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Two Dinners in Baltimore??

My husband and I will be in Baltimore for a conference that includes both a Friday and a Saturday night. We're going to ditch the scheduled banquet in favor of eating out in Baltimore restaurants. Where should we eat?

Some pertinent information:
o We will be staying at a hotel in the general vicinity of the Inner Harbor, but we're willing to drive places. Please indicate whether the restaurant has valet parking or whether we'll have to find a street spot so we can plan driving time accordingly.
o We have no price restrictions. Sounds illogical but we'll be just as happy to pay top dollar for a fabulous experience as to have a fabulous experience at a local, lower-priced gem. The only common dominator is great food with appropriate service for the destination.
o We have few cuisine restrictions. We enjoy most cuisines but definitely shy away from incendiary hot food.

Left on my own, I would make reservations at Charleston and Cinghiale, but I'd appreciate recent information . Our last visit to Charleston happened a couple of years ago, and a search brings up nothing newer than posts from 2010. Cinghiale is appealing considering the princpals involved and the fact that we love Italian food, but I don't know the reality vs the expectation.

Thanks!

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  1. Charleston is always a good bet, but if you want to try something different, I love these two places:

    The Helmand (Afghan food, always delicious)
    http://www.helmand.com/

    Pazo (tapas, fantastic food and a really cool space
    )http://www.pazorestaurant.com/

    Both of these are close to the Inner Harbor. Pazo has excellent valet parking and there is a public parking lot adjacent to The Helmand that I'd recommend. Good luck!

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    Pazo Restaurant
    1425 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21201

    1 Reply
    1. re: HollisB

      I really like the Helmand too. I also like Pazo, but some people have had bad experiences. The Helmand seems to be pretty consistent. I also like Bluegrass in Federal Hill. Sorry, I can't remember whether they have valet on the weekends, but you could just hop on the circulator.

    2. THE PRIME RIB is just a very short drive from the Inner Harbor and they have valet garage for parking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hue

        here are three pretty different ideas:

        Captain Larry's is a bar and grill on the east side of Federal Hill. It has great burgers and fries and a good neighborhood vibe
        http://captainlarrys.com/default.php

        Petit Louis is a bistro and personal favorite. Some posters find the tables too crowded but coming from someone who started by recommending a bar I haven't found this to be a problem at all. The service is friendly, knowledgable - top notch.
        http://www.petitlouis.com/

        The Brewer's Art is in between these two with a seperate and lively bar up front and dark wood, braised meats, microbrew in the back. As a plus the Owl Bar in the Belvedere is across the street.
        http://www.belgianbeer.com/

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

        Petit Louis
        4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

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

        1. re: conradical

          Anyone else remember when Captain Larry's was on the other side of Fort Avenue where the Southside is now?

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

      2. Bluegrass at Hanover and Fort avenue in South Baltimore does have valet parking. It's my new favorite restaurant. Two others stand out; The Wine Market (also in South Baltimore) and Woodberry Kitchen. Woodberry Kitchen has valet and Wine Market has adequate parking.

        Enjoy

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

        Wine Market
        921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

        2 Replies
        1. re: fedhillhound

          It's hard to go wrong at Charleston and Cinghiale. Another different suggestion would be Peters Inn in Fells Point. First-class cooking, in a sort of hearty, new American way, in a bar with a few tables. Great wine selections too.

          Petit Louis is a great bistro, but not at the level of Charleston and Cinghiale (its run by the same folks as those two). Woodberry Kitchen will be a difficult reservation to snag, so look now if interested.

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          Petit Louis
          4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

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

          Cinghiale
          822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

          1. re: fedhillhound

            Bluegrass is a great choice. Jack's Bistro is another small, personality driven place with fabulous cookery.

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

          2. charleston. Is arguably the best restaurant in Baltimore and chingale is top 10
            Alternatives include
            1. The Black Olive: great grilled whole fish and seafood dishes in a mediterranean style
            2. Tio Pepe: iconic Spanish restauant still delivers. Fantastic menu with large list of daily specials. Baltimore favorite. Great homemade sangria,pine nut rolled cake and souflees

            3. Obrycki's: iconic Maryland crab house will close after this season, if you want a Maryland style crab feast
            4: The Helmond: upscaled Afghan restaurant is delicious
            Btw, great breakfast at Miss Shirley's and hard to beat Sunday morning grazing at the Baltimore
            Outside farmers market

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            Miss Shirley's
            750 E Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

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

            4 Replies
            1. re: dining with doc

              The Helmand isn't as upscale as it first appears. The place is a madhouse on busy nights and half the people will end up crammed into tiny tables in a glorified hallway. And, in my opinion, the menu is becoming fossilized. That place needs a breath of fresh air.

              1. re: kukubura

                I think you will be hard pressed to find a more upscaled AFGHAN restaurant and there is a reason why people flock to this restaurant, the food is good. this is not your typical kabob restaurant.

                1. re: dining with doc

                  I agree with you for the most part, except there are certain aspects of The Helmand that grate on my nerves no matter how fancy or not fancy it is. I don't think there's any excuse for overbooking the way they do, leaving a massive pile of people jammed into the cramped (and unstaffed) bar area waiting for an hour for a table, even with a reservation. That's happened to me on multiple occasions. Frustrating.

              2. re: dining with doc

                I loathe Tio Pepe, but I second the recommendation for grazing at the farmer's market.

              3. Went to Cinghiale a few weeks ago. Just sat at the bar and ordered a la carte. Food was great. Bartender was great. Atmosphere was great.

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                Cinghiale
                822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202