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Eats and Drinks

Best Cheap Restaurant

Woman's Industrial Exchange

333 N. Charles St., (410) 685-4388

Posted 9/17/1997

You don't miss your water, the old song goes, 'til the well runs dry. Well, we were feeling mighty parched this summer when the Woman's Industrial Exchange closed down for a month to put its financial house in order. The Exchange reopened Aug. 4, but the Baltimore institution isn't out of the woods yet; its window display now proclaims the restaurant and handicrafts store a "damsel in distress," badly in need of private contributions in order to continue. (If you'd like to help out, send donations to Save the Exchange, 333 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md., 21201.) The reason all this scares us is not just because the Exchange is one of the last unspoiled remnants of genteel old Baltimore (it was founded in 1882 to give women in dire financial straits a place to sell their needlework and baked goods), or because it's a landmark loved by Hollywood filmmakers who've flocked here in the past few years to capture Charm City's charms (the restaurant was a featured locale in the film Sleepless in Seattle). No, we're worried about losing the Exchange because it's just a dandy, civilized place for a bargain-priced lunch. There's hardly any entrée on the menu priced more than $6 and many come in at $5 or under, nearly unheard-of prices for a downtown lunch spot that offers table service. The Exchange serves up sandwiches, salads, griddle cakes, burgers, pie, and the best chicken salad we've had anywhere. And where else in town are we going to find tomato aspic?

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Other Awards for Best Cheap Restaurant:

Tortilleria Sinaloa, 9/17/2008

Eastern House, 9/19/2007

Port Truck Stop, 9/20/2006

Faidley Seafood, 9/22/2004

Holy Frijoles, 9/17/2003

Caribbean Kitchen, 9/18/2002

Silk Road Café, 9/13/2000

Michael's Steak and Lobster House, 9/15/1999

All Awards for Woman''s Industrial Exchange:

Best Chicken Salad, 9/13/2000

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