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Feb 16, 2012 06:44 PM

Philly hound needs Baltimore suggestions

I need a couple of suggestions within walking distance of the Hilton in Baltimore. I'm coming in for the craft show.

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  1. It would help if you could narrow down your request a little. Lunch? Dinner? Price point? Kind of food? Your definition of "walking distance"? Hint: just saying "I'm open to just about anything" isn't helpfuL

    1. You can also search threads on this board for Fell's Point and Inner Harbor, which will direct you to restaurants within walking distance.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chefdilettante

        We are looking for dinner places. We are not big walkers so a couple of blocks is our limit. We are flexible as far as food choices and price point, we probably will not have dressy clothes. Thanks for your help and interest.

        1. re: mooshka

          You may want to try B&O Brasserie, which is a few blocks north of the Convention Center. I enjoyed my dinner there, but my husband was unimpressed. But many Chowhounds would highly recommend the restaurant.

          You could taxi over to Fells Point. There are quite a number of options--Mezze (tapas oriented) or the Black Olive. There is a restaurant that I have not been to as yet, but the menu on their website looks enticing--Waterfont Kitchen. Perhaps one of the local Chowhounds has dined there and can provide an opinion as to whether or not it would be an option.

          The Circulator (free bus-type transportation) can provide more options for your restaurant choices. Further north of the Convention Center--about a mile or so, is Sotto Sopra. Excellent food--northern Italian--hints of Mediterranean dishes.

          Tabrizi's on Key Highway--not too far from Convention Center--probably not an easy walk, offers Mediterrean cuisine in a lovely atmosphere waterside.

          Hope you enjoy your visit to Baltimore. If you haven't been to the craft show previously then you are in for a real treat. It's one of the biggest and best. FoiGras

          1. re: FoiGras

            I was at B&O Brasserie two weeks ago and enjoyed several items from their extend Restaurant Week Menu was well as my guest

            1. re: agarnett100

              I like B&O Brasserie and Cinghiale. Enjoy your visit!

      2. Prepare to be disappointed - Baltimore is a great city in many ways - unfortunately its food scene is not one of them. Anybody who is familiar and comfortable with the Philly food universe is going to come away sad after a run down to Charm City.

        12 Replies
        1. re: drewpbalzac

          Thanks for the suggestions. You are right, I guess I am spoiled with many good restaurants within walking distance in Phila. I called some friends In the area and I am hoping they will pick us up and take us somewhere.

          1. re: drewpbalzac

            Unless you are referring to the abundance of BYOB options in Philly I couldn't disagree more. Having lived for most of my life in Philadelphia and the past 6 years in Baltimore & DC, the places that have a particular craft stack up with any of the comparable places in Philly (or any city for that matter). I'd like to hear some of the places you've visited in Baltimore that you feel pale in comparison to a similar place in Philadelphia.

            1. re: hotel

              I love Baltimore as a city, I prefer the history, the uniqueness, and the people . . . . heads and tails above the City of Brotherly Love. . . . but the food scenes are not even close.

              Baltimore has no real street food options, the mid-tier in Charm City are OK but nothing to write home about - the few high end options are good but there are too few of them - and the vendor/market/hawker differences aren't even worthy of discussion. (Reading Terminal Market & the Italian Market Neighborhood . . . game - set - match)

              Baltimore wins over Philly in every category of what makes a city interesting . . . except the food scene.

              1. re: drewpbalzac

                If all you are basing your assessment on is street food and market scenes then your argument is completely moot in this thread. The OP is looking for a few suggestions over the course of a weekend in Baltimore. Are you going to visit a city and eat nothing but street food? I'd recommend Mekong Delta to the OP. It's close to the convention center, is BYOB, and there is absolutely no Vietnamese option in Philadelphia worth talking about in the same breath as Mekong Delta.

                I don't think that BYOB tips the scales at all. I like a good BYOB as much as the next guy, but the simple fact remains that if a restaurant can't charge for its booze, it's charging you a higher rate for the level of food you are getting. Also, Chinatown in Philly is 7 unimpressive blocks. Even though Grace Garden is a 15-20 minute ride into no-man's land, it would smoke any Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia. There are only two Chinatowns in the entire country worth talking about in terms of swaying opinion on a city in my opinion and neither of them belong in this discussion.

                As far as inconsistency goes - no excuse for that. That being said my wife and I go out often and really have never had a problem in terms of quality of food on repeat visits. Sometimes service can be a bit off, but hey that's what an optional tip line is for.

