternative sources. But the sandwiches, particularly the muffaletta, Italian tuna, and prosciutto + mozarella (esp on foccacia) are very good. So too are the stuffed peppers, and there is an excellent (and inexpensive) wine selection.

                                                                  Perhaps you could let the OP know your views on other sandwich shops in Baltimore? Other than Trinacria, I would say DiPasquales and Attmans.

                                                                  1. re: lawhound

                                                                    Sorry--by "produce" I meant other stuff, esp prepared stuff. i have found it a very mixed bag. As i said the sandwiches are good and cheap--nothing to write home about, however. (Perhaps I'd be more positive if I had not just spent a wonderful foodie week in SF.) I love both DiPasquale's and Attmann's--the latter is in the same category as the original Sec Ave Deli in NYC, and there aint no higher praise

                                                                    1. re: tartuffe

                                                                      except 2nd ave deli was kosher and Attmans is not kosher

                                                                      1. re: dining with doc

                                                                        Yeah, but as a lifelong goyim, and having tried both, I'd rank them about equal.

                                                                        1. re: JonParker

                                                                          Note re Yiddish (and Hebrew): goy is singular, goyim plural. But perhaps you emant to say that you were a lifelong member of the goyim . . .

                                                            2. I just wanted to thank everyone for this wonderful response.

                                                              Right now, it looks like B&O for lunch on Friday (and I have no doubt that dinner would be a better choice, but unfortunately there just isn't enough time this trip). I am still undecided about Salt vs. Bluegrass for Fri dinner, I think I'll let my boyfriend decide that one. Either way, we will definitely get to Bluegrass this trip, just perhaps not for dinner.

                                                              Sat lunch is Lexington Market and Sat dinner is Charleston.

                                                              Sunday lunch/dinner I am tossing around Bluegrass, Jack's Bistro, The Wine Market, b Bistro, but I dont plan on making any fast decisions now. We'll play it by ear, depending on what we end up doing on Sunday.

                                                              Monday lunch will be crabs, probably Obrycki's.

                                                              At any rate, I will definitely follow-up with a post-trip report to let you all know where we ate, what we had, and what we thought of everything,

                                                              Thank you again for all your help.

                                                              And enjoy YOUR long weekend.

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

                                                              Lexington Market
                                                              400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                                                              Wine Market
                                                              921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                                Obryckis' Pratt Street location has closed.

                                                                1. re: dlite

                                                                  Are you sure? I was under the impression that Obrycki's was going to close at the end of this season.

                                                                  1. re: dlite

                                                                    According to the website they will close the Pratt Street loation at the end of the 2011 season. They even have a countdown clock 163 days etc..

                                                                    1. re: Hue

                                                                      The older original Obrycki's did close a few years back but their current one down the street is open 'til later this year. But there are better, less touristy crab places east of the city.

                                                                2. So we have a very nice (and hot!) weekend in Baltimore. Unfortunately we didn't get to try nearly as many places as we wanted, but here it is (sorry it is quite long):

                                                                  Fri Lunch: B&O - I had the Pork Terrine followed by the Sweet Pea and Crawfish Ravioli. My SO had the watermelon gazpacho (soup du jour) and the ravioli as well. The pork terrine came out breaded (cornmeal?) which was not at all what I was expecting, but nonetheless it was very good. The watermelon gazpacho was delicious, a perfect mix of spicy and sweet, quite refreshing given the heat outside. We were both impressed with the sweet pea ravioli. For dessert , I had the Elvis Cream Pie, I think it is called, and my SO had the banana bread pudding. Both were good, but we both preferred the Elvis. To drink we had a bottle of the Boxcar Shiraz (I think..)

                                                                  One minor quibble about B&O: the ambiance is a bit too corporate chain/hotel restaurant and the service is a bit too forced-friendly, if that makes sense (as opposed to the natural warmth of our servers at both Bluegrass and Charleston...but more on that later)...Although we ate at B&O twice (see below), mostly due to the proximity to our hotel (and they were open on Memorial Day) we only ate there during the day, so perhaps the ambiance improves once the sun goes down.

