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Good recs for Inner Harbor area without a car?

Hey, folks. My wife and I will be staying in Baltimore's Inner Harbor area for a few days in early November. We won't have a car and my wife uses a walker to get around, so we'd be grateful a few awesome restaurant recommendations within a reasonably short walking distance. Of course, if something is really spectacular, I wouldn't be opposed to getting a cab.

We like almost all food, especially good local seafood and creative American food, and we've already heard about Bertha's Mussels. It sounds like a tourist trap, but we ARE tourists, after all. Is it worth the hype, or are there better destinations? We don't drink at all, but have absolutely no problem eating at a pub if the food is outstanding -- we're actually huge fans of gastropub food. We might be up for one "nice"/fancy/expensive meal, but I'd prefer more casual recommendations. In addition to local seafood, we also love NY/Jewish-style delis, stellar burgers, Greek/Turkish/Middle Eastern, and maybe a great dessert place for my wife.

I'll also have some time to kill during the days while my wife is at her conference, and I have no problem exploring or traveling a little further afield for a good meal. My only Baltimore knowledge comes from The Wire, so will I be close to any places where I can try pit beef? Are there any fantastic markets like Philly's Reading Terminal Market? Does anyone cure their own sausages or other salumi? We're up for anything, really, so thank you in advance!

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  1. Didn't want you to feel ignored. I really like Baltimore. If you do a search on the board you will find much good informations on these places:

    Lexington Market is Baltimore's RTM, but more limited IMHO ( I am not a great fan of RTM), but it has some nice things. Faidely's is known for crab cakes (lots of comments on many threads- I like them, but not great to me). I like Pollack Johnny's and those two are all I have tried. They do have some pit beef there as I remember, but I have never seen a review.

    http://www.lexingtonmarket.com/vendor...
    400 W. Lexington Street
    Baltimore, MD 21201

    There is a Greek area but it is a drive, and I have been to Samos and liked it a lot. Too far for you, I think.
    http://www.samosrestaurant.com/

    Charleston is near where you are.
    http://www.charlestonrestaurant.com/

    Altman's is the deli place and Lenny's. Again many mentions, but I am not a fan of Altman(but I am distinctly in the minority) and have never tried Lenny's but they seem to have a place near you. As I said they have many fans.

    B&O might be worth a look at the threads. It is not too far for you at least.
    http://www.bandorestaurant.com/baltim...

    good luck and good times.

    I am sure there will be many recommendations soon, but this might help you start to look.

    3 Replies
      1. re: mscoffee1

        The idea to check this board for recs, especially for the Inner Harbor, is a good one. I'm not being a nit picker, but the name of the deli is ATTMAN'S and not Altman's, in the event that the OP wants to do a search. (I am a big, big fan. Go for corned beef and white fish salad. Also, go for this weird Baltimore invention of a kosher hot dog wrapped in grilled bologna.)

        When you search these boards you'll learn that there's really no place right at the Inner Harbor that's considered chowworthy. This is a frequent question on this board--along with where to get steamed crabs at the IH--so you should find tons of advice.

        As far as Greek, also check out Zorba's, for stellar lamb chops and grilled octopus--although, sadly, the prices have skyrocketed.

        Also a fan of Lexington Market, but, in fairness, many on this board are not. I'd encourage you to go but you might want to have a sense of what others think. Do a search. Cross Street Market is closer to Inner Harbor. And, as far as markets, if you're here on a Sunday morning, do not miss the JFX Farmers' Market.

        Sadly, there is absolutely no pit beef places that I know of, good or not, anywhere near the Inner Harbor. All require a car or very long cab ride. (Although there is pit beef at the JFX market.)

        That should get you started. If you want to get your list together, we're sure to give you more advice.

        -----
        Zorba's
        4710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

        Lexington Market
        400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

      2. Wild horses couldn't drag me back to Bertha's, so I suggest you look elsewhere. If you go, don't make the mistake of getting mussels that are steamed plain and then sauce is poured over them at the table. Get ones that are cooked in the sauce. Still, in the DC area where I live, there must be a dozen places right now to get mussels in the pot much better than Bertha's.

        1. Thanks again for the recs so far, folks! It sounds like I will definitely hit the Lexington Market on my own one day while my wife is busy, as it seems to be close to Geppi's Entertainment Museum, another place I want to visit. Faidley's crabcakes were referenced in The Wire, so now I have to try them!

