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May 9, 2012 06:11 PM

First time staying in Baltimore

Hi Hounds-

I am coming to Baltimore from June 15-18. I've been to Baltimore many times on "day trips," but this time two couples are staying three days for the 1812 Bicentennial. We plan to do the ship tours, air shows, fireworks and concert. But where do we eat? And do we need reservations?

We're all staying at the Sheraton Inner Harbor, if that helps.

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  1. I know they are expecting some crowds, so if you can reservations anywhere would be advised.
    Sheraton is pretty central...make use of the Water Taxi to get around
    As wll as the Charm City Circulator(it is free
    Fells Point has many options use Water Taxi or Green Rte for Circulator
    DUDA'S Smallish Bar serving good food
    BLACK OLIVE Upscale Greek with great seafood expensive
    ZEE MEAN BEAN "Slavic food" think borscht and pierogies very good
    PIERPOINTS a liitle walk but worth it very good creative (smoked crabcake)
    BERTHA'S doesn't get a lot of love here but I always enjoy it
    Use the Purple Rte on Circulator to Go north on Charles Street
    SOTTO SOPRA very very good Italian
    TIO PEPES Old School Spanish,
    BREWERS ART great Micro Brew (Resurrection Ale!) with good chow
    TAPAS TEATRO small plates well prepared, get the sangria.

    That's a start

    3 Replies
    1. re: Hue

      Wow, that's quite a start! And thanks for the links as well. These spots all look good . . .we'll be hard-pressed to narow down the choices.

      1. re: Hue

        et cetera
        ZORBA'S Graet "divey" Greek Food get the octupus and the lamb chops
        CHARLESTON..bring both your checkbooks!/
        WOODBERRY KITCHEN "locavore" inventive
        GERTRUDES good food...great location
        SAMOS Greek..get the Gyro's Cash Only..No Booze Great Chow
        ATTMANNS DELI.. Lunch..Corned Beef on a roll, mustard, a "done" pickle and a Dr. Brown's Cream soda
        ISABELLA'S for Lunch in Little Italy Area
        GIA'S...Get the Italian Beef Sandwich
        PIEDIGROTTA especially for something "sweet"..great owners!! Bene Bene
        MISS SHIRLEY'S Breakfast/Brunch
        IKARO'S Get the Fried Calamari..homestyle Greek
        Let us know how you make out!!!

      2. Just bumping this up as I cannot believe the lack of response.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gaffk

          Sotto Sopra on North Charles Street--upscale Italian in a lovely atmosphere. Order the veal chop if available.

          Mezze in Fells Point offers tapas-style cuisine. Fun, laid back atmosphere. The dishes are conducive for sharing.

          Tabrizi's on the Key Highway side. Beautiful restaurant with water/harbor view. Mediterranean inspired cuisine.

          B&O Brasserie. I've only dined there once about 1-1/2 years ago, so I feel certain that the menu has changed. Great bar and interesting food selection.

          Tio Pepe's for old school Spanish cuisine. The roast suckling pig is a favorite as is the sole with bananas. Good Sangria and be certain to request the "puffed potatoes."

          Charleston--if you want very high-end dining and break the bank to do so.

          Prime Rib for huge portions of excellent meat and the best Imperial Crab. Formal atmosphere and there is piano entertainment.

          Hope this helps a bit. FoiGras

        2. Thanks Hounds. I figure we'll need 3 lunches and 3 dinners (breakfast is included at the hotel).

          I think for lunch we'll do:
          Brewer's Art (love microbrews)
          Woodberry Kitchen (love local)
          Attman's Deli (who can resist a cream soda?)

          For Dinner:
          Charleston (it's vaca, gotta' splurge ;)
          Black Olive (see above; plus interested to see how it compares to Philly's Kanella)
          Tabrizi's (love Mediterranean and good views).

          Thanks for all your help, especially the tips about the public transport as, ideally, we'd like to park the cars when we arrive and not unpark until we leave.

          9 Replies
          1. re: gaffk

            I'd highly recommend taking one morning and indulging in Miss Shirley's; it is one of a kind IMO

            1. re: gmk1322

              Thanks gmk. I probably won't be able to rustle the other couple out of the hotel, but I'll try to make it there one morning.