                                                                  Fri Dinner: SALT -- I had the duck ragout gnocchi to start, and my SO had the Wagyu Beef and Foie Gras Slider. Both were excellent! Especially the beef. To follow, he had the Spring Vegetable Pasta and I had the Crusted Tuna with Seaweed and Pot Stickers. Again both were excellent. One minor quibble: My tuna steak was ENORMOUS. I mention this, not just because I felt bad because I was unable to finish it, but because the size of the steak (ratio of the tuna to pepper crust) affects the way it feels in your mouth. But minor quibble...
                                                                  We both agreed we drank too much at lunch, so we had a half bottle of a Sauvignon Blanc, but I dont remember which one.

                                                                  Sat Lunch: Lexington Market. We shared a lump crab cake at Faidley's which was very good, but we honestly don't have much experience with crab cakes in general, so can't comment on the overall quality, compared to others. However, the lines at Faidley's were long and diverse (both locals and tourists alike), which speaks strongly to the quality there. After we shared a sausage at Pollock Johnny's which was also very good. We checked out the Berger's Bakery booth, but the cookies didn't look that interesting and the line was quite long, so we decided to skip dessert. We also wanted to keep lunch light before Charleston.

                                                                  Sat Dinner: Charleston.
                                                                  We opted for the 4 course menu with wine. We also opted for a cheese course before dessert (so that is 6 courses total). Everything here, from the service to the food to the decor to the wine was excellent, as should be expected at this price point. I had the English Pea Soup, the Tuna Tartare, the Pan Seared Halibut, and the Duck Breast with Foie Gras. My SO had the Lobster Soup (which was wonderfully paired with a Spanish plum wine), the Asparagus, ???(I completely forgot his middle course, will ask him later), Pan-Seared Foie Gras.
                                                                  Everything was excellent. In the range of Contemporary American, I would say Charleston is definitely more traditional than experimental, but the quality and skill here is evident. Also, the pacing and portion sizes were perfect and we finished our 6 courses without feeling overly full.

                                                                  For cheese I had a hard American cheese that I dont remember the name of (I asked the fromager for something resembling Comte, which they didn't have) and my SO had a blue, which I also don't remember the name of.

                                                                  For dessert I had the trio of creme brulee (excellent) and I must be getting old because I can't remember what he had for dessert (will ask him later...)

                                                                  Sun Lunch: Bluegrass
                                                                  We ended up here for a late lunch and we sat outside. The place seemed pretty empty, but we were obviously in between services. We started with a cheese/charcuterie board. We tried the duck prosciutto (excellent!) the guinea hen liver parfait (excellent), the peach bacon jam (excellent), and two blue cheeses (the oregonzola and the ewe's blue, I think)...anyway, I can't emphasize enough how impressed we were with the charcuterie here. In a word, excellent. We followed with the spring vegetable gnocchi which was also excellent. We had a bottle of white, I can't remember which one, but I do remember the wine list was atypical, and they had a lot of not often seen wines on the menu. Our server was great (he dropped our first bottle of wine, but he handled it perfectly) but I can't speak to the ambiance, because we ate outside and no one was there due to the time we ate.

                                                                  Sun Dinner: Room Service (Boo! :-( ) We went back to the hotel to nap off the wine and the sun. We were planning a late dinner at Sotto Sopra, but we overslept and just ended up ordering room service.

                                                                  Mon Lunch: We were hoping to get to Sotto Sopra for lunch but they were closed so we ended up back at B&O. My SO had the beet carpaccio which he loved, but I didn't (to be fair I am really picky when it comes to beets) and the sweet pea ravioli again. I had melon gazpacho (different than the one we had before, but still good) and the falafel burger, which was good for what it was. We had some time to kill (and it was HOT! out) so against everyone's good advice to stay away from the Inner Harbor for meals, we found a patio (I don't know the name of the place...beside the H&M...) and had a dozen oysters and a bottle of white. While the oysters were edible, they were the worst oysters I have ever eaten, but we were catching some breeze off the water, and all in all, it wasn't that bad. Our server made us laugh and people watching on the Harbor was a nice way to end our weekend.

                                                                  I was disappointed not to get out to try all the restaurants we wanted to, but that just gives us reason to make another trip out to Baltimore.

                                                                  I also wanted to thank everyone for their help. Without all your opinions, we surely wouldn't have eaten as well as we did this weekend.

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

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

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: DaphneDuck

                                                                    Thanks for the report. I may have to give Salt another shot, although I agree that the slider is amazing.

                                                                    I agree that the charcuterie at Bluegrass is incredible. I'm glad you tried Pollock Johnny's in the market -- I love those things. Charleston is insanely good.

                                                                    Feel free to come back anytime.