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Baltimore: Habor East happy hour

Some other Harbor East choices for those of you planning a visit during happy hour:

Amicci's - Long the least expensive of Little Italy's restaurants, this cozy place opened a bar in the last year that is a friendly, intimate neighborhood joint. Ron is a fine bartender, and the specials are, well, special. $2 beers, $3 glasses of wine, and I'm afraid I cannot recall the mixed drink discount. But the true stars are the happy hour appetizers. Priced at $5 each, you can get what must be a pound of mussels in red (good) or white (better) sauce, the best fried calamari I've had anywhere, caeser or garden salad, or tomatoes with mozarella. Worth a visit.

Babalu Grill - This homage to Desi Arnaz is kitschy but nicely done. Two mojitos or margaritas for $5 can't be beat, although the mojitos could have been more flavorful. The best thing here was a $5 ceviche, also the best I've had anywhere. It was served in a cup made from plantain chips and (oddly) over a bed of mashed potatoes. (Or were they mashed plaintains?) Anyway, it was fresh and delicious. The spring rolls were good, too, and not the least bit greasy. It's a shame the place has been almost empty both times I've been.

Ram's Head Tavern - It's been more than a year since I've been here, so someone please post an update. Last I checked, good homemade brews for $2 and a revolving selection of free happy hour food. And we're not talking pretzels, here. Each day is a different special, ranging from mussles to sausages to carved beef. A very good value in a very casual setting.

Blue Sea Grill - More upscale than the others, the ambience here is very nice, and the food is quite good. The scallop appetizer is the standout. Although I was underwhelmed by the lobster mac and cheese at the time, somehow I craved it later. Go figure. I can't recall the prices, but they weren't much more than the other places.

James Joyce Pub - I may be the only one who just doesn't feel this place. $8 for a Guiness or a glass of house wine seems high to me for happy hour. Is it worth it for the bricks and mortar that were brought over from Ireland? The Irish accents? Maybe to you, but not to me.

Cafe Gia & the the meeting of the 'hounds (Balto)

We had a perfectly awful experience at Cafe Gia a few weeks ago. I barely recognize the place in these reviews. Yes, the decor is cute. But the service is nothing short of appalling. Upon being seated for dinner, my friend mentioned she is diabetic and asked if bread could be put on the table. It must have been an awful imposition, because we were allotted three (count 'em) slices of bread exactly 45 minutes later. Yes, I checked my watch. Same with the cream for her coffee, which she had to ask for twice. After ten minutes with an empty water glass, I finally had to ask the young man with the pitcher to please fill it. I like scallops cooked rare, but these were undercooked even by my standards. Not so the veal, which was on the tough side. Even so, the sauce was good, so I asked for half my dinner to be wrapped to take home. Within moments of standing up to leave, someone had cleared the table. By the time I turned to pick up the package of leftovers, it was gone. And couldn't be found.

I want those two hours of my life back. And the rest of my dinner.

Best Cannoli in Baltimore?

I wonder why my experience was different. Could it be that the ones on display weren't fresh enough to serve at the end of the day, when I was there? Perhaps I will have to be more assertive next time.

Baltimore CITY- best french onion soup?

Chicken liver vinaigrette and duck bacon? I'm on my way over. What time is good for you?

I have to agree with the others about Petit Louis. A good basic version. But then, I'll happily eat the French onion soup at Panera, so how can you trust me?

Best Cannoli in Baltimore?

Vaccaro's and Piedigrotta are both good, but they will appeal to different tastes. I have to disagree that Piedigrotta's filling is richer. Personally I prefer the flavor of Vaccaro's cannoli precisely because of the richer, denser filling. To me, the main difference is that Piedigrotta's filling is lighter, fluffier, and less sweet. Since I am a sugar fiend, I think most people will disagree with my preference. Try them both.

Just a note about Piedigrotta's shells. On display in the store, you will see a basket of lovely, textured cannoli shells. They are a work of art. Literally -- because you don't get those when you order a cannoli there. You get the plain old garden-variety shell.

