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Apr 11, 2014 12:48 PM

Going to be in Baltimore for two days.

Hi all,

I am visiting Baltimore for two days, and I was wondering what are MUST try places for food? I would also like to know a nice restaurant for dinner. Thanks in advance!

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  1. You'll need a car to get to Pioneer Pit Beef. Just a shack underneath the highway. Go for medium rare with some tiger sauce. If you don't have a car, then you should elaborate more on your situation.

    1 Reply
    1. Thames Street Oyster House is more than just a cold bar, but does offer impeccably fresh, reasonably priced seafood.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ThanksVille

        Awesome, I def want to get some good seafood. Thanks!!

      2. Try Ryleighs Oyster House in Cross Street Market area,
        Samos on Oldham Street in Greektown or Zorba's on Eastern Avenue in Greektown.
        Blue Hill Tavern on Conkling Street in Highlandtown.
        Mama's on The Half Shell in Canton area.
        Gia's in Little Italy or LaScala also in little Italy
        Pierpoints on Aliceanna in Upper part of Fells Point.

        11 Replies
          1. re: Hue

            and if you find yourself in Little Italy anyway...

            you may as well hit Vaccaro's and get a bag of amaretto cookies and a few cannoli (a few per person that is) while you're there.

            1. re: hill food

              Vaccaro's uses only canned food-industry pastry cream in their cannoli's. Go to Piedigrotta - you will be glad you did.

              1. re: Gastrobuck

                Vaccaoro's makes a big deal about thier connoli filling being homemade. Checkout thier web site. Do you have information indicating otherwise?

                1. re: jfish

                  Seriously best cannoli on East Coast. Buy the shells and cream and fill yourself at home if you are traveling and can transport. They travel really well that way.

                  1. re: jfish

                    There used to be a Vaccaro's inside 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. The cannoli were good. I like the ones at Balducci's better.

                  2. re: Gastrobuck

                    I love them both for different reasons. Sometimes you want something delicate and authentically Italian, and that's where Piedegrotta comes in. Sometimes I want an eclair as large as my head with delicious thick, rich chocolate frosting and that's where Vaccaro's excels. No need to talk down about the competition when you clearly have a relationship with Piedegrotta. Canned pastry cream in the cannoli's? Isn't the filling mostly ricotta? I've never heard of canned ricotta.

                    1. re: Jason1

                      Me and my girlfriend will probably stop by both and buy a bunch of snacks to pig out on anyway :p

                      1. re: Jason1

                        Neither have I.
                        Seriously, does it taste like a ricotta base to you?
                        My relationship with Piedigrotta is that I like to eat there, for obvious reasons.

                  3. re: Hue

                    I'm not a local, but this is a second for Pierpoint. I'd go back in a hot minute.

                    1. re: Steve Green

                      Yea Pierpoint's doesn't get a whole lotta love on this board but I have always had great meals there...and it has a certain Maryland flair(Smoked Crabcakes!!!)

                  4. (Picture is tiramisu from Piedigrotta)
                    Dear Mxdx1,
                    You do not tell us what, in the wide spectrum of food types, you enjoy eating. Therefore, I do not know if you love haute cuisine, BBQ, or whether you eat all varieties but are obsessed with sincere, mom 'n' pop run places, and the list goes on...