                1. re: hotel

                  also you are forgetting about the Baltimore outdoor farmers market under I-83 which has great street food including yummy falafel sandwiches as well as lots of other stuff and definitely rivals if not surpasses the Italian Market. Lexington Market although maybe not quite as nice as RTM definitely compares to it with the iconic Faidley's and it's premium crab cakes and raw bar, the Berger cookies, the nut guy outside with fresh roasted nuts, Mary Mervis sandwiches, the fried chicken liver stand amongst others. And there are enough very good restaurants in Baltimore that I listed below and never included such as many summer crab feast restaurants (everyone debates which one is the best) which are unique to Baltimore and Maryland as well as Woodberry Kitchen, Salt, Catonsville Gourmet and others. I grew up in Baltimore, lived in Philly for 6 years and now live outside of DC and all 3 places have many chow worthy choices. We still go up to Philly frequently but I would not say that it is far superior to Baltimore except for one thing......Philly Cheesesteaks, Italian Hoagies and Roasted Pork with broccoli rabe sandwiches which no place can make like almost all places make in Philly

                  1. re: hotel

                    Restaurant prices in Baltimore are very comparable, if not more expensive, than most places in Philly, BYOB included. If that's your comparison for BYOBs charging more, I'm not sure what you are referring to. If you believe the level of food you are getting at BYOBs in Philly is of lesser quality, I'm also not sure what you are talking about. Have you been to Bibou, Modo Mio, Matyson, Farm and Fisherman, Meme, or Melograno? Where is that level of food being served in Baltimore on a regular basis? Maybe Salt, Woodberry, Peters? I love all three of those places, but it’s not a fair comparison!

                    I will also completely disagree with your assessment of Philly's Chinatown. Sang Kee, Yakitori Boy, Szechuan Tasty House, Han Dynasty, Shiao Lun Kung, Rangoon and countless others that I don't even know the name of are collectively a far better and more exciting group of restaurants than Grace Garden. Again, I LOVE Grace Garden, but it's just not fair to compare 1 to 100.

                    I will also throw it out there that, on top of doc’s correct assessment of better hoagies, cheesesteaks and pork sandwiches, Philly has a much more exciting and superior pizza scene.

                    1. re: hotel

                      Top to bottom - high end to low end Philly is a better food city than Baltimore.

                      All my original comment was meant to convey was that for a serious Philly foodie, if that is what the OP is, they should temper their expectations. Baltimore is getting better and better but it is not a food city like Philadelphia is.

                      Frankly, short of a great couple of meal at Charleston the best meal I have had in Baltimore in the past several years was an outpost of a reliable DC standby Lebanese Taverna over in that gentrified strip between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point.

                      1. re: drewpbalzac

                        Don't be a Philly snob--compare Philly to New York!!! New York is a food/chowhound delight.

                        Baltimore has many wonderful restaurants and is a much smaller city then Philly.

                        Go to Vegas and be wowed by the restaurants there. Althoug, I wasn't overly impressed because the casino hotels host outposts of restaurants that made their claim to fame in otherr cities. There are very few original restaurants--not big named - chef oriented places. 28 years ago the places to dine were State Street and the restaurant in the Babary Coast Hotel. (Can't recall the name of the restaurant in that dingy hotel). the restaurant was exquisite. Both places are long gone.

                        In Palm Beach, Florida there are many great restaurants, along with the Miami area--a lot of great restaurants along the southeas Florida coast.

                        In Baltimore, Charleston, Salt, Sotto Sopra, Prime Rib, Kings Contrivance (Columbia, MD), Elkridge Furnace Inn, Le Petite :Louis, Cafe Troia, Tio Pepe's, Jack's Bistro, Woodberry Kitchem, B&O Brasserie, etc. - Okay, only a few as compared to Philly.

                        So, I will concede that Philly has many more great restaurants--the op just has to give Baltimore a chance to shine.

                        One of the best steaks I ever ate was in Kansas City-over 20 years ago. Not impressed with the city, but the Plaza Three Steakhouse (if I remeber correctly) had a steak that was unbelievable. A real heart attack on a plate--melted butter and bluecheese. Ojh Pleeese. FoiGras

                        1. re: FoiGras

                          Regardless of the food scene - Baltimore is a great city and the OP should enjoy the city for what it is. The Baltimore Food scene is getting better - I am old enough to remember when DC's food scene was non-existent. As long as folks continue to appreciate good food and patronize places that are trying hard Baltimore will continue to improve.

                  2. re: hotel

                    While I don't completely disagree with what you're getting at, I will say there is a major consistency problem across all of Baltimore. Even at my favorite places in Bmore I have had mediocre to bad meals. I also think that it's a very tough comparison because of the sheer volume of restaurants in Philly versus Baltimore...Philly is three times the size of Baltimore.

                    They BYOB thing, which you mentioned, is a HUGE difference and one that completely tips the scale, in my opinion. And if you don't believe it does, then I think Chinatown puts it way over the edge.

                    I love Baltimore and all it has to offer, but don't really think this one's a fair fight!

                    1. re: gregb

                      How is it possible to say that "consistency" is a problem which plagues Baltimore restaurants generally? It's not as if there's a consistency chemical in the Baltimore water.