              1. re: gaffk

                The problem with Miss Shirley's, at least on weekends, is that they don't take reservations and you can wait a really, really long time to get seated.

                1. re: Hal Laurent

                  I can't figure out how MIss Shirley's is one of a kind. It's nothing special at all.

                  1. re: kukubura

                    I'll never know about Miss Shirley's, as I'm not willing to wait hours for breakfast.

            2. re: gaffk

              Definitely make a reservation at Woodberry Kitchen and note that they only serve lunch/brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. IMHO, it is not to be missed and would be the place I would send someone if they only had time for one meal in town.

              I see no reason anyone should go out of their way to go to Tabrizi's, let alone someone coming from out of town that is looking to experience the (steadily improving) Baltimore dining scene. If it weren't for the fact that Tabrizi's is a wedding venue, I don't even think the restaurant would stay in business. The food is mediocre, service notoriously bad, and definitely better classified as Middle Eastern rather than Mediterranean. If you're looking for a view of the harbor-- the food is much, much better at Wit & Wisdom in the Four Seasons and they just opened their outdoor area that is directly on the water. Don't miss the desserts if you go to W&W. Their pastry chef is highly decorated and his accolades are well deserved. Also, Pabu in the Four Seasons has only been open for about two weeks but both of my visits were spectacular if you are interested in sushi/izakaya, at all. Black Olive is good, but I don't think you'll find the menu nearly as interesting as Kanella. Just kind of a different animal altogether. Black Olive is among the more "old school" restaurants in Baltimore so it all depends on what kind of experience you're looking for.

              1. re: stellabay

                Yes, I have already been warned that reservations will be required everywhere as large crowds are expected. That's why I was trying to vet my choices, so I can get my reservations in.

                Bummer to hear about Tabrizi's. Is there another good Italian or Mediterranean with great seafood dishes in the area?

                Also, for W&W, is it possible to have an after-dinner drink and dessert in the lounge? I looked at the lounge menu and it doesn't include dessert, but I've been to other hotel restaurants that will do this.

                1. re: gaffk

                  Woodberry Kitchen is always busy and often is booked for several weeks at a time during prime dining hours which is why I mentioned them specifically regarding reserving a table. I would advise calling for that reso ASAP and there is normally more availability if you make the reso by phone rather than Open Table.

                  I have definitely had dessert and cocktails in the lounge at W&W. Shouldn't be a problem aside from the fact that it can get really packed on weekend nights. I think you might be able to reserve lounge seating in advance if your group isn't the sort that will be happy standing for a bit until seating opens up.

                  For Italian, Cinghiale (same restaurant group as Charleston) is very good and across from the marina. Not particularly seafood heavy, though there are many seafood options. If you're doing Black Olive you'll get your seafood fix though. Cinghiale is also a very short walk to W&W and the desserts at Cinghiale aren't anything special. You might also consider Heavy Seas Alehouse. Their food is very good. Surprisingly good for a casual beer-centric place, but I think their chef used to work for Tom Colicchio so maybe not so surprising, actually. Lots of raw bar options. Thames Street Oyster House is also excellent and as the name makes obvious, has tons of seafood.

                  An alternative to Black Olive would be Kali's Court. Full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan of either, but recognize that they are solid options for someone looking for a more old school, white tablecloth, formal style of dining than I prefer.

                  1. re: gaffk

                    I still stand behind Tabrizi's. You could call ahead and have a special dinner prepared. Yes, I correct myself, it is more Middle Eastern then Mediterrean. I've dined on the grilled sardine's that were so very fresh. Oh, and never had any negative issue with the serving staff. The lamb dishes are excellent. The other poster must have had a bad experience or attitude.

                    Wit and Wisdom is too new for me to make an observation--especially sine I haven't had the opportunity to dine there. I feel that it is probably one of Baltimore's newest gems--but once the hype dies down we will see. It is very expenseive and has to live up to the price point with food, service and atmosphere.

                    Black Olive is so -so. No impressive atmosphere and the tables are so close you may as well dine with the other patrons.

