Seeing as we’re all about food, drink, and fun over here, we try to steer clear of any sort of food snootiness. But every now and then, we find ourselves around subpar food, and our closet food snobs emerge—like when Amy and I recently traveled to suburban Baltimore for work.

Stuck without transportation, and nothing for miles other than the snack corner at our hotel and a lackluster mall across the street, our dining options were slim. So we crossed the four-lane highway and ventured into the mall’s food court. We passed on familiar chain restaurants like Tony Roma’s and Red Robin, and tried one we hadn’t heard of: Don Pablo’s. The server was sweet, the place was cheery, and things started off pretty promising with crisp tortilla chips and freshly made tortillas. But things went downhill when our fajitas arrived. With overcooked meat, too-sweet salsa, and browned guacamole that looked like it had once been in powdered form, we suddenly lost our appetites. We tried our darnedest to enjoy the meal, but even the salad couldn’t cut it with its anemic romaine leaves and insipid tomatoes.

Luckily for us, my classmate from college lives in the area and showed us that you can’t judge a suburban book by its cover by steering us to the local sushi joint, Sushi Ya. For strip-mall sushi, it had fresh fish, creative rolls, and was quite tasty. In fact, the toasted black sesame ice cream almost made up for the scary guac from earlier that day. Almost.

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