                2. In Downtown Baltimore you are a 5 min cab drive from you hotel to a bunch of good restaurants.
                  Tabrizzi, Tio Pepe, Chingale, The Helmond, Black Olive, B&O Brasserie, Charleston, Sotto Soppra are all excellent choices which you would enjoy. Or you could go to The Prime Rib, Ruths Chris, Capital Grill, Shulas if you wanted steakhouse.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dining with doc

                    Way to go ---dining with doc. totally agree. I've never been to Shula's Steakhouse--but I would recommend Fleming's. I know that many Chowhounds have some type of abhorrence towards chain restaurants, but Flemings is excellent. I tend to favor it over Ruths' Chris and Morton's--just a personal preferrence.

                    Mooshka mentioned that friends could/would pick them up and take them somewhere. Well, that truly broadens the spectrum of dining options.

                    There are many lovely restaurants in northern Baltimore city and county. Then there is the Elkridge Furnace Inn--not far from downtown Baltimore. I believe it is one of the most innovative, cozy resaturants in the area. the service is impeccable. I enjoy Kings Contrivance in Columbia, which doesn't seem to get much love. Have had some wonderful meals and service there.

                    Many options are out there. I'm sure there are more suggestions withing the Federal Hill/Canton area. Perhaps Salt, and others. Comparing Baltimore to Philly is like comparing Philly to New York. Those two cities are "compressed". Baltimore City itself is much smaller and a lot less comprehensively filled with restaurants, especially if you discount the chains.

                    But, Baltimore has its charms and many wonderful dining establishments.. When I used to travel frequently, especiallyy to Beverly Hills,LA, 20 years ago that area had no defined dining establishments. To me, after dining frequently in New York, Philly, and living in Baltimore, I felt that L.A. was a wasteland of no decent dining places. But, it eventually evolved. I haven't been there in quite some time, but I believe from what I've heard that it has become more cuisine oriented. The big thing back in the 1980's when I first visited L.A. was Spago'. I can't believe how disappointed I was when I dined there.

                    Let's hope our op has a wonderful dining experience in our fair city. FoiGras

                    1. re: FoiGras

                      I love coming down to Baltimore. I try to make the craft show every year. We used to meet several friends, some of them used to live in Baltimore. I have eaten at Helmond, Brewers Art, Pazo and Kali's Court. Those were some of the better ones. Unfortunately, I am injured this year (bad back) and can't walk that far. I'll be sitting a lot at the Craft Show! We don't know where we are going either Friday or Saturday. I'll let you know.

                      1. re: mooshka

                        mooshka, like you, I will be at the ACC show on Friday. After walking what will no doubt be several miles of aisles, I plan to head to dinner with friends either to B&O, which is very walkable, or Cinghiale (catch a free Orange Circulator bus right in front of the Convention Center - East). Both places have good bar menu options too, if you want something more casual. Either option should satisfy you, assuming you have any moolah left after the show. Avoid Shula's - sub-par chain hotel steak and burgers.

                      2. re: FoiGras

                        The problem with chains in this context is that there's no point in recommending a visitor to your city dine at a restaurant that they could dine at elsewhere, even in their own hometown. For example, I don't really consider The Prime Rib a chain, even though they've opened a couple of other locations, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it in this post simply because one of those other recommendations is IN the OP's hometown. Is it a cool, interesting, local place with great food and lovely atmosphere? Yes. But with so few dining opportunities I'd suggest something that they can't replicate at home, like Jack's Bistro.

                    2. I had a great weekend in Baltimore, thanks to some good friends. Friday night our friend picked us up and took us to Langermann's, in Canton. I had the lobster bisque and the shrimp and grits. A word of caution, one taste of the soup and I knew if I didn't make a special request I would be unhappy with my dinner. The bisque was so highly salted I could hardly eat it. I spoke to the waiter about my the salt and he had them make my shrimp and grits again with no salt. There was chorizo sausage in the dish so without any additional salt it was really good. My husband had the rock fish and he said it was delicious. We all shared the apple cobbler with caramel ice cream. A perfect ending to a good meal. By the way I really enjoyed the craft show and went both Friday and Saturday. Saturday night we met some friends at B & O Brasserie. Thanks for all your suggestions! We loved the art deco ambiance. The menu had many interesting choices. I had the cauliflower soup which was really a consomme with pieces of cauliflower. It was nice of light, a nice start to a good meal. I had the sweet potato gnocchi with lobster. It was a good choice, very flavorful and nice bite size pieces of lobster. My husband had the duck which was to his liking. Our friend had the lamb, which he loved. By the way, on Saturday afternoon we jumped on the orange bus and took a ride around its route. We spent some time at Harbor East which was great except for the road construction. Thanks again for all you recommendations. I'll definitely be back next year!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mooshka

                        Glad you had a good time. I would not have recommended Langermann's, but as long as it all worked out!

                        1. re: mooshka

                          Thanks so much for the "follow up" few people seem to do it. I always find it educational to get opinions from visitors!!

                          1. re: Hue

                            I just stumbled upon this thread and found the battle between Philly and Baltimore to be quite amusing. There's probably a very good reason why Philly appears to have more highly-regarded restaurants than Baltimore: population. According to the US Census Bureau, as of July 2009, Philadelphia had 1,547,297 residents, and Baltimore had 637,418.

                            Fewer people to feed, fewer great restaurants.