Local specialties in Richmond/DC/Baltimore area?
Hi fellow chowhounders! My hubby and I will be coming down for vacation from CT and will be spending the majority of time in Richmond VA. However we will probably be taking frequent breaks on the way down. I have looked around the boards, while there are lots of restaurant recommendations, I was wondering if there were any regional/local specialties in the area we should be on the look out for- not just restaurants, but other sort of general local eats that Richmonders/DC/Baltimore is known for. There was a thread but it was from 2010 and another DC thread from 2005- not sure what is still around. For example, up in CT, we have a very specific style of New Haven style pizza that we are known for, also things like the little lobster shacks along the shore (hot buttered lobster rolls) and chowder. In the grocery store, we have some great local specialties-cheeses from local farms, great pies from the orchards up where we live, awesome homemade mom and pop ice cream. Just an example of what we'd be lookin for. We do have the ability to cook somewhat in our hotel room- so grocery stores/farmers markets are definitely possibilities.
Any must have eats that you just cant get anywhere else from CT to Richmond? Last time we went down to MD we had oldbay crabs (any food that requires a hammer is a ok by me lol), the pit beef sandwiches (little hole in the wall under a high way overpass), stopped in philly for the dueling steak and cheese restos (ironically also near a highway overpass). As you can see we are not picky, pretentious or easily "freaked out" by quirky/funky/somewhat divey/greasy spoons, just like some good chow. Not to say we wouldn't clean up and go swanky either if we need to seek the good stuff there. We are basically "those people" who plan attractions around our food choices (need a little teeny bit of time for things to digest between meals lol!) Any other thoughts regarding local curiosities/attractions would also be welcome. Thanks!!
In Richmond, If you find yourself in the far west end , and its not a Sunday or Monday, my personal rec is the Hogshead Cafe on West Broad. Personally I think their BBQ is ok to pretty good, but most everything else I have had is off the charts good.
Their specials on the blackboard usually are the best stuff, like the spicy shrimp tacos, the grouper nuggets, spicy garlic wings, the brisket, the prime rib dip, the loaded tater tots. They dont always have all of those, they rotate the specials and add a few new things now and again like the pork cutlet (which is fabulous) Their regular menu stuff is good too, like the blackened shrimp po-boy, the cheesesteak, oyster platter.
And many of the sides are good too, my son loves their corn pudding, I am partial to their scalloped potatoes. The soups, also good, including their lobster bisque and their shrimp corn chowder. For a small place, they do have a decent variety.
Only caveat on them is that they are a tiny place and sometimes get slammed and can take awhile for them to catch up. It is like 11 tables, and many days are full before noon for lunch. One Saturday we got there early after my son's practice, and there was already a line to get in at 10:45, but it wasn't really full until 11:30.
The servers are usually right on top of things but if they get a large group come in things will slow down while they order, then while the servers fill the drink orders, etc. I really look forward to if/when they get a bigger space, maybe they could have a dedicated bartender to also serve drinks, will help things. That said, I rarely have had to wait long (and my 4 year old would definitely let me know it if he thought we were there too long, since patience is not one of his big virtues)
Another place in the far west end, especially if you like spicy food, is Peter Chang's . Plenty written about Peter Chang in this forum , so i will just note that his place in Short Pump is located in the Walmart Plaza. That is no reflection on the artistry or taste of the food, thankfully; but more to the chef's frugality.
The mention of Peter Chang's being in the Walmart Plaza is good to note! My GPS dumped me at the shopping center with Whole Foods...this area follows the hard to spot method of positioning street numbers so it was an adventure. I was very glad I took the time to locate the place. An outstanding meal!
Ethiopian in DC. If you haven't had ethiopian before, it's certainly worth a shot, if you like well-spiced foods. If you look up Ethiopain in the DC/Baltimore boards, you'll get lots of recommendations. I like Meskerem in DC, or Addis Ababa in Silver Spring, MD but I know some people pooh-pooh it, so have a look at other recs there.
The Black Sheep in Richmond is good-definitely some southern twists on food. Buzz and Ned's in Richmond is really good barbeque. Comfort does good southern food. I really like Lee's Fried Chicken in Richmond- definitely southern food, in a little fast food place on Broad St.
Hard-shell crabs are MD's claim to fame, so somewhere to pick crabs is a good idea (I like Cantler's or Mike's in Annapolis).
Chicken Rico in Baltimore is peruvian-style chicken. There are a few places in DC and Maryland that do this (look for peruvian chicken on Baltimore/DC board)-- this means rotisserie chicken loaded with great spices (flavorful, not spicy), plus a few sides (think plantains, yucca, a few veggies) for super cheap (less than $10). Most places are just a little hole in the wall, but it's really good. So you could do take-out, or just hang out and watch soccer on tv :)