This is a list of the first few good restaurants in Baltimore that I thought of. Feel free to add your own (like I can stop you).

Thairish: Thai food. Open for lunch and dinner six days a week. The food is all of excellent quality and cheap (I think entrees top out at about $6). It's a tiny place, with a counter down the middle. The kitchen is behind the counter (you can watch your food being made) and in front are two tables and another counter, this one for eating at. You're probably better doing takeout here.

Al Pacino Cafe: Mediaterranean food and pizza. As far as I know, there's no actual connection with the actor. Their hummus is poetry on pita bread: just enough garlic to give it a bite without overwhelming the flavor. The pizza is also excellent: they make it from scratch (I believe they even press their own tomatoes into sauce) with all sorts of interesting toppings.

New No Da Ji: Pan-Asian, leaning heavily toward Korean food and sushi. When I get a protein craving, this is where I come. They do a lunch buffet for $10 and the sushi is always fresh. I also recommend the kimchi. But don't take my word for it: trust my roommate, who's half Korean.
Although I'm a New Yorker, will add in two places that I particularly loved in Baltimore.

First is Faidley's, a seafood shop located in Lexington Market downtown. Tremendous fresh crabcakes. There are multiple types, but it's worth it to "splurge" and get the lump type (which I believe is a higher percentage of crab versus other things). It's won numerous awards and although I'm not a crabcake expert, it was wonderful.
Since it's in the middle of a market, it's extremely casual (sort of like at a mall, where you get the food, then find a bench to sit in), so not advised for first dates or anything requiring anything formal.
Their website (as of time of this writeup) is at

Next is Attman's Delicatessen on 1019 East Lombard Street. Comparable to any "Jewish" New York deli. Good food, big sandwiches, and "old-time deli" atmosphere.
Note of warning here: Attman's is in a bit of a rundown area of town, so be careful.

Happy eating.

Having lived there for four years, I would like to add the following:

  • Nam Kang, on Maryland Street around 20th - great Korean food, with expertise in Japanese cuisine and the ability to make Americanized Gwailo "Chinese food." Order something you've never heard of, and you'll enjoy it. You wouldn't order Bol Go Gi at McDonald's, right?
  • The Paper Moon Diner, just past JHU's Sig Ep house on 28th street, 1 block west of Howard Street - 24 hours a day, overpriced, undercooked food. Service out of a Vonnegut novel. The first time I went there with a group, a guy sat down with us like he belonged there, and after about 3 minutes, said, "Well, I know what I'm getting. How about you?" And when we told him, he wrote it down and disappeared into the kitchen. Uber-trendy alternative decor worth visiting once or twice, but I know too many people who've gotten food poisoning there to go back and order the meat. Stick to the delicious French Toast; it's made with challa. Oh, and it's where my girlfriend and I went on our first "date." If you're not on a shoestring, it's a nice novelty meal.
  • Pete's Grille, down on Greenmount and 28th - a Baltimore tradition! O's memorabilia, and the kind of place where everybody knows your name. I've only been once, but I think if I went back, they'd remember what I ordered. Breakfast and lunch only; dirt cheap and delicious, wonderful service.
  • Holy Frijoles, in Hampden on 36th street - Decor that rivals The Paper Moon, constantly rotating local art that they'll sell you right off the wall. Servers with personalities and smiles and tattoos, and great fashion sense. The nachos are served on a plate about one foot in diameter, and stacked about 5" deep, taste great, and they cost less than $10.00. HUGE portions, great prices--order anything, you can't go wrong. Kicks Don Pablo's and Chi-Chi's asses with one bare foot.
  • Tamber's Nifty Fifties, on 34th and St. Paul - aimed at the JHU college crowd and the families visiting the hospital, Tamber's is a slick chrome Cadillac diner with an oldies jukebox--and they also do tandoori. Fair prices, indifferent but pleasant service.
  • The Melting Pot, Towson - fondue! Very expensive, very ritzy, very romantic. The service and portions you expect when paying $100 for two meals. Take your best gal there for a very special occasion, but don't let her see the price.
  • Mick O'Shea's, on Charles Street down near Mt. Vernon - come for good Irish food, stay for the music. The best Guinness in the city, and the mayor is the front-man for a band that plays there on occasion. Home of Tom, the Pissed-off Paddy Barman made famous in the Donegal X-Press song. DXP's lead singer and various group members play there Thursdays under a different name--worth the trip. If Cory's there, he'll be at the second or third table on the left wall; tell him I said "hi."

Those are all my old favorites in the city; if you go to any of them and enjoy your meal, toss me a /msg. If you bring a date and they like it, toss me an upvote. Bon appetit!

I concur with Jurph and also add my favorites:

The Helmand, Located ~900th block of Charles St. is one of two Afghan restaurants in the city. Order the baby pumpkin, the home made ice cream and the lamb in mint yoghurt. Update: According to an astute and well-informed Baltimore Noder, the owner of The Helmand is none other than drumroll please . . . the brother of interim Afghan leader Hamid Kazai. A small world indeed.

Aldo's, In Little Italy around 300 North High St. Perhaps the finest italian restaurant in the city. Set aside about 3 hours and $100 to get the full monty.

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