Baltimore - 10 hungry guys over a fall weekend
Baltimore is a good meeting point for some old college friends with none of us having spent much time here. So looking for a few suggestions:
Killer breakfast spot
Place to commune with crabs, old bay and beer
High end chowhound-worthy spot - $$ no object - great wine list (and perhaps it has a private room)
Any great ethnic holes-in-the-wall? Open to all possibilities
1 great Baltimore historic gem of a bar
That should get us started - thanks in advance!
I'm assuming you're staying somewhere in downtown or around the waterfront? The places I'd recommend as being convenient to downtown/waterfront neighborhoods are:
Jimmy's in Fells Point for greasy diner breakfast fare, alternatively Miss Shirley's in the Inner Harbor for a more upscale (but still casual) modern breakfast/brunch dining. Very good waffles and pancakes and scrabble, but a bit on the rich side.
Crabs/old bay/beer - look no further than LP Steamers in Locust Point. If the night is good sit on the rooftop deck with great views of the harbor and surrounding city skyline. Excellent steamed crabs and shrimp too (I always get the steamed shrimp and a side of fries with old bay seasoning). Good raw oysters too. This place has a good old Baltimore vibe to it as it's housed in a narrow rowhouse and the downstairs bar area still has the fake dark wood panelling.
The other crabhouses suggested here are outside the city. They're fine too but I wouldn't go out there when you have LP Steamers.
High end: see other recommendations. Charleston has a private dining room. Easily the best service in Baltimore and most likely the best wine list.
Baltimore has a range of good ethnic food but it's not necessarily an ethnic food town in the way some places are. There's a good selection of Thai/Indian restaurants in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, just north of the inner harbor (and walkable too if you want to go for a pleasant stroll through a historic city center). In addition to Mekong Delta there's Thairish and Thai Landing and Kingdom of Siam.
Probably the most famous historic bar in Baltimore is the already mentioned Owl Bar in the Belvedere Hotel. It's an old grand dame hotel that's seen better days. The Owl Bar is full of historic character but I think you'd probably be happier with the Fells Point pubs already mentioned.
All the places I mentioned are within a mile or so radius of the inner harbor.
Another rec for Brewer's Art, but only for the basement. Don't miss the rosemary garlic fries. Captain Larry's is one of my very favorite bars, and very Baltimore. (cash only) Rye is nice if you're into cocktails. Any particular kind of bar scene you're looking for?
Not exactly a hole-in-the-wall, but Helmand does great Afghani food. If you find yourself in Fells Point for the bar scene, Tortilleria Sinaloa does excellent tacos.
Mr. Bill's in the Essex area for crab experience, for ten folks they will take a reservation!!!
Not exactly high end but great food with a Maryland edge
Pierpoints on Aliceanna Street(Fells Point area) . Chef Luongo is very creative.
For ten she may even work up a tasting menu!!
Hole in the wall Try Zorba's on Eastern Ave in the Greektown area of Baltimore...terrific chow in a neighborhood bar!! Get the lambchops!!!
For a Baltimore bar..hit Hull Street lues in the Federal Hill area.Good chow and nice brunch on Sundays
If over a weekend, Clementine is excellent for brunch/breakfast. Same for Woodberry.
For crabs, 2nd Mr Bills.
High end, Prime Rib continues to be a great throwback spot. Note dress requirements. Other poss would be Charleston and Cinghale, both with excellent wine lists.
Ethnic? We had some great veg Indian (Gujarati) food in Parkville recently at Pavan Foods and its BYO. It's in the back of a grocery store.
Bars? Brewers Art is excellent and makes its own beer, food also good. Great cocktails are to be had at Of Love and Regret, Blue Grass Tavern, and Grand Cru. If you're looking for a little more rough-and-ready atmosphere, see hotel's comments below.
The quality of food at tio pepes is not that high. The restaurant has charm but I was there earlier this year and the paella was so bad we didn't take any home. The other entrees were equally I impressive. Prime rib is a steakhouse with a madman atmosphere (very dark and elegant). They have jazz, perfect service provided by professional waiters. It is a steakhouse. Cinghiale is also excellent. My advice there is do't get an entree but rather several smaller plates.
I just had a great brunch at maggies farm on harford road about 15 minutes north of downtown. I had ramen with porkbelly and poached eggs.
Hope this helps
Breakfast: Jimmy's in Fells Point for good diner fare. Everyone loves Blue Moon Cafe, but its a crowded nightmare. Saute in Canton has the greatest brunch deal of all time. It's like 15 bucks and is all you can drink mimosa, bloody mary's, screwdrivers, sangria, and Natty Boh's for 4 hours. Shockingly the food is solid.
Crabs: Go to LP Steamers in Locust Point. Mr. Bills, Costa's and Cantler's are all great, but none are convenient. They are all similar in terms of quality.
High End: Assuming you want a private room so things can get rowdy. Personally I'd go to Pabu, eat tons of toro and drink gallons of high end sake in their private room. Plus it's right on the water and in the new Four Seasons Hotel. Charleston is Baltimore's best in terms of food and wine, might be a bit too formal, but it rules. Woodberry Kitchen is always considered one of the best, but I've been unimpressed lately. I've had several good, rowdy prix fixe meals at the Wine Market, plus you're close to a ton of bars in Federal Hill.
The best ethnic hole in the wall downtown is going to be Mekong Delta which is also BYOB.
Bars: Now we're talking. Federal Hill is mostly recent college grads, Canton is young professionals, and Fells Point is everything in between. I'd definitely go to Fells Point. Notable favorites include: Waterfront Hotel, Horse You Came In On Saloon, Cat's Eye Pub, Leadbetters, The Point in Fells, and the Wharf Rat. All of those bars with the exception of the Wharf Rat will definitely have live music with no cover. They are all old, awesome, crowded dives. I'd bar crawl all of them finishing up at the Horse which gets really rowdy and fun.
Killer breakfast spot is hard. Woodberry is that, but you'll need a reservation or be willing to wait for an hour.
Clementine is delicious but not the scene for a group of college buddies, it's more of a family joint.
Crabs : Mr. Bill's Terrace Inn. Sure you could eat crabs at home and beat up your dining room table (I've done this) but trust me, Mr. Bill's is what you want. Serious baltimore, serious dive, serious crabs.
For ethnic hole in the wall Grace Garden in Odenton rocks, but is far away. Perhaps a pho place in Catonsville? There are good suggestions on this board. Pavan is amazing Indian vegetarian, but it's a serious dive. Piedigrotta's in little Italy is old school, not really "ethnic" but it's serious old school Italian. Might be fun.
Not sure which bar, but it would have to be in Fells Point.
Not a wine list expert, but I'm guessing the Charleston is not a bad bet.
Have a great weekend!
I can only respond to the $$worthy spot ( I don't eat breakfast and eat MY STEAMED CRABS AT HOME--with wine, not beer--Yeew).
Prime Rib and/or Tio Pepe's. Baltimore's "old school" dining establishments--both have great wine lists--and the sangria at Tio's is to die for. Bot restaurants will provide the feel of Baltimore in younger days.
I am certain that the other Chowhounders will steer you in the right way to breakfast and bars, etc. Welcome to our Fair City. You may actually come away impressed. FoiGras
High end Chowhound-worthy spot: The Prime Rib used to be great a few years ago, though I haven't been in a while so it might have changed
Killer breakfast spot - Jimmy's in Fells Point for diner-style
Historic gem of a bar - I really enjoy the Owl Bar in the Belvedere Hotel, another favorite is Brewer's Art