          I think we'll also hit Miss Shirley's Cafe for breakfast one morning, since it seems close and sounds amazing. Attman's also sounds good, as it's impossible to get decent deli food where we live in Orlando, FL.

          But other than that, I'm still all ears! If not Bertha's, then what would be the best uniquely Baltimore seafood experience, ideally nothing formal or stuffy? And if there's nothing in the immediate Inner Harbor, then what about nearby Fells Point?

          I've confirmed that we're arriving at some point on a Wednesday and departing the following Saturday afternoon, so that gives us three dinners to think about. We have tickets to a show on the Friday night, so we may be pressed for time that night and need something casual (but still good). There's no place with knock-your-socks-off burgers in the Inner Harbor?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            Don't know about burgers, but there's a great italian place, Gia's, within walking distance, but it wouldn't do for your Friday--definitely a place to linger. I just got back from a conference, and sampled food from a couple of other places. Noodle & Co. was fast, but nothing special. La Tasca had quite acceptable tapas....we had a vegetarian friend with us, so we didn't have any meat, but everything else we tried was fine, particularly the Pan a la Catalna, the tortilla, the asparagus, the spinach and pear salad, and the gambas al ajillo. I had a drink and a spider roll at the kona grill: good, but expensive. Really Gia's was the best meal we had. Didn't venture to any seafood places, since I couldn't bring myself to eat at the Rusty Rudder. The bartender at the hotel rec'd Obrycki's, and would have tried that for the traditional crab pickin' but that's no place to go with a vegetarian, so we didn't. There's a Hard Rock and a Hooters, which I would not patronize, but they should be able to make a burger.

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

            1. re: Altaira

              I could very well be that the Noodles & Co franchises in Baltimore are fine. However, those I've tried in the Mid-West are absolutely dreadful and these here serve garbage IMO.

            2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              Alewife is an upscale bar sort of near the Inner Harbor that does a fabulous burger. If your show is at the Hippodrome, it's literally across the street.

              The Helmand is a well-regarded Afghani restaurant in Mount Vernon, which will be an easy cab ride from the Harbor.

              Can't help you as far as seafood goes, sorry - I think I'm the only native Baltimorean who doesn't like it.

              1. re: guenevere51

                Alewife looks like the kind of place we love, similar to The Ravenous Pig in Orlando/Winter Park. Thank you! Obrycki's also sounds good. Much obliged!

                Oh, and our show is at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, which according to Google Maps is a 10-minute cab ride from our hotel.

                1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                  Just a note........Obrycki's is closing for good on November 5th. Make sure you make a reservation if you decide to go.

                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    Alewife is one of my absolute favorite places in Baltimore. Try the tempura fennel frites if you go. I hate fennel and scarf these things down in a matter of seconds.

                    Ah, the BSO, good times. That should indeed only be about a 10 minute cab ride from the harbor. Not far from there is Dukem, which does excellent Ethiopian. It's small and can fill up quickly, so might not be your best option if you're pressed for time, but it's delicious.

                    More thumbs up for Trinacria and Charm City Circulator.

              2. For a good burger, I recommend the Abbey Burger Bistro which is across the street from the Cross Street Market. http://www.abbeyburgerbistro.com/ Cross Street Market, itself, has Nick's Seafood- raw bar, crab cakes, sushi.

                Besides, Faidley's, Lexington Market also has Sterling's Seafood. Their homemade codfish cakes are very good. For desert, pick up a couple of Berger's cookies.

                Broadway Market's South Shed, in Fells Point, has just been newly renovated. Vicky's has delicious home made soups.

                Max's Empanadas, in Little Italy, has tasty empanadas, of course! http://maxempanadas.com/

                I second the nomination for Zorba's in Highlandtown. Along with the aforementioned lamb chops and octopus, the charcoal grilled bronzini is also delicious.

                For some Old Baltimore luxury, there's the Prime Rib. http://www.theprimerib.com/bal/index....

                For sausages, there are the competing Ostrowskis- same name, different companies. Ostrowski's of Bank Street http://www.ostrowskiofbankstreetsausa...

                Ostrowski Famous Original Polish Sausage Inc, South Washington St. (410) 327-8935

                There is also Krakus Deli on Fleet St in Fells Point http://krakusdelibaltimore.com/

                None of these places are restaurants, but, if the weather is nice, you can pick up some sausage, bread, cheese, etc, and have a nice little picnic or walking lunch.