                    There are very few places in Baltimore that my wife and I have been to repeatedly but Cinghiale is one of them. It helps that it is a pretty place in the stylish East Harbor but the food there is top notch. It is northern Italian with a good selection of Charcuterie and wines. Open seven days for dinner. Near Orange Line (free bus) or this is the only restaurant downtown with free valet parking (tip generously).
                    The second place that deserves repeated visits is Mekong Delta on Sarastoa Street. Thirty minute walk uphill from the harbor, or it is near the free bus line (Purple Line). Just the opposite, it is an inexpensive, family-run very good quality Vietnamese restaurant - the young kids help out, sometimes. No reservations, lines form for dinner, open from 11 am, closed Sun and Mon.
                    The hidden gem that I love is the mom 'n' pop bakery, Piedigrotta Bakery, 1300 Bank St. Open six days from 7am to 8pm (6pm on Sunday, closed Monday) for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Near the Orange Line or plenty of on street parking nearby. Mrs. Ianniconne is a masterful Italian chef who cooks out of her kitchen. No food service ingredients here or food industry workers, either. She does it all herself, and it tastes like it. It is 'family style: you see the dishes that you select from. Her gnocchi is the lightest that I have enjoyed. Better than Cinghiale. And Mr. Ianniccone invented tiramisu in Tivoli, Italy 44 years ago. What more is there to say? I should have a review on this website shortly.
                    If you want to eat the legendary crab cakes, go to Pierpoint Restaurant on Aliceanna Street. This is their very storng point. You can order them as an appetizer or an entree, smoked or regular (get one of each!). They use only fresh Chesapeake Bay crab (or fresh North Carolina crab this time of year until the season opens in May), not the frozen crab from the Phillipines that all the other famous tourist crab places use to feed the large volume of diners. (Dinner or Sunday brunch, closed Monday).
                    Woodberry Kitchen (northwest Baltimore - car or Taxi necessary; parking is a b@#ch) is a very, very good farm-to-table restaurant. Better get reservations for dinner (seven days) or Sunday brunch.
                    Our favorite pizza in town is Verde Pizza because the quality of the ingredients is uncompromising and readily apparent. (sunday brunch, Saturday lunch or dinner only the rest of the week). Because of this, it is ridiculously expensive. Two pizzas and two appetizers will easily cost $70 without drinks. Parking is difficult.
                    The hottest restaurant in town is Bottega. I have not eaten there yet because my reservations had to be made two months in advance. You can get in much sooner if you are willing to dine late, say 9pm. If you go, let us know how it is.
                    If you like coffee, let me know and I can go on and on about cafes...

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Gastrobuck

                      Great, personalised reviews! (but Woodberry Kitchen has valet, so parking is easy)

                      1. re: Gastrobuck

                        wow this was by far the best information I've gotten! I am actually in love with farm-to-table restaurants. I am surprised you said not to go to Faidley's! Is it really that bad? I've heard all these things about their crab cakes but I don't want to go for the name. I'd rather enjoy the best there is instead. I was also looking at Charlston's too. I've been to several jbf dinners when I was in banking and I've always loved them. I think I am sold on Bottega...Thanks for the GREAT help!!

                        1. re: mxdx1

                          Try one Faidleys crabcake the day after you have been to Pierpoint and you, too, will become a mythbuster. That is what I did. They are NASTY.

                          1. re: Gastrobuck

                            Saying Failey's crabcakes are nasty is simply not credible. I've had their crabcakes and they're very good. Might not be the best but they're far from nasty.

                            1. re: Gastrobuck

                              My only quibble with Gastrobuck's excellent rundown is that Mekong Delta is not a 30 minute walk from the Inner Harbor. It's .7 mile from Harbor Place, and even though part of that is a slow incline, I'd say closer to 15 minutes.

                              Also, Peter's Inn is a local gem in Fells Point, with most of the menu changing weekly. No reservations, so get there and have drinks at the bar before dinner starts at 6:30 pm.

                            2. re: mxdx1

                              I'm not a fan of crabcakes (I'd much rather pick and eat whole steamed crabs) but I love Faidley's raw bar. If you can, go to Lexington Market on a Saturday afternoon when a band is playing. Enjoy the music and the scene and get oysters at Faidley's.

                          2. Also... the negatives
                            Stay away from:
                            Charleston (owned by same chefs that own Cinghiale) too expensive and kitchen oversight is very poor.
                            Gia's (see my review on another travel web site)
                            Phillips seafood
                            Lexington Market (unless you like to eat tourist food with the homeless)
                            Did I day Faidley?
                            Any Greek restaurant
                            Lebanese Taverna
                            Any Thai restaurant
                            Finally, Faidley

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: Gastrobuck

                              Stay away from Charleston? It's without question the best restaurant in Baltimore, and it's not even close. Just because it is pricey doesn't disqualify it. Cindy Wolf is a perennial James Beard Award Finalist for her work there.

                              As far as staying away from ANY Greek restaurant: Samos is an experience that is worth having but one of the best gyros in this country (seriously, I've eaten gyros all over Greece) is at Greektown Grill. It's just a takeaway, but the authentic is not to be missed.

