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Baltimore next Friday (9/16) - Best food we can find?

Hi Baltimore hounds,

I am visiting next week from Boston, meeting a friend who lives in San Francisco. We're trying to decide where to eat on Friday night - we want to have a great meal together. We are not very particular about anything aside from the food (so, we could be equally happy at a hole-in-the-wall taqueria or at a white tablecloth place with $25-30 meals).....but ideally, I'd like to find a place where after our meal, we think to ourselves: "Wow, that was amazing food, and we couldn't have found anything like that in Boston or San Francisco." So basically, some sort of Baltimore flair would be great, or just a really great version of whatever we are eating.

Some ideas that have come up so far:

1) Woodberry Kitchen, Brewer's Art, Wine Market - All of these places look good, and are at the top edge of our budget probably - wouldn't want to go any more expensive than this. Will any of these fit the bill? Other similar places to this?

2) Grace Garden Chinese - Menu looks quite interesting, and we both love Chinese food. The fish noodles sound great, and unlike most things I can find in Boston (not sure about SF). Maybe we wouldn't be able to try enough things if it's just the two of us though?

3) Golden West Cafe - A friend recommended this, seems more casual but maybe still pretty good. Thoughts?

If anyone has good ideas for a 2 part plan, then that could work too....i.e. Go to place x for your meal, then head to place y for dessert or drinks....

We will be staying at BWI airport, and we will have a car. We're willing to go anywhere within a 25 minute radius of BWI airport, so this could mean we end up in the suburbs or countryside or in the city - although granted we will be leaving BWI area around 6:30 or 7:00 pm so traffic could still be an issue, depending?

Let us know if you have any ideas for our food adventure! Thanks a lot!

Dave MP

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

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

Grace Garden
1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

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

Wine Market
921 East Fort Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230

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  1. Of your list Grace Garden wins hands down for food. The others are good, but GG is great.

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    Grace Garden
    1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

    5 Replies
    1. re: JonParker

      I 2nd Grace Garden, its awesome and it's also BYOB.

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      Grace Garden
      1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

      1. re: hon

        So, if there are only two of us eating at Grace Garden, what should we order? Granted, we'd probably over-order....

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        Grace Garden
        1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

        1. re: Dave MP

          If it were me, I would order fish noodles, sichuan triple treasures, their seasonal vegetables and sichuan steamed pork with rice powder. I do love their sichuan fish filets too, as you can tell, I like hot food!
          http://gracegardenchinese.com/images/...

          1. re: Dave MP

            I would special order in advance the egg-white wontons in broth ( I forget how this is called, so maybe someone can help me out here), get the fish noodles, and get the fish (Whole crispy flounder) in the photo below. I do not think it has to be ordered in advance, but show them the photo so there is no confusion. Spicy tofu pockets are also super.

            If you want to go somewhere you absolutely cannot find anywhere else, then go to pick crabs at Bill's Terrace Inn. But get there early because a line forms when they open at 4pm.

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            Bill's Terrace Inn
            200 Eastern Blvd, Essex, MD 21221

             
            1. re: Steve

              The wonton soup you're talking about is the Phoenix Purse Soup and you can see its lovliness here:

              http://tastytrix.blogspot.com/2011/02...

              It's one of the dishes you need to order in advance.

      2. Another rec for Grace Garden, and it's also fairly close to BWI. You'll probably be too full from your meal for dessert, but I would recommend heading to Pintago Gelato in Fells Point, where you could eat your dessert looking at the water in a quaint, but sort of touristy, area of the city. Of course, you could also just have Grace Garden's amazing donut holes, and then just bask in your food coma.....

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        Grace Garden
        1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

        1 Reply
        1. re: baltoellen

          Thanks for the recommendations.....and Pintago Gelato is open until midnights on Friday, so it is totally doable to get there in time. Also, I feel like I might be able to eat donuts and ice cream if necessary.

        2. Charleston is Baltimore's "to go to establishment" for the best of dining. It is really a wonderful dining experience, very elegant, great service, food, etc.

          I was very under impressed with Woodberry Kitchen when I dined there last September--but would defintely give it another try.

          Brewer's Art is mostly notable for the beer selections not much to be excited regarding the food. Same attitude with Wine Market--decent wines that you can buy prior to dining in the restaurant.

          Since I've never been to Grace Garden, I can't form an opinion nor recommendation or otherwise. If I recall, during my last visit to San Francisco about 1989 (I was there during the earthquake before the biggy one a month or so later)--Tommy Toy's (If memory serves me--fantastic food--I can't imagine Grace Garden even coming close--but I loved to be proved wrong). Plus French Laundry on our weekend driving excursion, Oh there is nothing better.
          Then there was Joh Ash and Masa's(if I recall fromthe memory bank.

          Anyhow, dear Poster--if any of the replies help you that is great. I just know that San Fran is a wonderful dining venue and as much as I am a Balto bread gal and love my city, there are few restaurants herein that can compare to the likes of your fair city.

          Stay with Charleston--Prime Rib--Sotto Sopra-(perha[s, as I can't recommend) Grace Garden-even Chingahle(not my favorite, but it gets great reviews)--even tryb Tio Pepe's, an old Baltimore-type restaurant with Spanish influenced cuiusine. The flounder with lump crab meat is wonderful as well as the traditonal roast suckling pig--sole with bananas--great house salad, etc.

          In any event, welcome to Baltimore. I'm sure you will dine well and let all of us locals know where you dined and your opinion(s). We always love to have an out of towner provide a new perspective on our dining scene, which enables us to reevaluate our own opinions. FoiGrad

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

          Grace Garden
          1690 Annapolis Rd, Odenton, MD

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

          1 Reply
          1. re: FoiGras

            With 3 courses at $76.00, I think Charleston would be way out of the OP's price range, and although I LOVE the Prime Rib, it tpo is much more than 25-30 per meal...
            I third GG...and picking crabs would be casual fun for out-of-towners...

          2. The Seaside in Glen Burnie is behind the airport, it's ain't fancy but they have great crabs and other local seafood dishes!
            http://www.seasideseafood.com/orderez...
            recent review
            http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

            1. Golden West is not worth a trip from out of town. Pedestrian food served with indifferent service.

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefdilettante

                Completely agree regarding Golden West. "Indifferent" is being kind.

                Also agree that you could easily skip the food at Brewer's Art in the main dining room, though the rosemary garlic fries served in the basement bar are famous around these parts, and justifiably so. For a casual meal, the smoke burger at Alewife, a new-ish beer bar that I'm quite partial to, has gotten rave reviews. (Disclosure: I'm vegetarian, so can't speak directly to this.) The area around it is a little dicey, though, so depending on your comfort level, you may want to skip that.