Had to go to Balitmore last week for a conference. Stayed at the New(ish) Marriot Waterfront on the edge of the Inner Harbor. Nice hotel -- and within easy walking distance of lots of great chowhound destinations.
My girlfriend did the research (mostly from the Baltimore tip sheet). We spent our time walking away from the Harbor and towards Fell's Point -- which wasn't filled with too many 19-year-old drinkers during the week.
We went to Kelly's for crabs, and then unfortuntely found out that they're out of season. But we had very good crab cakes there -- my first time with the huge and delicious 'lump' crab cakes. The service couldn't have been better though. I think the waiter might have been Kelly himself. He was a leathery guy -- clearly a life-long sometimes-sea-going Baltimorean. And I think I heard someone call him Kelly (?!?) Send my compliments if you know him or the next time you go in.
One afternoon, we went to Duda's for lunch. I didn't find it too exciting but it was solidly good. We had some oysters, some of their chili with cheese and greasy croutons on top and...some more crab cakes. I love those things!
The highlight was definately The Wharf Rat. Great cask beer and THE BEST fish 'n chips I've ever had -- no joke. It was tender and just fell apart. And the batter had that bay seasoning you people use use down there -- delightful!
Also, one of my co-attendees of this conference was from Baltimore and he really knows his city well. Took a group of us to a place called John Steven, Ltd. at 1800 Thames St. in Fell's Point. Couldn't find any mention of it on the boards (unless I searched wrong). I had the steamed shrimp -- also with the bay seasoning. Now, normally (because I'm somewhat of a pansy when it comes to things like this), I have a problem with sea creatures that still have legs, etc. attached. Usually too bug-like for me. However, the sheer deliciousness of these shrimp made ripping its arms off worth it. Messy AND delicious.
Baltimore really exceeded my expectations, and we look forward to coming back this summer. Gotta catch the crabs in season -- and maybe an Oriole game or two!