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altar-ego

Baltimore – Where to eat

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A few corrections from a native: Matthew's Pizza is on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown, not Little Italy. Worth a trip. And, they actually keep pretty regular hours. If you are going out that way, stop at Dangerously Delicious Pies at Fleet and Montford for dessert. The second correction: Gampy's has been closed for years. It stunk.

As many have suggested, the Brewer's Art is a great choice. I love the beer called ozzy and the rosemary garlic frites. It will send you off to an evening at the Club Charles with the proper attitude.

The jumbo lump crabcakes at Faidley's are it. They also make a mighty fine coddie, a very blue collar Baltimore food tradition.

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I liked Gampy's when I was in (or out of) the proper frame of mind. It really wasn't about the food. And the crowd was extremely interesting. Next you'll tell me that the Mt. Vernon Stable rib place across the street is gone.

There's one Little Tavern left...out in Dundalk. Old-timers will (fondly?) recall this DelMarVa take on White Castle that helped to close out many a night of drinking. There's also one down in Laurel, for what it's worth. Those are the last two of the former empire. Sigh.

When The Wharf Rat was in the original, pre-beer pub location, they had what they called The White Trash Breakfast Special - a can of National Bohemian and a Moon Pie for 75-cents before noon. They also had 10-cent oysters that you had to shuck yourself. I haven't been to the fancy, yupped-up Inner Harbor location but am encouraged by the 3 for 3 special, which is in the original spirit.

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When The Wharf Rat was in the original, pre-beer pub location, they had what they called The White Trash Breakfast Special - a can of National Bohemian and a Moon Pie for 75-cents before noon. They also had 10-cent oysters that you had to shuck yourself. I haven't been to the fancy, yupped-up Inner Harbor location but am encouraged by the 3 for 3 special, which is in the original spirit.

There's two Wharf Rat locations. The original is still there on Ann Street (and that's where you gotta go for "3 for 3"). The Inner Harbor/Camden one sucks in comparison (but the beer is still good).

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I like Petit Louis but it's pretty well cut from the Balthazar/Pastis template. I guess that it could be anywhere. I'd do the crab thing, also Little Tavern, find a place that does pit beef and DEFINITELY go to Marconi's, although it might be "fine dining", it's Baltimore fine dining, which is quite surreal. Talk about time warpo'mania.

If you want real, old style Baltimore but less, um, formal than Marconi's, go to The Women's Industrial Exchange lunchroom, on Charles Street. Whoah. Chicken Salad with Tomato Aspic, salads from the 60's (that's 1860's), Deviled Eggs. It's a trip.

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In proximity to Club Charles, I too would recommend Brewer's Art. If you want casual "pub grub" they have it (mmmmmm.....rosemary garlic frites), but if you feeling like taking a table in the cozy, wood panelled dining room, you won't regret it. And their beer is very, very good.

http://www.belgianbeer.com/

Ixia is another good choice, now that they have a chef who's allowed to have full creative control. A swankier interior though, so it may be more "fine dining" than what you are looking for:

http://www.ixia-online.com/

Frogprince's heart shall remain intact, as Matthew's Pizza is still around. And it is as he describes. Everyone I know says no place in Baltimore tops NYC for pizza, but at least Matthew's variant is unique- house made deep-dish crusts, the usual "classic" toppings, and no mango-salsa-mergherita froo fooness.

It is, er, "townie" though. Zero decor, but so what. Also a bit more of a drive than the others.

3131 Eastern Ave.

Highlandtown

Baltimore, MD 21224

[map]

(410) 276-8755

11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, noon-8 p.m. Sundays

And then there is Helmand. It's an Afghan place run by the brother of that country's current ruler. Terrible wine list, delicious food, and right in the neighborhood.

http://www.helmand.com/cuisine.shtml

Vespa is not cutting edge, but I like it. good cooking, great wine list, actual stemware instead of Libby's Finest Potato Mashers, reasonably priced. The owner will fall out of his chair if he's in there when you come through the door, however. Come to think of it, that will happen at most of these places.

1117-21 S. Charles St.

Federal Hill

Baltimore, MD 21230

[map]

(410) 385-0355

5:30-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5:30-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

I'll give you a fine dining option too, just because I like these folks a lot.Corks is at the top of their game right now. And they aren't stuffy fine dining. The staff is knowledgeable and laid back. Even a nice pair of jeans that haven't been too faded and a button down shirt/pullover will more than suffice: http://www.corksrestaurant.com/

there are other good choices, but all will require some more involved driving, like Chameleon Cafe. I personally like them quite a lot- husband and wife team, 30 years old, and parents to be. Sometimes the cooking is rough around the edges but overall I'm a big fan. Completely unassuming place, with comfortably arty decor. Because it is a little out of the way, it is 100% townie. I even saw your man John Waters in there once.

