One of my goals this year is to eat at 15 new restaurants in Baltimore City before my birthday in June. I realized that as often as I am in the city, I tend to go back to the same places I like and one of the great gifts of Baltimore is our delicious food. I want to make sure I get to experience a wide variety of cuisines and environments, so I set a quantifiable goal to it. If it goes well by my birthday, I might extend the goal to 30 by the end of 2015! We’ll see. Anyway, today I’m going to document the first five new places I tried. Clarification: these aren’t restaurants that were just opened, they are new to me.
#1: Grano Pasta Bar
This tiny restaurant is located on the corner of The Avenue in Hampden. Their menu is pretty cool because all you have to do is pick the type of noodles and sauce. Mix and match till your heart is content! It was easy to order, the service was great, and they had Mexican bottled sodas (the kind with real sugar). I didn’t like how cramped it was (and that you had to sit at a bar stool!) and I felt like the sauce wasn’t super flavorful, but I left full and happy. They also have another location, which I was unaware of. It’s more restaurant-y, and I’ll probably check that out if I go again!
Ordered: Fettucini Noodles with Pomodoro Sauce
#2: The Food Market
This place is just a hop, skip, and a twirl away from the Grano Pasta Bar. Another restaurant I’ve walked by hundreds of times without going in. It’s much fancier, and you get that vibe from the beginning. The prices were kind of more than I’d prefer to pay normally, but just by a bit. It was National Popcorn Day when we went, and it was great that they had a mini appetizer of flavored popcorn to oblige us. My group got a variety of dishes, and the presentation on all of them was stellar. The general consensus was that everything was delicious, and I’d love to go back one day for their famous brunch. (Hello hot dogs!) It was also pretty cool that they had the menu laid out in terms of how hungry you might be.
Ordered: Pat Lafrieda Burger with French Fries
#3: Chap’s Charcoal Restaurant
This is a true gem in Baltimore. A famous pit beef joint located in the middle of a strip club? That’s pretty Charm City, hon. (Tidbit: this is the same strip club where I met Ron Jeremy.) I honestly don’t know how I had never eaten here, except it’s pretty out of the way. I mean, it’s been on The Food Network and countless Best Of Baltimore lists. When I pulled up there were tons of cops waiting to be served and eating in the little dining area that you enter underneath a tarp-tent. They’re really quick, have a ton of options, and very friendly. Can’t wait to go back!
Ordered: Beef Sandwich with French Fries
#4: Bistro RX
This was a great place for a late night BFF dinner on a low-key evening. The ambiance was amazing, and we were seated immediately. Our waitress was one of the best I’ve ever had. She laughed at our dorky jokes, and was super enthusiastic about everything she said and did. She made great suggestions and was also incredibly patient. We even had a joke running throughout the meal about the movie “Frozen”, and she typed up “Let It Go” on our receipt. The food was above average, and I’d go back if only for the promise of great service and cute lighting.
Ordered: Prime Cheesesteak
#5: Captain James Landing
This is one of the few restaurants in Maryland that made it onto Roadside America’s list of attractions… because it’s shaped like a boat! So cool, right? It’s right down the street from Joe, and he made reservations for us during Restaurant Week. We were able to get a three course meal for $30/each, which was a great deal for that place. It’s mostly seafood, so if that’s not your forte, you might want to really go over the menu before you get there. I forgot to take photos of the entries, but they were delicious. And trying Baklava for the first time was an amazing experience.
Ordered: Crab Mac and Cheese, Prime Rib, Baklava Sundae
When’s the last time you went to a new restaurant in your hometown?
Do any of you Baltimoreans have any suggestions for places I should try next?