                Baltimore's Charm City Circulator offers free public transportation, both bus and water taxi. I've found the busses to be clean, safe and on time.

                http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/

                -----
                Zorba's
                4710 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

                Lexington Market
                400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                Charm City Cafe
                Baltimore, MD, Baltimore, MD

                Abbey Burger Bistro
                1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                Prime Rib
                1101 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                Krakus Deli
                1737 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                Max's Empanadas
                313 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

                3 Replies
                1. re: Vidute

                  These are good recs. Krakus Deli is a gem, and rarely gets mentioned on this board. If you want Polish food to eat in, Sophia's, right across from Vicki's at the Broadway Market has pierogies and other foods to eat at their little counter. A bit of the way up Paca Street from Lexington Market is Trinacria's, a little Italian store, that has great sandwiches to go.

                  For Fells Point, you should search this board for Duda's, a small bar with a tinier kitchen that churns out good crabcakes, burgers, and has good beer on tap.

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

                  Krakus Deli
                  1737 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                  1. re: baltoellen

                    More thumbs up for Trinacria, which is a great, great place for sandwiches, Italian delicatessan items, wine, etc. Also a time capsule from the 1940s.

                    1. re: baltoellen

                      I will second Duda's and Trinacria!

                  2. I don't know how far you are willing to take a cab, but Annabel Lee Tavern is a good place to go. I guess I would call it a gastropub. It serves really good quality food on the specials menu (lamb chops, steak salad) and also more simple fare on the regular menu (plus fries cooked in duck fat that are to die for). Specials are maybe $15-$22 a plate, much less for the regular menu. They also have an extensive beer menu, including some locally-brewed beers. The atmosphere is Edgar Allen Poe-inspired, dark-colors and the lighting can be a bit dark, too. See http://www.annabelleetavern.com/. Warning that they are closed on Sundays, and if you want to eat at a table, you should make a reservation. There are even waits for the bar on weekends, I assume less of a wait on a weeknight (although not sure).

                    I also second the Abbey Burger Bistro recommendation. They usually have specials with different kinds of burgers-wild boar, ostrich, etc, if regular beef or turkey burger doesn't do it for you.

                    -----
                    Abbey Burger Bistro
                    1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

                    Annabel Lee Tavern
                    601 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD 21224

                    1. For your nice dinner out, I'd suggest Cinghiale. I took some business partners there in August and it was a fantastic meal. It's also very close to the Inner Harbor, so most hotels offer shuttle service there and back.

                      I also had good meals at the restaurant in the InterContinental (can't think of the name at the moment), B & O Brasserie at the Hotel Monaco, and Miss Shirley's.

                      I'm not sure how walker-friendly you'd find Lexington Market to be, albeit I've only been on the weekends when it's fairly crowded.

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

                      Lexington Market
                      400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                      Cinghiale
                      822 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

                      1. Well, we just got back after spending Wednesday through Saturday in Charm City. Thank you all so much for the advice. I got to hit MOST OF the places I wanted to, but because my wife was dealing with professors and fellow grad students AND she uses the walker AND we didn't have a car, some of our restaurant choices were based on convenience to our hotel or group consensus.

                        We had lunch at Bertha's Mussels after all on our first day. My boss strongly recommended it, so I figured it couldn't be that bad, right? We got mussels cooked in Guinness and Old Bay spice, a daily special rather than the majority of the mussels that arrived plain with sauce on the side. However, they were exceedingly salty, and I tasted salt more than anything else, followed by Old Bay. My wife ordered broiled scallops and shrimp, which were juicy and plump, but served over undercooked, crunchy rice. That's a rookie mistake, and you just hate to see that! My rice cooker was only $25, Bertha. Try it some time.

                        However, my wife really enjoyed getting gelato and thick, rich, slightly bitter Italian hot chocolate at Pitango Gelato, a few doors down from Bertha's in Fells Point: http://pitangogelato.com/

                        That night, we met a friend of hers at Chazz: A Bronx Original, the new Italian restaurant owned by tough-guy actor Chazz Palminteri. It seemed gimmicky and I wasn't overly excited, but it was cold and we were starving and indecisive, and it was a short walk from our hotel (which turned out to be in Harbor East, not the actual Inner Harbor). However, the food was really damn good. We over-ordered, but loved everything: the cheese plate, the best fried mozzarella sticks I've ever had, the spaghettoni all'amatriciana (loved the guanciale!), and the surprisingly huge potato pizza. I believe Chazz is the first location of a proposed chain, but it's one chain I wish would come to Orlando, land of chains. I'd definitely go back and recommend it to others.
                        http://www.chazzbronxoriginal.com/