4341 Harford Road

Lauraville

Baltimore, MD 21214

[map]

(410) 254-2376

bwolfsmith@aol.com

8 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays

I hope that helps. I also hope we perform well enough to, ahhhh..to improve your opinion as articulated in the book.theyareontome.gif

Cheers,

pleiades

p.s. it isn't crab season yet, so they'll all be flown in from out of state


Edited by pleiades (log)

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Hell, almost all crab in Maryland, whatever the time of year, is flown in. The crab harvesting around the Chesapeake has been devastated since at least the early 80's. Freakin' national and historic tragedy, in my view. Given how much crab in all its' form is consumed in Maryland in a given year, I'd be surprised if even 5% of what's eaten is from there. Louisiana has the same thing going on with crayfish.


Edited by jbraynolds (log)

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There's one Little Tavern left...out in Dundalk. Old-timers will (fondly?) recall this DelMarVa take on White Castle that helped to close out many a night of drinking. There's also one down in Laurel, for what it's worth. Those are the last two of the former empire. Sigh.

Actually, there is a Little Tavern on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown.

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Hell, almost all crab in Maryland, whatever the time of year, is flown in. The crab harvesting around the Chesapeake has been devastated since at least the early 80's. Freakin' national and historic tragedy, in my view. Given how much crab in all its' form is consumed in Maryland in a given year, I'd be surprised if even 5% of what's eaten is from there. Louisiana has the same thing going on with crayfish.

It's not exactly the same thing, considering that much of the blue crab that you eat in Maryland as "Maryland Crab" and many of the oysters that you eat as "Blue Point" are from Louisiana and Texas (ask to see the tag on the sack or the box (box more likely in this case as that is how the "selects" are usually packed.

We have no shortage of anything seafood wise to speak of. The issue here, particularly with crawfish, is price as it relates to labor. Crawfish just happen. They are every damn where. Ditches, lakes, drainage canals, rice fields, river basin, the ornamental ponds in my backyard. We have lots of water (65% of the entire watershed for the entire United States passes within 25 miles of my house). The problem with crawfish here (and what I believe you are referring to) is that the labor market in China is such that they are able to grow and PICK the boiled or steamed bugs and pack them into pound bags (although Chinese Crawfish almost are never packed by the pound, but in 12 ounce bags as they are banking on most consumers expecting to be getting a pound and not taking the time to read the fine print (and it is FINE) much less expensively than we can do it in packing houses on the Gulf Coast, even at minimum wage. This problem of inexpensive imports is what is hurting our crawfish industry here, not a shortage of the raw product as has happened in Maryland.

Crabs are a little different for two reasons-the Gulf Of Mexico and it's brackish bays and bayous continue to produce crabs in very healthy numbers. #1 males go for about a buck, cooked, at any local grocery here and are and have remained inexpensive and delicious. They are easy to catch in a trap and most people I know here in this tidal parish catch their own off of their own or some friends dock. I do.

The second reason that crabs are different than crawfish is that they only occur here, the blue crab is not something that can be grown economically or well elsewhere. The cost of labor in picking crab meat is very high. It is very skilled labor and takes a meticulous and delicate touch to do it at high speed in a commercial packing house. Along the Gulf Coast it was primarily natives who took care of this job, and primarily women as they have more skill and a more delicate touch at this onerous task, but right after the VIet Nam War there was a huge influx of Vietnamese Immigrants to SOuth Louisiana (three reasons-we're primarily Catholic, we still have some French speaking culture left down on the bayous in the central Gulf part of the state, and there was a huge contingent of ex Vietnamese army helicopter pilots who found work in the then booming oil fields giving rides to rig workers and moving around equipment) and their wives and daughters started filling the spots in the picking houses. The cost of crabmeat (particularl the highly prized lump portion of it) is all in the labor-the raw product is comparitively cheap. You can make a decent living if you can pick the things fast enough. The picking houses are much like the old cigar factories. Someone reads or there is some other audible entertainment to keep your mind off of the paring knfe in your right hand and the crab in the other. The houses are fascinating places to visit. They don't exactly offer tours, but most of them are happy enough to let you have a look if you ask nicely.

So, the reason for the reasons for the crab shortage in Maryland (sad though that is) are not quite the same as the shortage of native crawfish tail meat in Louisiana.