                    Once again, for Italian--Sotto Sopra. Woodberyy Kitchen is a favorite. I wouldn't recommend Cinghiale for Italian. Too disappointing for mediocre food and small portions and large tabs.. Service and atmosphere are excellent. Hope you select some of the best of Baltimore. FoiGras

              2. Thanks hounds. My new list is now:

                sneak out one morning for breakfast at Miss Shirley's. (Apparently no reservations accepted?)

                Lunch is still intact:
                Brewer's Art (love microbrews)
                Woodberry Kitchen (love local)
                Attman's Deli (who can resist a cream soda?)

                Dinner is now:
                Charleston (it's vaca, gotta' splurge ;)
                SOTTO SOPRA (very very good Italian)
                TAPAS TEATRO (small plates)

                We will stop for after dinner drinks and desserts at Wit & Wisdom.

                Thanks for all your help, especially the tips about the public transport as, ideally, we'd like to park the cars when we arrive and not unpark until we leave.

                ETA: If no big controversies, I'll make my resos tomorrow morning. I'm looking fwd to a few days in Charm City.

                36 Replies
                1. re: gaffk

                  Tapas Teatro doesn't take reservations and stays pretty busy with moviegoers. Be prepared for a wait. Their food is decent, but not a standout in Baltimore.

                  1. re: gaffk

                    1. where r you from? although I love Attmans, I wouldn't send you there if you were from NYC
                    2. also, conspicuously missing the Baltimore seafood experience- Steamed crabs and crabcakes
                    3. love your choice of Charleston
                    4. would rec a night at Tio Pepe- old school icon spanish-fantastic still with gambas, mussels in green sauce and the crabmeat cocktail to start, love the 3 in 1 and 4 in 1 which are not on menus but basically give you smaller portions of 3 or 4 main courses. Sole with crabmeat in champagne sauce...oh my. Zarzuela de mariscos costa brava (seafood stew), fantastic meats fishes , finish strong with their pine nut cake and also drink either white or red sangria
                    night 3---love Black Olive-great whole fish and middle eastern influenced food. Alternative, Ikaros-very good greek, another alternative- The Helmond- classy nice afghan food, delicious, good place!
                    5. Woodberry could be for dinner
                    6. Brewer's art is a good choice

                    1. re: dining with doc

                      Hi Doc-

                      1. I'm coming from Philadelphia which, while it has great steaks and hoagies, is woefully lacking in good delis.
                      2. Do you have a solid inner harbor seafood choice? Philadelphia has some great seafood, so it's not something I'm craving; but I would not say no to a good crabcake.
                      4. Disregard #2, you've sold me on Tio Pepe. Do I just request the 3 in 1 or 4 in 1 from the server? Especially since Tapas Teatro doesn't take reservations and I expect crowds for Sailabration.

                      Thanks for the input.

                      1. re: gaffk

                        I agree that Woodberry Kitchen should probably be dinner rather than brunch. Their brunch is great, but you're missing out on the best dinner option in Baltimore-- that is, if you can get a reservation for dinner at this point.

                        1. re: stellabay

                          The best?!? My how we fall all over ourselves here!

                          Woodberry is good but compared any number of Philly places it might underwhelm.

                          1. re: kukubura

                            i don't recall falling... let's play nice, please. we're all here for the same reason.

                            yes, imo, the best IN baltimore. the op isn't dining in philly, so that's really a moot point in regard to choosing a restaurant in baltimore. i, like you, have dined fairly extensively in most of the larger metro areas throughout the country and i stand behind my woodberry rec within the context of baltimore.

                              1. re: stellabay

                                Right, the op has dined in Philly all her life ;) She's looking for the best and/or most representative Baltimore has to offer. And you guys have given me a lot to think about. And I better hurry and get those reservations in.

                                1. re: gaffk

                                  My favorite restaurant in the price point (more or less) of Woodberry is Jack's Bistro, but they don't do reservations and are a neighborhood fave so they get crowded. Still, the menu is highly inventive (unlike WK, which is solid but very plain food, with great cocktails)