                              Of all the restaurants discussed on this thread I'd agree with Thames St Oyster House being a good choice, but make a reservation now. Verde does make excellent pizza but their wine list is horribly overpriced for what you are getting. Mama's on the Halfshell is a fine local haunt and an awesome setting, but the food is only so-so. My wife and I have enjoyed Pabu quite a bit in the past, but our last two visits were only okay. I've been underwhelmed with Woodberry's dinner offerings for some time, but I love their Saturday lunch.

                              I've just become tired of most of Baltimore's restaurant scene. Too many "farm to table" type places, (what does that even mean anymore?), not enough good ethnic options, etc.

                              1. re: hotel

                                When I have been to Charleston, the lobster bisque was creamy and perfectly done, except the ball of lobster meat sitting in the middle of the bisque was ice cold from the refrigerator. The foie gras was perfectly seared - difficult to do - but over-salted and inedible. When I also sent it back they agreed. The arugula salad - almost the same as across the street at Cinghiale - was sour here but great across the street. Don't get personal: this is not about price. If I eat at Verde pizza, I do not mind shelling out top dollar for ingredients. And it isn't about James Beard awards, either. No line chef who is responsible for your dish ever gets an award; but there better be, I as I mentioned, oversight of food-service workers by knowledgeable professionals. For my part, I was tired and embarrassed to be sending courses back to the kitchen and looking like a cheap diner who was trying to slide by on 'comps'. I have eaten in fine establishments all over the U.S., including five years in Manhattan, and I never had to send back practically a whole meal before.
                                I agree that Samos is the best of the three main Greeks, but I wouldn't send an out of towner there when other cuisine is better.
                                In one respect, I could not agree with you more: every restaurant ought to be a farm-to-table (or dock-to-table) restaurant in spirit and in practice. Therefore the term is meaningless except to indicate that the dining standard in this country depends overwhelmingly on cans and freezers.

                                1. re: Gastrobuck

                                  What would you recommend as a genuine farm-to-table in Baltimore?

                                  1. re: mxdx1

                                    Well, I like Woodberry Kitchen but there is certainly room for others to disagree. I think people are right when they say the term has been abused as a marketing strategy by establishments that have no intention of respecting uniqueness, freshness, or sustainability. Woodberry is not among these. Two places I would avoid that bill themselves as F-t-T are Fleet Street Kitchen (and their co-owned Bagbys pizza, next door) and Founding Farmers, with branches in Bethesda and downtown DC.

                                    1. re: Gastrobuck

                                      Thank you!!! You've been a great help

                                  2. re: Gastrobuck

                                    I'm not getting personal, you said it's too expensive. I disagree. While not cheap it's clearly the best in Baltimore despite you having a so-so experience the one time you seem to have been there. Kitchens have off nights, and obviously it's not a place priced so that you can just keep going, waiting for them to get it right. I've been there probably 6 or 8 times, never had anything but exceptional food and tremendous service. For the record I don't particularly like the other Foreman-Wolf restaurants, but I don't mind Petit Louis, same goes for the bar area at Cinghiale. Both great spaces and lovely to get a glass of wine in.

                                    I am not trying to be standoff-ish here but I'm questioning your judgement because you are giving your highest praise, above and below, to Pierpoint. While I agree the food is good for the most part, I've never been in there where the restaurant isn't completely empty. They must do a massive catering business, I have no idea how they pay that lease.

                                    To the OP, if you want something unique in downtown your best bet is probably Fork & Wrench. I forgot to mention that earlier. They are doing some cool stuff, again it's not cheap.

                                    Definitely don't drive out to G&M crabcake. They use Vietnamese crab and it's kind of gooey since they insist on famously using "no filler," sometimes you need some breadcrumbs/crackers to sop up the mayo. People love them because they are freaking enormous. Better options downtown are LP Steamers, Duda's, Henninger's, Mama's on the Halfshell (NOT the sandwich), Captain Larry's (great little bar).

                                    I haven't been to Wit and Wisdom since they hired this new chef, but what he's been putting out has looked promising.