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... Faidley's are it. They also make a mighty fine coddie, a very blue collar Baltimore food tradition.

Some details on coddie, please?

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I assume you'll be cabbing it or have access to a car, since the Chuck isn't near any hotels.

It has been a couple of years since I've lived in Baltimore, but the Cafe Hon and Holy Frijoles both have good grub in very Baltimore style setting.

You put NO in bold, so I assume you don't want anything attempting to mimic fine dining, and these both fit the bill.

John Steven's is a great place to suck back a few dozen pints with decent bar food, and there's a Mexican joint in Canton that serves good margherita's in hubcaps, but I am sure that it has been over run with trendy shitbags. I hope the same doesn't apply to Club Charles.

The Helmand has been the leading Afghani restaurant in Baltimore for at least a decade, and not because it's the only one either. Food is very good, but yeah, the wine list sucks.

Stop by the Red Maple on your way up the street to see Baltimore's version of a NY'esque tapas bar/dance club.

Definitely recommend the Brewer's Art! The beer selection is superb, and the basement bar is a more like a beer dungeon.

Have fun in Charm City, and please report back!

Oh yeah, sucking down raw oysters and huge beers in Cross Street Market is a great way to spend the day.

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That Little Tavern that misscindy mentions, in Highlandtown, on Eastern, is the one to which I refer. In my overly big picture way of looking at Baltimore I guess I consider that area "Dundalk North", with all due respect to the locals. The owner is the same as the one down in Laurel, I'm told. They supposedly get their buns from the same purveyor that supplied all of the Little Taverns back in the day.

There's some good stuff available on the web that tracks the rise, reign and fall of Little Tavern, btw.

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Some details on coddie, please?

Coddies are crabcake shaped combos of salt cod and mashed potatoes. They used to be on counters of virtually every bar and convenience store in Baltimore and to a lesser extent, they still are. Of course, not everyone makes them "right" with real mashed pototoes, but Faidley's does. There's a little store in my neighborhood that has them on the counter and it never fails to crack me up when the guys behind the counter, with thick Baltimore accents, always ask "do you need a coddie with that, hon?" when I stop in to buy trash bags.

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Oh yeah, sucking down raw oysters and huge beers in Cross Street Market is a great way to spend the day.

Yes, this was one of the best things I've done in Baltimore!

Open every day except Sunday from 7am-6pm over near Federal Hill.

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I saw this place on the Food Network:

Nacho Mama's:

Vintage signage, south-of-the-border souvenirs and Elvis memorabilia pack this tiny, festive Tex-Mex joint. It's located on Canton's popular square. Large numbers of upwardly mobile patrons squeeze their way inside for the chance to eat chips and salsa out of hubcaps and sip pints of knock your socks off margaritas. The above average food offerings include staples like tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and fajitas -- all of which can be had traditional (beef tacos) and creative (stir-fry quesadillas).

The restaurant can get quite rowdy because the margaritas pack a punch. It's a great place to cut loose, but not the best choice if you're looking for quiet respite. Be warned, there aren't many tables and reservations aren't taken. Count on waiting an hour or two at peak times. -- Melissa Nurczynski, AOL City Guide

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I saw this place on the Food Network:

Nacho Mama's:

Vintage signage, south-of-the-border souvenirs and Elvis memorabilia pack this tiny, festive Tex-Mex joint. It's located on Canton's popular square. Large numbers of upwardly mobile patrons squeeze their way inside for the chance to eat chips and salsa out of hubcaps and sip pints of knock your socks off margaritas. The above average food offerings include staples like tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and fajitas -- all of which can be had traditional (beef tacos) and creative (stir-fry quesadillas).

The restaurant can get quite rowdy because the margaritas pack a punch. It's a great place to cut loose, but not the best choice if you're looking for quiet respite. Be warned, there aren't many tables and reservations aren't taken. Count on waiting an hour or two at peak times. -- Melissa Nurczynski, AOL City Guide

They didn't mention all the Natty Boh* memorabilia, which is one of the greatest things about the place. It's mixed in with the Elvis stuff. And you drink the margaritas out of hubcabs (with a straw), not eat chips out of them! This place can be fun, but they did get the part about the long wait right (esp these days, with Canton being a popular area). The food is just ok, except for a really good crab dip.

*National Bohemian beer. No longer brewed in Baltimore, but still seen often there.

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*National Bohemian beer. No longer brewed in Baltimore, but still seen often there.

:sad: Is it brewed somewhere else, or just gone? Can't imagine it would have the same funky, yet oddly bland flavor brewed somewhere else.