                          2. re: gaffk

                            Lived in philly for 6 years. We can't touch your cheese steaks or old school Italian cooking.
                            1. Attman's is somewhat comparable to Famous delicatessen, just older, more crummy old school inside but is good and is a Baltimore icon. Try a coddie ( cold seasoned codfish and potato cake served on saltines with mustard..a Baltimore specialty), French fries with gravy, kishka ( stuffed derma) corned beef, pastrami, chopped liver, tongue, very good fresh rye.
                            2. Love Tio Pepe. Ask the waiter about 3 n 1 and 4 n1 to understand. Won't be on the menu. Might want to scope out menu before hand but their daily specials might include 15 each starters and main courses
                            3. Agree woodberry is one of the better baltimore places and should be a dinner choice
                            4. I think Baltimore style seafood is unique and never had seafood in Philly that was as good other than mussels or linguine with clam sauce. Nicks, Bo Brooks, Canton Dockside, Captain James Dockside, Costa's, LP Steamers are all well known crab houses . This topic can be searched on the Baltimore chow page
                            5. Have you done Lexington Market, Baltimores version of Reading Terminal market. A littler rougher but highlights include Faidleys Seafood for raw oysters and clams, a fantastic fried premium back fin crab cake, The roasted peanut stand outside for hot fresh roasted nuts, the Fried chicken wing and chicken liver stand, Mary Mervis for good corned beef and deli sandwiches plus Berger cookie stand for iconic famous chocolate top cookies best eaten with a cold milk.

                        2. re: gaffk

                          The pastry chef at Wit and Wisdom is top notch. If you like a a little tartness in your dessert, look for the meyer lemon curd. Really fantastic.

                          Also, if you're looking for another place to stop for a drink, check B&O Brasserie near the Inner Harbor. The bar chef is a genius. His cocktail menu is bold and great. I often just let him make me something off the top of his head based on what he's passionate about that that point in time.

                          1. re: kukubura

                            Thanks kuk. When are you returning to Philly for Sandwich Tour 2?

                              1. re: kukubura

                                Look forward to it! Nothing sparks a lively debate on the Philly board than where to get the best sandwiches.

                          2. re: gaffk

                            !!!ALARM ALARM!!!

                            I don't think Brewer's does lunch.

                            And Woodberry only does brunch on sat and sun.

                            1. re: kukubura

                              Damn you're right about Brewer's . . .didn't even notice that when I visited their web site. Argh, this is getting complicated. Maybe I should eat 2 dinners a day and skip lunch?

                              Woodberry wouldn't be an issue as we were planning on it for the weekend, but now it seems it would be a better choice for dinner.

                              Oh well, I guess I'm off to call the other pair and see what they want to do. We've gone from having no idea what was available in your city to having too many promising options available for three days.

                              1. re: gaffk

                                oh yea baltimores version of termini bros is Vacarro's in little italy. also has good gelato

                                1. re: dining with doc

                                  You can take a water taxi to Little Italy according to your other post. If it's as hot as I expect, that might be a good mid-afternoon rest break (I love my gelato).

                                  1. re: gaffk

                                    you can eat in or you can take out. they have good italian cookies, pastries in addition to gelato

                                2. re: gaffk

                                  You're missing a lunch now, right? Did you say you have a car? If yes, consider zipping up to Jake's for some very special roadside pit beef, ribs and chicken:

                                  And there's always CH legend Grace Garden, south of Bmore in Odenton. I don't know the Chinese scene in Philly, other than soup dumplings, but the years-long thread on CH about Grace Garden has a loooot of info.

                                  Also, if you don't have Ethiopian in Philly (I have no idea) Dukem is the endearing Bmore outpost of a popular DC restaurant and it's not too far from downtown.

                                  1. re: kukubura

                                    I have a car, but am trying not to use it as I think the inner harbor will be pretty crowded that weekend. And Philly is pretty stocked with all sorts of Asian eateries--Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.

                                    1. re: gaffk

                                      If you decide to go to the Lexington Market-please hire an armored guard Many Chow Hounder's make light of how this Balitmore insitution is a "safe haven." NOT. The Faidley's crabcakes are renowned, but so many Baltimore restaurants
                                      can produce fabulous crabcakes--it's very subjective. The Market is perhaps worthwhile, but not if you are risking your safety.

                                      Woodberry Kitchen is a good recommendation, but I would suggest Charleston for a fine dining evening out (very expensive). I still recommend Sotto Sopra and Tio Pepe's. Am not aware of any comparable restaurants in the Philly area to these two.
                                      Mezze in Fells Poknt is a fun, share many tapas-type dishes. Then meander through the area to shop, pub crawl, etc. The Black Olive has a roof top restaurant where the menu appears to be very inviting in a beautiful environment. I haven't dined there as yet, but hope to in the very near future.

