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Jul 30, 2011 07:01 AM

Dining near Johns Hopkins?

Hello Baltimore Hounds:
My son is an incoming freshman at Hopkins, and we are eager to get ideas for restaurants in the area (we live in Boston). We'd like suggestions for:

1. A reasonably nice, but still casual, place to take him for a "send-off" dinner when we bring him to school, and

2. Places where he, an extremely adventurous eater with a very low budget, might go to eat when the dining hall gets boring.

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  1. In the immediate area a decent nicer place is Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is actually on the southern edge of the Homewood campus. It's solid and if the weather is no longer a million degrees you might be able to dine outside in their sculpture garden. There are lots of other options for the sendoff meal if you decide that sticking close to campus isn't necessary. We can steer you to a million alternates that would be more exciting than Gertrude's but not as convenient.

    As for places he's going to want to explore, remind him that Baltimore is rough and some of these recs might require looking over your shoulder. As a JHU grad here are my suggestions:

    East of campus:
    - The best pick is probably Pete's Grille for sunday brunch on Greenmount and 32nd st or so. It's an old-fashioned countertop place but it get PACKED! I used to go there aallll the time in school.
    - Near Pete's Grille is a roti place (Trinidad Gourmet, something like that) which is a simple litte storefront with awesome food.

    South of campus:
    - He's also going to get very well acquainted with the Paper Moon diner, on the south side of the campus (on 29th st). It's open 24 hours and has a tasty menu.
    - There's a Remington pub called The Diz that has solid crabcakes and things like that.

    West of campus: (Hampden)
    - There are a bunch of places here worth going to and I think the Hopkins shuttle will get him pretty close to it. There's Rocket to Venus, which has a pretty creative menu, Holy Frijoles (the kind of big tex mex food you crave sometimes), Angelo's (home of "the world's biggest slice"), Golden West (a little too-cool-for-school but worth a look) and other stuff. (NOT Cafe Hon, shudder)

    Unfortunately developers have brought in a lot of annoying chains in the last few years. A shame. But there are still good options.

    Golden West Cafe
    1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

    Cafe Hon
    1002 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

    Holy Frijoles
    908 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

    5 Replies
    1. re: kukubura

      Paper Moon hasn't been 24 hours for at least 4 years now. I think they close at midnight weekdays, 2 am weekends.

      Paper Moon
      1069 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007

      1. re: JonParker

        See now that I'm an old man I wouldn't know that any more. Shame. Sip N Bite it is!

      2. re: kukubura

        Somehow "brunch" and "Pete's Grille" don't seem to go together. :-)

        1. re: Hal Laurent

          Yeah, well for JHU students that's what Pete's is good for. I like it for weekday breakfast too but have only made it to that a couple of times and that was years ago. Too bad it's out of my way these days/

        2. re: kukubura

          Thanks so much for your suggestions! We will have a car with us when we bring him down, so we don't necessarily have to stick too close to campus. Where would you send us for Seafood or Italian?

        3. The areas surrounding Hopkins do not offer a brilliant selection of food (don't expect anything comparable to what you find in the vicinity of colleges and universities in Boston or Brown's Thayer Street, or even UPenn's food trucks.

          But it's not a wasteland either. You simply have to look a little harder.

          Just north of the Homewood Campus in one of the large apartment buildings off of University Parkway (directly opposite from the large lacrosse field) is a wonderful Indian restaurant called the Ambassador. People will quibble over the "authenticity" of the food but it's still very good and the setting just lovely (think British Raj) - my husband and I used to go there all the time when we still lived in Baltimore if only to sit outside in the fabulous gardens. The Ambassador offers a good priced weekend lunchtime buffet.

          Near the Ambassador is the One World Cafe, a traditional coffeehouse with the standard "hip" coffeehouse fare, except that it's vegetarian. Down University Parkway another block or two is a mini-mart/Deli called the Hopkins Deli, on the ground floor of a large apartment building. The sandwiches were quite decent and the pizzas tasty and cheap (important for college students!).

          In Charles Village, alongside the Starbucks and Chipotle staples, is Donna's, a Baltimore institution that offers excellent coffees, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The fare is upscale - rustic/quasi Italian. Good artisan pizzas, sandwiches and so forth and not particularly expensive. I ate there in our last visit to Baltimore and the individual pizzas/salads/burgers were around $10.

          The aforementioned Hampden offers a whole slew of popular restaurants along 36th Street. None are terribly cheap but none are terribly expensive. The Dogwood Cafe is well recommended with great sandwiches. Golden West is very popular for casual weekend breakfasts/lunches southwestern style. I noticed that Holy Frijole was closed when I last visited Baltimore a month ago. Several Italian options have opened in Hampden and seem to be well received.

          The downside is that your son won't have a large selection of cheap/tasty/ethnic food to pick from There's a Thai restaurant called with no great imagination, Thai Restaurant, on Greenmount/York, about 15-20 minute walk from the Hopkins campus and the food was always excellent if on the pricy side. Several Korean joints exist in lower Charles Village several blocks south of the Homewood Campus and I always enjoyed my meals there but none of them were particularly "cheap."