Best Indian Buffet in Baltimore

Time for an update:

Mehek - This place changes management more often than some people change diapers. In the past, the managers have always been very interested in improving the dining experience. Not any more. The bread is still piping hot, but in most other respects, the food has gone downhill with the latest management change. The soups are gone, along with the complex sauces. Couldn't find a hint of saffron on my last visit. The trays are no longer changed frequently, resulting in dry chicken and overcooked everything else. Can no longer recommend.

Kumari - This is the Nepalese/Indian place on Charles Street in Mt. Vernon. For $8 weekdays and $10 weekends, there is a nice selection of dishes, including a best-in-class okra (and this from a guy who has to be taunted to try that slimy stuff). The tandoori chicken was the best I've had, moist and full of flavor. Here, too, they bring naan fresh to your table. And if you like your mango lassi sweet and bursting with mango flavor (rather than sour and tasting mostly of yogurt and salt), this is the place to try. I'd like to see lamb on the buffet, and soup would be a welcome addition, but those are quibbles. This one is my new favorite, and it's been there for years.

Where are the Region's Best BBQ Ribs?

Do I understand you correctly that Smokey Hollow has closed? If true, it's a sad day for BBQ in Maryland. Say it ain't so.

Is GBP 50 a Cheap Meal in London?

Thanks for the thoughts so far. I think it's all a question of how creative one is willing to be. For example, there is an Italian restaurant across the street from my apartment, in a neighborhood where the typical dinner is $30-50 per person. They have happy-hour specials in the bar, where one can get, among other things, a pound of steamed mussels in garlic sauce, some crusty bread, and a glass of wine for $8. I also enjoy going to farmers' markets, picking up some nice ham, a bit of cheese, a loaf of bread, perhaps a piece of fruit, and having a picnic in the park. That's the kind of thing I have in mind. A good meal, to me, does not have to involve a white tablecloth.

May 14, 2007
Lettuce Eat in U.K./Ireland

A Walk along the Seine

Thanks, guys. These are some great suggestions, and colorful, too. I especially like the idea of planning a walking tour according to the locations of the markets. Let's call it the market-based approach to dining. This Bastille Market you mention -- is it the same one I have seen called "Marche de Alligre"?

May 14, 2007
Lettuce Eat in France

A Walk along the Seine

I'll be staying in the Opera district next week and plan to spend a good deal of time walking, from the Arc de Triomphe to, say, Place des Vosges. Now, here's the challenge. I have noted that some of you define an "inexpensive" meal as "no more than EUR 70 per person." Bless your hearts, but I don't want to hear from you. I want to hear from those of you who have discovered delightful places to eat that cost EUR 10 or less. I don't care about ambience or service, nor do I care how many Michelin stars have been awarded. Tell me I can walk into a local farmers' market, buy some bread and meat, a little cheese, a piece of fresh fruit perhaps, take it to Parc Monceau for a picnic, and I will be thrilled. In short, where can I get really tasty, really cheap, distinctly French food in this area? It absolutely must be within walking distance of the Opera district.

May 12, 2007
Lettuce Eat in France

Is GBP 50 a Cheap Meal in London?

Well, now I'm worried.

There are now two threads asking for inexpensive meals in London for no more than GBP 30 to 50 per person without wine. Gasp. Is that what you Brits call cheap?

I don't care about ambience or service. All I want is a tasty meal. Where does one find great food for, say, GBP 5 per person?

FWIW, I'll be staying near the Victoria and Pimlico tube stops.

May 12, 2007
Lettuce Eat in U.K./Ireland

H&S Bakery Outlet- Baltimore

H&S Bakery in fact supplies many of the supermarkets with their packaged baked goods. The outlet has the same items at substantially lower prices. H&S also supplies the bread marketed under certain national brand names. If you want to stock your freezer with marble rye, it's hard to beat three loaves for a dollar.

There are also a few cakes and cookies, including some supplied by other bakeries.

Piedigrotta is a very nice little bakery on the edge of Little Italy, but it is not in the same category. Only a bread snob would suggest it as an alternative to this place.

Parking is not a problem, as the outlet has it's own parking lot adjacent to the building.