                                    1. re: hotel

                                      Thanks! I actually read about fork & wrench too. Ahh too much food to try out!!! Everyone has been a great help :)

                                      1. re: hotel

                                        I mentioned crab cakes as Pierpoint's one strong point. The standard journalistic tradition of carefully wording reviews to either blanket recommend, recommend one exceptional draw, or damn with faint praise is one I find useful (when I am not flaying a pretentious estsablishment for posing above their abilities). As an example, read City Paper's recent rundown of Baltimore estsablishments; you can learn more about a restaurant by what they don't say about it, or HOW they describe it often times than what they say, all in the vein of being reliable without offending. This is a skill I am trying to achieve but, obviously, I have not gotten close to it, yet. I admire and appreciate Chef Longo at Pierpoint and consider her the Ambassador of Maryland Crabcakes, which is an important function that serves a national obsession. You have not heard me say that I would order anything else while I was there. Even the eggplant layer cake is stingy, underseasoned and poorly prepared compared to the eggplant parmesian at Piedigrotta. Sharing restaurant stories only goes so far; people are going to have different experiences based upon what they ordered and, yes, who is on duty when they visit.

                                    2. re: hotel

                                      Thanks for the reply and help! What would you recommend as place to grab a crab cake?

                                      1. re: mxdx1

                                        I would drive 15 minutes and go to Gunnings or G and M. Get the broiled crabcakes.

                                      2. re: Gastrobuck

                                        We got rained out in DC and decided to come up and get a room on the Inner harbor and relax at the Royal Sonesta. Wanted to try Faidleys, but in addition to several reviews and our bellman saying it was a dicey neighborhood, we are now looking for suggestions for crab cakes nearby. Hubbies loves oysters too! Any help is appreciated. Thanks for letting me hop on the thread!

                                        1. re: Pumpkiness

                                          No problem! if you look above, gastrobuck had some great reviews and Pierpoint is where he says to go for crab cakes :)

                                          1. re: Pumpkiness

                                            for crab cakes with FRESH crab:
                                            Pierpoint.1822 Aliceanna St.
                                            Pierpoint.1822 Aliceanna St.
                                            Pierpoint.1822 Aliceanna St.
                                            Their open secret is that they use crumbled Ritz crackers in their crab cakes instead of bread crumbs. Also, they use a lot of sweet claw meat.
                                            The recipe is on line (youtube, I think), if you want to scope it out. I have followed it exactly and STILL cannot make it as delicious as they can.
                                            If you are unable to get a reservation, I have not yet been to G&M but several established Marylanders have separately suggested that I go there: G&M Restaurant 804 Hammonds Ferry Rd, Linthicum Heights, MD
                                            Bayside Inn Restaurant is on Smith Island, where the crab fishing and shucking industry is centered. They are good (during season), but I like Pierpoint better.

                                            1. re: Gastrobuck

                                              "If you are unable to get a reservation..."

                                              Is this in regards to Pierpoint???? If so, I'm pretty sure that won't be an issue

                                            2. re: Pumpkiness

                                              Faidleys is in the Lexington Market (read "also the negatives", above). I think I just walked past another location, but I put it out of my mind.

                                            3. re: Gastrobuck

                                              I'm an ex Baltimorian who hasn't been for years. you said "any Greek restaurant" -- is the Black Olive still around? If so, did it jump the shark? Also, how is the Helmand these days? Still any good? I used to love that place. Finally, are the steamed shrimp still fabulous at John Steven?

                                              1. re: vvv03

                                                The Black Olive has done a mega-revamp of the kitchen. I didn't mean to include it in 'any Greek...' because I have always considered it several steps above 'Greek' - how about 'Meditteranean'? I cannot comment on the new menu, etc., so, while it may possibly be good, I did not want to direct out-of-towners there without some knowledge.
                                                Helman is good but, honestly, all of their sauces are sour from yoghurt and it gets to be a turn-off, similar to most Indian restaurants. Having tried yoghurt offshore, I am willing to bet that my problem with the Helmand is that they use the sour food-industry yoghurt rather than good, nutty Balkan yoghurt. It is their own fault, really. Any kitchen worth its salt can maintain its own yoghurt culture. If my favorite bakery in Seattle can grow its own strain of yeast for its breads, an Afghani restaurant can surely cultivate yoghurt.

                                                1. re: vvv03

                                                  IMO Helmand is marvelous-- still packed even on many weeknights, and even after all these years. Elegant, consistent, and sophisticated food (along with attentive, fast service).