                                      Baltimore's newest upscale addition is Wit and Wisdom in the Four Seasons Hotel. There have been a few favorable mentions. FoiGras

                                      1. re: FoiGras

                                        Respectfully disagree about this. Market perfectly safe, lots of office workers, hsopital types, cops. Anyone who gets around in Philly can handle Lex Market. Faidley's crab cakes very good, as is raw bar.

                                        1. re: lawhound

                                          Thanks for "respectfully disagreeing." I really want to believe that the Lex is safe enough and really want to revisit since it's been way too many years since I last ventured into the venue. I guess I got "spooked" when a recent poster made an "issue" about the safety factor in the area. this goes back to about last November or so when my Hubby was at University Hospital for major heart surgery. I posted something about fried chicken livers and whatever else, but never got to the Market. The responding Poster was quite adament about the area and its safety factor.

                                          Lawhound, I know you are aware of such issues and are always quite on spot with your recommendations. Thanks for your response. FoiGras

                                        2. re: FoiGras

                                          Been to Lexington Market many times, went to law school around the corner, never had any problems. There is more to Baltimore than the Inner Harbor, Harbor East and Fells Point.

                                          1. re: dlite

                                            dlite--totally agree that Baltimore is more then the Inner Harbor, Harbor East and Fells Point. I tend to like the Canton area more so then those previously mentioned. I would venture off to Federal Hill but can't deal with the lack of parking and that area does tend to have some issues regarding safety. A close acquaintance of mine's liquor store in that area has been robbed several times--the owner was nearly shot to death by the assailant. I guess there are no really "safe" areas. I hate to think that I am going to be deprived of experiencing wonderful restaurants/shopping, etc. due to fear of being a victim of crime. But this is not the forum for my soapbox regarding issues concerning the areas of Baltimore that are safe enough to venture into for dining out. I love my fair city of Baltimore and will continue to dine out in all areas. So many great restaurants are beckoning for my dining out dollar. FoiGras

                                            1. re: FoiGras

                                              Lexington is safe, but you do need to leep your wits about you. You will be approached and you will see skeevy people. Someone from Philly can handle it but I also know that CH has sent some folks from less urban climes there without any prep and I remember them being pretty freaked out. I'm all for out of towners visiting Lexington Mkt, hell I used to go there allll the time. But it definitely ain't Reading Terminal Market.

                                              1. re: kukubura

                                                Born & raised in Philly. I was raised in one of the safest (at that time) neighborhoods, but then attended college in a not-so-safe one and worked in Center City. I'm used to being "approached" and to "skeevy" people. As lawhound noted, if I can navigate Philly, I can navigate Baltimore, and Lexington Market intrigues me; I don't expect RTM (not enough Amish in Baltimore ;) but do expect some solid independent vendors.

                                                And really, is there a "safe" area any more?

                                                1. re: gaffk

                                                  gaffk, you will enjoy LM. lots of chow opportunity, safe during lunch hours but keep your wallet secure and eyes open. like you are on South Street

                                                  2nd chow op is sunday morning where the fantastic Baltimore outdoor farmers market is a 4 min taxi drive away from your hotel. tons of great venders, food stands that include great coffee, interesting fresh omelets, mushrooms,fresh squeezed juice, soups, fried fish sandwich, great falafal, lots of ethnic stands, unbelievable fresh flowers, fruits, dairy products, cured meats, veggies, artisan cheeses, fresh meats, chicken, fish, etc. like the italian market merged with the RTM outside. ends by noon so you need to go early. might want to bring a cooler. good for breakfast or lunch or both.

                                                  with LexingtonMkt (crabcakes, peanuts, oystrs, berger cookies) , outdoor farmers market, Charleston, Tio Pepe, with possible Woodberry , Black Olive, The Helmond or a crab feast., a water taxi to fells point for some beers at Max's, Berthas or some other great bar, a water taxi to Vacarro's for italian swets and are living large!!!!