True in Fell's Point - Terrible

Mine was the review that mentioned the moldy smell. It was present during the summer restaurant week, but not during the winter one. I think that's par for the course with a room in a basement made of stone. I noted the slow service as well, which we experienced again this time. But it wasn't nearly slow enough to merit a complaint. The server was simply overtaxed.

The food, however, was every bit as excellent as before. And, we seem to have ordered the same things as the diners above. Please see my earlier review:

Belvedere Square... A great place to shop and eat

Yes, the savory pies are delicious. The green salad they serve on the side, with all kinds of neat stuff like sliced apples, is another pleasant surprise.

Smoked salt? (see below) Those crazy bastards will smoke anything. ;-) There was also an amazing smoked hummus last time I was there.

And the service is always intelligent and friendly.

Belvedere Square... A great place to shop and eat

What, no mention of Neopol Smokery?

Sunday Brunch in Baltimore City

It's not what most people typically think of when they think of Sunday brunch, but Mehek in Fells Point has a lovely Indian buffet serving until 2:30 or 3PM. Piping hot naan is brought right to your table fresh from the oven.

Healthy Options in the Inner Harbor - Baltimore

Afghan Kebab is a very good recommendation. I'll second healthy and good, but not exactly cheap considering it is a real hole-in-the-wall kind of place with counter service. They make a terrific roasted vegetable salad that comes with the platters. The salmon is a good choice. And it is within easy walking distance of the harbor. (Which is more healthy than a cab ride ;-))

Cheap delicious Indian chow in DC?

Heritage India is indeed very good, but the other posters might have mentioned that it is on the pricey side (for Indian food). Your thin paycheck may not be amused.

Tusk Lounge at the Brass Elephant (Baltimore)

The Tusk Lounge is really a chowhound-worthy gem. The food is basically a miniature version of what is served in the main dining rooms downstairs. However, because the portions are smaller and the sconces aren't quite in the shape of elephants, the price is approximately half. (You can also order from the Brass Elephant menu, so be sure to ask for the Tusk Lounge menu.) A lamb-stuffed baby pumpkin appetizer was particularly nice, but I haven't had anything that was bad there.

I haven't been on a weekend, bu there are only perhaps a dozen tables, so I would not be surprised if it is crowded then. Ambiance is elegant, but not quite the level of the rooms below. Sometimes it gets chilly, so you may have to ask the server to turn up the heat.

Didn't notice it being particularly smoky, but there is a bar in the next room. Note there is also free (I think) valet parking across the street. When you come in, don't wait for the host. Just go right upstairs to the second floor.

Best of the taco places around Eastern and Broadway in Fells?

Cinco de Mayo is on Eastern Avenue, one block north and one block east of Whole Foods. Be aware that the price of a taco has gone up to $2.50.

My knowledge of Spanish is limited to ordering in restaurants, but what else does a Chowhound really need to know? You needn't ask for the sauces, as they give you one of each with your order. When you come in, you can say "Buenas" (Hello) to the girl at the counter. As jmasek reported above, "Quisiera dos tacos 'al pastor', por favor" (I would like two 'al pastor' tacos, please) will do just fine. She will smile at your silly American accent. Substitute a different flavor for 'al pastor' if you don't want the marinated pork. She will ask you something like "Todos?" (Is that all?) and "Para llevar?" (To go?). There is a little seating area in the back, but I've never used it. If you are still in the mood to say thank you after waiting 20 minutes for your order: "Muchas gracias".

Of course, you could just point to items on the menu and say "Dos de estos" (Two of these.) ;-)

How to be a TRUE Chowhound

In an April 2006 post ( ), Jim Leff made an interesting distinction between the denizens of this site and true Chowhounds. Who, then, are the denizens of this site? Chowdies? Let's call us foodogs.