          A great food venue near the campus is the Waverly Farmer's Market, which operates every Saturday morning on a parking lot several blocks east of the Homewood campus. It's a rather large and popular market selling mostly produce (not very useful for a college student in a dorm) but there are several food stalls selling prepared food on the spot, including a Thai stand and an African/Caribbean stand. Very nice if he can get up on Saturday mornings.

          Further afield towards downtown Baltimore is Mount Vernon (Baltimore's closest version to Back Bay) which has numerous dining options at all levels. My favorite cheap eat was Thairish, where $8 would get me a large quantity of excellent and almost savory pad thai (a nice contrast to the ubiqutious sweet pad thai elsewhere). This is probably the closest to a "cheap ethnic eat" one gets to JHU, sadly, but the Hopkins shuttle to Mount Vernon is only 10 minutes and free.

          North/Northwest of the Hopkins campus is Roland Park (think Brookline) which has several good dining options for a send-off meal, none better than Petit Louis, which is run by Baltimore's premier chef and her restaurant group and has excellently prepared bistro style fare and wine list. Prices are reasonable for what you're getting with a wide range of selections on the menu. Also in/around Roland Park is the Miss Shirley's on Cold Spring Lane which does very, very good and very, very popular brunches on the weekends. Both are very good options for parents weekends and send-off meals.

          Golden West Cafe
          1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

          Miss Shirley's Cafe
          513 W Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21210

          Petit Louis
          4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210

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

          Holy Frijoles
          908 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

          Hopkins Deli
          110 W 39th St Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21210

          6314 York Rd, Baltimore, MD 21212

          806 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

          8 Replies
            1. re: Roland Parker

              As a Hampdenite there are a bunch of reasonably cheap options:

              King's Pizza -- Go for the middle eastern food, particularly the pita. Very hot and fresh. No alcohol served.

              Holy Frijoles -- still open, still bad Tex Mex, but filling.

              Golden West -- somewhat New Mex and filling.

              Grano's (actually, go to "little" Grano's on the Ave) -- if he can cook pasta (as in equipment, not skill), getting their sauces to go is not a bad idea.

              Angelo's -- "World's largest slice." If that's not a pitch to a starving student, I don't know what is.

              Daniela's -- This is a new little place next to the BOA. Italian pastries, carry out foccacia, pastas and coffee. Daniela used to do meals at Sotto Sopra. Pastries are very good!

              Baltimore Burger Bar (Puffs & Pastries) -- an expensive burger, but good with very interesting topping choices.

              Golden West Cafe
              1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

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

              Holy Frijoles
              908 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

              King's Pizza
              215 W Potomac St, Brunswick, MD 21716

              1. re: zebcook

                add to Hampden (not all of these are cheap)
                Baltimore Burger Bar

                Corner BYOB


                and in Remington right behind Hopkins
                The Dizz

              2. re: Roland Parker

                What about Niwana on E 33rd St? The menu shows various modestly-priced items (less than $10) that ought to be able to satisfy a student's appetite, unless they are really teeny portions at that place? For a little more one can get some fresh fish etc with their chirashi bowl at $16... I walked past it on my recent visit to Baltimore/JHU area and thought it looked interesting/decent...

                I suppose Orient Express on Charles (in the same block as Donna's) is the usual Chinese-American Take-out-type glop or is it OK for what it is?

                Niwana Restaurant
                3215 N Charles St Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21218

                1. re: huiray

                  the food at Niwana is mediocre.

                  Niwana Restaurant
                  3215 N Charles St Ste 1, Baltimore, MD 21218

                  1. re: hon

                    That's too bad. Still, I wouldn't dismiss food from a place that is just mediocre (therefore OK/edible) for <$10 especially if it's Jap/Korean food and you're a hungry student looking for a change of pace. :-)

                      1. re: hon

                        No. I was interested in what folks had to say about the local establishments.

              3. You may want to try Meet 27 in Remington for a well executed unique menue in the 13 to 20 dollar range. See: http://meet27americanbistro.yolasite....

                Right next door is Sweet Sins which I have not tryed, but poked my head in once and I thought it has potential. Same owners I think.

                1. The Saturday farmer's market is the best place for cheap eats, in my opinion. Assuming he's out of bed before noon :-) My favorite things are the West Indian Patty from Curry Shack, a spring roll from the Thai place, and pastries from the big open table.

                  1. My son is going into his sophomore year at JHU. We did his sendoff meal last year at Gertrudes, which was very good - dependable but not stellar "semi-upscale."

                    He also went crazy for breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe in Fells Point - a sugar overload of Cap'n Crunch french toast, but he loved it. Nearby, on another visit we did a "fancy" dinner at Salt - a step up in food and price from Gertrudes.

                    If you're looking for crabs, we had a couple dozen at Canton Dockside. Literally dockside a little south east of Fells Point.

                    Blue Moon Cafe
                    1621 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                    Canton Dockside
                    3301 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21224

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sbp

                      SBP - what did your son think of the dining service at JHU?

                      1. re: crabtree

                        He said it was better than he expected. Not great, but not so awful that he wanted to skip it (like I did when I was at college).