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*National Bohemian beer.  No longer brewed in Baltimore, but still seen often there.

:sad: Is it brewed somewhere else, or just gone? Can't imagine it would have the same funky, yet oddly bland flavor brewed somewhere else.

It's now brewed by Pabst, so "The Land of Pleasant Living" is now San Antonio, TX. The quality is up to the standards of other fine Pabst products such as Old Style, Colt 45 and St. Ides. They have an incredible graphics department as well:

i5216.jpg


Edited by cjsadler (log)

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*National Bohemian beer.  No longer brewed in Baltimore, but still seen often there.

:sad: Is it brewed somewhere else, or just gone? Can't imagine it would have the same funky, yet oddly bland flavor brewed somewhere else.

Ohhh, man, Natty Bo!

I didn't even know this existed until a month ago, when I was at a seedy little warehouse of a club near Lexington Market to hear an aquaintance's band play. They were selling cans of Natty Bo for a dollar a pop at the bar. Since then, I have learned what a ripoff this is, since you can buy a case of it for less than ten dollars in some liquor stores.

Yummm, Natty Bo. Like drinking sugary water. Dig the little one-eyed Baltimore man on the can.

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A six-pack of Natty Boh and a sack of Little Tavern burgers. Now THAT's Baltimore dining. Don't forget the Berger's fudge cookies for dessert.

Berger Cookies


Edited by jbraynolds (log)

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This little LuvFest is charming, but we're all waxing poetic about dung.

Last night I went to a Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall in Eden Center, and for the first time in my life, I was wishing I had gone to Four Sisters. This place was authentic and homey, but it was also nasty: everyone was smoking, the beer glasses smelled strongly of metal (from being stored upside-down on the metal shelf above the bar), the fish tank was way too small for the army of large docile fish floating around doing nothing, and it was so dirty and cloudy that it was completely opaque. The basil tasted like soap, which quite frankly amazed me because that means they washed it, the shrimp was frozen and limpid, bivalves were sitting around on a tray in the middle of the restaurant at room temperature, and a thermos full of live frogs was even more disgusting. It was a top-to-bottom bad meal: at least Four Sisters isn't filthy.

Little Tavern, anyone?

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This little LuvFest is charming, but we're all waxing poetic about dung.

Funny how people come out of the woodwork to toss around tired cliches about Baltimore when there is an opportunity to kiss a celeb's rear end, isn't it?

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This little LuvFest is charming, but we're all waxing poetic about dung.

Funny how people come out of the woodwork to toss around tired cliches about Baltimore when there is an opportunity to kiss a celeb's rear end, isn't it?

Bah. No one said it was good. In fact, I think we've mostly talked about it in a "yep, that's classic Baltimore <roll of the eyes>" kind of way.

I think there have been few threads started on or questions asked about Baltimore. I'm still pretty new, so if indeed the replies on this thread exist only because our provincial panties are in a bunch over a Big Time Celebrity Type deigning to discuss our region with us, please correct me.

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I assume the question was asked to start with because there just ain't that much in the forum about Baltimore.

There's one other thread about the IACP conference which has more on the fine dining end, there's one about breakfast, and there are a couple other "visiting Baltimore, where should I eat?" threads, plus there's one waaaay back about crab cakes. The answers are pretty much the same every time - Faidley's, Brewer's Art, Wharf Rat, Little Italy yes, Little Italy no, Inner Harbor tourist trap.

We now return you to your previously scheduled discussion about Natty Bo. Personally, I prefer Red White and Blue, but since it was a Pabst product as well it could well be that they're identical.

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Went to the O's game last night. One of the beer vendors on Eutaw St sells a Brewer's Art ale-- worth all $6!

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I didn't fully take in the emphasis on NO fine dining... with that I think my suggestions of Ixia and Corks and probably even Vespa don't apply. There is also Golden West Cafe in Hampden, near Cafe Hon. Bohemian in a smart Austin TX kind of way. The chef/owner loves spice, and his culinary heart clearly lies in the New Southwest. The menu reflects that, with a sprinkle of Thai and Vietnamese. The food is tasty, honestly prepared, generously portioned, and inexpensive. Tom Rudis is the chef/owner, he's an interesting personality, and his place is worth a visit.

And sometimes, on an early Spring evening, a cool Natty Boh hits the spot. Diss it all you want, but just like its G. Heilman brethren (Pabst and Lone Star) it at least tastes like beer, which is more than I can say for the "premium" brands like Bud and Miller. If there's no Anchor and no Sierra Nevada in the house (or a competent local draught), I'll take the Boh.

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