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Jul 23, 2012 04:41 PM

DC & Baltimore Institutions?

We'll be visiting at the end of August and want to hit the old institutions in both cities. We like to eat where locals have been eating for decades - love the cheap greasy spoons, fish joints and diners. We're looking for inexpensive eats that are near enough to sightseeing. Obviously, we've heard about Ben's chili bowl. What else? Thanks, Chowhounds!

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  1. DC
    Horace & Dickies 809 12th St NE
    (between N H St & N Wylie St)
    Washington, DC 20002
    Neighborhood: H Street Corridor/Atlas District/Near Northeast

    (202) 397-6040

    DC Wharf - oysters on the half shell and other fried delights
    3315 Connecticut Ave NW
    (between N Ordway St & N Porter St)
    Washington, DC 20008

    (202) 363-1999

    Chaps Pit Beef
    5801 Pulaski Hwy
    Baltimore, MD 21205
    Neighborhood: Pulaski Industrial Area
    (410) 483-2379

    Faidley's -Crab Cakes - inside Lexington Market
    203 North Paca Street Baltimore, MD 21201
    (410) 727-4898

    1. baltimore Faidleys and Lexington Market in general, Attmans Jewish Delicatessen

      dc Eastern Market, Maine Avenue Seafood barges

      1. Baltimore:

        Sip and Bite, open 24/7

        Crazy John's- located in what's left of Baltimore's Red Light District good soups and daily specials. fellow diners range from politicos to dancers

        Broadway Market in Fells Point- American, Hispanic, and Polish foods

        Krakus Deli in Fells Point- homemade Polish sausages

        Cross Street Market- Nick's Seafood

        An FYI regarding Lexington Market. It seems to have hit a rough patch, with about a quarter or more of the market vacant. Yes, Faidley's is still there, but no more Polock Johnny's or Rheb's candies.

        Kibby's Restaurant and Lounge in Southwest Baltimore- and yes, the shrimp salad is delicious!

        Pioneer Pit Beef- just west of Baltimore. Better than Chaps! (ok, there is a rivalry
        )(410) 455-0015
        1602 N. Rolling Road, Woodlawn (Intersection of Johnnycake Rd and Rolling Rd)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Vidute

          Good list. I was in Baltimore for a good part of the 90s - Camdem Yards sell outs, Cal's record breaking run, brewpub explosion, etc. Bad to hear about the decline of Lexington Market. Used to live on Paca and went there a LOT. Is the guy still selling the freshly ground horseradish? Other than Faidley's, he was a must stop for me.

          1. re: MGZ

            As of a couple of months ago, Cony Island was still there.

        2. DC -

          Tune Inn - Capital Hill: Greasy burgers, cheap beer, Patsy Cline on the jukebox for the past 50 years at least

          Eastern Market - Historic barely gentrified indoor market with attendant farmers/flea market outside on Saturdays and Sundays. Good for grazing and light shopping from a variety of craft merchants. Decent grub at Market Lunch inside the hall at the north end (look for the lines), cold cuts from Canales' Deli, cheese from the cheese snob, and baked goods from the vendor at the South end of the hall. Vendors outside that I particularly like are : Ma Brown for baked goods (best pecan pies, EVER!), and the cinnamon pecans from the pecan guy who passes out samples like he is giving crack cocaine to kids to get them hooked (get the pecans avoid the temptation to stray to other nuts).

          You should also probably consider Old Ebbitt Grill. Others on the board will freak out at this selection but the fact of the matter is lobbyists and White House and Treasury Department Staff have been eating here for generations. The food isn't the best in town but it isn't the worst, it is a more expensive that the "greasy spoon" type places that you seem to prefer and in August there won't be many "locals" in the joint, but the place is right next to the White House and they put out a pretty good burger.

          If you are really adventurous you could try Harry's at the Hotel Harrington, the food is not good, but it is a cheap greasy spoon that young Capitol Hill and Administration staffers have been flocking to for years.

          5 Replies
          1. re: drewpbalzac

            the "cheese snob" at the EM?

            I'll have you know I saw him smile once. I did I tells ya. right after the renovation during the 'soft' re-opening. when was that, 4+ years ago? catch him on a slow day and he can actually be quite nice. Close of business on Sunday and yeah Mr. Crankypants emerges.

            1. re: hill food

              I actually like him, but friends of mine are afraid of him. . . .

              When they get slammed they get a little annoyed when folks come up and do not know what they want or ask for recomendations.

              My only beef is that they never seem to suggest anything too funky or challenging, they always seem to play it safe with their recomendations. . . .I guess that is what keeps customers coming back.

              1. re: drewpbalzac

                I did get a good chuckle once when a 20-something person wanted to know if Limburger was a good cheese for a party. he gave a non-committal "sure" I chimed in "my Grandmother LOVED that stuff"

                but yeah I got tired of that 'gouda-parmesan' they shove on everyone after a while.

                1. re: hill food

                  I think of Parano as a "gateway cheese".

                  You get them a taste of a little something that they have never heard of before.

                  You build up them up with something a little stronger, but that still has cultural roots that they can appreciate . . . like a real stilton with a little pear and walnuts . . . or an aged gouda with the little protein crystals . . . .

                  And once they hit a full on cheese - you hit with the hard stuff - something funky and runny . . . . and then you have them hooked.

                  1. re: drewpbalzac

                    mmm, when one refers to moldy Camembert as 'kid's stuff' and moves on to the Taleggio. the lost sleep, waiting outside for them to open...screaming "this is NOT true Reggiano and it has NOT been aged 6 years!"

                    yeah the payday loans, the restraining orders, the tears, it all got a little complicated.

          2. It isn't a greasy spoon, but it sure is an institution - The Women's Industrial Exchange at 333 N. Charles St. About eight blocks north of the Inner Harbor.

            It is basically a tea shop and step back into time. To the 1940s. It was a place for women to sell their hand-crafts. The great, great, great, great grandma of Etsy. Think egg salad on white bread. Actually, they have apparently brought someone in to upgrade the food but it is still basic comfort food.

            Now closer to your request, I am surprised that no one mentioned Polock Johnny's. Now that is a Balto institution! Unfortunately, not in the downtown area except at the ballpark.

            And then over on Corned Beef Row (short drive from Inner Harbor), Attman's and Jack's Corned Beef. Now, I never found them to be very good, but I was judging by NY standards. I remember so clearly watching them throw the corned beef on the grill to heat it before serving it. My also-from-NY boyfriend and I were shocked. And machine-sliced. But everyone else loves these places, so go for it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Just Visiting

              I know it is bad for me, but I love my PJ's . . .

              1. re: drewpbalzac

                Besides the ballpark, Polock Johnny's has locations on Washington Blvd in Southwest Baltimore and at Security Square Mall in Woodlawn.


              2. re: Just Visiting

                Jack's has been gone from Corned Beef Row for years. Lennie's is where Jack's used to be.