Heaven help us; we're more arrogant than medical doctors, more opinionated than political analysts, and more often just plain wrong than economists. Most of what we write is mere whistling in the dark. If you have your antennae up, you may be able to discern the signal amidst all that noise. But don't count on it. We're a crafty bunch. We won't tell you we like a place for its obsequious service despite the appalling food. We'll heartily endorse without giving specifics, but we won't mention we're the owner's mom. Our favorite adjective is "yummy", because we're only 9 years old. We'll rave about bland, overcooked mush, because we lost our teeth 90 years ago. We'll recommend a place we tried 15 years ago, that served its last decent meal 10 years ago, and that closed 5 years ago. We'll give absurdly vague advice, like "try the pasta" at an Italian joint. ("It's yummy!") If you ask for hamburger recs, we'll steer you to the prime rib at Cafe Boeuf, because hamburger is so bourgeois. If you ask for recs within walking distance of a particular neighborhood, we'll insist you get in a cab and drive 25 minutes. When you request cheap eats, we'll tell you about a place that costs $100 for dinner for two. We'll recommend the only restaurant we've ever eaten in, regardless of what you ask for. We'll stick up our noses (snouts?) at a diner whose wine list we deem inexhaustive. We'll judge a Chinese restaurant awful because we don't like their pizza. We'll judge a restaurant by the aroma as we walk by. We'll write an entire review that begins "I haven't eaten there, but . . . " If you disagree with our opinion, we'll bully you until you give in. Then, we'll criticize your spelling.

In short, don't trust a foodog for advice. Get out there and find those gems yourself!

For those foodogs who would like to become more like Chowhounds, what advice would you offer?

Feb 03, 2007
Lettuce Eat in Site Talk

When do posts get pulled?

I've noticed that when I edit my post a few times, it magically disappears. A bug, or did I just hit the delete button?

Feb 03, 2007
Lettuce Eat in Site Talk

Dirt Cheap Eats in Baltimore

How about lovely, fresh soft tacos for $2.50 each at Cinco de Mayo on Eastern Avenue? Have to speak Spanish, though.

Mehek in Fells Point serves an outstanding Indian lunch buffet for $8. Easily the best of its kind in Baltimore.

In DC from Calgary for TRB - Dupont / Adams Morgan area

If your group drags you, kicking and screaming, to Lauriol Plaza against your will, may I suggest trying the "Masitas de Puerco" (pork cooked slowly in a sauce of bitter Seville oranges) or one of the other Peruvian specialties? It may just change your opinion of this place.

Peruvian restaurant in the DC metro area?

Your link wasn't working when I tried it, but look into Lauriol Plaza in Dupont Circle. Most consider it a Mexican restaurant and consequently rate it average. But the Peruvian dishes (lomo saltado, salmon a la parilla, masitas de puerco) really shine.

That's the last time we go to McCormick and Schmicks for Thanksgiving

I'm a little confused why some of you are being so beastly to this poster. If he had a bad meal at a great restaurant, you might possibly be justified in questioning his judgement. But he had a bad meal in an awful restaurant. I'm pretty sure the OP had a bad experience because M&S sucks and not because of the way he ordered. By my reading of the post, he was perfectly clear that he didn't want the tuna pink in the middle. Regardless of how you define "medium", they did not follow his specific instructions.

lamb sandwich shop

If it's a lamb sandwich you want, see this week's post on Turkish restaurants. ( The Cafe Divan makes an outstanding one, called doner kebab. Made from real sliced lamb, rather than the pressed squirrel on a stick found elsewhere.

Best of the taco places around Eastern and Broadway in Fells?

Cinco de Mayo is quite good, and they have at least two kinds of pork tacos among their many selections. (I like the Al Pastor variety best. The chorizo is also very good.) For $2 each, they are served with lime, sliced radish, and both green and red sauces, which I would rate inferno and apocalypse, respectively. The place is also a butcher shop and convenience store. But be warned -- English is not spoken, the flavors are not dumbed down for the American palate, and it can take a long time to make your fresh taco. Worth the wait, in my opinion. Oh, and are you looking for that Lizano sauce you enjoyed in Costa Rica? Guanabana nectar? Powdered shrimp? It's here.

Black Olive

Some of us judge a restaurant on its food, others on its ambience. Neither is right or wrong. However, we could all try a little harder to explain WHY we like or dislike a place rather than just THAT we do.

Baltimore Farmer's Market

I wish the ginger guy would bring back his ginger sorbet from last summer. It was truly sublime.