                        We had breakfast the next morning at the super-hip, bohemian, cute Blue Moon Cafe on Aliceanna and Broadway, where the Cap'n Crunch French toast just wowed us both. I am not a breakfast eater, but it was a great breakfast and a nice way to start the day.
                        http://bluemoonbaltimore.com/

                        While my wife was busy, I rode the Charm City Circulator around the Orange route (a great experience) and toured Geppi's Entertainment Museum, as planned. Then I walked to the Lexington Market, whetted my appetite with a Polock Johnny's original sausage (topped with their spicy/sweet/tomatoey sauce AND chili!), and followed it with the incredible, mind-altering, life-changing lump crabcake from Faidley's. Thank you all for those recommendations. The market was a great experience, and I loved the food I tried.

                        Then that night, my wife's colleagues were all going to a restaurant called Jack's Bistro in the Canton neighborhood, so I read up on it online. It sounded like a gastropub, similar to my favorite restaurant in Orlando, the Ravenous Pig, but the menu seemed more precious and pretentious. Chocolate macaroni and cheese? Um, okay. Luckily, I had studied my map of Baltimore, because our cab driver had no idea where he was taking us, and it was dark, and of course his GPS device didn't work. I navigated the entire time and got us there without incident. It turned out to be a great place, and I enjoyed a really delicious burger made with some pretty prime cuts of meat. Shoestring fries were merely okay, but someone else at our table upgraded to eggplant fries, which were awesome. If any of you are ever in Canton (THE Canton?), check out Jack's Bistro and try those eggplant fries!
                        http://www.jacksbistro.net/

                        The next day I met my wife and her dissertation advisor at Chiu's Sushi, a nondescript sushi place around the corner from our Harbor East hotel. I wasn't going to argue, since they had a short lunch break. Sushi was okay, but I hadn't planned to come to Baltimore and eat sushi. To be fair, the sashimi lunch specials they both ordered looked really good, better than my two forgettable rolls.
                        http://www.chiussushi.com/index.htm

                        After that, I went back to the Lexington Market on my own to bring back dinner, so we could eat in our room before going out. I got another beautiful lump crabcake for my wife, and the regular crabcake and a coddie for myself, so I could compare all three. The regular crabcake was still delicious, but the lump crabcake is truly something special, and my wife agreed. Then we went out to see Louis C.K., our favorite comedian, who performed an hour and a half of brand-new material. It was great, especially because he isn't coming anywhere near our home state of Florida.

                        This morning we checked out of the hotel and went to the National Aquarium, since our flight wasn't until the afternoon. We didn't get to see everything, but it was still a beautiful aquarium, and we were glad we went. I was disappointed I never made it to Attman's Deli, so I hoped we could do the next best thing by eating at Lenny's Deli at the mall next door to the aquarium at the Inner Harbor. I got a pastrami sandwich and my wife got corned beef and we shared them both, but they were nothing special. Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side of Manhattan has ruined me on deli sandwiches for life, but these had paper-thin slices of meat on thin, gummy rye bread -- not so fantastic. Of course it was a touristy location catering to tourists and not deli-obsessed 30-something-going-on-crotchety altacockers like myself, so I cursed myself for not somehow fitting Attman's into our itinerary. Oh well.

                        Regardless, we had a great Baltimore trip, thanks in large part to all of you who advised me in this thread. Thanks again! You have a beautiful city here, and after watching The Wire and being a little apprehensive, I was pleasantly surprised by almost everything I saw, everywhere I went, and most of what I ate.

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

                        Lexington Market
                        400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

                        Blue Moon Cafe
                        1621 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

                        Pitango Gelato
                        802 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD

                        Lenny's Deli
                        1150 E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21202

                        Chiu's Sushi
                        1001 Fleet St Ste G, Baltimore, MD 21202

                        Polock Johnny's
                        400 W Lexington St Ste 56, Baltimore, MD 21201

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          BBVL, just want to thank you very much for your explicit, thorough follow-up. It doesn't happen often enough on CH and it means a lot that you took the effort. Glad you were "charmed" by Chazz and Lexington Market.

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

                          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                            BBVL, I'm not a Baltimore native but am glad you enjoyed the lump crab cake at Faidley's. Be aware, however, that there are others favored more than those at Faidley's, if you go back to the Baltimore area. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/593575 .