                                                  make sure you write back

                                                  1. re: dining with doc

                                                    If you do go to the farmer's market not every stand is a winner. For me the fried fish is the best, partly because the fried fish sandwich topped with their unique cole slaw and Matouk's hot sauce is incredible and partly because the proprietor Ollie is a one-of-a-kind sweetheart and his stand is an oasis, with reggae playing and tables for relaxing.

                                                    The mexican stand has some damn good chorizo tacos if you get them "con todo."

                                                    The falafel, crepe, cajun and pit beef stand aren't so exciting.

                                                    1. re: dining with doc

                                                      With these markets and restaurants, will I have time for the tall ships, air show and fireworks ;)

                                                      Thanks for all the tips! I'll be sure to report back.

                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                        You mean people do things other than eat when they travel? What a waste!

                                                        1. re: kukubura

                                                          Yeah, I'm kind of a history nerd. Sorry :(

                                                    2. re: gaffk

                                                      Most of the Amish who man the stalls in and around DC and Baltimore in the Dutch Markets are trucked in weekly from Lancaster County, PA.

                                                      gaffk - Baltimore is no different from any other city LA, NYC, Philly, and DC you just have to be aware of the surroundings

                                                      1. re: agarnett100

                                                        Errr it's a LITTLE different! It's definitely earned its reputation as a rough town. But common sense and keen eyesight will help.

                                                        1. re: agarnett100

                                                          'nuff said; I'm Philly born & raised.

                                    2. Quick Question: I will be in Baltimore around mid August. Just for 2 days with my 15 yearld old son. Will probably take in a baseball game and hit a few spots menioned here. 1 night maybe 2..
                                      What area would you stay?

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Foodandwine

                                        Downtown within walking distance of camden yards and the Baltimore inner harbor. can take a cab or walk to numerous great restaurants already listed or take a water taxi from inner harbor to fells point or little italy.

                                        1. re: dining with doc

                                          Thanks dining with doc.. Lookg forward to our visit. If you had to where would you go for good seafood, shack type atmosphere? Will be driving to sout jersey after so have wheels. While in town, 2 lunches and 1 dinner with a 15 y/o foodie in tow..

                                          1. re: Foodandwine

                                            I think I would go to Faidleys in Lexington Market and grab some freshly shucked oysters and clams on the half shell with a cold beer, get the most expensive crab cake they sell fried, get some spiced steamed shrimp and a fried fish sandwich and eat it all while standing up at the counters while people watching, definitely will be delicious as well as a memorable moment. walk in the market to the Berger Bakery stand and get some of the famous chocolate topped Berger Cookies and down it with some cold milk and you have had the ultimate food shack experience

                                            1. re: dining with doc

                                              Thanks Doc, I will be with my 15 y/o son in tow. He is a foodie as well.. any other spots that you or the board would like. We will be staying at the Hyatt Inner Harbor ( on points ) and going to a ball game at Camden Yards. We arrive on a Tuesday mid day and leave the following night ( driving to South Jersey exit 88 GSP ) so anything to add. Thanks in advance for the courtesy..

                                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                                I like Doc's recommendation for Faidley's - for lunch.
                                                Some other recommendations for dinner:
                                                Peter's Inn - was a little bar; now a cool place with real character and good food. Some caveats - no reservations; and while they open at 5:30, you can't order your dinner until 6:30. Still might be worth it.
                                                Wine Market - Federal Hill/Locust Point. Food has always been good and it's a nice re-use of an industrial space
                                                The two above would require a car or cab, but there is also the B&O American Brasserie which you could walk to. Haven't been there in about a year, but it was good and gets good reviews.
                                                Have fun!

                                                1. re: Foodandwine

                                                  On the way out would highly rec that you eat dinner at Samos in the Greektoen area of Baltimoe just off i95 at the odonell st exit near the Baltimore travel plaza. Went last weekend and had fantastic food, large portions and it is cheap and a very locals type of place. Had the best crab cake (fried of course) that I have eaten in the last 24 years. The trio sampler of hummus, eggplant dip and tzaziki with warm pita was delicious as was the grilled calamari. The shrimp Plaka was also great. Have heard that the lamb chops, whole grilled fish as well as the grilled ocopus are also excellent. Google them and you can see the menu at the web site. only, BYOB and no reservations but sooooooooo good. Can't wait to go back.