Restaurants & Bars

Baltimore and DC trip report

Joanie | Nov 16, 201106:08 AM     1

Thanks for your suggestions on my quick trip to DC and Baltimore. Didn't have the most successful eating but okay overall. Stopped by B&O in the Hotel Monaco for their happy hour where the special cocktail was a ginger margarita ($5). I love all things ginger so got that but giner wasn't so noticeable. Got an app of clam and poblano fritters ($8), large order of decently fried balls but again, not overly flavorful. After regrouping at the Marriott Inner Harbor, I had a hard time finding a place with the right combination of food, price, vibe and TV on Thurs. nite. Henninger's looked cool if I lived in the hood, wanted something nicer than Duda's, Kali's Court looked great and I should have just gotten a couple apps at the bar (with no TV) but where do I end up: Oceannaire for an obscenely huge dessert of choc banana bread pudding. Server was very nice, dessert was fair. Didn't have good luck w/ breakfast either cuz Blue Moon Café had a 45 min wait (I assume Veteran's Day had lots of folks out for breakfast) so just got an okay homemade Boston creme donut at Café Latte'da on Aliceanna St. Nice guy working there.

My friend picked me up at Union Station in DC and we immediately went to Ben's Chili Bowl where the line moved quickly and we lucked out w/ two seats at the counter where we ordered a couple of decent chili dogs w/ chips. Nice people, tried to fill up the jukebox with tunes but it didn’t cooperate. After walking around, we stopped in Firefly for happy hour (we're not allowed discounted drinks in Boston so I always like to find some HH spots) where I got the special white wine ($5) and J paid full price for a blue cheese olive martini that he thoroughly enjoyed. Snacks of fried oysters and grilled octopus were very tasty and a deal at $5 each. Our server was nice and knowledgeable. We had a late dinner at Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights, they've got a trillion beers if you care about that. I care about great burgers and the one we split w/ cheddar cheese and caramelized onions was very good. Onion rings were tempura style which isn't my fave but fine. Brownie a la mode was above average too, a fun reasonably priced place. Ended the nite at the funky Red Palace on H Street which has a wild circus type décor.

Sat. I grabbed a good scone from Atwater Bakery at the Mt. Pleasant farmer's market then saw some sites then met J for breakfast/lunch at Ooh's and Ah's on U St. I thought they'd be jammed at 12:30 but there were only 2 other people there and no breakfast options. People were very nice but it was way more expensive than I thought it'd be and I just had a side of mac & cheese which I didn't love (overly cheesy, no crunchy top). J enjoyed his baked chicken with a side sampler except for the sweet potato being like pumpkin pie. After more walking, we came back up to the Dupont Circle Area and got a cookie and drinks at Java House on Q St to hold us over until we met friends at Off the Record for my classic DC cocktail. It was very quiet there on a Sat. which was just as well. They reworked their grapefruit mojito into a martini for me, sidecars and a mojito for the guys while we ate the chips and pickles they serve. It hurts a little paying $15 for a drink but we knew that going in. Walked the short way down to Bibiana, bustling on a Sat. Wish we'd been seated in the larger room instead of the slightly cramped smaller room. J felt like they had attitude but I didn't see that. The small plates of fried mussels and pumpkin arancini were excellent. Unfortunately, my gnocchi w/ venison ragu was just okay, gnocchi a little heavy. One friend thought his black truffle risotto was too salty, the guys who got trout and chestnut soup thought it was fine. I think we were expecting more but it was okay overall. A quick drink at the Round Robin ended the nite.

Sun. got a great donut from Heller's Bakery then hopped on the train back to Baltimore. Saw Geppi's Museum then walked into the Federal Hill section for my first time (out of all 2 visits) as everyone was filing in for the Ravens game. Just wanted something small and ended up with a lemon lime cupcake from Midnight Confections. Then went to La Tasca in that mall space by the water for happy hour and totally ordered wrong. Got a regular sangria (all happy hour items $3) before noticing they had other flavors and ordered too quickly from the menu. The fried potatoes were very good, esp. the garlicky sauce, but the fried calamari (why am I getting two fried things) were all uniform rubbery rings. Nice space esp. on a warm day on the deck but I'd think things thru a little more next time. That filled me up pretty much for a while but since I had time to kill before going to Sonar and wanted to watch the Pats game, I ended up at Mick O'Shea's for a crabcake sandwich that was all right, surrounded by two Pats and two Jets fans which was amusing.

Mon. I headed out to Hampden and unfortunately Golden West Café wasn't open yet so I went across the street to the Lunch Box for breakfast. Man, that was lame. I saw home fries on someone's plate and looked pretty mushy so I opted for a breakfast sandwich w/ scrapple on the most generic of generic English muffins. Was not worth the calories or the $4 since they tacked on another $1 for cheese. Grabbed an iced coffee at Spro's (should I have gone to Common Ground?), had a nice time at Celebrated Summer Records then back to town (riding public transportation with yet more nodding out junkies) for the Lexington Market. Went back to Faidley's for the lump crab cake which was very good, but served by some of the most personality-less people ever, except to tell me I'd ruin the cake if I put tartar sauce on it. I don't use much but do like some, thank you very much. Wish I was more hungry to really sample things, I should have at least brought back a deli sandwich. Also thought about bringing back Pollack Johnny's but it was too much of a hassle. I did buy some cookies at Berger's and tried my first Berger style which I enjoyed. Also got an apple fritter from Harbor City bakery. Bakery prices were great, can't believe you can get 3 fritters for $1.

So there you have a not so quick review of a quick trip. Baltimore has some really cool stuff but I came across more drug addicts in 42 hrs there than 42 weeks in Boston. Was glad to see some different neighborhoods in both cities, check out the interesting architecture and hit some famous and not so famous places.

La Tasca
722 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Golden West Cafe
1105 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD

Lexington Market
400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD 21201

Blue Moon Cafe
1621 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231

Kali's Court
1606 Thames Street, Baltimore, MD 22231

Hampden Cafe
4800 Hampden Ln Ste 103, Bethesda, MD 20814

Lunch Box
Bryans Rd, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

Java House
1645 Q St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Common Ground
819 W 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211

1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›

More from Chowhound

The Best of Pumpkins: Why They're the Ultimate Fall Fruit

The Best of Pumpkins: Why They're the Ultimate Fall Fruit

by Jen Wheeler | It's fall, which means its time to pay tribute to that iconic mascot of the season. As a food, as...

13 Essential Apple Recipes for Fall
Recipe Round-Ups

13 Essential Apple Recipes for Fall

by Chowhound Editors | There are so many things to love about autumn rolling around again, especially apple season. Make...

9 Fall Salads That Put a Fresh Spin on Autumn Produce
Recipe Round-Ups

9 Fall Salads That Put a Fresh Spin on Autumn Produce

by Pamela Vachon | These healthy fall salad recipes will keep you eating well all autumn, and cast your favorite fall...

This 20-Minute Sheet Pan Dinner Is the Ideal Fall Weeknight Feast
How To

This 20-Minute Sheet Pan Dinner Is the Ideal Fall Weeknight Feast

by Jen Wheeler | Never underestimate the power of a one pot meal (or one pan, as the case may be). This easy sheet...

Get fresh food news delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest tips, tricks, recipes and more, sent twice a week.